Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Who has two thumbs and hates back pain?

I once had a pain patient who kept referring to his pain as "this guy". As in:

Me: "What is hurting you the most today?"

Patients: [rubs lower back] "Well, this guy hurts me a lot when I'm sleeping..." [rubs thigh] "but this guy hurts me when I'm walking..." [rubs hip] "and this guy hurts me when I first stand up."


  1. Strange coping mechanism, personifying the pain. Still, as someone who does use the two thumbs/this girl thing fairly frequently, it would have been hard not to giggle about it later!

  2. Type 2 back pain with intermittent claudication and osteoarthritis of the hip!

    Or hes just making it up

  3. When I have had severe cancer pain I think personifying the pain was a really important coping mechanism. It put it outside of me - the pain is something that happens to me, but it is not me. I am still the same person I was pre-pain. This is hard to explain without sounding really, really crazy, so I think I'd better stop while I can.

    1. i actually like this explanation, it makes some sense...

  4. I had a patient who used to say "guy" instead of "thing." We were alone in the room and he kept talking about "the guy on the table over there" or "you know, that guy in the corner." Before I figured out what was going on, I thought I was going to have to page a doctor and report that he was suddenly having hallucinations.

  5. I do that sometimes with patients. "How's this guy feeling?" (points to just-replaced knee) or "look at that guy go!" (points to flexing hip).

    Now that i think about it, that's probably kind of patronizing. I should stop.