Lyme Disease and the Pain Scale

If you’ve been to the doctor with any type of pain, you have no doubt been asked, “on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the least and 10 being the worst ever, how do you rate your pain?”

Or maybe you’ve seen this on the wall in the doctor’s office or ER.

pain scale

This is a great tool to help doctors understand pain associated with a single, specific instance, such as abdominal pain or a headache. But if you live with chronic pain, this scale doesn’t really explain how your day to day life is affected. Chronic pain can better be explained like this:

pain light

And if you live with a multi-systemic illness like Lyme disease, simple pain scales just don’t work. With Lyme Disease, you don’t just have a singular symptom that can be described in terms of how much it hurts. You have a lot of symptoms (see chart at the bottom of page for a complete list of mine) any number of which may affect you at any time. Today, my symptoms look like this

:pain today

Any of these could change – improve or decline – any time throughout the day. Or something else may pop up – like the sensation that a knife is cutting into my arm or dizziness or chest pain.

When people with symptoms like this go to a doctor and try to explain what’s going on, it naturally stymies the doctor who relies on the 0-10 pain scale.  For the most part, the medical industry doesn’t acknowledge chronic Lyme disease.  They don’t know what to do with someone like me.  Fortunately, there is a group of doctors called LLMD’s (Lyme Literate Medical Doctors) who belong to ILADS (the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society).  ILADS educates physicians, raises awareness, and promotes research on a worldwide scale.  If you are interested in learning more about this organization, please check them out at

I’ve become accustomed to being sick and in pain. I try hard not to let it get me down, although at times it does. I want people to understand that being sick is hard and it takes its toll on me, but it’s also part of my life now and I won’t let it steal my joy. (But that’s a discussion for another time.)

For now my goal is to raise awareness and help others who may have tickborne illnesses find answers.  Because no one should have to live without hope.

Shawn’s Lyme Symptoms

symptoms shawn 2


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