In a 1999 issue of GQ, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a moving tribute to her ex-boyfriend, Jim Smith, highlighting the different kinds of courage that make a man. While driving his motorcycle through Philadelphia, Smith dropped into a completely unmarked hole left in the street from a sewer line repair:
“He was in the hospital for about three months. Collapsed lungs, crushed hips, broken legs, broken arms, cracked vertebrae. The doctors pinned him together and taught him how to walk again. The recovery was dicey and agonizing. He remained in good spirits throughout, though, and was characteristically stoic. I visited him once when he was enduring physical therapy on his legs, and I heard a nurse ask him, “On a scale of one to ten, how much does this exercise hurt?”
“Two”, Jim said through gritted teeth.
“Not on your scale, Jim”, the nurse corrected. “How much does it hurt on a human scale of pain”?
“Oh”, he said. “About eight, I guess.”
That is the way that a real man talks about pain.