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How chronic pain has made me happier (robertheaton.com)
57 points by robheaton on Mar 20, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 62 comments

I've struggled with chronic pain for almost 20 years after military and ultramarathons in my 20's. Many knee operations, 100's of doctors around the world without any success. Crawl up the wall in pain at night times.

Very recently however, I've found a doctor who prescribed extremely low doses of medicines normally related to depression; and the effect has been almost instantaneous in turning off the 24hr pain. I followed up the medical literature and this seems to be a niche but evolving area - worth checking out with your physician. I'm hoping that I'll be able to drop taking these daily in the near future and get back to what normal people feel like. My productivity has gone through the roof as well as being able to concentrate better on work and not on the constant pain.

Now to start making the journey back to fit again :)

I had chronic pain from a slipped disc - nothing compared to the author or you but I remember sleepless nights of pain, thinking every night of my life was going to be like this. It's hard to think past the moment when the moment is all you have.

After a slew of non-working pain meds, my doctor prescribed an anti-seizure drug, gabapetin, and in days the pain was gone. With the pain gone, I started swimming and strengthening my back and the disc moved back into place, and got off the gabapetin. Every few years or so, something goes wrong and I do the same thing -- gabapentin, swimming, back to ok. I hope you both find something that works.

My doctor did something similar for me.

I have constant pain due to a small lesion in my CNS. The doctor tried some anti-depressants and even a couple of very old anti-psychotics. The idea was that, even though I would still mentally register the pain, it would become more like background noise.

It worked, to a certain degree. I'd still love to find an ultimate solution, and I still need to limit myself for some activities (long walks). But I'm able to get through a regular day without pain medication - which I've so far refused to take.

It is becoming more common place in practice and I hope that more research is funnelled in that direction as we currently do not fully understand the reason that it helps.

Pain is an incredibly subjective area though. Some people gain great relief from simple measures such as heat treatment while others with similar injuries/problems will need strong opiods.

I'm not in the military, but I've done a number of ultramarathons and hope to continue to do so for a little while at least before really settling down and starting a family(I'll be 31 in May). Any advice?

(Edit: I'm glad that you've found a way to overcome the pain!)

Best advice I got too late: Never run with a backpack. However walking with weight is great exercise. I spent years habitually carrying a weighted pack or divers weight-belt to 'acclimatize' my body, never took the escalator or lift and ran every moment I could - in boots mostly. Sports medicine and knowledge has improved enough now that these common mistakes can be avoided.

Interesting thoughts... typically I don't, but the last couple races I did required it. I'm doing Marathon des Sables in a few weeks, which requires me to carry a ~20lb bag for the 6 days I'll be out there, and I ran a 50mi race this past October with a 5lb bag(water, light snacks). Of course, there was the time spent training for it that required me to get ready to do these races. My preference is without the bag, of course :) and I always do my runs with running shoes, never in boots.

I'll try to do more of my runs after this one without the extra weight though - thank you for your input! What ultras have you done?

here is an interesting bit of advice on rucking that I found today. http://www.itstactical.com/centcom/interviews/still-rucking-... for myself - never did anything formal - one of my mentors trained me according to a real life combat situation he was in: run/walk 3 days/nights carrying 60kg (his team was chased by vehicles). That was what I always trained for, so definitely outside the norm. Good luck with MdS - would love to do that one day.

I feel happy for you :)

I think the rheumatologist I saw for my chronic pain told me Cymbalta might help - which is an anti-depressant.

a bit late, but this thought only crystallized as i was out walking...

this post follows a common template (motif? i'm searching for the right word). something along the lines of "i was an idiot then [random bad thing] happened and things turned out for the better".

that's fine.

but. but. but what people seem to draw from this is that [random bad thing] means life will be good. that's missing the important part. the important part was i was an idiot. that is why things got better - they stopped being an idiot.

and this is important, because when [random bad thing] happens people trot out this kind of story as platitude. which REALLY DOES NOT HELP.

look at it this way. at best, you're assuming that before [random bad thing] i was living an unreflective, impulsive, poorly thought out life. and now i will be forced to re-evaluate my stance.

but maybe i already had a good life? maybe i already was cool? maybe i already was happy?

[random bad thing] is defined by bad. so stopping using dumb stories to "cheer up" people who are affected (well, if you do; sorry, got a bit carried away there).

thanks. this was a public announcement on behalf of someone who was recently diagnosed with [random bad thing] and really doesn't appreciate being told how this opens up so many options. is that all you are waiting for, to be awesome? being a cripple?

Agreed, bad things are bad. I was in pain for 3-4 years in my early twenties due to Bechterew's disease, and it was a thoroughly bad experience. Though still mild compared to what the author describes, it really messed me up, making me angry and depressed. I had a good life before I got sick, and I have a good life now that I have a proper diagnosis and working drugs.

It's fantastic that the author found peace with his pain, but I wouldn't wish chronic pain on my worst enemy, and I definitely wouldn't expect people with chronic pain to view it as a new opportunity.

I really hope your [random bad thing] works out to something not quite as bad. Modern medicine is pretty awesome.

I read this and laughed. There's two people on the planet that I've wished my struggle upon. Of course, I might have only meant it figuratively... or maybe not ;)

thanks. life is not so bad here - i have ms and it turns out that it's probably manageable (as is most, these days, awesomely, thanks to drugs developed in the 90s, with a whole pile more going through fda approval now). and i am in the somewhat incongruous position of complaining about symptoms that mean my nerves are actually healing themselves :o)

Whoever is suffering with chronic pain should check their Vitamin D level.. Check out the book "Power of Vitamin D" by Dr. Sarfraz Zaidi. He is MD, FACP, FACE is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Zaidi, a leading expert on Vitamin D, is also director of the Jamila Diabetes and Endocrine Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California. The book has been an eye-opener for me. I suffer from skin rashes and have gone through various tests/biopsies with positive results. No dermatologist could diagnose the issue. But my PCP did a Vitamin D test, and found my level to be too low. I have been taking Vitamin D suplement for the past 3 months, and I see a great progress. Hope this helps you too..

I was having mysterious chronic pain in my legs, and it mostly went away after starting Vitamin D supplements. (Blood work had shown my Vitamin D levels to be low.)

I've been suffering from chronic dizziness the past few years, and it sucks. Doctors are not much use. This happened to me a decade ago for two years and then it suddenly cured itself. But now it's back.

I can't imagine ever asserting that chronic dizziness makes me happier. On the other hand, I trudge on and have been happy despite this very frustrating affliction.

My Vitamin D levels are low and I am taking 5000 IU daily in supplements, in a few months I'll know if it helps. :)

I had chronic pain for eight years before the Mayo clinic suggested Vitamin D. I'm fine now.

I've suffered with chronic pain since my car accident a few years ago. It amazes me how I have gone from wanting to pop pills to deal with the damage done to my back to just saying "fuck it" and letting the pain exist while I move around. Pain medication is far worse than the pain itself due to how it affects my appetite and digestive system.

Rob's article is definitely something that makes me feel a bit better about wanting to challenge my body a bit more. I've taken up dancing and cycling since my collision and I think that it can only get better.

This is so f'ing true. I have ankylosing spondylitis, and I'm in pain all the time. My attitude towards the pain is what makes this bearable. While I'm lucky that anti inflammatories and pain medicine are helpful, they aren't something that even gets close to taking the pain completely away. Your attitude towards pain, and the will to live a full and rich life besides the demons that you face are what makes all the difference. The way I look at it is that I have a demon, well most everyone out there has one or maybe several. I can still walk, I'm able to pick up my son most of the time with some effort, and I still live a mostly normal life. The lesson here is that our demons only have the power we let them have, attitude is everything.

Rob -- good article. I've shared it with a couple of people I'm close with in an attempt to help them understand what my life has been like for the past few years. I've been suffering from chronic pain for a little while now, mostly in pretty much every area of my back. I've been through the medial wringer, much like yourself... more doctor's visits (everything from osteopaths to rheumatologists to spinal surgeons, etc.), MRIs, and x-rays than I can count, usually without much luck. I've been on all sort of medications: anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure, opioid, biologic, etc. Nothing even made a dent. I've always worked on getting better, but only very recently did I decide to make it my #1 priority. Since then, I've probably read a dozen books on pain, some of them enlightening and some of them just pure garbage. That included everything from Dr. John Sarno to medical textbooks on the spine to hokey new age books that advocated crystal patches. When I started reading about trigger point therapy and postural recovery, everything clicked for me. Since then, I've been extremely vigilant in taking care of my own trigger points as well as making big strides in my sitting, standing, and walking posture... addressing structural issues. Since then, I've been able to reduce my pain from an average of 6 to a probably a 1-2. I've also reduced my medications to one Tramadol a day as well as some light supplementation (Magnesium). I've made such fantastic progress that I've considered changing my field to one where I can help people in similar situations. I understand you've come to embrace your pain, but it's never too late to cure yourself.

@LemonParty - Do you have any recommendations for beginner reading on trigger point therapy? I'd be interested in reading up on it a bit.

(A little off-topic but) if you are in such chronic pain all of the time, wouldn't that be similar to the case of not feeling pain at all? Would it be possible to hurt yourself and not even know it, or would the pain still increase beyond a certain threshold when you actually hurt yourself?

E.g. Maybe if you broke your leg, you would notice, but what about a sprain/strain? Would it be possible to not even know, and further injure yourself because your didn't modify your behaviour?

My case is a little different from general chronic pain where the exact cause cannot be diagnosed, when I was a child I was run-over by a truck, I survived but had back and neck injuries. Over the years the pain became worse but even at it's worse I personally can still feel other pain, even on medicine (I am treated with opiates) I am able to feel pain, the medicine just makes the mind able to ignore it and not allow it to drive a person mad. Before I was treated for it, I remember when I would get injuries that hurt worse than my back/chest/neck it actually would kind of be a relief because it was different, it was not the same pain that grinds you down day in and day out. Non the less, I still felt it and it still hurt, but it was a physical pain where chronic and contentious pain turns into a mental anguish. The best thing I ever did was seek the help of pain management, for better or worse, the war on drugs has stigmatized some of the most effective medicines for pain treatment, I was a victim of the propaganda for years and believed that I would end up a mindless junky if I took the medicine. I was under the impression it was where people in pain go to die a death as a junky. Funny part was, it was the day I got my life back.

I am speaking from a different perspective, I have gout and have had it worsen over the past couple of months while losing massive amounts of weight.

I now have pain in my feet that takes a couple of days to a week to go away with meds. I bite through the pain, but I can also feel when I hurt some other part of my body while working out. The pain is different, has a different intensity and just in general is nothing like the pain from the gout.

One thing it does do is numb pain in general, even with different pain in different parts of my body I have a higher pain tolerance in general, and I feel the pain differently.

I know what you mean about the pain feeling different. It's really hard to describe, I imagine it's different for everyone. How are you approaching working out?

I'm just going for it. I figure the sooner I lose the weight, the sooner the gout will go away too.

apparently not. according to kahnemann (thinking fast and slow) pain and loud noises are the two things we can't adjust to. i don't know what reference he gives (just remember reading it), but since he's pretty reliable elsewhere i assume he's correct (you can imagine evolutionary reasons why it doesn't make sense to acclimatize to these, i guess). also, the "loud noise" is consistent with the american torture techniques you see reported in the news.

as for the article title. it's not really true, is it? i have mild chronic pain (i have ms, which means nerve damage, somewhat similar to the article). you can learn to live with it. and you can cope. but i'm certainly not happier than i would be without it...

Part of the mis-wiring (for me anyways) is that the sympathetic system is jacked up -- I often don't have an appropriate response to impending or near-recent injury. You do still feel it, just different than I remember (although my memory of normal is pretty faded) One thing that is notable is that other (normally non-painful stimuli such as a glancing touch or intermittent contact - like a shower) are astonishingly painful.

For me, The pain isn't necessarily painful. It's closer to a dull ache that's always there.

There are times where it gets worse, and it's like somebody's kicked you, and times when its really bad like when somebody's stabbed you.

But generally, I feel the pain, and then any extra pain on top. And it's not like an actual injury where it hurts more when you move, its just there, like background noise of your nervous system.

Chronic pain is usually (to put things simply) when the pain matrix is sending false positives constantly. True positives will still register. The experience will be slightly different than people without chronic pain, but for the most part chronic pain patients are aware of injury.

The problem with your definition of false positives vs. true positives, is that one would think that if false positives are happening all of the time, eventually the person might ignore true positives. The other explanations of the pains having different feelings makes more sense in clearing this up.

I came here to ask this too. What if you burn yourself? I imagine that is very difficult to deal with.

At one point, I was standing there, holding the pot that was burning my hand, wondering what the 'ham' smell was before realizing that I needed to drop the pot... then wondering how to let go. Very surreal.

I am not sure where to start: I was diagnosed 3 yrs ago with multiple congenital cervical spine disorders. Inoperable & impacting 6 of my cervical discs & compressing multiple nerve roots. Also herniated L5/S1 with nerve root compression. Add to that severe depression, numerous neuropathic issues resulted in being prescribed multiple heavy duty opiods & neuropathic pain fixer-upperers :-)!! Then developed more medical conditions with more severe disabling pain in back & legs followed by osteomyelitis. Needless to say I know what severe excruciating chronic pain is & more to the point, it's impact on my life. The latest issue resulted in losing 95% of use & feeling in my right hand & fingers. Am on various antidepressants but recently reduced the doses as I had had enough of the various other side effects. So, how do I exist - I have retained & enhanced my sense of humour & I immerse myself in education regarding my favourite subjects which are IT Security & IT Knowledge in general. I read voraciously, and find that if I can immerse myself in learning new things every day I can push aside the pain so it sits in the background.. it is always there but when I am immersed I can function ( sort of :-) )... sleep suffers; tend to sleep more at my keyboard than in bed!! Cant walk without a walking stick anymore & occassionally lose the plot and get very teary but am now able to side track both the depression & the constant pain on demand... its not easy but it is do-able... it is possible to live with chronic excruciating pain and I believe that it is very much an individual thing but everyone can find a way to do it if they try hard enough & are stubborn enough. Honestly, fighting it is way better than letting it beat you!! Good Luck to you all.

We should start the "I hurt all the time and also do IT Security" club. You'd be surprised at the membership. :)

>You cultivate stoicism, although you aren't quite sure what it means.

Out of interest: have you read any Stoic (or similar 'acceptance' philosophies, e.g. Epicureanism, Buddhism, Taoism) literature? If so, have you found any of it helpful?

I think they can be pretty helpful, not that they're going to eliminate your pain or anything, but a little good perspective can go a long way. After a bunch of reading and thinking and doing (ie practice) it seems much easier to deal with pain and discomfort. They are both still there, but if it's 20 degrees to cold for my clothing it's not that big a deal and awkward situations are actually pretty funny now, even in the moment.

So, the Taoist stuff deals mostly with the nature of reality. Buddhism tends to run the gamut but has a lot to do with your experience, and Epicureanism is sorta like Buddhism, but with more heavy language and serious attempts to remove any hint of internal conflict and paradoxical teaching (those can both be handy teaching tools).

All of them, to varying degrees, teach that you can alleviate suffering through proper response, though it might be more accurate to say you can refrain from creating more suffering. The mind is like the body. When you get cut you clean it and bandage it and leave the thing alone. Anything else directly messing with it is just hindering the process, however, you can help yourself by doing things like making sure you have a good diet and get plenty of rest. The above three teach you about diet and rest and so on, but for your person.

7 years of misery. Started taking and now abusing oxycodone but better a short while in bliss than pure misery. It's all down hill from here but I don't care as I feel good.

Rob, there are many different forms of chronic pain, many different severities, and many different causes. The most common instances of chronic pain occur after some form of trauma (damage), but others occur without any known trauma. From your description, you seem to be in the "post trauma" category (from cycling), and the pain is limited to your legs.

Since you're still able to walk, and surprisingly, rollerblade and run, you should to count yourself as very lucky.

I mean this sincerely. I won't compare pains in public, but I'll just say, I still appreciate my good fortune and I always count my blessings. Whenever you have moments when you're unable to do the things you want, try to remember the things you can still do. It helps. Even if the only things you can manage to do today is get yourself out of bed into a chair and try to concentrate well enough to read, those are still accomplishments and you are lucky to be able to do them.

You managed to use a computer for awhile or maybe even did a bit of typing today? -- FUCK YEAH! Major Win!

Celebrate the wins. Appreciate the little things. Until a person is no longer able to do the little things, those little things are taken for granted.

The supposed little things seem so pathetic by comparison, but comparison is the real problem. If you compare yourself with others, there are only two possible outcomes and both are harmful; either you'll become vain, or you'll become insecure.

The best answer is to just do your best. At times, your best will be truly bad, by comparison, but this is true for absolutely everyone. When you learn to accept your abilities and appreciate your best, you've got the positive momentum to keep striving for better. Everyone endures setbacks, and everyone is enduring some rate of deterioration -- for example, think of some skill you had but are now a bit rusty due to lack of practice (like SYS/360 or VAX assembly code?). Only by continually trying to do your best can you stave off the eventual decline a little longer, but more importantly, doing our best is where we find happiness.

The rogues gallery of interaction on the Internet is always there, and every day it seems to become more of a competition and conflict of harmful comparisons. Whether it's the effigy of yourself on some "social" site being compared with others, or your best work being compared with alternatives; the comparisons are always there. The only thing you should ever take with you from a comparison is new ideas to improve your best.

Laugh! It helps. Make jokes so others can laugh with you. (Yes, even here on HN)

If you, or others, in our situation would like to contact me privately through email, I have a good collection of information that can help people living with chronic pain. My email is in my profile.

Worth reading Tim Park's book:

Teach Us to Sit Still: A Sceptic's Search for Health and Healing


An accurate review comment:

this autobiographical account of his journey from a life dominated by acute pain to one where a reasonable equilibrium between body and soul enables him to live in relative comfort and healthy productivity.

This was so on point I started crying while reading it. This sentence hit home 'At first your only real emotion is rage.' It feels like rage is just under surface for me at all times. I hurt all the time. It is just a matter of how much. If the pain goes over a certain number, I become a mess. I always think 'oh no! Is this my NEW norm???' Thank you for writing the article. My husband shared it with me.

10 years of chronic neuropathic pain following surgery have lead me down much the same roller coaster of life. I also try to prioritize balance and calmness, and while occasionally I feel like I'm losing my mind I feel like at least recover faster and get through the next few minutes of pain, and repeat the process all day every day. Good luck to all those who have had to face chronic pain, its a daily battle.

I'm a little surprised that no one has brought up Gabor Mate's work -- specifically When The Body Says No (http://drgabormate.com/writings/books/when-the-body-says-no/) -- it's a good walk through what is and isn't possible with the weird little pharmacopeia you've got stashed in your head.

I just had a similar epiphany, at 45, my chronic pain was a signal I needed to take better care of myself. As such, I think I'm in a good spot to help my other friends and family deal as their bodies start falling apart. As difficult as it is, you need to get your mind right. And you will regress, but you'll be back, a different kind of cycle for you ;)

I appreciate the resolve. I have the same affliction (unresolved, unidentified neuropathy), but mine exists in my right cheek and orbital. Sometimes when I'm lying down in the middle of the afternoon with stabbing pains things seem unbearable; but, I persist.

Wow I wasn't sure what to expect, amazing writing Rob, gripping, you should write books not code, brilliant. In addition to the wonderful insights you share, this was my favorite part: "You cultivate stoicism, although you aren't quite sure what it means." :)

After 15 years of something similar (if not exactly the same thing -- we should talk) I'd suggest that you're in a valley of happiness now, please enjoy it as I can guarantee that it won't last. You're going to cycle back to the other states.

I registered an account just so I could reply and confirm your statement. While there are studies to suggest that 'Mindfulness' type approaches like the OP describes helps, there is nothing to suggest it lasts.

Unfortunately it's not a sine wave, it's more like a downhill slope. As you age, it only gets worse. I hate to appear like a dark cloud over the OP's sunny article, but I'm 27 years in. For the first 10 years or so, I too believed it made me stronger, tougher etc. Now I'm just happy to make it stop - whatever it takes.

I don't know if I agree. I've had chronic pain since I was 18 (sure it was worse later) so I'm 20 years in. I think attitude has a huge impact. I know I was taking craploads more medicine with less results when I didn't put it in the right perspective. We really can beat our pain if we put our head in the demon's mouth as Jerry Colonna likes to say. There are obviously things that are much worse, I know that sort of thinking really helps me. Google around a little and see how people in wheelchairs are doing marathons or something similar. Makes my pain seem tame by comparison.

I agree that attitude certainly helps, I just think it is naive to believe it alone will always be sufficient, and hubris to suggest it can work for everyone.

Having said that - I'm glad it's working for you as well.

Definitely, I totally agree with that assessment. I know everyone's pain is different, and chronic pain is never a walk in the park. This isn't going to work for everyone as a magick cure all, but it definitely helps to stay positive.

Regardless of your own history, regarding the OP's experience purely as a cycle seems unduly pessimistic. What if it's more like sine wave with a positive slope? After all, OP changed his personality and lifestyle in important ways.

If I wasn't unduly optimistic, I'd be institutionalized by now. My suggestion to the OP was that periods like he described have happened for me as well -- in retrospect, they were "remission-like" incidents. When the first one crashed back into full blown, I went from "the usual depressed" to something much darker. When I had another remission period, I was elated but aware that "all good things must end" and I enjoyed every damn minute of it. Right now, I'd love a period of remission, it would make a SIGNIFICANT difference in my day-to-day.

My hope for the OP and my intention in writing was to encourage him to have some psychic cushion for the potential of a return to strongly symptomatic existence. The only constant is change.

That sucks man, I can definitely believe that. My email's in my profile, let's talk.

I am impressed that you managed to cycle hard enough that such a thing could happen. My best month on the bike was 1000 miles; I can't imagine what you must have done to 'earn' such a 'reward.'

My neurogenic pain was caused by a broken wrist. Now it's everywhere.

Yikes! That's terrible. I am thankful that I only hurt when I exert myself for long periods or too aggressively. Hitting the pavement does it too but I've been fortunate not to do anything like that recently.

I find the concept that the brain could cause pain to exist where there is no "real" (like sliced/torn nerve endings) fascinating and terrifying at the same time. I didn't even realize that was a thing that could happen 'til I read this article.

It's not the circumstances that determine who you're gonna be, but how you deal with these problems and pains that come your way...

A healthy man has thousands of problems. A sick man only one.

Thank you, for sharing.

Late to comment, but I read this post a few days ago and I wanted to comment under a throw-away account. I can share some feeling with the author, but there's no way I agree that you can be happier with chronic pain.

I've been also suffering from chronic pain since I was ~20. I remember it started with mild focusing problem: I would feel unable to concentrate, and every ~60 seconds or so I would have a sensation of disorientation that would break my train of thought. Sounds innocent. I also thought that too, until it started to get worse and I had to start looking for medical advice.

I carried on, even though you can imagine that even though there was actually no pain, it's incredibly debilitating. At some point it got so bad, I remember I had occasions where I would feel "lost" in the middle of a room, I would try to remember what I was doing but as I was doing that I would re-start from 0, and ask myself: what was..? Fortunately it wouldn't last for very long (maybe a couple of minutes),and I actually never lost the "memory", I would just be unable to think.

I still believe this was the onset of everything that followed. This feeling got less and less frequent over the months. After 3 years I didn't have any of those "lost in a room" moments. But as this feeling disappeared, I started to have tingling pain in the fingers, that later extended to the whole arms. I later (after years, medical examinations, etc) discovered that what was actually happening was muscle stiffness in the forearms, then neck, and then the whole body, which created varying levels of suboptimal blood circulation, and subsequently increased stiffness resulting in a negative feedback loop.

At various times, I had rippling muscles, like this: http://youtu.be/vKgFtIbCzcg

Some other times I could strike any muscle with a finger with minimal force, without pain at all, and it would form an isolated contraction, so small I could actually draw shapes on the biceps, which is something I would have always fun doing to show doctors.

But the biggest problem became very soon to be pain. Everywhere. Due to stiffness, fatigue, or whatever. I was doing piano lessons since a couple of years, but I couldn't take it anymore. After a session I would feel stiffer, I couldn't articulate the fingers smoothly as I could at the beginning of the lesson itself. It was something that I loved, and the more I tried the more I would feel powerless. Very, very slowly I stopped doing any piano entirely, because I would only feel enraged, bad, and depressed.

I had to slow down work. A lot. Typing became a serious issue. I switched countless keyboards. I would before "think while typing" and correct/fix the code along the way. I now "think before doing anything".

One of the things that I always liked was hiking. I hiked a lot, 3-12 hours, any elevation gain, any distance, no problem. I could hike slowly and think, or I could just as well hike to stop thinking, which is also incredibly effective. It's the perfect stress/pain valve, until last year I started having the same issue in the legs too. Again, very slowly. Sometimes I would just feel tired, and recover quickly. But over time the recovery took longer and longer, until now it seems that I cannot properly recover even from mild activity.

The biggest "a-ha" moment for me was two years ago, when I stopped doing piano. The author of the post says it's "happiness" and enjoying the small things. I don't think so. For me it was the moment I gave up. I tried fucking hard doing everything I could to fix the issue. I spent literally everything I had on medical doctors, visits, etc. I tried alternative medicine. I explored every detail I could, and failed. At this point you just let go, and accept the problem as it is. I'm basically forced to care for the issue, otherwise I wouldn't work at all, but does this make me happy?

I'm sorry, but no. I'd give you anything so I don't have to suffer continuously, so that I could do piano again, or hike without having to worry about pain later, or even sit at the computer without feeling pain.

The way I work now is very different. When I want to work on a problem, or do any activity, I have to focus hard, "zone out" completely if you will, to the point that anything beyond the problem at hand has any space. It's hard to do. But you can become good at it, like everything else. And it's not a method for stress relief, because the moment you "let go" the pain is brought back too.

Maybe I'm missing the enlightenment the poster had. But chronic pain is incredibly debilitating. I have moments were I really feel handicapped, even though I can literally do everything. Chronic pain is bad guys, there is no "good" that I can think of :(.

In the article, he hints at it with his discussion of acceptance, but more directly there have been reports of people dealing better with chronic pain through meditation.

Apparently, it comes down to the same thing: your attitude and emotional response to pain are extremely important.

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