Over the course of these last 12 and a-half years I’ve been writing blogs, the recurrent theme has been the importance of joy and laughter in our lives in spite of living with chronic pain and chronic illness.
It is often challenging, often elusive but always, life is there waiting to hand us a dash of humor if we have our radar out and aren’t buried in the depths of self-pity. In the most horrible bouts of pain, we can always find some time for a word of appreciation, a bit of humor even if it is just a smile in response to something happening around us. Laughter is truly the best medicine and lowers our blood pressure, strengthens the immune system and certainly brightens our day and the days of those who come in contact with us.
I know you have those days when you would like to pull a blanket over your head, grab your favorite soft pillow and just sleep, and that’s probably what you need as long as you don’t do it all the time. I think we all like to wallow but remember when pigs do it, they end up covered in mud. It actually looks like fun, if you’re a pig, but we human species;when we wallow, we begin to stink, need a shower, a set of clean clothes and the general pick–me–up that life uses to enrich and keep us cranking along. Okay, you can still wear your bunny slippers. I’m all for comfort to go along with cleanliness. In some way, being freshened up is good for the spirit and that’s that little unknown part of life that keeps us going.
It’s often a question of having our antennae out and ready to receive those signals of humor. I don’t want to embarrass any fellas who may be reading this but BE WARNED, this next couple of bits have to do with boobs. No, not Hollywood boobs but real-life boobs. In my case it’s boob, singular and an old one at that. Perky left my life years ago.
A mastectomy is the price I paid to continue cranking along and living, in general and I have to admit, the smartass in me came out strongly in the way I decided to deal with this tragic incident in my life. I cried, I demanded an immediate surgery to get that “invader” out of my body and looked heavenward and asked God why “She” would do that do me on top of all the other crap I had for years; two forms of destructive arthritis, severe osteoporosis and a bad gut, all including pain every day of my life. Oh yes, I did some wallowing but then I wrote a long poem called, “When Good Boobs Go Bad.” Then I felt better. Humor always works for me. Perhaps, it is due to my years as a nurse because most nurses and doctors I know lean toward the macabre when it comes to humor.
The one boob I have left is a constant source of amusement and inconvenience. Yes, I could have chosen to have an implant but didn’t want to be bothered and also know that whole procedure can be very painful. I thought I really didn’t need any more pain in my life. My dear man and I discussed it and he left it totally up to me. When you get old, due to the natural order of aging, that part of your body just slides lower on the priority scale. They also slide lower along with every other body part.
I hemorrhaged excessively during surgery in the chest wall and muscle mass and my tiny 5foot 1inch doctor had to put many thick gauze called abdominal lap pads onto me and literally climb on a stool and lean on me with her own body until the bleeding stopped. I had to be “wrapped” very tightly because of that bleeding and now find it extremely uncomfortable to have that area touched at all. That was before radiation therapy which left me with second degree burns on half of my chest and esophageal area. My whole way of dressing has changed. I layer my clothing and give it much thought when I am to be out in public. It would have been so much easier if I had had both of my breasts removed, but alas, I am stuck with this lone wolf, so to speak.
All of this is leading up to telling you how this has been a source of humor for me over these last four, almost five years. For instance, I did wear my Medicare paid for bra to my grandson’s fifteenth family birthday party. Please realize my family is accustomed to me and my bizarre sense of humor. I think they secretly adore me for it but don’t tell anyone. During our party I told my sweet grandson how I was giving him the honor of wearing a bra for the first time sense my surgery. After he laughed while blushing, not at all surprised at his Nana saying such a thing, he said, “This is really great. I will always remember my fifteenth birthday for the year Nana announced she wore a bra. Not quite as memorable as my fourteenth birthday when I got to go to NASA and the Space Center in Florida but I’ll remember it.” I hope he does. Before you ask…Yes, it was an uncomfortable experience for me personally and physically but humorous. We always laugh a great deal as a family and that’s the way I love it to be.
I’ve shared with you other occasions, like the time our little Yorkie, George pooped on the floor just before our new Neato robotic vacuum rolled over in that direction by the back door. Memorable humor. Now we are very careful…don’t want to go through that again, ever. Recently I shared with all of you the wonderful padding brought about by using feminine pads to make pants more comfortable if one has a bad and painful back. My Mom always told us to wear clean underwear in case we were in an accident and taken to the hospital. Wonder how she would feel about that if she was still living. She would probably just shake her head, laugh and say, “Oh, Sue.” The other day, actually it was Halloween, I had a thought stuck in my mind regarding a gift I wanted to give a friend and wanted to shop around an interesting store we have downtown with many collectibles and antique items. I was in pain and miserable but determined. After a few minutes of shopping, I had to seek out a chair and was beginning to lose my sense of humor when I found what I wanted and Jim was having a good time looking at some old documents. We picked out a couple of other items for Christmas gifts and went up to the check–out stand.
Just as an aside let me tell you here in our town, all of the shopkeepers hand out candy to the Trick or Treaters. It’s a great idea, keeping children in one local spot, away from wet, darkening streets and keeps the parents from too much walking, some pushing strollers. Our somewhat grumpy shopkeeper sat a large bowl of candy in front of my husband about the same time we walked up to the counter and he took a piece and ate it. Just as he reached for another piece, she began to bemoan the fact that the year before, she had spent $80 on candy and still ran out. She was quite certain she was going to run out of candy this year, also, as she glared at my dear guy. Children of all forms and styles of Star Wars and other Disney costuming began to pour in. Our clerk questioned each child, as if they were taking the candy to trade for drugs and I began to laugh. Regarding my opinion and his two measly little pieces of candy; we left $100 in her register and think we overpaid in regards to the candy.
Please my dear friends and readers, try to find the funny side of life, especially when you are in pain. I know it helps me immensely. I get these humorous ideas stuck in my head. For instance, we watched a veterinary show the other day when the vet was on a farm and one of the farmers cows had a terrible problem with abdominal distention. I believe cows have more than one stomach but I don’t know which one was in trouble. The vet proceeded to cut a small hole in the side of this poor distended critter, shoved in a long tube resembling a garden hose and immediately, results. Flatulence poured out of that poor beast. I can only imagine the odor in that farmyard. Now, when I have gut trouble, which is almost daily, witnessed recently by a morning spent in our local emergency room, I think of that cow. Why can’t they just do the same for us humans? I’m a nurse and I don’t have an answer for that. The direct approach seems so much more humane than what we do to some patients. Hang onto those funny images and use them as needed, okay?
Remember “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 15:22, RSV Holy Bible.