What's So Funny About Diabetes?
By Kerri Sparling
When you think chronic disease, you dont exactly think slap-stick humor. More like ketone-stick horrors. There is nothing funny about kidney disease or diabetic retinopathy. Testing blood glucose levels, counting carbohydrates, and keeping track of medications all the daily tasks of diabetes care can become overwhelming, making it tough to find the humor in diabetes.
Which is exactly why we need to find the humor in diabetes.
This disease takes up so much of our time. There are very few moments in the day when Im not at least considering my diabetes. And while I am not ruled by my condition, in order to survive and live a wonderful life, I need to focus on the details of diabetes to maintain good health. I need to maintain good mental health, too.
My grandmother used to tell me that laughter is food for the soul. My endocrinologist used to tell me that laughter is the way to achieve balance. Even Readers Digest told me that Laughter was the Best Medicine. This is true for people with diabetes, as well as people with other chronic illnesses.
I often find amusement in the places I find discarded test strips. Multiple daily finger sticks are a part of my daily duties, and the strips are expensive, so thats not particularly funny. But finding a test strip in my shoe or seeing my little kitten trot by with one in mouth does make me smile. Priming my insulin pump is sometimes an arduous task, but my boyfriend walking by and saying I look like a mad scientist as I tap out the air bubbles from the cartridge makes me smile. It may not be funny to some, but its funny to me and it makes my diabetes burden far less heavy.
There are also phrases that other people arent able to toss around so lightly. The phrase, I feel so high, has a definitive meaning to a person with diabetes, but may raise the eyebrows of those who arent in the know. Or Excuse me, I have to go shoot up. Out of the context of diabetes, those words arent normally thrown around at dinner parties.
There are also the moments that you laugh because, if you dont, you may burst into tears. I have experienced severe low blood sugar reactions where Ive come to my senses and noticed juice staining my shirt, my hair stuck to my forehead with sweat, and my meter in a thousand pieces on the floor after having thrown it at the wall. Moments like these are enough to break you in two. But sometimes a laugh bubbles up from deep inside you, where you are the most scared and the most vulnerable, and it escapes. It gives you strength. It helps chase the fear away for a few minutes.
There are certain benefits to laughter There are people who make it their mission to bring mirth to the masses. And there is that special, silly jargon that people create to show their diabetes whos boss. When diabetes gets a little tough, its hard to find that silver lining.
Laughter has a way of illuminating it.
Because I wear my Dexcom on my arm, I’ve slowly adjusted to the fact that people will ask me about it. Sometimes it’s the rude and inquisitive “What’s that?” and sometimes it’s somewhat sincere curiosity “Is that a (insert random type of medical device that they assume)?” Sometimes it bothers me more than others depending on how they ask and how they respond once I’ve told them what it is. I have limits to how much myth-busting I want to do in everyday conversation and how much rudeness I can...