Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Necessary Calibration

Measurement is impossible without the designation of a fixed unit. More, others can only use one's measurements if there's agreement on the unit on which they're based.

The last three times I took this BLEEP!ing shoulder ailment to a doctor or a gaggle thereof, I was asked: "On a scale of 0 to 10, how much does it hurt?" Never before having been asked such a question, nor having considered the utility of such a metric, I was unable to answer.

This cannot continue. Too many people are being confronted by this question -- I heard it asked of several others during a recent hospital visit -- to permit the uncertainties surrounding it to persist. Accordingly, I am pleased, after much hard thought and research, to offer the world:

The FWP Pain Measurement Scale

I've tried for a roughly linear distribution of the agonies, but of course, some will surely disagree. Anyway, the scale itself:

  • 0: Feeling fine.
  • 1: A slight ache or moderate itch (scratchable).
  • 2: A moderate, persistent ache or painful itch (possibly not scratchable). The sufferer might or might not go to the medicine cabinet for aspirin or ibuprofen. In about half of cases, he'll go to the liquor cabinet in preference.
  • 3: A severe ache or shooting pain. Definitely analgesics time, but save the hoarded Vicodin for something serious.
  • 4: The pain has affected the sufferer's movement; it might have disturbed his coordination and fine motor skills. Grouchiness is almost guaranteed. Yard work will be deferred to better days.
  • 5: It's getting serious now. The pain has altered the sufferer's breathing patterns. Eating and drinking have become problematic.
  • 6: The sufferer's locomotion and concentration are beginning to deteriorate. If he hasn't yet gone for the Vicodin, he will soon. No point in going to work.
  • 7: Vision and hearing are degrading. One Vicodin hasn't quite done the trick, but the little tube says to wait four hours before repeating. Most definitely, "do not drive or operate heavy machinery."
  • 8: Cognitive functions are seriously impeded; coordination is poor to nonexistent. A visit to the emergency room receives serious consideration. Leave the tax returns for later!
  • 9: Complete incapacitation. No remaining coordination or cognitive capacity. Possible wailing. Probable profanity. Get the keys to the gun cabinet away from him!
  • 10: "Where did you file the will, dear?"

Now, how would we apply this scale to agonies that arise from political events?


AuricTech said...

I trust you've seen this pain-calibration post:

"Boyfriend Doesn't Have Ebola. Probably."

Rick C said...

The 0..10 scale hospitals use is moronic, because everyone always says it's 10.

furball said...

I suggest we call these fwips.

Thus, for me, the presidency of Obama has been a daily 2 fwip event.

But on the days I actually see him or hear about one of his un-American activities, it's 5 fwips.

And the result of 4 years of him? 8 fwips.

And on days when I let myself consider the ramifications of Kelso and Roberts' Obamacare ruling, I find myself pretty much agreeing with Ann Barnhardt that the 1st American republic is gone: 10 fwips.

jb said...


Goober said...


Another thing that I've noticed the pain scale is missing is a lack of a "torment" scale.

Torment, to me, is not pain. Pain is the shooting, physical stimulus that you get when your body tells you that something is wrong. Torment is the inexact measurement of how much that pain and discomfort associated with it is effecting the individual, and to me, this is more often than not much more important than actual measurements of pain.

Anyone can endure one minute of level 10 pain. It will suck, but it goes away, and your torment scale will be relatively low as a result of it.

Almost all of us wouldn't even notice a level 4 pain that lasts for one minute. What about 4 years? That level 4 pain, after 4 years, becomes the most intolerable, horrible thing in your life, and awareness of it encompasses your every action every single day.

I had a condition that caused me to break out into a psoriatic rash over 90% of my body. It itched like you would imagine damned souls in Hell must itch, and it burned like a healing 4-day old thrid degree burn. It was not unbearable, and a person afflicted with this for a week would probably be fine. The pain level of it was about 3 or 4. Totally bearable.

I was afflicted with it for 24 months. Towards the end of that 24 months, I was seriously considering death as a resonable redoubt from the torment that I was suffering.

That is what the pain scale is missing. Even low level pain can become unbearable if it is subjecting you to undue torment. At the risk of being vulgar, how many men here would see no difference between a level 5 pain from being punched in the shoulder by a drunk buddy, or a level 5 pain in your left testicle? One wouldn't even bear mentioning. The other could very well incapacitate you. That's what i mean by "torment".

rickl said...

Rick C.:
Right, because you wouldn't be in the hospital if it wasn't close to 10.

Weetabix said...

The scale is relative to you and meant to help you tell the person helping you manage your pain how much better or worse you are... relatively.

They actually do pay attention to what you're doing when you tell them 10.

I had a 10 several years ago, and they said, "Don't hold your breath. That won't make the pain less, but you might die." I croaked, "Would that make the pain stop?"

I'd give the current political agonies a 4 because I've read of much worse, and we're certainly not there. But given the possibility of exponential growth of political stupidity, I could see a 10 within a few years.