“What is pain” Frank asked himself. He had fallen off his bike again; big black, blue and turquoise colourings on his right hip and shoulder, as he hobbled around the kitchen. He had some distant memory of being told when growing up that pain and suffering cleansed the spirit, purified it. At the time it sounded very laudable. But over the years he had felt differently. “It’s all bloody well until you are confronted with it” he thought. Just one day old, and this one was at its most intense. His wife a retired nurse had checked him out with her practiced fingers. “Nothing broken this time”, she said, “Thank God”. The marriage she had signed up to was to be ‘for better or for worse’. “There seemed to be more of the latter than the former as the years went by” she thought.

There were different types of pain, different descriptions dull pain, sharp pain, even throbbing pain. There were two main classifications acute and chronic. He knew that acute was of short duration whereas chronic was continuous. He remembered drawing acute angles at school and measuring the angle with a protractor. “Why can’t they have a measurement instrument for pain he wondered”. He knew it was a body sensation. “But what exactly was it?” He had tried to confront it. It had receded slightly, or so he thought, and then stood its ground. He was used to pain from cycling, pain in leg muscles as he stretched them to the limit riding along the road with the group or chasing up a hill. But that was a thing all of his own making. It could be controlled.

His cycling app gave a suffer score based on the inputs, the age of the cyclist, heart monitor readings, pedalling speed, elevation etc.

Self induced pain was one thing but this was different. The fall, the bruising had left their mark. They had left a painful sensation. If this could be measured one could see where one was on the scale; at maximum so intense as to unhinge the mind, down to a gentle irritation. “His mind is unhinged enough as it is” thought his wife as he pursued his sport with manic single mindedness.

The pain threshold, the amount of pain a person could endure. Everyone had their own. What if its level could be measured?

Finally he thought, medicines and other therapeutic remedies to alleviate pain could be assessed. A negative figure could be assigned based on their individual effectiveness in pain reduction. By adding the negative to the positive, reduced pain levels could be determined thus bringing it all down to a mathematical formula.

“Mathematics” thought his wife, in disgust. “It would be much simpler if he just gave up cycling altogether”. “More pain in that” thought Frank as he longingly looked at his bike and calculated in his mind when he would be able to cycle again.