Phantom pain is for real, and as it is, I can describe what there is to say about it.
Phantom sensations are a felt and sensory presence of the hand that manifests itself through perceiving feelings as if they were coming from the hand and wrist that are absent.
Phantom pains are painful feelings that also seem to originate from the missing arm part and hand. As opposed to the phantom sensations, they are painful.
I find it hard to delineate between the two.
My phantom sensations are
- permanent, through every second of my life
- strong; there is not one moment when they are actually absent
- like the hand is squeezed into a firm block of concrete
- like the hand and wrist is extremely deformed
- like the hand and wrist are completely frozen stiff
- like the hand and wrist are constantly and permanently burning and at the same time, ice cold
- permanently painful - but I delineate them against what I call phantom pain in that my "phantom pains" are considerably more severe
- like the hand and wrist are permanently needled or like ants are running over it
- a clear sign that my brain has not let go of the notion that there was (and in a way still is) a hand and a wrist
My phantom pains are
- a lot more severe than what I call phantom sensations
- like fireworks projected onto the hand region
- a mixture between jabs, stabs and a dull ache
Even as such, my phantom pains what a normal person would probably rate as hell; compared to the pains I had beforehand when my seriously damaged diseased hand was still in place, the phantom problems are bliss. It was a massive step to getting better. Better. Not well, just better.
The severity of phantom sensation, compared to my (left) hand, on a scale of 1 to 10, is 4 to 9, mostly around 7 to 8. it has industry strength. If you would have that sensation thrown at you, you would immediately seek medical advice. The phantom pains are quite simply a lot worse, on a scale of 1 to 10, they are 7 to 10+.
I deal with it by suppressing it. I mentally block my perception. I meditated, I focused, I reflected and, with the advice and help of a few "body therapists", I managed. There are mental models or frameworks that seem to be quite powerful. These mental models do have side effects though - and one side effect is that my industry strength mental pain suppression works non-discriminate.
For example, two years ago, I discovered big weird blisters on my left hip and I figured that if those were insect bites, the width of the jaw of the sucker would indicate a 30 cm sized worm or so. So I checked under the bed, and even without looking too closely, there was no 30 cm sized worm. Turns out I had the shingles (Herpes Zoster). The reason was a series of sprint trainings over some preceding 10 days or so that was insanely hard and that had affected my immune system. Most notably however, I did not perceive the lesions as painful at all and never missed a minute of sleep over them. Without any medication.
Also, my stump's circulation is bad. Otherwise my circulation is great. My stump has a bad circulation just as stumps have, and mostly, it is congested, cold, blue (or red) and to a degree it is painful due to that. Compressing it by wearing a tight socket helps. Wearing a compression bandage helps. Not exposing it to more cold would be a great idea but I admit that with mental pain suppression well in place, I caught frost bite twice, and nothing against the shingles' attempt to hurt, the frost bite really was uncomfortable. So, keeping the stump compressed reduces congestion and that reduces poor circulation which makes some if the pain go away.
I do suffer from synaesthetic pain. So depending on the type and amount of actual violence that I see, I will get an additional blow to the pain curve. Living a drama free life is a huge step towards keeping that boost of phantom pain out of my way.