They are most noticeable when I am still, like trying to go to sleep. This is because I have no distractions and they have a captive audience. The more my brain is engaged on other things with lots of sensory input the less likely I am to feel the electrical nagging from my phantom friend. I do get reminders several times a day, a sharp jab lasting less than a second and sometimes causing an audible response: DAMMIT! or more colorful depending on the scale of pain.
My old arthritic foot, in its later stages, hurt every step I took with it; sometimes several intense pains would shoot through my joint when the bone-on-bone grinding occurred. I have been asked the hindsight question several times: any regrets about the amputation? It's really a non sequitur, what is done is done. I can say when I think about enduring that daily pain compared to the phantom pain, there is no contest. Yes, I would have preferred not to have gone done the road not taken, but now that I am there I have no regrets. Soon I will run up that hill.
When I had stronger phantom pain I may have been pushed to waiver more on this subject, but I knew others said it would get better in time so I clung to that promise. And yes, the discomfort has decreased and yes, I have become more intimate with my adversary. Though we are still at each other's throats, the kung-fu grips are numbing the limbs and we have at least reached a stalemate.
As an experiment, I took a Lyrica Wednesday night to see how it affected my lower pain level, and it knocked it out around 90+ %. The Lyrica does dull my senses some, at least at this dose, but it does work wonders for phantom pain. All medications have side affects, you have to weight the benefits and risks. Some think all drug risks can be eliminated. Some thought the world once flat. Same thinking. You can die from drinking too much water. Sue the universe.
At this point I'd say I am well tolerating the residual phantoms to the point it is nearly a non-issue. I am prepared to deal with years of fleeting reminders of my lost limb; I've talked to people that say they never go away. Well as long as you live you will have pains of the body and heart, this one will not break either.