A Pained Life: Lost in Translation

By Carol Levy, Columnist

Whenever I go to a doctor with a pain related complaint, I am asked the question we all know: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it?”

I always preface my answer: “Only trigeminal neuralgia is a 10.”

Nevertheless, they persist: “Give me a number. Well, okay, if I have to, I guess a 6.”

What does that mean? To me, it means the pain is pretty bad. Compared to trigeminal neuralgia, nothing can ever reach a 10 (I pray). As such, a 6 is pretty bad.

But to them, a 6 is not all that bad. I get the equivalent of a pat on the head and “take some aspirin or Advil.” Luckily, I am pretty healthy and usually that works. The few times it hasn’t, it took a number of appointments, in one case a number of years, before I got a diagnosis and referral to someone who could help me.

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