I Would Rather Laugh Than Cry

I Would Rather Laugh Than Cry

As chronic pain patients, we have far too many reasons to cry. The loss of our former lives, friends, family. The sports we used to love. The normalcy we once enjoyed compared to the ruthless prison that our bodies have become. If we choose to play victim, we can live in this dismal state and mope.

Or not.

They say that laughter is the best medicine. I think that we should take a moment and focus on practicing this brand of medicine. Because even at our worst, I firmly believe that humor can be found in just about everything.

Except bowel obstructions. I find no humor in bowel obstructions.

Early comedy was less words and more action. The overly exaggerated stage falls. The old cops chasing robbers black and white movies. Later, it was the physical comedy from the first Saturday Night Live Cast.

Nobody took a stage fall like Chevy Chase.

The thing is, that overly exaggerated stage fall? I can do something exactly like it, completely unplanned, by tripping over air…or the cat. Once I make sure nothing is broken or bleeding, I do my best to laugh at the situation even though I know that later, I’m probably going to be hurting a little worse. Or, if the pain is immediate, I will take a little recovery time and then laugh about it.

It is unhealthy to be negative all the time. Optimism, even when there is little room for it thanks to Kolodny and the CDC, is something that should be a priority. Most of us make an enormous effort to not play the victim. There are no “poor me” moments for this pain warrior. If I ‘go there’ then that means they win. It might take awhile, but they aren’t going to win this one in the long term.

I have a theory. I believe that the Universe hands us only what we can truly handle. Nothing less and nothing more.

Pretty sure the Universe thinks I’m pretty much a bad ass. Also sure that the Universe has a very dark sense of humor.

When you look at everything that we face daily, that we fight through, that we beat down, we’re a pretty resilient bunch. Even when we really aren’t feeling it.

We have developed thick skin from not only our illness/conditions but from the reactions of others. From that friend who had known you for years and suddenly had no use for you once your pain became what it is today.

You know the ones. They were probably the first person to say those famous words to you.

“But you don’t look sick.”

Which was most likely followed by “if you just got some exercise…” or something equally naïve.

They probably actually offered you a tylenol.

They also probably tried to do an intervention on you when they discovered that you were getting relief from a long-term opioid regimen. Never mind that you were finally acting like yourself again. You were functional. You might have even actually left the house.

You know, back in the good old days before the Faux Opioid Crisis. Before the medical community lost their compassion and started looking for reasons to stop helping people. Before we knew who Andrew Kolodny was.

Before we had to pee in a cup each month just to get those monthly pain prescriptions that we were then force-tapered from or that were just ruthlessly torn from our lives.

You remember them, right? They were that bottle of pills that you picked up from the pharmacy once a month. They certainly didn’t get you high, but they most certainly allowed us to function quasi-normally.

For me, the opioid crisis has been a test. It has been a survival of the fittest. It is also when I decided that I could either live or die. I have chosen to live.

I did one better. I came back to life. I reinvented myself. I basically said to heck with what I can’t do any more. What can I do?

Just like the choice between laughing and crying. I choose to laugh.

The bottom line is this: there are millions of chronic pain patients around the world. We outnumber doctors. Most are so beaten down they don’t know how to pick themselves up either mentally or physically anymore. There aren’t enough voices out there. Voices that don’t just spout the same old rhetoric.

Making oneself heard is empowering. Can you imagine if we all became empowered? It would be a roar that nobody could silence.

It would also probably contain laughter.

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Authored by: Denise Hedley

Denise Hedley was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2009. Her condition has worsened, and was diagnosed with bilateral RSD in January, 2019. She also suffers from Osteoarthritis, 2 herniated discs, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosis.

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Steve

Thank you for the jump start.I will do my best to laugh at myself a little more.I wish we had a platform for the people outside our realm to really understand our pain.

Denise, As always…Excellent piece! Such a well described reading of our lives. I love reading your posts and your added humor of our reality. You empower me! Thank you! Maureen M.

Janice

With all this litigation against the pharmaceutical companies, didn’t the FDA have to approve all these opioid makes formulations before allowing their distribution for prescription from Drs and pharmacys?

Thomas Kidd

Yes laughter has pulled me through many a pain crisis. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

Jill Fritz

I decided that I’m going to travel. Every where! I had to convince my doctors because they said all the things I thought. You’re going to be in so much pain, you’re going to be so exhausted! Yes, I am. But I do that in my little bedroom all alone and depressed. Why not do it someplace beautiful? We just got back from Scotland and Ireland and yes, there were days I spent in bed- looking at beautiful mountains! I have several more trips planned soon and I will keep going as long as I can!

lauren seavertson

I agree that a sense of humor is paramount in just surviving chronic pain, the ever worsening disability I try very hard to be upbeat, humorous etc However, my biggest problem is the severe isolation and multiple losses I am single, cannot drive, have lost all my “normal” friends and can’t figure out how to get the support i need Online chatting is great, but i am still alone, unable to be active enough, to have any life.. I had MRSA meningitis, was paralyzed from the neck down Spent yrs recovering, just to walk (with a walker) but now what? No one wants to “date” me, as i can’t hike, bike etc. Please don’t trivialize this, but i am lonely and don’t feel that any one understands I need to have some life, besides the constant pain, struggles, doctor appointments etc. Have had to spend Many months just overcoming BS but i am not dead yet and can’t figure out how to give meaning to the rest of my life…. When no one will date U and most people have minimal empathy, understanding, i get depressed, feel low. I need more than words of encouragement…. Having no close people in my life, makes me very sad Feel I reach out to others, all the time. But seldom get any reciprocity

Toni

This article totally described me! I use comedy and movies to distract myself from my horrid pain daily and to try to stop crying. To have to face the fact that I will receive no pain help for my horrid future nearly did me in. We have to make a huge choice each day and I choose life! Articles like this help me! Thank you!

Martha

Love your article! Being in a relatively good phase right now, I agree with everything you said so eloquently. I am choosing to live too, & am trying to figure out how to reinvent myself. Fun times. For my fellow Pain Warriors who are struggling right now, barely surviving – and wondering how to go on – please print or save this article for a future good or even decent day. It will come, and then re-read this article. We definitely deserve much more laughter on our incredible journeys. Sending hugs to all in our community, including advocates, caregivers and true friends.
Now, I need to ask a favor – please everyone who can, call 60 Minutes (google for NYC ph. #) and complain about their recent repeat of basically ‘ Opoid Shaming.’ They were once known for their “fair & unbiased reporting.” Not so in this case & the damage they have done to our already battered CPP community, is simply staggering. They had ZERO addiction experts on, who work in Pain Mgt. Depts. for major Universities who know that LESS THAN 1 in 5 patients will develop an addiction. They had ZERO representatives from either the medical community or historical CPP who have tried everything else, to find their only marginal relief with Opoids- who otherwise can’t function at a basic level without pain medicine.
Perhaps if we stage a massive Call In… someone just might listen.

Nikki

Well said.

Teresa Ingebrigtsen

I choose joy! The pain, yeah, it is real, sometimes, overwhelming. But, life, it is too precious to be missed out upon. My 8 year old granddaughter and I planted sunflowers in the spring and I have had much joy all summer as they have gone through their life cycle. I was in awe as they grew up tall and majestic and faced the sun and burst forth into beautiful blooms. The bees, big and little visited gathering pollen and buzzing away, busy all the day. The flowers would turn with the sun as the day wore on. The hummingbirds visited, sounding like miniature helicopters coming in for a landing. These flowers have given me so much joy this summer. Now that the flowers have gone to seed, a whole new variety of birds have come to land on the flowers and pull the seeds out. They are having a feast! What joy! I choose to find joy in life. Pain is reality, but God’s creation brings me so much joy. I’m so thankful for the beauty around me.

Anne Muldowney

That was a wonderful artical..he knows us what I call d walking dead…nobody can c it..its invisible to them n its what’s I have become they say u can loose everything n everyone with cronic pain n thats true…..thank u.

Ellen Lenox Smith

I agree – we have to find a way to live despite what challenges we have been given – the interesting thing is how that also seems to annoy some to put a smile on your face – it gets interpreted that we don’t have challenges in life – we chose to live and make the best of it – but chronic pain is not a competition – no one knows what another truly is going through.

John Steward

Thank you for this. I’ve been needing a bump since my pain specialist informed me a couple of weeks ago that we’re going to have to taper my meds again. I’m a poor-metabolizer, but that doesn’t mean anything to the gub’mint, apparently. Always use the bluntest of instruments, you lousy bureaucrats.

Thank you for articulating this issue.

Eric

What a great post, you know that that describes me to a tee. My lafter is working, I enjoy rebuilding cars as well as myself. Over twenty years have passed Me I just grin and bear it for what else can I do. I just wait for that next trip to the doctor’s office and pee in that damn cup 😡

Jeff

That was a awesome wright
I think I love you.thank forgiving me inspiration.

Howard Pittman

Let’s face it , the only reason they hammered the patients and drs was a purely political reason. I knew right from the get go what was coming when the term opiate crisis was uttered. A blanket policy that would involve the chronic pain patient along with the real problem illegal drugs from the border. Think about it, the illeagal drug problem is so big why not go to the area that’s easy to show results ( prescription drugs). I know there were pill mills pushing pain meds and should be shut down. Yes dentist shouldnt have given oxycontin for a tooth extraction. That doesn’t mean chronic pain meds should have been shut off. In the political ring opiates were a way to score points. Politicians got on the opiate crisis band wagon and went after a prescription med crisis. Sure it was easy take a CDC recommendation and run with it. With shutting down opiates to everyone is a instant change and gives them a way to pat them selves on the back , telling how they help scored a small victory on the opiate crisis. Now real chronic pain patients get the reality of knowing what was barely a quality of life is no more. This policy in most was implement by people that never had a catastrophic injury that put them in bed or wheelchairs. We need to fight this unfair policy. Our doctors know more about what is right for us than someone whose never worked a real job in their lives. People who never dug ditches,build houses,or stood on their feet all day for minimum wage. People that never sacrificed their bodies to work hurt or sick. If you ask me they had no right interfering with real drs helping their patients live somewhat comfortable lives. Illeagal opiates like heroin and others is what is killing americans not prescription drugs. The sooner we get those politicians to understand this maybe the sooner are drs. cans helps us again.