“Ow!” I yelp as I leaned on my wrist a bit too heavily.
“What did you do now?”, my husband asked.
“Nothing. It’s just the phantom is in my wrist today.”
This is a common exchange between me and my husband. He seems to think that I’m a klutz. Just because he’s seen me stub and break a couple of toes and observed countless bruises on my legs from bumping into things doesn’t mean all my pain is the result of some self-induced injury.
I call these mystery pains, ‘the phantom’, as they mysteriously attack and leave various joints without warning. These are the traveling pains that are sharp and cause weakness to the joints. If the pain is in my ankle, I am unable to walk. If it moves to my wrist, I cannot open a jar or bend down to kiss my husband. In about 10 minutes, the attacker is gone and there are no lingering effects.
Sometimes I wish that there was evidence that these illegal immigrants invaded my body. There is no joint swelling and test results are negative when I visit the doctor in acute pain. It confounds me every time that my symptoms rule out other diseases and rule in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I feel relief that rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or another serious more life threatening illness tests return negative but frustrated that there is never a definitive answer only ruled out diseases. Furthermore, the elusiveness of these dual illnesses admittedly cause emotional setbacks at times.
Then, my husband says something to make me smile or I watch my dogs interact with each other or with the cat and my low mood transforms to joy at the simple pleasures that life offers. The phantom slips back into hiding for a bit. Yeah, I have discomforts in life but they are nothing compared to the simple moments that bring me joy. I’m so lucky.