I Have No Pain Scale and Everything Hurts: Communicating Chronic Pain

Hello people of the internet! It’s been a while. I have had a lot of personal stuff happening over the last six months or so, as well as some (very exciting) professional things which I’m not ready to announce yet.

One more order of business before I move on with the post: I’m trying to learn how to use alt-text and image descriptions so that they’ll work in the most accessible way possible. If I’ve screwed something up you would be doing me a massive favor by letting me know.

I’ve recently started using tumblr again. The plan was to stay very low profile and only post about fandom and cute animals and sometimes personal stuff. This plan has been something of a failure so far, partly because much of the advocacy and activism in which I’m involved is personal, and partly because I’m just not that all that great at keeping a low profile (and I have a pretty low threshold for what I consider “low profile”).

Anyway, today I came across a pain chart that someone had posted. Here it is:

A pain chart which includes descriptions of experiences. Text says: 0, no pain, "I have no pain", followed by 1, minimal "my pain is hardly noticeable", 2, mild, "I have a low level of pain. I am aware of my pain only when I pay attention to it," 3, uncomfortable, "my pain bothers me but I can ignore it most of the time," 4, moderate, "I am constantly aware of my pain but I can continue most activities,", 5, distracting, "I think about my pain most of the time. I cannot do some of the activities I need to do each day because of my pain,", 6, distressing, "I think about my pain all of the time. I give up many activities because of my pain,", 7, unmanageable, "I am in pain all the time. It keeps me from doing most activities,", 8, intense, "my pain is so severe that it is hard to think of anything else. Talking and listening are difficult,", 9, severe, "My pain is all I can think about. I can barely talk or move because of the pain," and 10, unable to move, "I am in bed and can't move due to my pain. I need someone to take me to the emergency room to get help for my pain.
The lovely colorful version of this pain scale was created by tumblr user doodleloser, who seems to be a spoonie themselves.

Now, I really like this chart. I will probably print out a copy and bring it with me to doctors appointments. All that being said: There are still some pretty big flaws in this chart re: chronic pain.

(Obligatory disclaimer because this is the internet: chronic pain is not the same for everyone and my experiences and those of someone else with chronic pain won’t necessarily match up. There are obviously some people with chronic pain who found this chart extremely helpful (and so did I, I just think there are other factors that are necessary for it to be useful.)

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