Trying to Find the Funny
Oh, don't worry, Friend...I can hear your skepticism about the title of this post. "Are you nuts? MS? Funny?"
Here's the thing: I can't minimize the pain, the loss, and the frustration that comes with an MS diagnosis--not for me, and certainly not for anyone else. But just like I explain to my children--that's life. It's hard. It's unfair. Sometimes, it's just stupid...There's no guarantees you'll be blessed with good looks, good health, or even good experiences. As Mark Twain said, "Don't go around thinking the world owes you something. The world owes you nothing; it was here first." (NOTE: My kids HATE it when I "Mark Twain" them too).
A few nuggets of humor
So instead, I'm going to try to lighten your day by sharing a few nuggets of humor that have come my way thanks to MS.
The first time I ever considered MS as a humor-bringing entity and not just a myelin-destroying vehicle of Suck was a typical Thursday afternoon in the summer of 2013. I was home alone and entirely responsible for the safety and well-being of the three testosterone-infused offspring I’d managed to conceive, build, and expel from 2004-2009, thanks to the intervention of modern medicine. It was a rather brutal MS day, for whatever reason I was consumed with an unusually excessive amount of pain, fatigue, and balance issues; but these physical complaints paled in comparison to my emotional frustration that my condition was preventing me from doing much more than minimize the likelihood of the kind of brother-on-brother violence that seems increase in direct proportion to their level of collective boredom.
Oldest had asked if he could have a small bowl of grapes for a snack, and I had given my permission as long as he also grabbed a bowl for each of his siblings. Oldest grumbled a bit about this, but went to the kitchen as I stayed on the couch. He opened the fridge and from the other room I heard him say rather absently,
“Oh, for crying out loud! Who left the rubber mallet in the fridge... again?”
This wasn't even the weirdest part-- even more remarkable was that he got the 3 bowls of grapes, returned to the living room, and resumed watching “High School Musical” with his two younger brothers.
Laughter instead of tears
The whole thing only took a few seconds, but the impact remains strong four years later as I recall that incident. At first, I wanted to cry... Already raw with pain, I was embarrassed and angry there was further evidence of how much life in our household was affected by MS. But I distinctly recall noticing my 3 little boys, happily chomping on grapes together, singing their hearts out. Clearly they weren't suffering from the realization that their mother and her deficient cognitive function had elected to store a rubber mallet next to the milk and OJ--and not for the first time!
So I laughed... I laughed like crazy and started trying to find humor in the midst of my daily struggles.
The humor in daily struggles
I laughed when Middle was so unbelievably excited the day he found out his favorite color orange was also the MS awareness color: "This is GREAT news! Thanks for having MS, Mom!!"
I laughed when I found out Googling “cane quotes” didn't bring up practical or funny insights about needing to use an assisted walking device that I was hoping for....Nope, what I got was the most recent NASDAQ results of the futures of sugar cane trading. (And incidentally, at the time it was holding steady at $15.17/unit).
There was the day right before Christmas when some guy in a Ford Taurus parking-vultured me out of a handicapped parking spot I was waiting to enter--despite my turn signal clearly indicating my intention. And right after I recovered my shock over this breach of disability etiquette, I burst out laughing because for a moment, it was nice to have "normal people" problems again.
Grateful for my children
I figured out how to be grateful that raising well-behaved, well-groomed children (mine are more firmly entrenched in the explosively energetic and dirt-encrusted categories) might not have much in common with every parenting blog, book, or article I ever seemed to read... And then I figured out how to be grateful to have the freedom to carve my own path in order to be the mother they need.
I laughed when I realized its not MS that's going to be my physical undoing; its the hundreds of Legos, Monopoly pieces, and random parts to broken things unknown that my boys leave on the floor that will be the cause of my eventual downfall.
I found a way to laugh after one crazy morning when I woke up to realize my THUMB stopped wanting to bend. Because you know what thumbs are important for? Tying shoes. Making lunches. Grabbing a mouthy teenage son by the arm to get his attention. Drinking burning hot coffee. Brushing your teeth. Providing the fingerprint ID necessary to log into your bank via your smartphone.
An overly helpful son
OLDEST: “Don’t worry, Mom, I found your phone. It's in the glovebox in the car. I found it in the fridge I was worried you'd lose it again so I put it in the car. But then I was worried it would freeze so I put it in the glove box. And then I got cold and I forgot to tell you."
ME: "Um, OK… thanks. You know, I'm not sure what is more dangerous for my phone, MS or my helpful son."
OLDEST: "I think DEFINITELY your helpful son."
And then just today, I decided to laugh again when I opened the dishwasher after I'd started it, only to find the roll of paper towels I'd spent the last 10 minutes desperately searching for:
Silver linings of humor
I'd give anything to live without the daily hassles and agonies that this disease causes. But since that's not an option, I continue to do my best to find silver linings of humor in the middle of the dark clouds our collective illness brings us. And friend, my hope is that maybe sharing these little nuggets will help you giggle a bit the next time some crazy thing happens to you, courtesy of your own deficiency of good genetic luck.
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?