Saturday, July 17, 2010


It was the craziest thing I've ever seen. We were sitting in the surgery center signing all the papers, getting Honeybuns ready for shoulder repair. (He'd injured his shoulder last Christmas day scooping snow off the driveway! Nothing like WAITING to see if it would heal itself!) There were pages and pages of forms and consents. We read all the fine print which permitted everything imaginable to be done to him within the next couple of hours.

On one such form was the question, "What is your present level of pain?" Easily answered, right? Surely the potential surgical patient would be able to come up with the right answer there. Is there a wrong answer? Evidently it is harder than it seems.

There on the page were 10 cartoon circles with faces drawn in, much like the typical yellow smiley faces you find on children's stickers, WITHOUT THE YELLOW. There were eyes, eyebrows, noses and mouths all penciled in to portray various levels of pain. Pain level 1 was depicted as a happy face. #2 circle showed squinty eyes and a straight line for a mouth, #3 showed wrinkles around the nose area and the mouth bending south. You get the idea. They progressed to #10 which was absolutely scary. I'm still having nightmares about that one.

We looked at each other and laughed aloud! Honeybuns circled #4, drew a little hat on the head and felt he'd answered correctly.

There must be a very good valid reason for the existence of those drawings. Perhaps those faces help folks that can't read English, but then how would they read the question "What is your present level of pain?" Perhaps it helps children relay how they are feeling! Maybe they lighten that moment of pre-surgery jitters for all ages. There is no doubt a very useful purpose that I just don't understand. Are we to the point that we have to communicate by pictures now? Maybe that's a good thing! It just seems a bit odd in this day of super-duper technology.

The shoulder surgery went well. Honeybuns is no longer taking pain medication and physical therapy will probably start in a week or so.

At the moment he's still a # 4 "not so smiley-face" and I'm just thankful to be a #2 today.

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