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Mirror Post: Hyperbole and a Half’s More Accurate Visual Pain Scale

March 5, 2011

I just have to post the full thing here since it is amazing. And I know I might not bother clicking a “trust me, it’s funny” link so why should I expect my readers to? Full credit to Hyperbole and a Half, as I have totally ganked this from the amazing blog.

This accurately describes the issue with visual pain scales, and why I’ve never used them. I think I’ll have to print some of Allie’s version to use at work.

Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Ebola. Probably.

I took Boyfriend to the Emergency Room last night because he was vomiting up vast quantities of what I thought was blood but actually it was just Craisins. You guys, if you feel like you may become violently ill in the near future, stay away from red food. Failure to do so may create an atmosphere of unnecessary panic and chaos. 

Anyway, the doctor wanted to make sure that Boyfriend didn’t have SARS or stomach AIDS or something, so he had to poke him a lot. While he was doing this to Boyfriend, he pointed to a little reference chart on the wall and asked Boyfriend to rate his pain::

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.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2011 10:19 am

    : )

  2. March 6, 2011 11:55 am

    Good to see you posting again, Jess. I missed you!
    ~R

  3. March 6, 2011 5:12 pm

    By far my favorite of all pain scales. I especially like “my pain is not f&cking around” and “I am actively being mauled by a bear”.

    It will definitely be a part (hidden maybe) of my future office.

    Yes, she is amazingly hilarious. One of my favorites is the awkward conversation cartoon, you could refer to it when asked in the grocery store about your future plans… =)

    http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/03/awkward-situation-survival-guide.html

  4. March 9, 2011 10:05 pm

    Thanks for reposting this. I’ve seen it a few times and it always makes me laugh uncontrollably.

    I’m an intern on a family medicine rotation in a small upscale town. Scale 2’s level 1 reminds me how demoralized I am by the number of patients who present for their appointments like this: “I am completely unsure whether I am experiencing pain or itching or maybe I just have a bad taste in my mouth.” I feel Scale 2’s 8/10 pain just thinking about it.

    • March 9, 2011 11:59 pm

      Sounds like a rural elective will help you feel satisfied. It’s an amazing thing to work with unentitled people- who may or may not be bleeding from their eyes.

    • March 11, 2011 1:46 pm

      You’re probably right. I don’t mind a true mix of people from various walks of life, either. Have just lately had too many folks who force me to hold their hand through every simple question as though they never expected to have to clearly define their problem for a doctor YET they want me to figure out how to fix it. They seem oddly surprised by questions of onset, duration, severity, and aggravating/alleviating factors.

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