Pain? Everyone With Aortic Disease Should Read This Book

A guide to better body movement book

I love this book, especially the section on pain. Learn to move more effectively for life.

Pain comes in many formats and it pays to understand it, because, have pain you will (at the risk of sounding like Yoda).

Pain intense physical effort.

The pain of intense physical and mental effort, when you are pushing yourself to the max in a race. FitOldDog finishing first in his age-group in an Olympic Distance triathlon.

Painful sensation ranges from slight irritation to personality-destroying chronic agony. The worst I’ve felt in my life (and no, I haven’t had a baby) was severe enough to cause me to lose consciousness, when lots of morphine didn’t touch it (two big medical professionals pulling a dislocated shoulder back into the joint – they did a great job). My recent work with plantar fasciitis, to fix it, finally, and to study it for our new book, was a real gift, leading me to buy the book by Todd Hargrove, highlighted above. The section on pain is a real eye-opener, especially the way the author explains where it comes from, how it can be deceptive, and how to deal with it wisely. I strongly recommend this book to anyone.

I have experienced two major kinds of pain during triathlons.

Pain of intense physical effort: shown in this post, was taken as I was finishing an Olympic Distance triathlon, coming in first in my age group. The expression on my face is that of intense physical and mental effort needed to keep pushing, when my  body is screaming to stop. It’s what I call good pain.

Pain of exhaustion and anxiety.

Complex pain expression, as I finish the 2010 Lake Placid Ironman. It includes evidence of exhaustion laced with anxiety, but it saved my life.

Complex pain of exhaustion combined with anxiety: this occurred during the final 16 miles of the 2010 Lake Placid Ironman, when I came in second in my age group. If you look at the image you’ll notice that I have the pained expression of exhaustion laced with worry. The pain that led to this expression was actually in my feet, and it was the experience that finally, 10 days later, led me to diagnose my abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). A very different experience, but it also turned out to be good pain. It was a warning sign that saved my life.

Pain clearly comes as a thunderbolt from the blue, if you suffer an aortic dissection. In the case of an abdominal aortic aneurysm there is often no pain at all, though some do suffer severe back and abdominal pain, that is often mistaken for a pulled muscle or indigestion (sometimes fatally). This is why AAA is labeled a silent killer. If you survive the surgery of dissection or AAA, you then have to deal with very different types of pain, the severest of which can be fear – yes, fear can induce intense psychological distress, another form of pain. It can also influence the severity of physical pain, because your level of physical discomfort is linked to your emotional state at the time.

Read Todd Hargrove’s book to learn more, I say. It may well help you to move beyond your situation to regain your life.

Wishing you well!


PS remember, pain can protect you from harm, so it is really your friend.

PPS people often ask me how to approach safe exercise with aortic disease, and again I say, “Read Todd’s book.



  1. They should also ready your book as well!

    • Hi Alan, I’m happy, you? Yep, my book is helpful, I think, and this book, the one I recommend, is remarkable. See you in December, and my turn to buy dinner. Cheers, Kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.