If you KNOW it hurts…

Why not do something about it?  My dentist friend tells me of patients who come to him with terribly painful dental problems, such as broken and abscessed teeth, that have gone untreated for weeks to months.  When they tell him this, they add, "I just couldn’t stand the pain any longer."  You might be thinking, "Why were they trying to stand the pain for so long?  Why not just get it taken care of?"  It might be money, but more often it is the perception that dental procedures hurt worse than the tooth-ache.  This is untrue.  I have (sad to say) had a lot of dental work done, including several root canals, and the tooth-ache was a lot worse, by far.  Yet, I can tell you that there are many people for whom just hearing the words is enough to send shudders down their spine.  If you want sympathy, don’t tell folks you have a broken leg: "But this will just take a minute!"  No, if you want them to leave you alone, tell them you just had a root canal.  They will start back in horror, "OH….no hurry…uh, I gots to go now." Then they carefully tiptoe away in an attempt not to catch whatever it is that placed you in that predicament.

There are times when it’s not so clear-cut.  I have a friend who had terrible degenerative arthritis in his knees.  It hurts to stand or walk, so he wasn’t doing much exercise, and he’s a guy who really enjoys his food.  That combination put a lot of extra weight on him, which made his knees hurt a lot worse.  "Well, he just needs to lose that weight."  Sure he does.  But he can’t do aerobic exercise because his knees hurt so much, and his knees hurt so much because he’s so overweight.  Oh, yeah, he could starve it off, but that’s easier said than done, even if you aren’t a person who really enjoys food.

I’ve talked a little about pain control in a previous post.  Here’s what stimulated today’s diatribe.  On my Saturday afternoon off (when I went to lunch at 2:00), I had just sat down to read the paper when the phone rang.  "We’re here visiting this weekend and our little dog was spayed on Monday and now her incision is bleeding.  Could you take a look at it?"  I could, I did.  One end of the incision was draining some nice pink pus.  Well, that’s not supposed to be happening.  The sutures seem to be holding fine, but she obviously has gotten it infected.  "Is she licking it a lot?"  "Oh, yes; we can’t keep that hood on her."  By hood, they meant an Elizabethan collar.

Elizabeth1england Here’s Queen Elizabeth the first of England.  Note the fashionable collar, or ruff.  That’s not what I’m talking about. 

Ecollar_rigid This is what I’m talking about. 

Ecollarsoft Or maybe this.  It’s a device to keep the dog from getting it’s mouth onto anything but the food bowl.  Sometimes it works.

"It’s been five days since her surgery, so I guess she’s probably out of her pain medicine."  "They didn’t give us any pain medicine.  Should we have asked for some?" 

Let me get this straight, now: we send home the E-collar because we’re afraid that the dog will lick at the wound.  It is apparently common for that doctor’s patients to lick their incisions a lot.  Could this be because the incision is painful?  I know any incisions on me have been painful (but I’m not flexible enough to lick them, even if it would help, which it doesn’t.).  If you KNOW it hurts, wouldn’t it make more sense to give pain medicine than to just try to block the dog’s attempts to assuage the pain?  Hmmm?

I’m not against the E-collar.  There are definitely times when you need to restrain the dog’s mouth, even though he’s full of pain meds.  Some dogs feel that they can chew out whatever’s in there hurting them, and that ain’t right.  It doesn’t help, and it screws things up.

I’m not too big on taking drugs as an answer to all of life’s problems.  Taking a pill because you’re shy at parties is not a good thing.  On the other hand, if you’ve just had a painful surgery, I think it’s okay to take pain medicine for a few days.  If you have just performed a painful surgery on a pet, I think it’s mandatory to send home pain medicine for a few days.  You can’t wait for the dog to ask for it.

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