Move Over, Blondes: Sick People Have More Fun


Move over, blondes! Yes, it’s true: Sick people have more fun.

OK, so we also have a lot more… “opposite of fun.” But I really believe that being chronically ill just makes some celebrations more fun! And it’s not just illness. I think my favorite Christmases or New Years have always come after times of particular stress or depression. I’ve had my share of holidays that have totally sucked because of stress or depression, too. But this Halloween, for instance, happened to fall during a time when we couldn’t get approved for a mortgage loan and I felt like nothing in my life was working out or going right. Then all of a sudden it was Halloween, and there was candy and movies and friends, and it was like a cool, crisp breath of fresh air after being in the smoking section of a monkey house.

So around the time I started blogging, my chronic pain was being overshadowed (for once) by some serious dental problems. I missed my chronic pain. That’s how bad the tooth pain was. I didn’t want to eat or move, and I lost a ton of weight in a bad way. My eyes were sunken in and the side of my face was swelling to about the size of an orange.

Thanks to an insatiable sweet tooth, a teenhood of shoddy dental care and apathy, and all the Vicodin I later had to take for chronic pain, my teeth were a mess. I had so much work done that year. My dentist was in Dallas and I was about an hour away, which is how this reached emergency levels. Eventually, the swelling threatened to close up my throat, and I was brought in for emergency surgery. My surgeon said that even waiting a few hours would have probably put me in a hospital.

The surgery was a success, but I had a drain in my face for a few days. Of course, we didn’t know I’d need that going in to it. While I was coming off the anesthesia, I got to rediscover the horror of a friggen tube sticking out of my face about 10 times.

It was like being a GIF. Just repeating the reaction over and over and over until the meds wore off and my brain could brain again.

Anyway, after that my teeth felt better but the gaping whole in my face was now causing pain and making me still not want to eat.

I bet you’re thinking this all still sounds like the opposite of fun. I told you, there’s a lot more “opposite of fun” before you start having more fun than average.

So I got my face tube taken out and was on the mend just in time for my birthday. I was still in college, so my friends were still scattered across the globe. That means I wasn’t planning on having a party or anything. We just kept it simple. First, we went to the mall and went to the Disney Store. I got to buy and trade Vinylmation.

Then we went out to dinner with my family at a fondue place I’d wanted to go to for a long time. I found that now that my face didn’t hurt, I was actually really, really hungry all the time. This was a good place to put some meat on my bones. The food was amazing and bite-sized — which was good because I felt better but not 100 percent better. The cheese, meat and chocolate were like mana from heaven.

Everyone was really happy and seemed to just have a good time. They brought me out a special chocolate-dipped strawberry with a candle in it.

This all sounds pretty simple, right? Not really life-changing. But for some reason, it put me over the moon.

After being in pain for so long and staying in bed and not eating or talking to anyone, this family dinner and mall outing felt like coming back from the dead.

This will sound cheesy, but it’s actually how I felt:

When I went to blow out the candle, I was so happy that I couldn’t think of a thing to wish for. So I just wished that next year, I’d feel as loved and happy on my birthday as I did that day.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that simple, perfect birthday.

I don’t have any big plans for tonight, but maybe it will have that same simple perfection.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Pain

Doctor holding tablet PC talking to patient

To the Doctors Who See Patients With Chronic Pain

Dear doctors who see patients with chronic pain, This is what I’d like you to tell you. 1. Believe a patient 10 times before you disbelieve him or her. When a patient tells you he or she is in pain, believe that person until you have objective proof to the contrary. There is nothing as validating and as calming as [...]
Illustration of woman standing in front of mountain landscape

I’m Not Asking for Pity for My Chronic Pain — I’m Asking for Compassion

My life unexpectedly changed just a few short days after I married my high school sweetheart four years ago. I woke up with excruciating neck pain, migraine, fever, swollen lymph nodes and achy joints. Not a single day has gone by that I have not had some degree of pain. Some days are better than [...]
woman hugging her friend in selfie photo at hospital

The Chronic Illness Battle You Can't See in This Selfie

What you most likely see in this photo is two smiling, happy friends who don’t get to see each other in person often enough. You can see them posing for a selfie. If you look closely enough you will notice things in the background. If you look carefully you will see that the friends are [...]

When Chronic Pain Forces Me to Confront My Childhood Fear

I remember when I was a young girl talking with friends about the worst possible way to die and each of us had a different scary scenario for death. I have no idea why we talked about such things, although the conversations were probably correlated to the scary movies we watched in the ’80s and ’90s such [...]