Chapter 1: Pain

2 08 2010

I was talking to a colleague the other day about writing the book “ER for Dummies”.   Before you jump to conclusions, this would not be a mean spirited book.  We are not mean people (unless you leave us no choice).  In fact, the “Dummies” series is my go to reference for learning all sorts of things, from juggling to graphic design (no kidding).  We understand it wouldn’t be a bestseller no matter how good the material.  After all, who goes out and buys a book in anticipation that an impending emergency will happen?  Nevertheless, we could put together an exceedingly informative and helpful reference just oozing with useful tips on how to make that next visit to the ER a successful one.  Skeptical?  How about we call this post, Chapter 1: Pain.



Pain is a funny thing.  Not haha funny, but rather, quirky and infinitely variable in it’s presentation, funny.  If you’ve followed my previous posts, you’ve met the likes of guys who had open fractures sticking through their boots, but yet, didn’t feel the need to ask for, or even accept, pain medication.  And then there is . . . the other end of the spectrum.  We’ve all met him.  You know, the guy who rolls around and howls in agony, but insists that he has a “very high pain tolerance”.  After extensive research and a meta-analysis of dozens of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, it has been determined that the decibel level emitted from a patient in the ER is inversely proportional to the likelihood of discoverable pathology.

Failure to abide by the limitations set forth in the pain scale causes great ire among the medical providers taking care of you.  Furthermore, it discredits your reliability on multiple fronts, including pain reporting (obviously), severity of disease, and drug-seeking behavior.   All of which invariably result in diminished empathy, and more importantly, stingy narcotic administration.  Furthermore, over-dramatization of pain can result in potentially dangerous and painful tests and procedures.

Example: The Headache

If you happen to suffer from headaches severe enough to bring you to the ER, you are not alone.  It is a real cause of debilitating pain, and ER docs understand this.  But there are some choice words to avoid when describing your pain.  Unless the following are REALLY associated with your pain, it is best to deny them, when asked.

Enthusiastic agreement to any of the above inquiries will result in a cosmic dose of radiation (head CT) and a giant, large-bore needle in your back (lumbar puncture, a.k.a. spinal tap).  And our needles go to Eleven. . . .


So that was a taste of Chapter 1.  Lots more useful tips and tidbits in the rest of the book.

Don’t look now, but Outdoor Retailer is right around the corner.  Next week in fact.  Claire is gearing up to meet with the folks of who make the outdoor retail world turn.  It’s a big deal.  If you happen to be in Salt Lake City, look out for her.  She shouldn’t be hard to find among the other 60,000 people at the convention.  The IMBA retro and I*M*B*A shirts should be out this month.  10% of proceeds goes toward IMBA’s trail fund.  Nothing says, “I am doing my part to save the trails and the environment” like a luxurious Alchemist designed IMBA shirt.



2 responses

2 08 2010
Vivienne Palmer

Oops. I think I’ve uttered the verboten phrases once or twice. But I never howled! (PS: Amy and Lily are back home. It was enterovirus. If they don’t want the t-shirt, I’ll take it.)

3 08 2010

Great post. The IMBA shirts look awesome!

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