I want to talk about pain and I want to share with you a multiple choice test question someone once shared with me that really got my attention.
Q: Which emoji would you choose to describe each of the following four words: (FYI, for our friends who don’t text, emoji are those cute pictures people use when texting…)
A: Get it? It’s not difficult to see. There are multiple ways to talk, different language people can choose to use and even different pictures for the very same word. For one person vacation is a plane; another’s vacation is a tent.
Talking about pain is no exception. Your pain comes on with agony like a lightning strike; mine makes my whole day sad. The way you experience your pain and the way I experience my pain are so very different that often times describing it on a scale of 1 to 10 is insufficient for conveying important information to people like healthcare providers. Talking about pain effectively requires a degree of confidence. One has to believe that the language of pain is truly understood. Patients and doctors, patients and family and even patients and other patients must feel secure that they are effectively communicating “pain” with one another. I like the article recently published in the New York Times entitled “How to Talk About Pain” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/opinion/sunday/how-to-talk-about-pain.html?_r=0), because it presents intelligent insight on the subject of pain and communication. The author, Joanna Bourke, Professor of History at London’s Birkbeck College is also the author of “The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers.” If you are interested in exploring further, Bourke’s book is worth reading.