Allie Brosh at Hyperbole and a half made an emergency department visit with her sick boyfriend and wrote Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Ebola. Probably, which includes a great analysis of the current visual pain scale. She is also proposing an awesome new visual pain scale!
Here’s an outtake from the post, starting with the visual pain scale we all know:
You’ve probably seen some version of that chart before. You may also have noticed how inadequate it is at helping you. Based on the faces, this is my interpretation of the chart:
0: Haha! I’m not wearing any pants!
2: Awesome! Someone just offered me a free hot dog!
4: Huh. I never knew that about giraffes.
6: I’m sorry about your cat, but can we talk about something else now? I’m bored.
8: The ice cream I bought barely has any cookie dough chunks in it. This is not what I expected and I am disappointed.
10:You hurt my feelings and now I’m crying!
None of that is medically useful and it doesn’t even have all the numbers, so I made a better one with *all* the numbers:
0: Hi. I am not experiencing any pain at all. I don’t know why I’m even here.
1: I am completely unsure whether I am experiencing pain or itching or maybe I just have a bad taste in my mouth.
2: I probably just need a Band Aid.
3: This is distressing. I don’t want this to be happening to me at all.
4: My pain is not fucking around.
5: Why is this happening to me??
6: Ow. Okay, my pain is super legit now.
7: I see Jesus coming for me and I’m scared.
8: I am experiencing a disturbing amount of pain. I might actually be dying. Please help.
9: I am almost definitely dying.
10: I am actively being mauled by a bear.
11: Blood is going to explode out of my face at any moment.
Too Serious For Numbers: You probably have ebola. It appears that you may also be suffering from Stigmata and/or pinkeye.
I’m looking forward to seeing this new scale posted on walls around my hospital. While you’re waiting for it to appear at your local ED, go read the full blog post: Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Ebola. Probably. and check out her site, it’s hilarious. And some of it is actually medically informative as well. It might earn you CME points.
In the comments section at the Hyperbole and a half blog there’s also this observation of the original visual pain scale: “I also don’t get #2 on the doctor version. Why would anyone smile, even a little bit, if they were at the hospital in pain?”.