Friday, September 10, 2010

Pain, the essential vital sign

It was a slow night this past shift, so at one point I ambled out to triage to loiter around a bit. While I'm sitting there, this woman plops herself down in the registration chair and states "I need to see a doctor, and I don't wanna be waitin' around out here, I need to go back now and get summin for this pain, so yous all lemme back."

Aaaaand here we go.

The triage nurse asks her what the complaint is, and we discover it's a tooth ache. Or more correctly, a "toof ache."

On a scale of 0-10, 10 being the worst pain you can imagine, how bad is this toof ache? asks the triage nurse without even a hint of a smirk.

"It's a 10!"

Triage nurse eyes up the patient, who is chewing gum and talking nonstop on her blackberry, and without hesitation goes, "so if I were to rip your arm off and beat you with it, it would be about the same?"

I had to leave the room. I wanted to hug her, but that might have been bad form.


Stacie said...

BAH! that's excellent.

Anonymous said...


Just wait till you do triage --- it's been fodder for many a blog post.

nurse XY said...

Tee hee!

Michelle said...

Oh my friend, I have been there!

newnurseinthehood said...

One of my favorite co workers goes about her traige pain assessment like so: "Rate your pain from me on a scale of zero to ten. A ten is you're a fighting in Iraq and you've just had your leg BLOWN OFF by an IED." Apparently this gets a lot of 8s and 9s.

Rachedy said...

I love triage because I can apply my award winning actress talents with these douche bags. It's my private fun and I smirk to myself as I make them a level 5.

DaddyMedic said...

I saw this today and thought of you, I'm a Paramedic working for a local trauma center as well as the fire department here in Indianapolis. I read your blog daily in hopes you'll post more, just love your post! But I thought you'd like this and like to share it with your readers.

Anonymous said...

Man, so frustrating. And the worst thing about it is that you really can't ignore it, no matter how sketch the whole package.

Had a patient dropped into our low acuity side c/o "pain all over." Walked in to find an inconsolable woman writhing around on the bed -- the kind of patient that likes to emphasize how much discomfort they are in by not cooperating with the exam and speaking in an unintelligible "moaning" accent. Even the daughter, who was with her, seemed flat and nonplussed.

Frustrated nurse says: now she's complaining of chest pain. Do you want her on the monitor? Now, Stupid Intern was born at night, but not last night, so I say, "Absolutely." A minute later, tech drops in to say she's running in the 160s with runs of V-tach. It got worse from there. Four shocks, a tube, and a central line later, she went to the MICU, but her brain was toast and she died four days later.

Dirtbags in pain. Be jaded at your own risk.