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Finding the Humor in Chronic Illness

By Lisa Prins

Being chronically ill sucks. Bottom line. It’s not fun. Or funny. Or enjoyable. But… there are moments that make me laugh. The absurdity of it all can turn an embarrassing or lousy situation into one that makes me roll my eyes and chuckle.

Here are a few that I think many of us can identify with.

THE LEAKY FAUCET

After needing a catheter in the hospital for many months I’ve started to lose some control *whispers* DOWN THERE. The other day I was being lifted with a ceiling lift, out of my wheelchair to the commode, and I left a beautifully drawn, wet design behind me. As I was in the air, my dribbles of pee were drawing masterpieces of art along the floor. I didn’t know my urethra was so talented!

LET’S PLAY WHERE’S THE HOOHAW!

Ever since I fractured my spine in multiple places, I’ve needed the help of others to wipe my unmentionables. It was so embarrassing at first. And so frustrating because the nurse or nurse’s aide would be blindly reaching under the commode, like a blind bat on a mission. A mission that most often fails. Because they are blind. As a bat. Haha. So now, every time I go through this, I imagine a Where’s Waldo book. but instead of a bunch of pictures of people, it’s a bunch of delicate body parts.

MOON FACE

Nothing quite like walking past a mirror and doing a double take because you see a big, bountiful balloon where your face used to be! Sexy!

CANKLE COUTURE

Ooh la la!! Check out these ankles! So full and voluptuous. Who needs sexy shoes when they can have full blown edema? My personal go-to when I have enormous feet are gigantic man-slippers. I could be a foot and slipper model with these swollen lovelies. The bigger the better, right?

THE ANNIHILATOR NAP

I don’t know about you, but I am a nap expert! I can kill those naps like you wouldn’t believe. When the fatigue hits, my body is ready, my friend! Ready to do this thing! Yeah! Let’s sleep like Rip Van Winkle! Let’s snore and make the ground shake! Let’s close those eyes and collapse like a house of cards. I OWN YOU, NAP! Be ready. ‘Cause I’m always ready.

EAU DE STINK

It can’t just be me. Can it? Oh, well. If it is, feel free to wrinkle your nose at me. There are days when I just can’t shower. Too much pain. Can’t move. Too sick. Sometimes my aroma can even scare myself. But… such is life. I’ve considered bottling the scent and calling it Swank Stank.

IT AIN’T EASY BEING GREEN

Ahhhh. Nausea. Good ol’ green faced monster. Whether it’s my meds, or an infection, or who knows what, I am a pro at being pukey. Yep. That’s the technical term. Pukey. The worst is when you are in public and desperately trying to keep it all in. Sure, I’m ok. No worries! Oh! These gagging noises? That’s my swan song. Isn’t it beautiful?!

RAT’S NEST WITH A HINT OF CRUMBS

I’m a crumby person. Have to admit it. As crumby as they get. And I’ve been known to have messy hair because I can’t move my arms or summon the energy to comb it, plus there’s the added allure of my most recent snack. It’s the perfect way to save a some for later. Keep it in your hair. Mmmm, delicious!

BROKE MY BACK MOUNTAIN

I’m broke. And, I broke my back. Can’t work. Couldn’t work, due to multiple chronic illnesses, even before steroid induced osteoporosis caused multiple spinal fractures. But, now, I’ve been in the hospital for seven months straight, and any form of working has been impossible. My bank account is screaming at me, and I scream back at it, just to show it who’s boss!

DOCTOR DREAD

We all know one. Let’s be real. We all know many. Doctors who really shouldn’t be in the profession. Ones who tear us down when we need them most. Well, when I’m faced with these lovely “professionals,” I now imagine them being hung upside down by their underwear whilst being denied their favorite treat. Hung just out of reach. Always makes me smile.

THE MYSTERY BRUISE

Oh, ho ho and a bottle of… wait? What? Where did this come from?! I’ve decided to make up scenarios in my mind about where each new bruise came from. Like… I got this while riding a unicorn, chasing an ice cream truck down an express freeway. Or… I got this one by playing around with my lion friends at the zoo. Or… I was climbing a tree, in my wheelchair, to go hang out with the squirrels… oh SQUIRREL!… and when I popped a wheelie, I came crashing down.

As I said, life certainly isn’t easy when chronically ill, but I try to make the best of every single day. There’s no guarantee of tomorrow. I’ve made it through some hard times that were pretty touch and go. So, I’m going to enjoy my ride here on earth, while I still can. I hope the same for all of you.

Lisa Prins is an eternal optimist who just happens to be chronically ill. With a quirky sense of humor and a love for all things artsy, crafty and technical she can often be found making music, writing, painting, drawing, making robots, helping her fella make computers and laughing at life’s absurdities.

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