Jan 10, 2010

Crying Wolf

You know the story of the little boy who cried wolf?  He kept saying something bad was happening so that when something bad really did happen, no one believed him. 

I have a little boy who does this same thing.  Sorta.

Sam.  He's 8 now but he's always been a bit out of proportion of his pain expression to pain experience ratio.  He would bump his knee, no blood, nothing and he would act like his leg had been amputated.  At first I wondered if he was more internally injured than it appeared but I noticed he would quickly recover.  Then I wondered if he just had a low pain tolerance.  Frustrating to say the least. 

There are times I probably appear cold and heartless to him.  He is expressing this HORRIBLE pain and I treat him like it's no big deal.  (Even hubby has expressed his concern over my lack of concern for him.)  But what *I* know is that he does this.  He acts like it's a 10 pain when it's really a 2 pain. 

On top of it, he gets hysterical quickly.  I do things to immediately get him back in control of his emotions.  It works.  He always tells me later that I was right and that he was getting emotionally out of control and that his pain was pretty little but he was acting like it was huge.  But to the observer, this is probably a bit barbaric what I do.

Friday night, Sam wakes up coughing and then SCREAMING in pain.  Dan gets there before I do and is trying to sort things out.  Determines it's his ear.  Dan had a similar pain (worst of his life) a few years ago and the Ask a nurse said warm olive oil.  I go in and think it's possible he has this bad of a pain.  But I also know it's possible it's just a mild pain and he is getting emotionally worked up so I calm him down.  It immediately works.  Dan says I'm not handling it right, that I'm telling him he's making it up (which I was not).  I just needed him to be in charge of his emotions. 

I get him calmed down. I give him pain pills, Dan does the oil. I go back to sleep (I'm sick with the flu and it is 1:15am).  Dan stays in there with him until 2am when Sam finally falls to sleep.

All through Saturday, I check out his ear.  No infection. No blood. No pain.  Nothing.  He's completely fine.  We think it's over.

Saturday night I'm the sickest I've been.  Sam cries.  Dan deals with him.  Turns out ... all through the night, he is pouring warm oil in Sam's ear.  Nothing is helping.  Dan is exhausted.  I'm thankful for a good nights sleep. 

This morning (Sunday), Dan tells me it was Sam's OTHER ear.  WHAT?  Now something doesn't add up.  Something is completely wrong in this equation.  I feel it in my gut.  I call Sam to my bed and ask him what hurts, how much, where, what the type of pain it is, etc.  He admits that his pain is only about a 2 but was acting like it was a 10.  I feel around in his ears and he doesn't even flinch.  NO ear pain. 

I do the math and figure it out.  So what's the problem?  He's cutting his back bottom molars. That's it.  Dan has gotten no sleep for the past 2 nights thinking this was a severe ear pain - like a ruptured eardrum.  Turns out ... just cutting 2 teeth. 

My concern?  One of these days, I fear he will have a huge pain and I will not know if he's just crying wolf. 


  1. That would be a frustrating and scary scenario. Hmmm...could you develop a "code word" with Sam. A word that he would never, ever, ever use UNLESS...? Could he understand that concept?

    That would allow him to still cry and fuss over his pain, but when push came to shove and the Mama interview must be had to determine the course of action, Sam would have a backup plan, just in case.

    He is such a cutie...by the way. :D

  2. Great post, Beth. It really spoke to me. I wonder if Sam has anxiety about pain, so when something hurts, it scares him and he reacts strongly which also scares him, and it's an ongoing cycle of fear and pain. I have heard too, that those molars can be very painful. I hope today is a good day for you. Hope YOU are feeling better.

  3. Jaycen (also 8) does the same thing. Probably not relevant to Sam at all, but with Jaycen I feel it's part of his Aspergers and the sudden being out of control because of pain, even minor.

    Glad you're feeling better,


  4. Tooth pain can radiate out through the ears. Especially when it is coming from back molars.