Indecision III. The Pain Scale.


Bickering skipper butterflies? They’re now my go-to when I’m being indecisive. Shot with a Nikon D5000, f/10, 1/250. Any suggestions for how to do this better would be appreciated! I’m still learning how to use my camera.

“On a scale of one to ten, with one being the least amount of pain and ten the most imaginable, what are you at today?”

Gosh. I don’t know. Is it a linear scale or a non-linear scale? Exponential? Should I calculate it like f-stops? How does this thing work?

The pain scale is something I run into a lot. I haven’t figured it out. I don’t think anyone has. Pain is, after all, a personal and subjective experience, but the pain scale seems to try to relate the subjective to the objective in some way. I understand the need for that. But then that scale runs smack into someone fogged with pain, indecisive at best, and desperate to get help and/or get away from yet another doctor’s office, emergency room, lab, or hospital room. In a word, me. Seriously. How is this thing even supposed to work?

“On a scale of one..”

Wait. Is one the level where pain actually starts to bother me? Because I know that a paper cut will heal, as will a mosquito bite. So now, no, that doesn’t really bother me. I don’t care. The pain from that is all surface anyway. Isn’t this sort of like calculus, where the math just gets harder and harder the closer you get to zero, anyway? Who bloody well cares about figuring out the least amount of pain when it’s the “whole lot more” that’s the problem?

“…to ten, with ten being the most imaginable…”

I can imagine quite a lot. That’s not a helpful guideline at all. Instantly my mind skips to the most imaginable pain… would that be when I’d commit suicide? Or just when I’d think about it? Or worst yet, the point when I wouldn’t care at all about the collateral damage to others, even other casualties that I might cause, in my effort to end this horrible pain? Yes, that would definitely be the worst imaginable, causing harm to a bunch of innocent bystanders, leaving that legacy for my family. Which would put ideation about suicide at about an 8… but while I’m still calculating, the question is still being asked. Maybe for the third or fourth time, by now.

“…which number are you…”

I don’t know, though… if their version of the pain scale doesn’t take into account that sort of calculation, then this is all for nothing anyway. Pain is humidity, constantly around you and suffocating. Pain is a sneaker wave, suddenly smashingly there and killing you by the sheer pure uncaring force of the sea. Pain is a cold winter’s morning, sharp gasps of dagger air, deceptive black gleam of death glazed on dark asphalt. Pain is a dense fog, a sandstorm, the ear-ringing silence after an explosively loud noise, a fire tornado. How could something that sometimes so thoroughly encompasses my life be reduced to a number?

“…at today?”

The poor nurse doesn’t deserve to have a patient like me. I feel horrible. Everyone’s being so nice about it, just waiting. I flip-flop around a few more numbers, debating the benefits of odds versus evens, rhyming possibilities in poems, primes, and the number of lives you’re normally given in video games. I settle on a random numeral. Whew! We can move on, maybe the next question will be easie…

“On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your…”

Oh. Bullocks.


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