Put It On My Tab

I heard a story yesterday about resilience. Apparently there was a man born without hands or legs. We are talking lifelong disability here. One day he was out in the snow, and when he came in, he said, “Brrr it’s cold! I’m so cold I can’t feel my hands.”

But seriously folks. . .

As bad as chronic illness and disability can be, there are days when I find humour in it. Sometimes illness gets so bad it becomes ridiculous. I have days when I get frozen in a peculiar position because of the sudden onset of pain. I can imagine how absurd I must look.

A little like Neo in the Matrix, trying to dodge bullets, would be my guess.

There are times, with chronic illness, when you can be hit with something different, something unusual, a new issue gone wrong with your body. I do not know if others with chronic illness have this experience, but my body is constantly ambushing me with completely new problems. It makes my head spin.

Sometimes literally.

The unexpected has become my new norm. So accustomed am I to receiving new and rare diagnoses, I have started to view my lifelong health as one continuous bar tab. “Put it on my tab,” I say to doctors and specialists when they float yet another medical label past me.

”Put it on my tab.”

It’s like living with a disease rolodex. Which one shall we pick today? Or maybe we should add a totally new one, just to keep things interesting?

I warn my health professionals when I meet them that I am complex. I give them plenty of notice that my stuff is unusual, complicated and unpredictable. I joke about it with them.

“I told you I was special.”
“I wanted to give you a challenge.”
“I would hate your working life to be dull and routine.”

I joke about it with them.

I once had a specialist tell me I was so healthy I no longer needed to come in for my routine blood tests. You can be sure I had a retort ready for that one.

“What you’re saying,” I chided, “is that I’m boring.”

Don’t worry, he laughed.

And so we should. Illness and disability are laughable. Sure, they have their serious side. But I get sick (pun intended) of the never-ending over-seriousness of illness. Some days I have to laugh about it just to feel subhuman again.

I get sick of the never-ending over-seriousness of illness.

They say laughter is the best medicine. Perhaps they’re right.

Do you find humour helpful when you are unwell? How do you find the lighter side of chronic illness or disability? Do you have a funny story about sickness? Share your story – let’s have a countercultural conversation.

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