We all react differently to pain. When my pain gets to that high 8 and above it tends to make me silent. I lose my laughter. My communication skills. I sort of internalizing it and pay less attention to the external world, even if I wanted to, my focus just isn’t there. I see it as my brain is filling up with pain and just doesn’t have the capacity for social interaction. Hardly surprising in an introvert as we tend to internalize at the best of times.
So normally what I do, is keep my pain to myself. I am not one to tell people I am in pain or what level it is. If it is a ‘functioning’ level I believe most people are not even aware of it but if it is this higher level then I do exhibit my pain tells, such as suddenly becoming quite quiet.
I never saw this as a bad thing because a) don’t want to be that ‘chronic complainer’ and b) saving loved ones from knowing the pain I am in. Everybody wins.
However, upon reflection from the pain class, I have been in I see how my abrupt silence, lack of laughter where there would normally be my rather infectious giggle and flat expression can be interpreted as disinterest or anger. I have had my spouse confused by it. I have had a friend confused by it. In both cases, I was just in a boatload of pain and trying to ‘pass’. But we can’t always ‘pass’ as not being in pain when clearly we are. Sometimes communicating our level of pain decreases the anxiety in those around us because it decreases these mixed signals we may be giving out. Just like if you get irritated with pain or moody. And I know what that is like as well, since when I was working and forced to communicate while in a boatload of pain… I would get easily irritated with things that normally would just not bother a mellow person like me.
I made a somecard about that a while back actually…
It was the migraine talking, not me.
That being said, what the fellow at the pain clinic told me to do because of my inclination towards silence as a response to the higher levels of pain is to, well, communicate more openly. I keep forgetting to put it into practice though because it is so ingrained in me not to. So normal to keep it inside. So natural when in that much pain to just sort of go into my bubble. However, it would make more sense to openly state my level of pain. To openly state what each level of pain means. So when I say I am at an 8, my spouse would know what an 8 means. I am thinking of printing off a good pain scale chart and pinning it to the fridge so he can refer to it. But still knowing what it means to me would help. Like 9 means I would be Laid Out and non-functioning. And 10, lets not even go there, that is rare and I would go to the ER if I ever hit that again. And 8 is when I start to internalize. But 6 and 7? I can handle myself there. Pretty functioning, to be honest. 6 is a good migraine day. 7 is putting me on edge but I can handle it.
I communicate so much better in writing, no matter the pain level. Considering I am writing this is some nasty pain. I would write it out for him, but he is more verbal.