On the Scale from Zero to Ten

I stumbled upon this picture on Unsplash and simply could not resist posting it. This is how Castle Stormhold should look from the shore, assuming the architecture of the castle itself is adjusted to fit my description and all the clouds are removed from the sky (it has been a drought there, so the air is extremely arid). Small details aside, the feel is, nevertheless, perfect.

Back to the title of this post, however (and trying to stay on-topic).

I could never figure out how to effectively challenge the cretinism of the question “please, rate your pain on a scale from zero to ten“.

I honestly have no idea how to do that.

I understand zero quite well: no pain at all. Easy.

I remember times when I would occasionally find myself in a situation like that when I was younger (not after forty, of course—if you are past forty and you wake up and nothing hurts, it can only mean that you are dead—Lord forbid) and I clearly recall that it felt absolutely normal. Small wonder—zero pain, easy to understand.

But the rest of the steps on that scale absolutely confuse me.

Take, ten, for example.

Theoretically, I think, I am supposed to imagine the worst kind of pain there is, assign it a grade of 10, and then scale it down to 0 in nine even decrements. This is where my problem surfaces.

I cannot imagine ten-grade-pain.

Is it something, which would make me weep in the shower (such as if a revelation about how to end the scene I am working on, would suddenly descend upon me)? Cry out loud in front of the nurse? Scream, growl, moan, hiss in public? Curse Jesus for whatever he thinks I said about his mama—this is why this is all happening, I am sure—or say it about his mama again and again and expand on it? Or simply pass out?

Or not be able to do anything but this—another very engaging activity, to which I am now totally addicted—constantly check your iPhone pill reminder app for the time:

Percocet 5-375*, last taken 3 hours and 55 minutes ago.

Percocet 5-375, last taken 3 hours and 56 minutes ago.

Percocet 5-375, last taken 3 hours and 57 minutes ago.

Extremely and endlessly entertaining. It’s as if whatever higher Force is controlling the Universe, does actually give some kind of shit about me in general, and about me following my doctor’s orders and trying to keep to the recommended 4 hours* between hits, in particular—which are working for shorter and shorter periods of time, by the way (so far it looks like if The Force is, indeed, Jesus, it is the Baby Jesus, and it is colicky, else I have no explanation of why it is doing this to me).

But—back to the topic at hand—how do I set a 10-grade pain point on that damn scale (and the rest of them, equidistantly placed between 0 and 10), if I do not know where and what 10 is?

This is clearly a question which contains more than half the answer within, and the answer is obvious—I don’t. I am just going to continue doing what I was doing before, which is assume that ten is something I cannot handle (say, pass out) and nine is something I am embarrassed I did because of pain (say, cry or pee myself**).

Which leaves the default answers to the dreaded question somewhere between 1 and 8—it is never 0 (duh…), but 10 is overkill as well.

So, on a scale from 1 to 8, how much pain are you in?

Now we are talking just a little more sense.


* The numbers (and the medication have changed. After my last examination, I was put on a different chemical treatment which came with a different pain management program: Morphine 60 mg extended release every 12 hours as a base painkiller and Morphine 15 mg fast acting ninja one, which can be taken as needed every 2 hours (I had this post in draft form way too long, apparently, so the described reality has deviated from the current reality quite a bit—it changes way too fast).** That Rubicon is, actually, harder to cross than it seems to be. Due to the latest updates to the contents of my medicine cabinet, aggravated by my age and medical condition, peeing (on myself, my loved ones, or anywhere/anyone else) has proven to be rather complicated. In other words, it requires too much effort. I am seriously thinking about quitting it. Along with pooping, which has been problematic lately as well.

Also published on Medium.

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