Thursday, 30 April 2015

Pain Levels

I've been struggling with a persistent muscle cramp in my back, on the left side, for a few days now. Fortunately it only hurts when I take a big breath or make use of that side of my back, like when I go to sit up or roll over in bed. In other words, it's a bloody great nuisance, but only moderately painful.

I divide pain into three separate classes, all of which I get on a regular basis. You can judge the level of pain by the decibels of scream or moan which goes with it. Your basic level of pain, the stuff that most of us get, like sore joints or stiff muscles, even when it is persistent for me, generates the usual grunts and groans that most of us make. It's the entry point for both chronic and passing pain.

Then the is the level two of pain. This is where the yelping and ouching gets serious but not really bad, where the volume and number of outcries increases, but screaming has not yet begun. Stuff hurts, but you can shake it off after a while, sometimes a long while. This would be like breaking a big toe or some other minor bone. I yell for a bit, perhaps there are tears, then it goes away. Pain killers are often involved here.

The top level of pain is what I call the "stab me with a knife" level. This actually happens to me a fair bit with ALS. By the time I am taking serious painkillers for something, it's usually at "stab me with a knife" level, where the hollering is more than just a little noticeable. For example, when my shoulder was hurting a couple of weeks back, that was "stab me with a knife" level pain. I needed the pain killers, the big ones.

This persistent muscle cramp is somewhere around a high "level 1" or just barely a "level 2". It's bad enough for me to emit the odd "ouch" or some other more forceful expletive. It's not bad enough, nor persistently sharp enough, to generate a yell or tears. It is, however, persistent, making movements like taking a deep breath or lifting in my chair truly uncomfortable.

This disease has gotten me use to low grade discomfort like this. It's not real pain, just the kind of pain that annoys the shit out of you with its constancy and persistence. I am now on day four with this muscle pain. Only once in those four days has it gotten bad enough to warrant Extra Strength Tylenol. Mostly it just bugs the crap out of me.

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