Having a debilitating illness like diabetes is not the subject of much hilarity. Fears around organ failure, diabetic comas, dialysis machines and being taken from my daughters too soon don’t register so much as a chuckle in my world.
This is frustrating, because I laugh (ok, cackle…loudly) at least once every three minutes. I’m a relatively humorous person, my friends are even funnier than I am, and my kids are an absolute scream. I laugh at the absurdity of people in traffic; the stories my friends tell me about online dating (that no writer could conceive of if she tried); and the crazy things that my family members find perfectly normal.
And there is nothing that I find funnier than laughing at myself. My attempts to cook, for example, are right out of a dumb blonde joke. Well, someone should have told me that before you prepare delicious fried rice in a pan, you need to actually boil the rice. The egg, peas, carrots and onion part came out just fine, thank you very much.
If I trip in the street, I pause to enjoy a full belly laugh about it, thus attracting far more attention to my gaffe than if I had simply kept walking. When men attempt to follow the three stories I tell simultaneously and then inevitably beg for directions to understanding even one of them, I laugh so hard that I cry (gentlemen, the sisterhood can keep up just fine).
Humor helps in any situation, so I keep it at the ready. I can choose drama and fear and dread, but when I do, I’m not much fun to be around, and I don’t feel any better when I’m terrified. I also don’t create very happy experiences of me (which will later be referred to as “memories”) for the people around me.
If my lazy pancreas takes me down too soon (note to scientists: get to steppin’), I want my daughters to remember how much they laughed when they were with me. I want people cracking up at the wake about the time I did this or that. I want to be remembered for how brightly I lived, not how sadly I died.
And sometimes, even being diabetic is the source of some significant amusement. A friend I hadn’t seen in awhile hugged me hello. She didn’t know I was diabetic, and, upon feeling my wireless insulin pump during the hug, she thought perhaps I had stolen my bra and been unable to remove the security tag.
Or, how about the time I was in an intense crisis communications meeting when my pump died? It set off a flat-lining “beeeeeeeeep” alarm that I could have easily turned off had I brought the device that controls the pump into the boardroom. I raced down the hall to my office, my high-pitched alarm delighting the patrons of cubicle after cubicle along the way, only to find that the device was in my purse. Which was in the filing cabinet. Which was locked by the keys I left in the boardroom. I ran back to the boardroom, grabbed the keys, offered a quick look that said “so very sorry, confused CEO,” and raced back down the hall, as I heard some staff wondering aloud if they needed to evacuate the building.
The humor is there for the taking. So is depressive, debilitating thinking. I’ll take the jokes.