The Worst Pain

by Jake Block

There was a man sitting in a bar, trying to enjoy his drink, but sitting next to him was a rather sloppy drunk who kept mumbling incoherently.  Finally, the man said, “Hey, knock it off, will you?”

The drunk kept mumbling, so the man warned him, “Look, man, if you don’t stop that shit, you’re going to be sorry.”  But the drunk mumbled on.

In a flash, the man grabbed his bottle of beer, smashed it against the edge of the bar and then jammed the sharp, broken edges of the bottle in to the back of the drunk’s hand and twisted.

“Ooooh,” said the drunk, now instantly awake and aware, “that has to be the third most painful thing I have ever felt.”  With that he quieted down and ordered another beer.

“That was the THIRD most painful thing you’ve ever felt?  What the hell was the second?”

The drunk looked at his still bleeding hand and then to the man next to him, and said, “Well, I used to trap bears in Alaska, and my job was to open the huge bear traps and lay them out, and then secure the chain to something heavy so the bear couldn’t get away once he sprung the trap.  Well, one day I had just set a trap, and I had diarrhea bad, so I dropped my pants and well, my balls tripped the bear trap and it slammed shut on me.  Yep.  That was the second worst pain I have ever felt.”

“That was the SECOND, most painful thing?”  The man asked and, then, shaking his head, said,  “I hesitate to ask, but what in the hell was the FIRST most painful thing?”

The drunk looked up, the memory causing him to look faint, and said, “When I reached the end of the chain.”

Pain.  It’s hard to quantify rate on any meaningful scale, but those in the medical profession provide a list of the 25 things that hurt worst in the human body.  They are:

25 – Gout (I have had it, and i can attest that it’s pretty damned bad.)
24 – Tooth Abscess (Been there, done that… not fun at all.)
23 – Torn Achilles Tendon
22 – Road Rash (Lay a bike down at 65 mph on the highway and you’ll know.)
21 – Stonefish Sting
20 – A Bear Attack
19 – A Broken Femur
18 – Being Drawn and Quartered
17 – Venomous Insect Sting (Like the Bullet Ant in South America.)
16 – Trigeminal Neuralgia (Described by sufferers as like being struck in the head by lightning.)

15 – Lingchi (Also known as “Death By A Thousand Cuts”.)
14 – Tetanus (Remember to get those shots.)
13 – Childbirth
12 – Crucifixion (Jesus, that hurts!)
11 – Peritonitis
10 – Irukandji Syndrome (Being stung by a jellyfish.)
9  – Gonadal Torsion (Your balls get twisted… and not in a good way.)
8  – Kidney Stones
7  – Second Degree Burns

6  – Dercum’s Disease (Numerous lipomas that spread across the body.)
5  – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome 

4  – Cluster Headaches
3  – Penile Fracture (OW… just OW)
2  – Postdural Puncture Headache (Described as being seared by hot metal.)
1  – Emotional Pain (When the invisible wounds are so painful that death seems the only option… it’s bad.)

No matter where your pain sits on this sliding scale of pain, I’m sure you know at least one person… hell, I know of several… whose pain will ALWAYS be worse.  You have a sore leg?  “My leg was so sore the doctors wanted to take it off at the knee.”  You have migraines?  “I have headaches so bad that my blood pressure drops and I pass out.”  You have mental pain over the loss of a loved one?  “My aunt Grizelda died of acute acne and I slit my wrists and died too!”

Hyperbole knows no bounds when you’re dealing with the one-upsmanship of the chronic complainer.  The only way to get away from them is to systematically cut them out of your life, severely limiting access to you.  This doesn’t STOP them, but in forces them to victimize the nearest “not you.”  Hopefully your ears and your jangled nerves will be healed by the time they somehow make their way back around to you again.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  There are indeed people for whom pain is chronic, from medically acknowledged sources, and some that science is still looking into, in hopes of finding not only the genesis, but a cure.  People who suffer with such unrelenting sources of pain as fibromyalgia, Multiple sclerosis, shingles, bursitis, nerve damage, various cancers, stomach ulcers, AIDS, organ diseases, Rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, back pain, injury, surgical complications, depression and other sources are in real pain, and often under-treated due to the unwanted side effects of pain medications and now, the burgeoning problems with opioid induced addictions.

Being a person who is afflicted with ostioarthritis in many of my joints, including the feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders, wrists, and hands, I can identify with those whose pain is unending and chronic.  I am in some degree of pain every hour of every day of my life to a greater of lesser degree.  And while I take medications for that pain, I am prone to limiting my intake of my Indomethacin because I find that I’m able to work through most of the pain until it reaches a level that tends to leave me stiff and sore over most of my body.  High doses of the medications used to mitigate the effects of osteoarthritis  also have multiple unpleasant side effects that can be as debilitating as the disease itself.

I consider myself lucky that that is all I have to deal with, compared to others, including some of our members in The Sect of the Horned God who seriously need medications for the alleviation of pain, but because of current political and medical timidity who feel that less is more in terms of medicating for pain.  And you know, it’s a shame that the whole issue has become politicized, insuring that efficient and efficacious is going to be beyond the reach of people without health care, and even those with healthcare in some cases.

The modern Hippocratic Oath that Physicians take upon beginning their practice is:  

“I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”

One wonders, in this age and litigious culture if modern doctors can practice their art and craft without always keeping an eye on the possibility that whatever they do, the threat of malpractice hangs over their heads and they must be aware that multimillion dollar law suits are as common as fraudulent claim.  In this state, the law requires that a physician have minimum medical malpractice insurance of $1 million per incident and a $3 million aggregate limit.  On top of that, there are reams of forms to complete and file, state and federally mandated reports to submit and an ever increasing workload of patients to see, especially in economically depressed areas where hospitals and doctors are fewer than in bigger cities.  As well, we far too often hear of doctors being limited in their pain relief prescriptions for those legitimately in pain because of the fraudulent use of pain restriction medications.  Saddled with government regulations and restrictions, they are forced to place unreasonable burdens on those legitimately in need because of those whose addictive personalities and needs unnecessarily burden the pharmaceutical supply and demand.

With careful documentation and computerization of prescribed narcotics, those who abuse the system though fraudulent attempts such as “doctor shopping” to acquire excessive drugs to abuse of sell illegally will eventually be identified and purged from the system, but in the mean time, those with a legitimate need are hampered by the greed and the untreated addictions of others.

Until that time, those of us with chronic pain will find ways to cope and maintain some semblance of normalcy in our lives.   We only ask that when possible, doctors work with us to help us live as possible and that the chronic complainers  who feel the need to bombard us with their spurious tales of woe just keep it to themselves and let us concentrate on the real pain we deal with every day.  We would feel for you if we could, but when constant pain is a feature of you life in real time, we just don’t have the time or energy.

But if you REALLY need that pain, I know where you can get a job as a bear trap setter.

The Orders of The Sect of the Horned God

The Order of Pan
The Order of Cernunnos
The Order of Prometheus
The Order of Dionysis
The Order of Shiva