Viewpoints: Pain Scores Are Just About Useless For Treating Disease; ‘Mommy Brain’ Is Actually A Superpower
Editorial pages focus on these public health issues and others.
The Problem With Pain Scores
If you recognize that question, you probably know this scenario: you’re sitting in a health care facility and, after telling your clinician about a pain in your back (or somewhere), they ask: how bad is it? As a pain physician, I always feel that the pain score (as it’s called) is a strange ritual. For one thing, a patient telling me they have “seven out of 10” gives me little to work with because while “seven” is a number, it isn’t an objective, replicable measure of pain. I ask patients to think of “10” as the worst pain they’ve ever felt or can imagine. But, as you might guess, because people's experiences and imaginations differ substantially, one patient might have a broken pinky, while another has a broken femur and both might (correctly and accurately from their perspective) report "seven out of ten" pain. (Daniel Barron, 7/15)
The New York Times:
‘Mommy Brain’ Is Real
I’ve been playing a not-so-fun guessing game lately: Is my inability to form a coherent thought a result of pandemic fogginess or “mommy brain”? Like many other vaccinated adults, I’ve been dipping my toe back into being social again. But on top of having spent a year-plus largely at home, I’m also adapting to motherhood after having my first child in October. As I gather once more with friends and relatives, I often find myself pausing in the middle of a story because a word has completely escaped me. The other day, I was trying to describe a mask I saw someone wearing but couldn’t remember the word for “fabric.” I frantically waved my hands across my face and finally landed on “pattern covering” as a close-enough substitute. (Katie Hawkins-Gaar, 7/14)
Physicians, Mental Illness, And The Problem With 'Passing'
My patient sits with her back hunched, eyes fixed on the taupe industrial carpet as though she is fervently avoiding Medusa’s gaze. She tells me about the depression that has dogged her life, subverted her career, infiltrated her relationships. She tells me about the medications she’s tried and “failed,” as if patients fail medicines and not the other way around. She tells me about lovers and friends who have become burnt out and fallen by the wayside. In short, she tells me about loss, and shame, and the desperation that accompanies a life lived on the edge in an experiential war zone. (Susan T. Mahler, 7/16)
Hospitals And Medical Institutions See Inequity Every Day. Why Aren’t They Spending More To Help?
Like most, I have a bittersweet relationship with taxes. I bristle when I see the total amount I pay every year, but intellectually and emotionally, I believe it is part of my duty within my community. As an emergency physician, after these past 17 months, I know what it looks and feels like when a lack of investment and development in our systems and infrastructure impacts the health and safety of a population. So much sadness could have been prevented. That’s a lesson we’re learning the hard way as a society: If we don’t focus on development and investment now, we will pay later for the consequences. And nowhere is that clearer than in our public health. (Priya Mammen, 7/15)