A Pain In The Balls

Pain in the Balls

I’ve been fortunate enough not to have taken a direct kick to the jewels – a fact for which I am duly grateful – but rare is the man who doesn’t know that the slightest trauma to that region ushers in a disproportionate level of discomfort.  I have no doubt that a deliberate assault upon one’s danglies is excruciatingly unpleasant, but come on…let’s not exaggerate.  This meme would have us believe that:

  1. there is a scientific unit for measuring pain (there isn’t), and that
  2. the pain of giving birth or breaking a bone can be compared to the pain of blunt-force testicular trauma, and that
  3. a kick in the balls is many times more painful than either of those other events.

Sorry, I’m just not buying it.  First, there’s no such measurement as a del.  In the 1940’s a group of scientists at Cornell University carried out a series of horrible experiments in an effort to classify and measure human pain.  They proposed an objective pain unit called a dol – not a del – from dolor, the Latin word for pain.  Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the term never caught on in scientific circles.  Contrary to Internet folklore, there is no universally-accepted way to quantify pain.

One of the reasons for the dol‘s failure was that it did not account for the subjective nature of pain.  The Cornell pain scale assumed that pain adds up in an arithmetic fashion; in other words, that a painful event of 8 dols would be the same as four events of 2 dols each.  But anybody that has suffered pain – so basically, anybody alive – can tell you that having multiple small pains is not necessarily the same as having one big pain.  The dol scale’s inability to distinguish the intensity of pain from the type of pain consigned it to spend the rest of eternity as an interesting but not particularly important footnote in medical history.

For unfathomable reasons, the Cornell team does not seem to have assessed the painfulness of a foot-scrotum collision, and even if they had, it’s unlikely they’d have found many men willing to sit through the multiple abuses necessary to establish an average value.

Now it’s probably safe to assume that the meme was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.  Still, I find it interesting that a person who has never given birth to a single child, let alone 160 of them, nor broken 3200 bones simultaneously – declares, even in jest, that a single kick to the crotch is worse than any other pain, many times over.  To me, that’s just self-centered and short-sighted.  There’s a whole world of pain beyond your crotch, mister.

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