The content in this blog is based on my experiences and the guidance I have received from my Care Team determined by my individual and evolving needs. Before beginning, trying, or experimenting with anything mentioned in this blog, you

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

But You Don't Look Sick: Sick Humor: Re-Finding the Funny
Sharing a bit of something that has truly made me laugh on a day I needed it the most.  The deeper into the article you read, the funnier they get!   I think my favorite is When 'Spray Tans Attack' which perfectly sums up why I am hesitant to trying a spray tan. 

Sick Humor: “Re-Finding” The Funny

We have forgotten how to laugh.

There. I said it. Not that I can blame a single one of us. Let’s face it, when you wake up, throw your leg off the bed and hear it echo in the room like a creaking door in a 1950’s horror flick, the giggle factor isn’t really at an all time high. I don’t think any of us can say that we even crack half a smile until at least a quarter past noon and a third of a way through that third cup of coff….uhhhh, I mean apple juice. (in case any non-specific rheumatologists that may or may not live in the southeastern part of North Carolina that may or may not have recently reamed me up and down for excessive caffeine usage are paying attention….I most definitely do not abuse the java bean. And I most definitely do NOT have my fingers crossed behind my back, either.)

I get it, the pain, the stiffness, the aches, the swelling, the rashes, the doctors, the needles, the hospitals, the pills, the pills, the pills, oh the pills. Say the whole spiel enough times and you automatically start laughing…but not so much of the “ha-ha” kinda laugh as the “try on this new designer jacket with the sleeves that have ties” kinda laugh. At the end of our day, we are hard pressed to find something humorous in the entire time we spent awake just trying to make it to the next hour without killing someone in the process. How can we fight the neverending battle to just stay vertical during the day and at the same time find something funny about it?

Simple. Just stop and take a good look around. If you truly step beyond your world and view it from the outside looking in, you will find the hilarity in situations you never imagined were the least bit funny before. Inside our box, the everyday happenings we experience are routine. To general society, our normal is chocked full of sit-com and reality show gold. What is our normal would leave even the most outlandish Saturday Night Live writer scratching their head and wondering where we come up with our material.

I’m guilty of seeing the glass not only half empty, but seeing that the glass hasn’t been washed in 3 days and is sitting on a counter that’s covered with stains that seem to have fossilized overnight. But if I’ve realized anything during this autoimmune roller coaster I unknowingly boarded ten years ago, it’s that life with chronic illness is not normal and for better or worse, it will never be normal again. That’s it. That’s the facts, ma’am. So, I have two choices; I can go through life thinking everything sucks, everyone sucks and everyplace I go sucks (I’m going for a theme here, in case you can’t tell…) or I can at try to find at least one thing a day in this crazy life of mine that is worth a little peeing in the pants giggle. (Sorry folks, after four abdominal surgeries, the old bladder ain’t what she used to be…just keepin’ it real).

Still don’t believe me? Don’t think there’s absolute hilarity in everyday life?

Exhibit A ~ Freak Earthquakes in Southeastern North Carolina

You know what I’m talking about…those moments where you are walking along, perfectly normal, when out of nowhere, the core of the earth spontaneously shifts causing the floor to move sideways and the walls to tilt at a 45 degree angle? Yeah those moments. I like to refer to them as freak earthquakes. However, we, as very sensitive and in tune individuals, can detect such a phenomenal disturbance in the force much deeper than the average person…so much more than they can barely even feel it. Some might say that they don’t even feel it…or see it at all. They may even question us as we fail our arms out for any sturdy piece of furniture or human limb to hold onto as the freak earthquake makes its presence known…just like the boy scouts, we’ll be prepared when the big one hits and they will have absolutely no wall grabbing expertise to fall back on. Until that point, always carry a pen with you so that under extremely intense scruinty you can throw it on the floor, point at it dramatically and spend the next 10 minutes on a rant about the dangers of office products and work place accidents.

Exhibit B ~ I have a Coffee Pot and Staples…Where’s The Mailroom?

Ahhh yes, the proverbial office scavenger hunt for one…only the key player had no idea she was playing. It starts off in my office…I have to get some file folders to bring upstairs, so I set out on my journey, my trusty phone always in my hand. Along the way, my senses get the distinct aroma of fresh brewed coffee. Yum…can’t pass that up, and I’m right here at the break room, so might as well just pour a small cup. Oh look, here are Bob and Sue…haven’t seen them in a few days, so catching up is a must. Before we know it, we have finished the pot of coffee…how rude of us! Common workplace courtesy says that we should fill it back up, but tap water sucks, I should go fill it up with the water cooler down the hall….so off with the coffee pot, I go. Going through the mail room, I see the supply of staples…crap, I’ve been meaning to get some of those for a while. Can’t hurt to snag some. Uh-oh, no hands left…no problem, that’s what cleavage is for…one package of staples, down the shirt…classy. I turn back around and stare at the post office meter like it held the answer to world peace. I have a coffee pot in one hand, phone in the other and a double pack of staples stuffed down my bra, standing in the middle of the mailroom with NO clue where in the hell I was going in the first place. Some call it “brain fog”, some call it “fibro fog”, I just call it “dumbass daze”.

Exhibit C ~ What The Hell Do You Mean That Was Just The Warm Up?

Now the funniest thing about this whole paragraph is that I am (ok, used to be…) a fitness instructor. As recent as a year ago, I could put on a microphone, pop in a CD and make you sweat so bad, you wish you could sneak up behind me and tase me into unconsciousness. But now, I’m one of you and I’m on the other side of the proverbial fence, so to speak. I popped an aerobics DVD into the player the other day and thought, “no problem…I’m a pro at this, piece of cake.” Five minutes into it, I was sweating like I had been air dropped into the pit of hell and gasping for every breath like it was my last on earth. The perkiness of the instructor made me want to throw my pill bottles at the tv… “c’mon! You can do it! Get that leg up higher! Higher!” Higher? Look lady, my foot is 3 inches off the floor, that’s a victory in my book so shut your face and take Brady Bunch factor down a notch. At the end, I was dying, my shirt drenched and I felt like someone had my lungs in a vice grip….but I had done it, I didn’t give up. I stayed with it and put my body to the test. I was feeling rather smug until in the middle of my self-congratulatory celebration, the DVD kept rolling… “Now, that we’re all warmed up, it’s time to really work out! Ready?”

Hell no. I have three words for you, sweetheart…



Anyways, I never did finish the DVD. I have a low tolerance for perky these days.

Exhibit D ~ When Spray Tans Attack

I can laugh at this now. Now…the operative word is, NOW. It wasn’t too damn funny at the time and sometimes I still have nightmares about it but I will tell my story in hopes that I maybe I can save just one person from being visciously attacked like I was. As with most autoimmune disorder sufferers, I cannot tan. The sun and artificial sun do crazy things to my skin and send me into a flare in the blink of an eye. So, this year, I decided the logical solution was spray tanning. Although I was nervous, I carefully listened to the demonstration and the first few times of doing it, it went smoothly and I admit…I got cocky. One day I stepped into the spray tanning booth, faced forward as the recorded voice instructed, then upon the command, turned to the right and assumed the “Heisman” pose. Then it happened. It was worst thing that could have ever happened. Standing there in a tanning booth with nothing on but a shower cap.…..vertigo. Oh yes, vertigo hit, I got the spins and BAM…down I went. The whole thing only lasted a few seconds, but spray tan machines wait for no one and as I tried to pick myself back up, I wobbled and fell forehead first, right in the direct line of fire of the evil spray. Screaming out, “ahhhh, I’ve been hit!!!” I flailed about, trying to get my bearings which only succeeded in created an accidental “arc” of the spray nozzle, hitting me directly in the throat. This, of course caused me to instinctively throw my arms out, palms first to block the offending spray, coating both palms with a nice golden brown hue. I will spare the rest of the details but needless to say, the next morning after the “color” had all developed and appeared, I looked like some sort of science experiment from the Coppertone institute.

These are just a few example of the insanity that have happened to me along the way. There is so much pain and sadness that we have to endure in our lives that I have learned to laugh at myself at the worst possible moments. If I don’t laugh then I cry, and I don’t know about you, but I know which one I would rather do. Unfortunately we don’t have a choice in what happens to us sometimes, but each one of us has a choice in how we react to it. For me, even through the constant sickness and pain, laughter is the only thing that keeps me pushing forward and seeing through the darkness. I’m not usually a “quote a famous person” kinda girl, but I’ll leave you with this…it pretty much sums it up for me.

“You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.”
~Bill Cosby

Article written by senior editor, Stephanie Kennedy

Stephanie lives in Fayetteville, NC and is the mother of 3 always hyperactive and occasionally adorable children. She was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in 2001 and in the time since has added Scleroderma, Hashimotos, Celiac and Degenerative Disc Disease. In her day-to-day life she is a Community Relations Specialist (aka, marketing and creative hodgepodge facilitator) and a part-time blogging snarkzilla. She can always be found somewhere in social media-land causing some sort of trouble. Find her on twitter at @steph_in_nc or on facebook at Stephanie Welborn Kennedy.



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