The Compassion Pain Scale

I never did do much with the kitten pain scale, because the pain meds’ effects were so striking there was no need for hour by hour monitoring.  But I’ve found another good marker.

When I first started at crisis chat I really really loved it, and would frequently stay hours past my scheduled shift.  I often left feeling energized*.  At some point that changed.  I put it down to a loss of novelty, or maybe nostalgia making me remember it as more fun than it was.  I kept going because it wasn’t about me having fun, it was about me helping people, but I was more conservative about the latest time I would start a new chat.

Then I got those really awesome pain meds in January, and suddenly I was staying late again.  But at some point it disappeared again.

One of the nice things about the meds is that they have a long lasting effecting.  They push the pain-tension cycle back, so I’m in less pain for days or even weeks after they wear off.  One of the bad things about one of them is that I hate being touched the next day.  That’s suboptimum on its own, but it scares me to think of what else it’s doing that I’m not noticing, so I try to go as long as possible without taking it.  I’m also very good at pushing away conscious knowledge of pain, even though it still effects me.  So I ended up going really way too long without taking the topical pain medication.

Finally I took it again, and what do you know, I stayed more than two hours past the end of my next chat shift.

It doesn’t surprise me that I’m better at chatting when I’m in less pain, but I am surprised by the way I’m better.  Ending chats is a tricky business.  You don’t want people to feel shoved out the door, but a good chunk of our target audience is having anxious ruminations.  The last two times I’ve been much better about recognizing when we’ve reached the end of the productive portion of the chat and wrapping it up.  A few people even seemed to take the nudge out as permission to relax.

*although not always.  Most days I had to call a child abuse report in were bad days

**Shift end times are a little fuzzy because of course you can’t leave in the middle of a chat.  If it’s 5 minutes before your shift ends, of course you don’t take a new chat unless you’re prepared to stay late.  But if it’s 30-45 minutes?  You’ll probably be done only a little after your stated end, but you never know which call is going to be a two hour active rescue.