We’re all familiar with the dogs used by the blind, and more recently with dogs used to comfort those with PTSD. There are even dogs that identify low blood sugar in diabetics!
What I want is a ‘pain scale dog.’ Physicians who treat pain in the emergency department and elsewhere are often confused and frustrated by the pain scale, by its inherent subjectivity and by the abuse to which it is subject.
That’s why I want the Pain Verification Dog. Let me illustrate.
21 year-old-patient presents to emergency department ambulatory. He is healthy appearing but grimaces, saying ‘I pulled it at work.’
Me: ‘What’s your pain scale, sir, if zero is no pain and ten is the worst pain in the world?’
‘It’s a twelve! No kidding, maybe a 15!’
Me: ‘Nurse, call the Canine Pain Verification Team!’ Dog enters room. ‘I repeat sir, what’s your pain scale?’
‘Now it’s a 20! I have to have some, what is it, it starts with a D and it’s all that ever helps!’
Me: ‘Sir, that’s Axon. He’s highly trained and very sensitive to pain scales and he feels that you may be overestimating!’
‘Dude! Get that dog off me! I’m serious! OK, OK! It’s, it’s a ten!’
Me: ‘Sir, I appreciate your situation; but Neuron disagrees. What do you think? Is it really a ten?’
‘I’m serious, I’m scared of dogs! My back hurts and this is making it spasm! OK, OK, it’s, it’s maybe a three, OK? A three! Can I get a Tylenol or something!’
Me: ‘Sir, the pain scale dog team leader, Decem, says “good boy!” Here’s a list of exercises and an Aleve.’
Now those are useful service dogs!