So. How do I keep from grabbing a 10 blade out of the chest tube kit and slashing my wrists? Well, one, I don't have time for suicidal gestures because 15 people just checked in during the last hour and I'm the only nurse in triage, but I also have a game I like to play. It's actually more fun with dramatic patients. What I like to do is think of the most ridiculously painful scenario and present it to them to see if they'll actually say their pain is a ten.
For example, "Okay ma'am, can you rate that pain in your tooth for me on a scale of zero to ten, when zero is no pain at all, and ten is being mauled and disemboweled by a grizzly bear?"
"Sir, you can rate the pain in your throat right now, if zero is no pain and ten is someone cutting of your arms and legs and then dousing you with gasoline and setting you on fire?"
It's awesome. I have yet to meet anyone ballsy enough to rate their pain at a ten, either. If ever do, I look forward to being able to be like, "Really? Your hemorrhoids hurt worse than burning in the pits of hell while having your eyes pecked out by birds of prey? Those must be some hemorrhoids! Okay, here's a pillow to sit on in the waiting room!"
A word of wisdom to those playing at home, it's only fun with people who don't actually need to be in the ER.