July 12, 2016

Let's Talk About Pain

I'm always in pain; it's a fact of my life. Yet I almost never talk about it. Pain is not relatable, pain is unquantifiable, pain is invisible, and pain is personal. With the war on opioids, pain is also political.

The amount of daily pain I experience is unimaginable to the average person. Yet I'm so used to it that I forget how abnormal it is. The Mankoski scale is a good gauge with caveats: 22 years of constant pain mean my brain and lifestyle have adapted. And pain meds (please don't call them painkillers) don't work on my pain.

6 – Can’t be ignored for any length of time, but you can still go to work and participate in social activities. Stronger painkillers (Codeine, narcotics) reduce pain for 3-4 hours.
7 – Makes it difficult to concentrate, interferes with sleep. You can still function with effort. Stronger painkillers are only partially effective.
8 – Physical activity severely limited. You can read and converse with effort. Nausea and dizziness set in as factors of pain.
9 – Unable to speak. Crying out or moaning uncontrollably – near delirium.
If you saw me out and about you'd likely peg me at a 6. My pain is almost never 6. 7-8 is typical. It took me a few years to train myself not to make "pain face." Sleep is always a problem. I often have times when language and cognition* are difficult as a direct result of my pain level. Sudden spikes in pain will knock me back a step or cause grunts or groans.

I cope: I sleep when I can and as much as I can. I distract with music, tv, socializing online, getting out in the world, hanging out with friends. I bounce by attention around online to increase the distraction. When it's really bad I have a drink or two, vape marijuana, or sleep. But alcohol and MJ don't reduce pain, they just make me care less. Other people have their own coping mechanisms because pain and coping are individual.

I've made a good life through a hell of a lot of work. But sometimes I still wonder what it would be like to be pain free. I can't imagine.

*I mistyped cognition, autocorrect fixed it, and I had to stare at the word a couple times before I confirmed that it was the correct word and said what I meant. This is not uncommon.


  1. I have fibromyalgia and I get what you are saying. I don't talk much about my symptoms. Nobody likes a whiner, right? I put on my game face when at work so I don't bother people with my troubles. I wonder though if that is causing me problems in the long run. Well, I know that it does; but there doesn't seem to be a way to win at this game. Oy! Too much to think about!! Your blog post really resonates with me today.
    Take care and be well (as much as you can be),

    1. I'm sorry to hear you can relate. It's a tough life. I think being able to function in the world is winning :)
      Take care as well.

  2. I came across your pain blog and see that you vape marijuanna for pain relief. I have lived with chronic intractible pain for 16 years. I had a pain management doctor who helped me live a fairly normal life through the use of large doses of morphine. Six years ago, she lost her license for "over prescribing" pain meds. My new doctor cut my dose to one fifth of what I had been taking, leaving me at a constant pain level of 7 to 8+ and bed bound. I have read that vaping/smoking is the quickest way of getting the cannabinoids into your system. Can you share you insights on using cannabis with those of us who would like to try it for pain relief?
    Love and light.

    1. I don't have any insights on MMJ, unfortunately. And my pain level's a consistent 7-8. I know people who've found relief with CBD oils or various strains of MJ. I have not. If I'm having a particularly hard night I get stoned.

      If you do want to try MMJ you can research on Leafly. They have an extensive database.


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