On A Scale Of 1 To 10…



Spending Saturday with family was amazing!  I’m not sure if Libby just happened to have a fantastic, pain free day or if she rallied by saving all of her small “feel good moments” and stringing them together into one long “feel good day” because, although short-lived, it was a  miraculous, unforgettable blessing that I will never forget.

While the sound of our family’s footsteps still resonated through the hospital corridors, Libby left her chair where she had enjoyed animated conversation and fried chicken and returned quickly to her bed. Soon afterward Libby donned her customary damp rag to cover her eyes as another massive headache slammed her, overshadowing the pain free day. Within two hours she was hurting so badly that she limited out on the allowed pain medications and our roller coaster began its descent into the darkest thirty six hours period of Libby’s hospital stay.

Anyone who has spent time in the hospital will recognize the standard pain scale question asked by the staff: “On a scale of 1 to 10, with zero being no pain at all and a ten being the worst pain you have ever experienced how would you rate your pain for me now?” Even though Libby was in tremendous pain she considered the question carefully and said, “It’s an 8”. Knowing how much she was hurting I asked, “So, Libby, even though you just said it was the worst thing you have ever felt, it’s not a 10?”  “No,” said Libby, as she tried to explain, “I’ve never died and I would think that dying would be the worst pain possible;  dying must be a 10, so this has to be a 8.”

Later that same night as I paced the floor beside Libby’s bed she asked,  “Is that you Barry?” her eyes still covered with the damp rag.  “Yes,”  I said.  “Please pray for me,” Libby said, reaching for my hand, “It feels like my head is going to explode.” I pressed the call button and once again asked the nurse for more pain meds and then I prayed, but the nurse never came back in.

I like to think that I am a patient guy, but as Libby began squeezing my hand and the pain in her head continued to increase, my patience was exhausted. Then Libby pulled me closer and whispered,  “My head,”  pausing every other word to draw in a breath, “Hurts soooo bad… I know….why people……. want to kill…… themselves…This is a 10.”

That was it, my patience was gone. I found the frazzled night-shift nurse at the end of the hall near the nurses’ station and I said, “Look, I’m sorry, I know you have lots of patients and that you are just following orders but we are going to get those orders changed right now. My wife is in unbearable pain, so we have two options here; either you get in touch with the on-call doctor right now and get my wife some pain meds or I’m calling Dr. Schlabach’s cell phone and wake him up at 3 AM to get his approval, and trust me, I will get his approval!”

Libby received a pain injection through her I.V. within five minutes of my tirade and within five minutes more she was snoring softly.  I, on the other hand, catnapped only occasionally feeling a bit uneasy about sleeping in the darkened hospital room while the night nurse walked next to my makeshift bed with an arsenal of sharp needles.