A dear friend, who is a veteran nurse, recently told me about her husband's post-operative experience. The surgery itself went well; immediately after his return to the nursing unit, he was appropriately asked by his nurse, "How is your pain?" Using the almost-universal pain scale, she asked him to rate his pain from zero (being no pain at all) to 10 (being the worst pain you've ever experienced).

She said that her husband didn't know how to answer the nurse's question because, in her words, "He didn't have anything to compare it to." He struggled to honestly answer her, and the nurse patiently persisted in trying to establish some baseline benchmark for his pain, using more descriptive and colorful adjectives.

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