The Mighty Logo

How I'm Finding Humor in My Journey With a Chronic Illness

For me, 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 situations I think many of us with a chronic illness 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 out 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. Ha ha.

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

There’s 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? 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, 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 are 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, I 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 get the energy to comb it. Plus, the added allure of my most recent snack. It’s the perfect way to save a snack for later. Keep it in your hair. Mmmm delicious!

Broke My Back Mountain

I’m broke. And I broke my back. I can’t work. I 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. Some of us 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 while being denied their favorite treat — hung just out of reach. This 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 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.

Getty Images: Marjan_Apostolovic

Conversations 1