Laughter as a Weapon Against Rheumatoid Arthritis
A Fish Story for RA Warriors
If you have read many Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior blog posts, you have already realized that laughter is a critical part of my arsenal to fight RA. Sometimes, some of my friends and I try to out-funny each other. It is a one-upping game. The loser is the one on the floor laughing first. Hey, wait! I think SHE is the winner!
A while back, one of my best laugh-mates sent me her reaction to a blog. It was the blog about how some people think a good hair day means the Rheumatoid Arthritis is cured. I think she was trying to figure out what she would say if she had to deal with peculiar comments like that.
“I have started taking a sandwich size Ziploc bag with ice in it to church for my painful hands. At greeting time I don’t mingle and shake hands, I sit in my seat, and when people come up to me I indicate to them my hands are too painful to shake. After the service I carry out the little baggie of melted ice, and when people ask me what I have, I tell them it’s my pet goldfish. So help me, if one of those difficult people are brave enough to approach me, I will act upset to see no goldfish, tell them where I was sitting, and ask them to find it for me . . . please, before the poor thing dies. . . . .!!!”
Actually, it sounds like she would have fun if one of “those people” ever addressed her!
Maybe we need to give this approach serious consideration. It might help us in our fight to dismantle “the Wall.” Let’s back up just a bit:
First of all, something about what we say or what we do does not measure up to someone else as being ordinary / normal. However, since our illness is invisible, it does not make sense to others. Then, someone who is ignorant about Rheumatoid Arthritis makes a churlish remark. We feel insulted.
Here is a typical sequence.
Now is the fork in the road. We choose how to respond.
- We can refute their ignorance. And then they can choose to either accept or deny our offering of truth and science about RA.
- We can ignore their comments, privately either brooding or forgiving.
- OR, sometimes, we can break the tension with laughter. Laughter is proof that even though our bodies are riddled with Rheumatoid Arthritis, we are also normal folks (with feelings).
And sometimes, laughter puts a little crack in that wall, too. Maybe we can talk to the person through the keyhole and teach them about RA after all. Let’s see whether cracking up can trump a wisecrack.
Note: “the Wall” is my term for the barrier which can block productive communication about Rheumatoid Arthritis. Most often, people throw up the wall because of denial. Click here to read more about the Wall.
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