Afternoon InquisitionSkepticism

AI: A root canal feels like a million unicorn kisses

Last week I wrote a post about the things no one ever tells you about being pregnant. The only way to get it to spread around the internet faster would have been to ask Bill Gates to offer $10,000 to each person who passed the article on.

I learned a tough lesson about reading feedback from people who didn’t submit it directly to me: don’t. Seriously. Wow. The internet is full of crazy people and mean people and really stupid people… and they’re all experts on pregnancy.

One response that I saw a lot was that my article was “exaggerated” and a “worst case scenario”. I think this was meant to ease the minds of women who have yet to make little miracle people. But it was the one that bothered me the most. The whole reason I wrote the article was because I felt duped by the fact the no one freely discussed this stuff. The pregnant experience was a huge 9-month-WTF for me, and I pride myself on being fairly informed about girl part stuff.  I also don’t think that women need to have reality prettied up for them in order to make decisions about repopulating the earth. And the response was to immediately reassure women that pregnancy is wonderful.

But we do this, and not just to women. We tell kids that the shot won’t hurt. We tell people that “there’s nothing to be afraid of” when there is. And we send links to 2 girls 1 cup explicitly stating that “this is hilarious!”

When is it okay to temporarily color the truth about pain? Is it okay to do or necessary to protect people who will ultimately discover the truth? Do you ever tell these white-ish lies?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. I think it’s highly contextual. I didn’t warn my daughter about shots when she was too little to be anything but scared, but by the time she was 3 and able to demonstrate intellectual comprehension of cause and effect, linear progression, and that pain goes away, I started saying quite upfront to her that at the upcoming doctor visit she might get a shot and if so, it’d probably hurt for at least a minute or two.

    When she and I went for H1N1 together a few months ago, she also got her seasonal flu while I had had mine earlier (her clinic was out of the pediatric ones for ages). I was hoping her seeing me get a shot would help, since I don’t even flinch (infertility treatments will get you over needle issues pretty fast!). While I’m proud to say she did eventually willingly pull down her tights for her shots, she was clearly unhappy about it and was putting on a brave front, and she was right royally pissed that she got two and I only got one.

    Telling her helped her make sound decisions for herself. It made my job slightly harder compared to sneaking her in and then springing it on her because I had to negotiate some counting-down-to-readiness, but it also means that I didn’t teach her to be scared of spontaneous pain. That wasn’t something worth bothering with when she was too young to comprehend, but it’s totally worth it now.

    If you were dealing with someone incapable of comprehension of the pain and when it will subside, then it might be cruel to make them suffer the anticipation too long in advance.

    Your average pregnant woman ought to be able to handle a frank discussion of pain, though, just as much as being able to handle a discussion about the lack of sleep you’ll get in that first year. Granted, it’s a different kind of pain because it hopefully comes with a joyous result, unlike most random injuries. So I think a lot of women overlook the pain because of the omgbaby! factor. Or in my case, a well-timed, well-informed decision for an epidural.

    PS I highly recommend the Magic School Bus books and DVDs about the human body because it is so cool to have your 4 year old agree to take yucky medicine or get extra rest when sick because, as she puts it, “I have to help my white blood cells fight the bad bacteria.” Knowledge, when properly applied, is power.

  2. I only do it when I expressly put it in perspective with the greater life/universe/whatever makes you feel insignificant.

    Yes getting your heart broken by the boy you dated for 3 months hurts like hell at 15. But no in the bigger scheme of your life it isn’t that big of a deal.

    Yes it will be difficult and confusing to learn this new computer thing but once you get used to it you won’t even blink you’ll be able to do it in your sleep.

    Yes getting a shot will hurt for a second but the feeling that will stick with you for the next hour is that weird cold feeling along your arm.

    Yes your tetanus shot will hurt for a few days but not as much as the first time out on your skis after a fall of working out on the bike or something that doesn’t work those muscles.

    Does that count or is it just all a part of suck it up cupcake!

  3. I don’t think anyone should white-lie about pain. Once the sufferer discovers that was a lie, they might have a hard time trusting such descriptions in the future. Then you fear the worst from everything. You can’t be rational about your expectations if you don’t have accurate information.

  4. I was fucking terrified to get my root canal because of all the going on about it and the cliched expression, then I got there and felt nothing at all. I think it’s depends. But it’s good to see that there is a spectrum of experiences so that people aren’t all “wtf” when something happens to them.

  5. What is it with pain and dentists? They always low blow us. Anyway. . . I actually enjoyed your article on pregnancy as it’s damn good as a man to know WTF is going on and why your wife might get pissed at you for (nothing?).

    I prefer when people tell things as they are. . . when I’m about to do periodontal surgery on a patient I tell them the procedure is uncomfortable and slightly painful the first needle pinch for the anesthetic. . . :o) I’ve found out it’s better to say things are “worse” than they will actually be. The patients end up praising me for doing a great job!

    That said, maybe they should tell pregnant women that not only they poop during birth, they break the wrist of their husband while they hold your hand, piss on the doctor and maybe throw up a little bit? What do you think?

  6. I loved your article on Pregnancy. I posted it to my atheist Mom’s board and we all got a chuckle and a few horrible memories out of it. If you’ve gone through it anytime in the last twenty years, your article was spot on. If it’s been more than twenty years, you’ve clearly blocked it out. If you’re a man, you shouldn’t have even commented.

  7. @alopiasmag:

    What is it with pain and dentists? They always low blow us.

    I’ve never blown my dentist!

    HEY YO!

    I obviously agree that we should tell women the nasty details. I don’t think that women who want to have babies will be scared off by it… especially given the fact that so many of us go on to have more even after experiencing it all. And in countries like China, they have to make LAWS to STOP women from having more!

    But I was also accused of potentially destroying the entire human race with my article. Was I supposed to take some kind of pregnancy oath of secrecy? It didn’t come in my First Response box.

  8. Pain is subjective. Not just person to person, but time to time. When I was 15, I had to get a tetnus booster. I was distracted, so I didn’t even realize it had gone in. When I was 23, I couldn’t find my shot record, so I had to get an MMR again. This hurt a lot more.

    But, on the flip side, Elyse, if someone told you that pregnacy and childbirth were the most painful and tortuous acts you’ll ever do:

    1) would you believe them?

    2) Would you still go through with it?

    If its something that one would proably anser No to #2, but it would be good for them, then, yes, lie. If they would answer #1, then what’s the point?

  9. the white lies about pain really back fired on me as a kid. when i ended up in the hospital and they told me the spinal tap wouldn’t hurt that bad (what a fucking lie) and they missed 7 times before they got it right, i was then terrified to let them put the O2 thingy on my finger or use the ear thermometer because i was convinced a needle would shoot out of them. My favorite doctor as a child was really unpopular for having “bad” bedside manner” with children because she told us the truth about everything and didn’t talk down to us. I appreciated her honesty and her willingness to let me look when they gave me shots and her lack of willingness to let the nurse tell me it was just a test and then actually prick me when she said she wouldn’t. I’m sure it works fine for some parents and kids, but use caution because to this day i still flinch a little when they stick that thing on my finger despite the fact it’s never shot a needle into my finger tip even once :)

  10. @infinitemonkey:

    1. Labor is described as one of the most painful and torturous experiences in life. Most women believe that. And it’s pretty bad… yet some women insist on insisting that it’s absolutely not and there’s no reason to be afraid and only weak-ass bitches whine enough to get an epidural. Guess who most people don’t believe (hint: it’s not the ones who say it’s easy)

    2. Yes… obviously I would go through with it! I’m cooking up a squirrel to go with my Moose right now! But the world is populated with billions of people… I don’t think being honest about the pains of pregnancy is going to stop people from doing what they do.

    I’m a big fan of honesty though. I want to know what I’m about to go through. I want to know what I’m experiencing is normal. I want to know if it’s NOT normal. And I don’t want people telling me that X doesn’t really happen when it does… because I don’t want to feel like no one is going to believe me when X actually happens.

  11. My daughter is falling hard for a really nice boy. I suspect it’ll soon be an official dating/girlfriend/boyfriend thing which will be her first. No way in hell am I going to tell her how much it’ll hurt when it all comes to an end. Then again she may elope to Honduras when she turns seventeen and live happily ever after; but I suspect the relationship will follow the normal course for teenage relationships.

    Ten years ago I had my tonsils taken out. The ENT surgeon and the anesthesiologist, who’s a friend, both told me it’ll hurt like hell for many days afterward. It did and I really appreciated the warning so I could take a week off work and make sure I had adequate pain medication. With children it can be more problematic and depend on the situation.

  12. @infinitemonkey: Like @Elyse said, the whole honesty thing is actually better at putting us at ease about pregnancy than being told “everything will be ok”. Pretty much everything you experience during pregnancy is the very first time you’ve experienced it, unless you’ve been preggo before (but even then, most women don’t repeat the exact same pregnancy twice), which makes it really scary.

    (warning: TMI ahead)
    At the beginning of my pregnancy I couldn’t go to the bathroom (because of a combination of my wacky hormones and prenatal vitamins). I was terrified that if I pushed I would literally push the very small fetus out of my body and thus exterminate my own pregnancy. Who did I ask for advice in the meantime before I could contact my OB? Elyse. I texted her from the toilet, as a matter of fact.

    Having women stay honest about the sometimes horrible and quite often disgusting events during pregnancy is more helpful than anything else I found. Sometimes you can’t describe things the right way to your OB (or sometimes you have a male OB who only understands the clinical meaning, not how it feels), but I guarantee that if you went to a lady friend who’s been through pregnancy and described a symptom, they’d know exactly what you meant and could tell you how to deal with it and how long it’ll stick around.

  13. @Elyse: Good question. My daughter is smart enough to know that breaking up with someone you care for would be painful. She knows that I like this guy and I’ve given her lots of support and positive feed back about how she’s developing a good friendship and all that. Something’s in life just need to be experienced without a parent telling you how you’ll feel or trying to define the experience for you. I also wouldn’t want to appear to be discouraging of her developing a relationship because these are not only important growing up experiences, they’re lots of fun. (Unless you have Muslim parents where this shit can get you killed dead.)

  14. @Freckles: i kinda feel like if i ever do get preggers, my husband *will* actually have something to comment on since he’s the poor soul who will have to deal with my hormones. I feel bad for him already… :)

    I don’t have to deal with any of those though because Chelsea already said i could clone hers. I’m excited already about my little tube baby…

  15. Your article about pregnancy was pretty spot on IMO. I wish I had read it before I was pregnant. It wouldn’t have stopped me, it just would have prepared me for the reality of the situation.

    If I had known that I was going to throw up about 12 times a day for 9 months and that I would be so tired the whole time I wouldn’t have tried to push on and finish my last semester at uni. As it happened I ended up dropping out and not only failed to graduate but I ruined my GPA.

    I think you should do a follow on article about the truth about breastfeeding. We all know we should do it if we can, but lets be honest, it’s a fricking PITB (pain in the boob).

  16. @Advocatus Diaboli:

    “It doesn’t hurt if you’re doing it right”


    “If you just stop feeding him everytime he bites you, he’ll learn to stop biting.”

    Or… he’ll learn to bite you to tell you he’s done.

    I BF’d Moose for one week shy of a full year. You know, I’m actually dreading that more than the rest of my current pregnancy (even though I can barely walk from crotch ache and I’ve still got 15 weeks to go).

    I should pair up with Chelsea and do a breastfeeding one for sure.

    I’ve also had requests for a post partum post. That one’s harder because once you’re through the first 6 weeks, you really do forget what you just went through. Mostly because you’re too tired and overwhelmed for your brain to bother taking notes.

  17. The question seems to presuppose a Cartesian view of pain; that a certain level of damage to a particular tissue will lead to a certain level of pain. But we don’t seem to be built like that – we’re irrational right down to our nerve endings. Doctors have theories, of course — Gate-Control Theory, neuromodules, etc. — that try to explain the difference between what is happening to the body and what is felt. And, importantly, what you tell people to expect can affect how much pain they feel:

    There is also striking evidence that very simple kinds of mental suggestion can have powerful effects on pain… Today it is abundantly evident that the brain is actively involved in the experience of pain, and is no mere bell on a string.
    –Atul Gawande, Complications: a surgeon’s notes on an imperfect science

    So, it’s best to be honest with people. Let them know what your experience was, and tell them about any physical changes they may experience (especially unexpected ones). But also tell them it may hurt less than they expect.

  18. @Chelsea: It’s true that the book answer to how things should feel and the empirical knowledge answer are different. It’s hard as an OB (or any doc, I guess) to tell a patient realistically how something is going to feel before going through it yourself. I try to base a lot of what I tell patients on the experiences of other honest patients (as such, I’m thinking of handing out Elyse’s post to everyone who walks into my clinic).

    I realized first hand how different reality can be from what we tell patients when it comes to pain. Until I got my own IUD placed, I used to tell patients they would feel “a little cramping” when I placed an IUD or do an endometrial biopsy- that’s what I’d always been told. Having had a miserable experience with my own IUD placement (apparently “stabbed in the uterus” has been interpreted by some as “little cramping”), I now prep women with “this will first cramp, then hurt. It might hurt for the rest of the day, so don’t necessarily plan to go back to work.” It works much better to sell it this way because the lucky women who have steel uteri are pleasantly surprised and the less lucky ones don’t feel like they’ve been duped.

  19. I’ve been pretty lucky with root canals. I have only had one and since it was to relieve a raging abscess, it actually felt better when it was over and the novacaine wore off.

    Overall, I think we should tell the truth about pain, but be age-appropriate as kimberleychapman was with her daughter above.

    Pain is definitely subjective, as a pain-inducing procedure done to me seems to cause me far less pain than the same one done to my wife, for example. Maybe that’s where people get the “high/low pain tolerance” comments from? My wife tells me that she knows I’m really in pain when I start complaining about it. One of our daughters has a vrey low pain tolerance – just a bad scratch puts her in tears, even today. The other daughter is like me, much more tolerant of it.

    Psychological? Physiological? I have no idea. How could you even devise experiments to find out?

  20. Ok so a male friend of mine sent me this link and I about bust a gut laughing. Im 38 weeks, or 36, or 37- depending what day of the week it is in my doctor’s incredibly slow office… anyways, there were somethings I had forgotten since my first baby 8 years ago that suddenly made me rethink this 2nd one lawlz. Anyways, thanks for putting this out there. It doesnt seem so bad when you are able to laugh at it and knowing that you arent alone in some of the feelings def. helps. The liquor sequence was epic btw. I def have been there done that with my friends.

  21. I liked your pregnancy post. I think too many people like to sugar coat it, that the pain is minor compared to the JOY you will receive (i.e. baby).

    Makes me glad I never teared my nether regions.

  22. I’ve probably been guilty of telling my kids needles don’t hurt. Because for me they don’t. But now I just let them know there might be a needle. Heck, maybe even 2 – but isn’t that better than being sick for a week?

    Pregnancy does suck. Giving birth is astonishingly painful, yet oddly survivable. Glad to finally read an article that doesn’t talk about the glow, but instead the internal inferno that results in the sweating that is euphemistically called “glow”.

  23. I think once you reach adulthood, you should stop needing the world sugar-coated. Kids should be gradually weaned off the sugar-coating. Start by not lying to them about how much small things like injections will hurt. After all, the point of childhood is to prepare you for adulthood, not just protect you from it until you’re thrown out into the wilderness with no warning.

    In regard to the pregnancy article, I think we ought to start handing it out in schools with the tagline ‘Now will you wear a bloody condom?’

  24. I was lucky enough to grow up without the ridiculous notion that painful childbirth was the curse for original sin. I did grow up with mentors who showed me women have the power to deal with pain by knowing where it comes from, what it’s likely to feel like and what can be done to get through it.

    Root canals? I am scared of those, but if I had to, I know dentists who will just sedate me. I love sedation.

  25. I became annoyed* with both my doctor and a friend who’d undergone the procedure after I had my hysterectomy. Neither had told me that if one’s uterus is removed, but the ovaries are left, one can still go batshit raving mad, as the ovaries are usually “shocked” by the surgery and cease producing hormones for a time. I thought I was losing it completely. The friend confessed that she, too, had manic-depressive moodiness for several months, but had been afraid to tell me beforehand, because her doctor had convinced her it was idiosyncratic and indicated a pre-existing emotional instability.

    And no one told me about the organ relocation, either. Or, FTM, that fertility drugs provide all of the joys of pregnancy and menopause rolled into one, from hot flashes through morning all day sickness.

    That said, I have to agree that pain is very subjective. My doctors have, in the past, commented that my pain tolerance is amazingly high. It’s got to be genetic in some part – my mother jumped off the labour room table and walked into the delivery room, asking when it was supposed to hurt, and popped 9lbs 9oz of me out a few minutes later. My sister didn’t notice she was in labour until her water broke 45 minutes before the birth of her 8lb son. [I should note that my mother is 5’1″ and my sister 5″2″; the men in our family run >6′, but the women are short.] When I had ankle surgery to re-attach my Achilles tendon, the surgeon gave me scrip for 80 Vicodin, which gave me nightmares of pain-to-come; I used two of them.

    I never lied to the Offspring when it came to ‘will this jab hurt?’ My parents hadn’t lied to me when I was little and we were world-travelling and required large numbers of vaccinations. That worked pretty well. [I still hate nurses who say ‘it’s just a little pinch’ to small children.]

    *By “annoyed”, I mean vacillating between white-hot anger and sobbing hysterically at the thought that they were just trying to “protect” me. After the hormone flux ended, it was just the anger bit.

  26. When I was a kid my dentist told me the freezing needles would feel like a mosquito bite. I knew mosquito bites and I didn’t appreciate being lied to then.
    Worst pain with little/no warning? A tenaculum (sp?) a kind of grappling hook clamp they use to hold the cervix steady while inserting the (also painful) catheters during various infertility treatments. Could have used some warning about that one! My doctor did give me some warning before doing the very painful test where they push high pressure dye through the reproductive organs while I was on a table with X-rays bombarding my lady parts. Hurt like hell, but I was warned up front (and Tylenol was recommended) and I appreciated that. I’ve heard it’s much worse if there is a tube blockage as they try to “blast it open” with an extra burst of dye. Thankfully I didn’t have to deal with that! It was kind of cool to see my uterus and fallopian tubes live on TV.
    None of the infertility books I read were very honest about the pain involved in some of the tests/procedures. However, reading the words “transvaginal needle” kind of conjours up some ideas of what is about to transpire.

  27. I won’t get long winded with my response. The truth is always, ALWAYS, the best route. Lies, no matter what the intention, always hurt.

  28. I liked the article quite a bit. Aside from identifying personally with most of it, it’s a good reminder of how tough we humans, particularly human females, really are. The fact that I am here at all means that for millions of years my ancestors went through all that, mostly without any medical intervention at all, and still managed to produce offspring that survived to reproduce. Pretty amazing. If human females did not have the capacity to endure this whole mess, there woudn’t be humans. We are pretty incredible.

  29. I remember the “mosquito bite” lie! And when the needle predictably hurt like hell I just learnt not to trust the evil doctor again.

    My friend was also recently told that only a small percentage of people find a lumbar puncture painful.

  30. On the shots and kids, I went opposite of my upbringing and told my kids the truth. Shots hurt. But they don’t usually hurt for more than just a few seconds. They all did really well – one didn’t even cry or flinch at all. I remember my parents telling me they wouldn’t hurt and feeling betrayed when they did. I didn’t want my kids to feel betrayed.

    I’ve gone on to let my girls know that giving birth is no picnic either. So far only one has declared she plans on being the crazy cat lady-spinster down the street in light of this.

  31. It is okay to lie about pain when it is an emergency and they need to comply. I will lie my ass off then. Otherwise, I shoot straight but leave out 50% of the detail. Labor is painful but I think a lot of that is fright. My tummy tuck was much more painful than my labor.

  32. On the whole, I prefer not to be lied to. I remember once I was giving blood and the nurse said, when I took a deep breath, tensed and looked away from the needle, that “it won’t hurt”. One, I know it hurts, I’ve done before; two, I know it doesn’t hurt *very much*. This just made me mad at the nurse for both lying to me and assuming that I was such a wimp I couldn’t handle a pinch in the arm.
    That being said, when I was seventeen I had my wisdom teeth out and the outpouring of sympathy accompanied by gory stories left me kind of bemused as I lay on the couch eating popsicles, enjoying a day off from chemistry and biology, and mostly being annoyed that my mouth would barely open wide enough to admit a tablespoon. The horrific pain and swelling were nowhere to be found. Although, it would have been nice to have been warned that I was going to vomit up a pint of blood when I woke up from the anaesthetic.

  33. HA! @reneehendricks – my daughter has also announced her plan to be a crazy cat lady! :)

    And I think there’s a big difference between bringing up every obscure complication you can think of to “scare” a pregnant woman and just saying stuff like, “pregnancy sometimes sucks, yes, you’re gonna poop when you deliver, and this is normal stuff.”

  34. I personally think lying to kids is always a bad idea, but that’s because even now my father tends to withold information from me that he thinks will upset me. (i.e. your mom had a massive stroke he waited two weeks to tell us) I don’t care what it is about, I want to know the truth so I can make my own informed decision.

    The best pain description I ever got was from my peircer. I asked him how much getting my nipples peirced would hurt and he said “you know sometimes when you wake up in the middle of the night and you go to get a glass of water and you stub your toe on the door jam, it hurts about that bad.” And he was absolutely right.

  35. @intimeoflilacs: I think you should do a follow on article about the truth about breastfeeding. We all know we should do it if we can, but lets be honest, it’s a fricking PITB (pain in the boob).


    This is something that has really been bugging me after watching my wife go through it. Neither of our children would latch at first, and she found it very frustrating and depressing at a time when she was already pretty damned depressed and frustrated.

    So she decided (twice) to skip the whole thing and use a pump. We had a chest freezer full of breast milk and I was able to handle those 3AM feedings, which was probably a bonus for her. But when I read anything at all about breastfeeding, formula, or breast milk, it’s as if the breast pump does not exist.

    What’s up with that? Why this false dichotomy between bitten boobs and formula?

  36. @shinobi42: But did you experience an endorphin high afterward? I was floating for a good 15 minutes. Mine felt more like pressure than pain, TBH.

    I also like the post-tattoo high. I’m not covering my entire body, but sometimes I’m so very tempted…

  37. @Bipedgirl: I liked your pregnancy post. I think too many people like to sugar coat it, that the pain is minor compared to the JOY you will receive (i.e. baby).


    Given that this is Elyse’s second, and she’s not a total moron, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that in fact, she does think that the joy is worth the pain.

  38. I’ve had a root canal treatment. The anesthetic didn’t take. It was by far the most painful experience I’ve ever had. I once fell on my bike at high speed and slid about 3m across rough asphalt wearing nothing but swim trunks and a t-shirt, causing me to lose most of the skin on my left side and that was nowhere near as painful.
    If I’d known how painful it was going to be, I think I might have contemplated just killing myself instead because it hurt so fucking much I thought I was going to die and kind of hoped I would just so the pain would stop.
    So, I suppose that not knowing how painful it was going to be was an advantage. But, of course, nobody had actively lied to me about it. The dentist had just anesthetized the wrong part of my mouth – maybe she was incompetent, maybe the nerves in my mouth are a bit of a jumble, who knows.
    I suppose that if she’d known how painful it was going to be, I would have appreciated her saying something like “Look, this is going to be almost incomprehensibly painful but you will not die and in less than 30 minutes, it will be over.”

  39. Rei, when I was in labor I kept repeating over and over, “This is just one day out of my life. I am not going to die”. Knowing that the pain was finite was the key to my sanity. As for wanting to fucking die from pain I have been there but not while in labor. I had a ruptured ovarian cyst at 14 and truely hoped to die to escape the pain. I almost did. I am sorry but your message made me laugh and feel bad for you at the same time.

  40. @Rei Malebario: Your dentist is incompetent. Look for a new one. Any dentist worth his/her salt would ask you, “does it hurt when I do this?” or something to that effect. Then give you another shot of Novocaine. A root canal, or any invasive dental procedure should not hurt while it is going on, and if it does you should speak up and tell the dentist. (A kick or punch may be warranted, but a good scream will probably suffice).

    Sorry for the rant, but my dad was a dentist for 50 years and he always made sure his patients (including me) were pain-free during procedures. The most I ever felt was an occasional pinch when he hit a nerve that was not anesthetized enough. Sinc ethat usually made me jump a bit, he just added another Novocaine shot to the area and went on.

    With respect to the original questions, I think letting people (even children) know that they may experience pain during a medical procedure is important to establish trust between the patient and doctor (or child and parent). Lying to them only creates distrust and a feeling of betrayal.

    @James Fox: You’re right. I feel it’s very important for an adolescent (or young adult) to experience both an intimate relationship and the pain of its loss before they get married. We always learn more from our failures than from our successes. If you go into marriage without this experince (like most religious kids do), it’s bound to end up in conflict and a sense of anger or betrayal. This is one of the reasons why the divorce rates are so high in areas where there are a lot of fundamentalists.

  41. @Akiko:

    It is okay to lie about pain when it is an emergency and they need to comply. I will lie my ass off then…

    Too right, especially if the person you are trying to help is not fully capable of understanding that fear is hurting their chances of surviving.

    Knowing that the pain was finite was the key to my sanity.

    Confession – I’ve even used the Bene Gessirit Litany Against Fear.

  42. Thank you for both of these posts. I’m a male (and first time poster/reader). Your posts are humorous and honest. I’m not a father yet, but posts like this can help me be just a tiny bit more prepared. I don’t think anyone can be truly prepared though.

    To the fathers that have posted. Please continue to post your experiences, I think that I speak for more than one person knowing that just because women may have the short end of the stick, doesn’t mean men’s experiences (or partners in the cases of lesbians) are always sunshine and rainbows.

    That said, as a new poster, I’d like all you Skepchicks out there have a dude ally here.


  43. @Garrison22: I’d say that most “religious” kids have girl friends and boyfriends at the same rate as the general population. However the difference would be at the extremes like the very conservative fundamentalists and of course practicing Muslims. I’d even say that in most conservative fundamentalist churches the youth have fairly typical dating relationships with the added baggage of unrealistic and repressive expectations about physical affection and sex.

    @JamieF: The spice agony can be a bitch.

  44. @JamieF: That’s the closest thing to praying that I ever do, and it’s gotten me through some pretty unpleasant crap. Focusing on specific words seems to shut up the parts of my brain that are screaming in agony.

  45. @James Fox: Yeah, I was talking more about the fundamentalists, especially Muslims that I know. The guys won’t even think about marrying a girl who isn’t a virgin, so the girls often have no real experience with intimacy before they get hooked into an arranged marriage with a guy who has “played the field”, so to speak. Then when they do get married, all the guys do is complain about their wives and think that having a mistress is no big deal. It makes me sick.

  46. I’ve encountered the “must never talk about childbirth as painful” idea when reading about hypnobirthing, proposing the idea that painful labor is the result of women’s fear. (Many other labor-hypnosis groups don’t use this idea, thankfully.) I think giving that false information can actually cause more fear, because then you worry something is horribly wrong when you do have pain. The pamphlets I got to explain menstruation barely mentioned cramps, and implied they were light little twinges, so when I had full force cramping, I thought there must have been something horribly wrong with me and was terrified. I’m all for women getting as much information as they need to be able to tell the difference between an unpleasant symptom and a sign something might be seriously wrong – like how it’s normal for a pregnant woman’s feet to swell, but if her hands and face join the edema party, she needs to call her doctor right away.

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