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When Work Becomes Painful: Brandon’s Recovery Story

This interview is from the Like Mind, Like Body podcast. You can listen to the full interview below, on iTunes or Google Podcasts.


Today’s story comes from Brandon, an engineer whose mysterious hand pains eventually led him into a year-long medical leave. He joins us on the show to share the specific steps he took to get from a daily pain level of 8 to a daily pain level of almost nothing.

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When your pain symptoms first began to develop, what kind of symptoms began to pop up and what did you think was causing them at the time?

I first noticed some mild hand pain at work as a test engineer. As you mentioned, it's a lot of desk work. It's occasionally in the lab, but primarily computer work, a lot of programming and that kind of thing. I first thought it was just a mild hand pain. It seemed to be related to posture and sitting at the desk all day and doing stretching and moving around seemed to help. So I thought it was just an ergonomics issue and didn't think too much of it. I wasn't panicking or anything. I wasn't obsessively worrying.

So I tackled it with some ergonomics, got a proper assessment, made sure my chair was good and my monitor height was right, got an ergonomic mouse and keyboard. At one point it started getting progressively worse, and I didn't really know why that was. It was a gradual onset where it went from what felt like just poor ergonomics to the point where nothing seemed to be working anymore, regardless of whatever position I was in.

All the initial treatments that I was doing with the physio and the ergonomics were short lived. I would do an exercise and feel relief for a short time and then it would come right back a few minutes later. That felt really demotivating and I guess to an extent eventually hopeless, because I was doing everything I could.

And then I started to worry more. I felt like there might be something bigger going on. I thought maybe I had carpal tunnel or maybe I have something that hasn't been diagnosed yet, something that was overlooked all this time. And that was scary. I didn't know what it was. I didn't know what to do about it, and it was getting worse and worse.

Did that have any impact on your ability to complete your work at that time?

It started slowly as taking breaks, and then eventually it was taking sick days, and then eventually it was just not coming in. So what started as gradual became worse and worse.

Then it got to this point where I would get what felt like these random flare-ups where I'd be doing something - and it could be typing on the desk or something unrelated to work like at the gym or playing a video game - where I would need to stop doing whatever it was because I would get these sharp shooting pains. They were almost like shocks, like electricity going through my hands. And I just had to stop everything all together. So when that happened, I wasn't able to work and I eventually ended up going on a medical leave.

Eventually, you ended up stumbling upon the Curable app and this podcast and all other sorts of resources. How did you get introduced to this whole world of healing?

I think the short answer is ads on Instagram. But the long answer is I basically tried everything. During that medical leave I was really determined to find an answer, to find a diagnosis. And I pushed to see probably over 20 doctors over the years. I saw three different neurologists, I saw a physiotherapist, chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, traditional doctors, physiatrists, internal medicine doctors, gastroenterologists. I can't think of a specialty I hadn't seen, I think I've been through pretty much the whole system. I did very thorough testing, as well.

Because of all that, I think I just kept an open mind as to what could be the answer. Of course, nothing turned back at all. And there was no explanation for any of the symptoms.

So, when I finally stumbled upon Curable by accident, it kind of clicked in my mind that maybe if all the medical imaging and testing has come back with nothing physical to explain the pain, then maybe this mindbody approach really is something. And the more I looked into the Curable mindbody approach and the research that was behind it saying how pain is more than a physical experience, the more that was making sense to me. And that's when I decided to personally give it a shot.

[this is an excerpt only - for the full episode, listen to the podcast above]

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