Cicely on Assessing Pain

The concept of total pain

The pain is real

Importance of assessment

The pain is real

I started as a medical student at the age of 33 to do something about pain because I thought it was real because listening to patients as a nurse and as a social worker, I was very aware that what they were talking about was what they said hurt. I think that's probably the best definition of pain that we can have. Pain is what the patient says hurts. But of course I was aware because of my past training and because I had the opportunity at St. Joseph's just to sit down and listen, that it was the whole person who was suffering. Although I couldn't do very much for the families at St. Joseph's because of the times I was there and how busy I was, when we set up St. Christopher's in 1967, we started out thinking the whole family is the unit of care. It's the whole family in pain and, of course, on from that you have to realize it's often the staff in pain. Probably one should add on to total pain staff pain because It's so often a projection of the feeling of failure. I can't do anything about this pain, therefore, I'm not going to think it is real. Now that may not be a conscious decision, but I think it sometimes does happen and you want to walk away.

to main button