You never know where questions about pain will lead. One of my favorite patients, I’ll call her Karen, was in to follow-up on her neck X-rays, which were pretty bad.
I start to ask about her neck pain, and whether she has weakness in her arms or muscle cramps. ‘Nope’. How about when you’re vacuuming? She says she doesn’t vacuum, only sweeps, and I ask why.
That’s when I start to lose The Pain Trail.
“My husband spit out his water pills (I wait), the medicine made him go to the bathroom all night (still waiting), he spit them on the floor and the dog thought they were candy treats and ate them (trail now totally lost). Then the dog, well you know, all over the rug.”
Refocus now. “Karen, what about the vacuuming?” She looks at me as though I’m as stupid as a June Bug, and patiently explains, “the dog ruined the rug, so I threw it away and I don’t need a vacuum anymore…