Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Childbirth, Broken Bones, and My Vicodin Vacation: Momma Data on the Mend

Isolated islands can be so tranquil -until you need a doctor who doesn't look like your nephew who took a semester off to surf.  That's the take-away from last week's family vacation that landed me in the ER. The good news, I still got one good arm, the bad news, I only got one good arm. 

Basically I've become my 4 year-old who still hasn't mastered basic life skills like dressing and buckling a seat belt. So Momma Data will be on disability for a spell while I try to follow the doctor's orders while staying clear of my own real-life suburban episode of Celebrity Rehab. 

Childbirth v. Broken Bones

On a scale from 1 to 10 how bad is it?  Don't you hate that question?  Compared to what?  Catastrophic injuries.  Torture.  My worst migraine.  Pitocin-induced contractions.  Breastfeeding with mastitis and bleeding nipples. Sitting in pain I couldn't help but wonder how to accurately answer the question.  As someone who's spent hours, days noodling over the wording of questions on health surveys I didn't know how to respond. 

But while I'm not sure what constitutes a "10" on my personal pain scale and hope to never encounter it, I've now had the opportunity to refine the scale.  Broken bones have replaced childbirth on the higher end.  Who knew.

Maybe the pain meds made me lose my perspective.  Is childbirth the holy grail of perceived pain? What do you think?

7 comments:

Robb and Rebecca said...

I've had my own spell with far too many narcotics recently, too. And that has also caused me to refine my own personal pain scale. First, foot surgery induced more sleep, and far more pain than any of my 3 experiences with childbirth, all of which included Pitocin. But, far worse, as I described last month to my Endodontist, was the tooth pain that lead to one unnecessary, then one very relieving root canal (there's a story there). I pride myself on a fairly high pain tolerance. I used to roll my eyes at my sister's grimaces and tears at merely having her hair combed. Now I fear I've come much closer to that 10 than I'd ever like to again. I see your broken bone, and call with my root canal. Take care, and do follow doctor's orders. It not only makes the healing much less painful, but last much less time than if you try to be Super Momma Data.

TheRextras said...

Hope you feel better soon, er, have less pain and more function. May the medical technician who removes your cast remind you of your handy and kind uncle, instead.

You might enjoy this post of mine:
http://www.therextras.com/therextras/2010/03/is-opinion-truth-.html

Best, Barbara

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

hey ladies, excuse the typing. thanks for your comments!

rebecca, you got me on the root canal, i fold. my own was pre-emptive and thus anti-climatic, thank goodness, but ultimately led to a titanium screw being pounded into my jaw. not painful but a memorable and creepy experience.

barbara, thanks for the link, it reminded me that docs used to think babies and small children didn't perceive pain, physical or psycological. or suffer from depression, anxiety, mood changes, etc. also reminds me of studies showing childrens' reactions to shots are affected by the parents' reactions.

MmeZeeZee said...

Frankly, it depends on the break and the birth. I broke each arm as a child and I think the second break, when I was 13, hurt worse than childbirth. But I had easy births, and quick ones. Not painless at all, but definitely not wince-worthy.

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Thanks, MZZ, oh that I wish I could say the same of my child birth memories...

Janine said...

I don't see what kid of break it was on here, but when I fractured my wrist at 16, I don't think it was even worse than menstrual cramps. The 10 on my pain scale is not the pain that put me in the ER and eventually lead to me having my appendix out (still not sure if that was even medically necessary) but rather the laproscopic surgery to remove my appendix. I woke up from surgery screaming at my now-husband to kill me. So I am really, really hoping labor is not a 10.

Enjoy that Vicodin!

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Hi Janine. Ooouch! Did the anesthesia wear off too soon? That sounds miserable but let's hope childbirth is more comfortable for you. I assume you're not averse to some pain medication in the process?

Well my cast is off, hurrah! But I'm seeing alot of my occupational therapist who tells me every break is different when I muse that my daughter broke her wrist, had a full cast on for 6 weeks then went back to business (of a 4 yr-old) without so much as a single complaint.