No two people process pain the same way.
Each person’s tolerance to pain varies. By “tolerance” I refer to the maximum pain an individual is able to endure before taking evasive actions. Because of these variances, the Pain Scale was created to help gauge pain and treat it accordingly. The scale uses the numbers zero through 10 and each number is assigned a description.
In this blog I refer to my experiences with acute pain, and by acute pain I mean pain that has a time span of up to six months, and which is directly related to tissue injury or a short-term condition (such as pregnancy in my case).
While I often felt my pain was 1,000 and that a new scale needed to be developed for it, the pain scale I refer to was created by a pediatrician named Dr. Donna Wong, back in the early 1980s. Originally it was created using pictures for children but has since evolved and is widely used in hospitals with patients of all ages.
ProHealth describes the pain scale on its website and breaks down the numbers into mild pain, moderate pain and severe pain as indicated below:
0 – Pain free.
Mild Pain – Nagging, annoying, but doesn’t really interfere with daily living activities
1 – Pain is very mild, barely noticeable. Most of the time you don’t think about it.
2 – Minor pain. Annoying and may have occasional stronger twinges.
3 – Pain is noticeable and distracting, however, you can get used to it and adapt.
Moderate Pain – Interferes significantly with daily living activities.
4 – Moderate pain. If you are deeply involved in an activity, it can be ignored for a period of time, but is still distracting.
5 – Moderately strong pain. It can’t be ignored for more than a few minutes, but with effort you still can manage to work or participate in some social activities.
6 – Moderately strong pain that interferes with normal daily activities. Difficulty concentrating.
Severe Pain – Disabling; unable to perform daily living activities.
7 – Severe pain that dominates your senses and significantly limits your ability to perform normal daily activities or maintain social relationships. Interferes with sleep.
8 – Intense pain. Physical activity is severely limited. Conversing requires great effort.
9 – Excruciating pain. Unable to converse. Crying out and/or moaning uncontrollably.
10 – Unspeakable pain. Bedridden and possibly delirious. Very few people will ever experience this level of pain.
Three times during the past 19 years I’ve been debilitated to the point where I lost consciousness. Such pain and un-wellness is the equivalent of level 10 on the scale. When I lost consciousness, I slipped into the other world. The first time it happened I was in a doctor’s office, and a family member was with me. He confirmed that the doctor could not find my heartbeat or pulse and I was “out” for three minutes. This was my first near-death experience (NDE). I experienced NDEs twice after due to unimaginable, unspeakable pain. All of these are described in my upcoming book.
Over the weekend I attended the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild annual conference and participated in the Open Mic session. This segment afforded each writer the opportunity to read their work for three minutes. I read about my first NDE. The next morning, a fellow guild member met me in the parking lot as I was walking back to the hotel for our final session.
“I enjoyed your reading last night. It was interesting.” She smiled as we fell in stride.
I asked her the first question that comes to my mind when the topic arises. “Have you heard of similar experiences.”
“Oh yes,” she responded casually, “the elders experience it during meditation.”
“It’s not the same at all!” I hastened to clarify. “Mine was caused by a health issue, not through meditation or prayer. It may sound similar but their causes are different.”
She nodded but did not pursue the conversation further. I, on the other hand, pondered it all day. What became apparent was the confusion about NDE, out-of-body (OOB) and spiritual practices. While a NDE and meditation involves being OOB, the difference between them is the root CAUSE. “The fruit is determined by the root,” as the maxim goes.
A comparison of fog and rain adds clarity. Both are forms of moisture and very prevalent on the prairies where I live. Their condensation leaves the ground damp and wet. It is impossible for me to tell if it is fog or rain that had left droplets on my car simply by looking at the wet car. The difference between fog and rain clouds is altitude at which they are found. Fog is cloud that sit heavy in the air while rain falls from clouds high above. But one cannot call fog, rain, and vice versa.
An NDE can happen to anyone. An NDE is not a religious experience; it is about mortality, and all humans are mortal. Meditation by contrast, is an induced state that is brought on by the choice of an individual; it is not natural to human beings as death and mortality are.
Individuals who are near death often have out-of-body experiences as described in the works of Dr. Raymond Moody, Dr. Jeffrey Long, Dr. Mary Neal, Rev. Don Piper, and Pastor Todd Burpo, to name a few authors. On the other hand, individuals engaged in meditative worship and incantations, such as in eastern religions and tribal practices, often relate out-of-body experiences but they are in no way close to death.
I want to make it clear that I do not subscribe to the practice of seeking out-of-body experiences through meditation. I do not endorse it. My experiences are wholly derived from acute, short term health issues, and I approach NDEs and OOBs in this context in my book.