Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Cadillac of Pain Indices

A few years ago when I was in the hospital to have some weird body parts removed from my body, one of the ways I entertained myself was in contemplation of the Wong-Baker Pain Scale(see below). I practiced forming a parabola with my mouth, and then reversing it. I practiced flattening and tilting my eyebrows. Mostly, though, I just found it impossible to be sure that the pain I was describing was a whole lot or the worst when I could only feel one pain-set at a time. I was lucky too, in that I generally hovered between 2 and 3.

So imagine my glee when CSB returned from the beekeepers meeting last night with information about the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. It is to the Wong-Baker Index what Nabokov is to Dr. Seuss. I don’t know Justin Schmidt but I feel confident that in addition to being a fine research scientist, he is a poet manqué. His analogies for the pain inflicted by various stinging insects are nothing short of brilliant. It is like going to a wine tasting for pain.

* 1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
* 1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
* 1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
* 2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
* 2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
* 2.x Honey bee and European hornet: Like a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin.
* 3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
* 3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
* 4.0 Tarantula hawk: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.
* 4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.

(All bug pictures are from Wikipedia Commons except the honeybees, and they are ours. I couldn't find a picture of the Bullhorn Acacia ant, so beware.)


Rebecca Rice said...

I love the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, and all the photos and delightful descriptions. Who knew pain could be so much fun!

Mickey and Flea said...

Last time we're skulking about under the bushes.