Learning To Laugh At The Little Things With Chronic Illness
Posted Oct 04 2010 10:12am
“It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.” Wayne Dyer
It’s those little things in life that help us keep a sense of humor about living with chronic illness. I have been in those “larger rooms” this funny video, an animated episode of Seinfeld speaks of. I will spare you the personal details, but let’s just say it involved my personal space, iodine and four medical personnel to “watch” a procedure they’d never seen before. Tickets anyone?
“And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.” Friedrich Nietzsche
Earlier this year I had a nuclear stress test done to take a second look at why I may be having chest pains (it was due to side effects of a medication.) After many conversations with both my insurance company and the office where the test was to be conducted, it was impossible to find out the cost of cardiac nuclear stress test. Someone at my insurance company said to “have the test and worry about the cost later.” Easy for her to say. I was still paying for my last surgery.
I had a horrible headache before even arriving at the office. The effects of caffiene on exercise nuclear stress test is great, so I’d had no coffee that day, possibly contributing to the headache. First, I laid down on a two-by-four (or so it feels) and they told me to put my hands over my head. Nada. Partially torn rotator cuffs made that simple requst impossible. I showed them what I could do and they tried to organize my limbs like a Gumby doll befroe stirring me into a tube.
The technician got creative with big pieces of plastic to try to hold my shoulders in place. “In fifteen years I’ve never thought of doing that,” he said. “maybe it will be helpful for someone else too.” I joked around with him and made him laugh. If you have to be flat on your back and have some young man trying to move your body parts around to not fall off of a board, you may as well try to make him smile, right?
After securing my body into an unnatural position, he now insist I didn’t move or I’d have to start all over. Yet my body started to spasms from not be able to move. I did my best and wasn’t punished with a do-over. I tried not to create any nuclear stress test complications that would cause them to hit the “stop” button and label me the “problem patient.”
I attempted to say “The Lord’s Prayer” as I was frozen there in the tube, but I couldn’t get passed, “He maketh me lie down . . .” Yep, He had my on my back and I didn’t have the choice to get up.
“God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.” Voltaire
At last I finished this part of the test, and the next step was to go to another little room and stick little things all over me and then inject me with a dye. One nurse tried to get me on the treadmill, but I explained that due to my difficulty walking and balance, that was why I was having the nuclear stress test. “Ill just hold your hand and it will be like a nice little stroll,” the nurse explained.
I looked down at my hand where my new silicone joints were in four fingers, still splinted, and said,”No, I don’t think so.” The risk of me falling and landing on my new hand, thus destroying it, was too great. There would be no strolls happening here today. (Of course, if I’d gotten on the treadmill this blog post may have been a lot more interesting!)
Just as it felt like my body temperature had gone over 150 degrees and the room was spinning, the doctor came in and asked me why I thought I was having chest pains. I looked at him and tried to gather enough strength to speak three words. By the time the room stopped moving, he was gone. I pointed out the irony that I only had the chance to speak with the doctor when I had no strength to the other medical staff, but they didn’t see it. Evidently, this is nuclear stress test protocol to keep things flowing quickly in the office–disabled the patients temporarily so they cannot talk.
“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.” Bob Hope
“Okay!” the technician said. “Now is the fun part. You get to go drive down to the fast food area and grab a burger and fries.” The best “medical” advice I’d ever received. . . and I felt like throwing up on him. “How am I supposed to drive?” I looked at him with blurry eyes. “Oh, you will be fine in a few minutes” he assured me.
I carefully wandered to the elevator and got to my car. I prayed God would keep me safe and went to Rally’s. Their burgers are the best, but I could barely get it down. Then, back to the medical center for another scan in the tube.
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Woody Allen
I’ve learned that medical tests, appointments, and medications can be funny. People may not always want to hear about our problems, but they are always up for a laugh. Lord Byron says, “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”
Not only is it cheap medicine for yourself, but also for the friends and family around you when you are chronically ill. You are giving your loved ones the “permission” to know it’s okay to laugh.
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