I am drowning under an epic pile of student papers at the moment. More soon. ♥
9 January 2012: This blog post has been included in RA Warrior’s blog carnival on pain scales. While my entry is a bit on the irreverent side, check out some of the other entries for more thoughtful perspectives on tracking, quantifying, and communicating pain. Thanks for including my post Kelly!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how easy it is for a continuous level of pain to become the “new normal”— like when your pain is at a “5” consistently, that becomes your baseline and you forget what a “0” or a “1” felt like before you were in pain all the time.
For the last few years, my feet have been the bellwether of my arthritis. When I’m feeling good, my feet feel pretty good. When a flare is bearing down on me, my feet are the first to respond. Last week, I tried (and failed) to put on a cute pair of sandals to go out and realized I’d gone a month without wearing heels.
Since the standard pain chart is woefully inadequate (as outlined hilariously over at Hyperbole and a Half), I decided to make one of my own: a shoe shorthand for my pain levels. Note that these are shoes for my professional life, not necessarily what I’d be wearing if my day involved reading, writing, and picking up some groceries (that’s what slipper socks and Uggs are for, right?). So if you catch me at work in a pair of sneakers, it might not be the best time to ask for that extra favor…
Pain Level: 0
Pain? What Pain? I feel awesome today!
Pain Level: 4
You’ve got to be kidding me if you think I’m putting these swollen toes into a pair of heels.
Pain Level: 8
Don’t even ask, or I might have to tell you about how it feels like someone
has shattered all the bones in my feet with a hammer. Literally.
I’m being sarcastic.
I just purchased a gorgeous new pair of sterling silver earrings yesterday at a local piercing shop that I’d been eyeing for almost three years.
I took them out before I went to bed last night and set them on my nightstand. This morning I woke up to discover that the parts that had been touching my ears and the little bit of skin behind my ears had already tarnished. So I asked my trusty friend google and discovered that one of the main causes of silver tarnish (after humidity… and I’ve no shortage of that) is hydrogen sulfide, aka sulfur gas. Now, I’m not a particularly gassy person, but I also read that people who eat a lot of acidic foods sometimes generate more hydrogen sulfide. I started wondering if there was something especially sulfuric in my diet. Had I been eating more garlic than usual? Was this a weird side effect of the Plaquenil? What was wrong with me?! Then I asked myself: “but why don’t my silver rings tarnish like this? Maybe because I wash my hands a lot?” And BINGO: The answer is that I use a (non-smelly) sulfur-based soap to control inflammation of the skin on my face, neck, chest, and back. I’m literally rubbing my earrings with sulfur every time I wear them.
Mystery solved. I guess it’s time to invest in some Tarn-X.