On July 10, 2024

Pain is part of the game

I got into the habit many years ago of asking my son (whenever he was injured) how he rated his pain on a scale from 1 to 10. Inevitably, it was always a 10, but as time passed and he matured, the numbers varied, and the scale became a good gauge for me to discern where he was at during an illness or traumatic event. 

People have been using pain scales to help diagnose injuries and illnesses for centuries. However, in 1971, researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, developed an official questionnaire that was designed to evaluate the quality and intensity of pain that individuals were experiencing.

The McGill Pain Index consists of 78 words divided into 20 sections, each describing various aspects of pain. It also assesses the three major dimensions of pain: sensory, affective and evaluative. Patients are instructed to take the questionnaire and select words that best describe their pain. The answers are then scored by summing the values associated with each chosen word, resulting in a score ranging from 0 (no pain) to 78 (severe pain).

The McGill Pain Index is widely used for patients with various diagnoses and is considered one of the most frequently used tools for multidimensional pain assessment in chronic pain. It is also notable for providing a comparative scale of pain intensity across different conditions.

Putting mental pain aside (which is most definitely painful but in an entirely different way), there are seven agreed upon physical pains that are regarded as “the worst.” 

Cluster headaches: Sometimes called “suicide headaches” due to their extreme intensity. Patients describe the pain as feeling like a hot poker being driven into their eye.

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS): This chronic pain condition affecting limbs is rated as more painful than childbirth and amputation.

Trigeminal neuralgia: A condition causing intense facial pain, described as feeling like electric shocks. It’s sometimes called the “suicide disease” due to its severity.

Kidney stones: The pain of passing kidney stones is often compared to childbirth in intensity.

Severe burns: Extensive burns are considered one of the most painful injuries, both acutely and during treatment/recovery.

Childbirth: While experiences vary, unmedicated childbirth is frequently cited as one of the most intense pains humans can experience.

Bone cancer: Pain from bone cancer, especially in later stages, is often described as excruciating and constant to the point of losing consciousness.

I suppose intense pain is something most people would prefer not to think about. And outside of psychopathy, most people would prefer not to see others in pain. 

I watched my wife pass a kidney stone several years ago and while the event was unfolding (and prior to us knowing what was happening), I was confident she was dying given the sheer intensity of the pain she was coping with. Thankfully, modern science has developed medications to counteract the effects of excruciating pain, otherwise most people would likely succumb to the unbearable experience.

I’ve been through one event in my life that required immense levels of pain medication for an extended period of time, and I can tell you, other than numbing the agonizing discomfort, there is little upside to being pharmaceutically anesthetized. It either makes the pain minimally bearable or it whisks you off to a reality that is something approximating half-dead, neither of which I found appealing.

In this week’s feature, “A Quiet Place: Day One,” we meet a young woman who is being treated for terminal cancer. Unfortunately, during her stay in hospice, aliens converge on the earth, forcing her to save what little life she has yet while trying to navigate the inability to function without her pain medication.

With three films released and one more on the way, the “Quiet Place” films have officially etched their name into the annals of great sci-fi franchises. This new installment, which features an entirely new cast, includes more of the same nail-biting survival scenes as sound-sensitive creatures stalk their human victims.

Check this one out if you were a fan of the first two films. There’s a bit of a different take with this selection, but the core elements are still present. 

A searing “B” for “A Quiet Place: Day One,” now playing in theaters everywhere. 

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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