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Welcome Shadowbox!
You are so right about how we delude ourselves into thinking that we are “holding it together” when in fact we may be shutting everyone else out. I’ve been thru that cycle and now I try to keep moving forward with joy. I go farther on the good days than on the bad days and always HOPE for more good days. Figuring out the myriad of things that help to diminish the pain just a little is an ongoing puzzle to put together. Finding a safe place to express myself (like here) has been a very positive part of my journey. I also rely on acupuncture, sleep management, distraction, exercise and prescriptions. You are so right when you said that the medication picture isn’t limited to pain relievers because we have to attain a level of overall health in order for the body to be ready to manage the pain. I believe that a significant portion of pain perception is in our attitude and emotions toward the pain. The more limited or angry I feel (mentally) the more aware of the physical pain I am.

Your updates show a great path and great self awareness that will bring hope to others. Thank you for sharing.