I’m writing this from ground zero. My 16-year-old daughter had four wisdom teeth extracted this morning and we are now deep into The Pain Panic.
What is this Pain Panic I speak of?
Any of you who have endured a serious injury or trauma, or have woken up after surgery and experienced that moment when all of the anesthesia wears off knows what I’m talking about. The Pain Panic is real and it is brutal.
For those of you still in the dark, let me explain my take on it. As pain is HIGHLY subjective and different for everyone, I can only speak to my own experiences.
The Pain Panic is that moment when the pain sets in, and HARD. It begins to ramp up and you think, “Ok, ok, I can handle this, I’ve got this” and then suddenly you are in the THICK of the ride and you cannot get off. That is when the panic alarms go off in the brain. That is when your brain screams “Not a drill, not a drill, sound the alarm!” and you can’t calm yourself down because you can’t think straight through the pain.
That is the Pain Panic. It is the FEAR that sets in when pain is having its way with you. I know it well. It can happen in a flash following a bad trauma, or it can ramp up gradually like in childbirth or when local anesthesia wears off.
This also sometimes happens with patients in my office with intense acute or chronic pain. You can tell it’s there when patient is not in control, the pain is. The constant fear that surrounds the pain is now driving the ship.