Laughter as a Weapon Against Rheumatoid Arthritis | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Laughter as a Weapon Against Rheumatoid Arthritis


A Fish Story for RA Warriors

laughter RA goldfishIf 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.

  1. We can refute their ignorance. And then they can choose to either accept or deny our offering of truth and science about RA.
  2. We can ignore their comments, privately either brooding or forgiving.
  3. 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.

Related posts:
So Glad Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Cured
Be Your Own Counselor With RA
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Football Season

Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/

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5 thoughts on “Laughter as a Weapon Against Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • July 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Haha. Indeed, "Laughter is the best tranquillizer" as I remember reading this quote from somewhere. Good read.

  • February 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    i filed for SSi and they wanted me to see one of thier docs (psych) yesterday as my doc didnt explain why I was on Cymbalta (for nerve pain) The gal was soo nice.. My and my friend in the waiting room having a giggle fest of really bad jokes (having spent so much time in the docs with me we just have a good time) It is just infectious. The receptionist told us how nice it was to see us having fun. The doc asked me if my laughter was real or just a way to deal with the pain. I told her that it was all the above.. If not for laughing i would cry.. You can choose to make fun of everything and have a good giggle or sit and waller.. I giggle. I wonder why i dont have six pack ab’s from LMAO!!

  • April 8, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I LOVE you GALS!!! You crack me up and I am right on board with using laughter as a weapon – even waaaaay before the RA set in! Just cannot get enough of it! THANKS for adding to it! People at work make comments about me laughing or smiling all the time and my standard comment back is “It beats the alternative!” Take care!

  • May 24, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    haha yes I understand the whole “laughter is the best medicene” concept. Earlier today I was getting some blood work done (out of normal routine becuase my red blood cell count has been sliding down a little bit recently due to my new Molexican medication) and everytime I get something painful or uncomfortable done I can’t help but giggle! Most people faint, or puke, or just don’t react but I can’t help but finding the whole situation not even funny but I can’t help but laughing!

  • March 11, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    This morning I laughed because I dropped a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I was making it for my husband – I wanted to cry. Later this morning I tripped up and fell because I was dragging my legs due to my knees hurting. I couldn’t laugh anymore. As for the wall I still haven’t worked out how to break it down. I speak very clearly about my RA and yet it doesn’t seem to sink in with most except my husband and son.


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