My Pain Number Today

For Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub we’re writing about communication. I decided to write about the frustration of communicating in a particular circumstance.


People who have never experienced chronic pain don’t seem to understand why sometimes I just can’t do certain things. I know I look fine from the outside. I know I hide it pretty well most of the time. But it’s exhausting to try to live as if I had no pain. It’s difficult to know how to communicate the struggle. If I told you I was in pain every time I was in pain, you’d think I was a whiner or a broken record. So I don’t tell you, unless it’s really bad.

“What’s your pain number today?” I hate this question. I never know how to answer it. Ever. And how does what’s a 6 to me (based on 10 being the worst pain I’ve ever experienced) really communicate to a doctor how much pain I’m in? I want to answer, “Whatever number will cause you to do something to make it go away!” Because although today’s pain may not be the worst I’ve ever experienced, it’s bad enough that it brought me into this terrible, sterile, time-wasting environment in the hopes that you could help me.

“Describe your pain. Is it burning, stabbing, aching, sharp, or dull?” “Umm, yes. Can you make it go away now?”

Jesus knows my pain
Will wipe away ev’ry tear
When the Son shines bright

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


20 Responses

  1. I’m so sorry for your pain, Linda. I can understand that a number system is almost useless with different individual tolerance levels as well as the fact that some days our own tolerance is different than other days. Interesting how you wrote the haiku first….starting from a source of comfort. Hope you have better days soon.

  2. Thank you for doing two haibun and such a good one! I hope this comment takes.. i checked back and my first one did not take. The poem at the end is such a hopeful and strong statement if faith. I have chronic pain as well so I can sympathize with “take it away!”.

  3. Chronic pain is horrible. I have it and so does my husband. On that 1-10 acale, when my doc asks, my answer is 50. Because it is his specialty, he doesn’t pooh-pooh me. I like that piem at thd end. What a happy hopeful statement. Thank you for doing two haibun. And such an amazing one too.

  4. I hate numbers, in general. Especially when they are trying to define/quantify something as intangible as pain. I related well to this piece, and as usual, I LOVE your haiku.

  5. Oh, Linda–I was a hospice nurse and now I, too, have chronic pain. And those questions just drive me crazy. How can we quantify pain? With the WWII generation, I had to learn to read their pain by body language–even my own (I was a war baby) we were taught not to complain, no matter what. Defining pain is so very subjective. What do we compare it to? I think I like the pictures with facial expression better than the numbers. And so we take it one day at a time and do what we can to ameliorate it so as to have good quality of life and not be so self-involved–pain has a way of doing that, heh?

  6. It must be awful to be in continual pain…whatever its number. And, I like the way you have expressed that the number IS inconsequential….constant pain whatever number would be very hard, and there should be some way for a doctor to deal with it (I would think!)

    • Thankfully there is. It took me years to find the right doctor and the help I needed. I just need to get the procedure scheduled as I’ve let it go too long.

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