CRPS Teen Overcomes Her Pain in a Nete Way

I once confessed in an article on this site that I hate dancing because I’m not particularly good at it.

Well, now I have another confession: I’m also terrified of rollercoasters. That doesn’t mean I won’t ride them, I’m just…selective…in the ones that I do go on. But no matter how “babyish” (as my brother used to like to say) certain rides are, they’re always enough to get my nerves going. In those moments, I close my eyes and focus on my breath: in through the nose, out through the mouth. During a time when I would otherwise feel as if nothing is in my control, focusing on that one simple task makes me realize that no matter the situation, I can always control how I handle it.

Nete Hangel must have been raised with a similar philosophy.

The 18-year-old lives with complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS.

She began experiencing symptoms when she was 11 but wasn’t officially diagnosed until she was 14. And, as Aja Romano points out on The Daily Dot, Nete never forgets her CRPS is there, “not even on good days.”

As a result of her condition, she’s stopped sailing competitively and taken a slower approach with her education. But, when it could feel as if so much is out of her control, Nete gives herself one simple task to focus on: she makes art out of plastic beads.


For her, it’s “a form of meditation” and “a coping method, a thing I could do even if I couldn’t think straight because of pain.” Currently, she’s working on a Pokémon mural that, when finished, will stand over 7 feet tall and contain more than 100,000 beads. She’s also done an Adventure Time mural with over 26,000 beads.

“I started my Pokémon piece around a year ago when I was in a really bad period pain wise, where I literally only left my room to go to the hospital”


Hangel has spent years creating gorgeous and detailed fanart of her favorite shows and characters using beadwork. This Adventure Time piece alone contains more than 26,000 beads:

In addition to helping her cope with the pain, beading has also given Nete a way to connect with others. She actively participates on message boards and websites, giving encouragement and advice to others around the world. For someone who’s had to sacrifice so much because of CRPS, this one simple thing is helping her take back control.

James Ernest Cassady

James Ernest Cassady

Though "Ernest" is a family name that's been passed down for generations, James truly earned his middle moniker when, at the age of five, he told his mother that "laughing is stupid unless EVERYBODY is happy." Since then, the serious little bastard has been on a mission to highlight the world's shortcomings (and hopefully correct them). In addition to his volunteer work at hospitals and animal shelters, James also enjoys documentaries and the work of William Faulkner. He is originally from Oklahoma.

Follow us