Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On a scale of 1 to 10

I don't register pain like other people. What other people may describe as extreme pressure, such as having a lot of weight on me or wearing a tight corset, is actually very relaxing to me. The "rate your pain" scale does not make sense to me or some of my friends on the spectrum. There are a few reasons for this, but they are all important and can be dangerous.

Pain is normal for me. I've spent a majority of my life living with some type of pain. Difficulty breathing was an every day thing until we learned I had asthma. It's weird to think of the dull throb of a strained muscle or twisted ankle as normal to some, but this is how I know my body. Like a house where the kitchen cabinets stick a bit, it's what I expect from my body. It's not until something really goes wrong and the doctors ask how long my symptoms have been around do things get complicated.

I don't know what other people register pain as, so those pain scales require a little conversion on my part to make myself understandable. When I broke my arm, it took me 3 days to realize it was broken and only when it was completely swollen did my mother bring me to the hospital because "it didn't really hurt." I know I have a high pain tolerance, but sometimes it gets dangerous.

Pain scales require a certain amount of self-awareness even neurotypical adults don't fully master. Since the pain scale never made much sense to me, and I grew up in a house filled with medical jargon, it has always been my practice to vividly describe the pain in ways doctors can understand. Pressure, throbbing, sharp, frequently, dull, sore are all words with tangible definitions. They require little conversion and it allows me to communicate clearer with my doctor. Only once did someone show me a scale with faces to represent the numerical pain. I laughed and said I had no idea what any of those faces could mean in relation to how I felt in my body.

So here I sit in the gym locker room as I recently discovered my hand grip has lessened significantly. This is directly related to the increase in knuckle cracking I've done recently. I've been having trouble holding things lately, but I thought it was just because I've been tired with school and work. Now that I'm aware there is a VERY big problem, I need to work on addressing this behavior. Hmmm... I wonder how I can do that?

Hint: Tomorrow we'll be talking about ABA and CBT.

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