Sick Humor: “Re-Finding” The Funny


We have forgotten how to laugh.

There. I said it. Not that I can blame a single one of us. Let’s face it, when you wake up, throw your leg off the bed and hear it echo in the room like a creaking door in a 1950’s horror flick, the giggle factor isn’t really at an all time high. I don’t think any of us can say that we even crack half a smile until at least a quarter past noon and a third of a way through that third cup of coff….uhhhh, I mean apple juice. (in case any non-specific rheumatologists that may or may not live in the southeastern part of North Carolina that may or may not have recently reamed me up and down for excessive caffeine usage are paying attention….I most definitely do not abuse the java bean. And I most definitely do NOT have my fingers crossed behind my back, either.)

I get it, the pain, the stiffness, the aches, the swelling, the rashes, the doctors, the needles, the hospitals, the pills, the pills, the pills, oh the pills. Say the whole spiel enough times and you automatically start laughing…but not so much of the “ha-ha” kinda laugh as the “try on this new designer jacket with the sleeves that have ties” kinda laugh. At the end of our day, we are hard pressed to find something humorous in the entire time we spent awake just trying to make it to the next hour without killing someone in the process. How can we fight the neverending battle to just stay vertical during the day and at the same time find something funny about it?

Simple. Just stop and take a good look around. If you truly step beyond your world and view it from the outside looking in, you will find the hilarity in situations you never imagined were the least bit funny before. Inside our box, the everyday happenings we experience are routine. To general society, our normal is chocked full of sit-com and reality show gold. What is our normal would leave even the most outlandish Saturday Night Live writer scratching their head and wondering where we come up with our material.

I’m guilty of seeing the glass not only half empty, but seeing that the glass hasn’t been washed in 3 days and is sitting on a counter that’s covered with stains that seem to have fossilized overnight. But if I’ve realized anything during this autoimmune roller coaster I unknowingly boarded ten years ago, it’s that life with chronic illness is not normal and for better or worse, it will never be normal again. That’s it. That’s the facts, ma’am. So, I have two choices; I can go through life thinking everything sucks, everyone sucks and everyplace I go sucks (I’m going for a theme here, in case you can’t tell…) or I can at try to find at least one thing a day in this crazy life of mine that is worth a little peeing in the pants giggle. (Sorry folks, after four abdominal surgeries, the old bladder ain’t what she used to be…just keepin’ it real).

Still don’t believe me? Don’t think there’s absolute hilarity in everyday life?


Exhibit A ~ Freak Earthquakes in Southeastern North Carolina

You know what I’m talking about…those moments where you are walking along, perfectly normal, when out of nowhere, the core of the earth spontaneously shifts causing the floor to move sideways and the walls to tilt at a 45 degree angle? Yeah those moments. I like to refer to them as freak earthquakes. However, we, as very sensitive and in tune individuals, can detect such a phenomenal disturbance in the force much deeper than the average person…so much more than they can barely even feel it. Some might say that they don’t even feel it…or see it at all. They may even question us as we fail our arms out for any sturdy piece of furniture or human limb to hold onto as the freak earthquake makes its presence known…just like the boy scouts, we’ll be prepared when the big one hits and they will have absolutely no wall grabbing expertise to fall back on. Until that point, always carry a pen with you so that under extremely intense scruinty you can throw it on the floor, point at it dramatically and spend the next 10 minutes on a rant about the dangers of office products and work place accidents.


Exhibit B ~ I have a Coffee Pot and Staples…Where’s The Mailroom?

Ahhh yes, the proverbial office scavenger hunt for one…only the key player had no idea she was playing. It starts off in my office…I have to get some file folders to bring upstairs, so I set out on my journey, my trusty phone always in my hand. Along the way, my senses get the distinct aroma of fresh brewed coffee. Yum…can’t pass that up, and I’m right here at the break room, so might as well just pour a small cup. Oh look, here are Bob and Sue…haven’t seen them in a few days, so catching up is a must. Before we know it, we have finished the pot of coffee…how rude of us! Common workplace courtesy says that we should fill it back up, but tap water sucks, I should go fill it up with the water cooler down the hall….so off with the coffee pot, I go. Going through the mail room, I see the supply of staples…crap, I’ve been meaning to get some of those for a while. Can’t hurt to snag some. Uh-oh, no hands left…no problem, that’s what cleavage is for…one package of staples, down the shirt…classy. I turn back around and stare at the post office meter like it held the answer to world peace. I have a coffee pot in one hand, phone in the other and a double pack of staples stuffed down my bra, standing in the middle of the mailroom with NO clue where in the hell I was going in the first place. Some call it “brain fog”, some call it “fibro fog”, I just call it “dumbass daze”.


Exhibit C ~ What The Hell Do You Mean That Was Just The Warm Up?

Now the funniest thing about this whole paragraph is that I am (ok, used to be…) a fitness instructor. As recent as a year ago, I could put on a microphone, pop in a CD and make you sweat so bad, you wish you could sneak up behind me and tase me into unconsciousness. But now, I’m one of you and I’m on the other side of the proverbial fence, so to speak. I popped an aerobics DVD into the player the other day and thought, “no problem…I’m a pro at this, piece of cake.” Five minutes into it, I was sweating like I had been air dropped into the pit of hell and gasping for every breath like it was my last on earth. The perkiness of the instructor made me want to throw my pill bottles at the tv… “c’mon! You can do it! Get that leg up higher! Higher!” Higher? Look lady, my foot is 3 inches off the floor, that’s a victory in my book so shut your face and take Brady Bunch factor down a notch. At the end, I was dying, my shirt drenched and I felt like someone had my lungs in a vice grip….but I had done it, I didn’t give up. I stayed with it and put my body to the test. I was feeling rather smug until in the middle of my self-congratulatory celebration, the DVD kept rolling… “Now, that we’re all warmed up, it’s time to really work out! Ready?”

Hell no. I have three words for you, sweetheart…



Anyways, I never did finish the DVD. I have a low tolerance for perky these days.


Exhibit D ~ When Spray Tans Attack

I can laugh at this now. Now…the operative word is, NOW. It wasn’t too damn funny at the time and sometimes I still have nightmares about it but I will tell my story in hopes that I maybe I can save just one person from being visciously attacked like I was. As with most autoimmune disorder sufferers, I cannot tan. The sun and artificial sun do crazy things to my skin and send me into a flare in the blink of an eye. So, this year, I decided the logical solution was spray tanning. Although I was nervous, I carefully listened to the demonstration and the first few times of doing it, it went smoothly and I admit…I got cocky. One day I stepped into the spray tanning booth, faced forward as the recorded voice instructed, then upon the command, turned to the right and assumed the “Heisman” pose. Then it happened. It was worst thing that could have ever happened. Standing there in a tanning booth with nothing on but a shower cap.…..vertigo. Oh yes, vertigo hit, I got the spins and BAM…down I went. The whole thing only lasted a few seconds, but spray tan machines wait for no one and as I tried to pick myself back up, I wobbled and fell forehead first, right in the direct line of fire of the evil spray. Screaming out, “ahhhh, I’ve been hit!!!” I flailed about, trying to get my bearings which only succeeded in created an accidental “arc” of the spray nozzle, hitting me directly in the throat. This, of course caused me to instinctively throw my arms out, palms first to block the offending spray, coating both palms with a nice golden brown hue. I will spare the rest of the details but needless to say, the next morning after the “color” had all developed and appeared, I looked like some sort of science experiment from the Coppertone institute.

These are just a few example of the insanity that have happened to me along the way. There is so much pain and sadness that we have to endure in our lives that I have learned to laugh at myself at the worst possible moments. If I don’t laugh then I cry, and I don’t know about you, but I know which one I would rather do. Unfortunately we don’t have a choice in what happens to us sometimes, but each one of us has a choice in how we react to it. For me, even through the constant sickness and pain, laughter is the only thing that keeps me pushing forward and seeing through the darkness. I’m not usually a “quote a famous person” kinda girl, but I’ll leave you with this…it pretty much sums it up for me.

“You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.”

~Bill Cosby


Article written by senior editor, Stephanie Kennedy

Stephanie lives in Fayetteville, NC and is the mother of 3 always hyperactive and occasionally adorable children. She was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in 2001 and in the time since has added Scleroderma, Hashimotos, Celiac and Degenerative Disc Disease. In her day-to-day life she is a Community Relations Specialist (aka, marketing and creative hodgepodge facilitator) and a part-time blogging snarkzilla. She can always be found somewhere in social media-land causing some sort of trouble. Find her on twitter at @steph_in_nc or on facebook at Stephanie Welborn Kennedy.

  • Catalyst Spark

    I have one such story myself, dancing with the freezer section door in a supermarket.

    I have a bad knee (OK, both my legs suck but my right knee is the worst) which loves to randomly give out on me. Well, it did so, right in the freezer section of the local supermarket. So suddenly, while looking at frozen seafood my leg buckles, the sudden strain on my left leg, which has a bad ankle, makes it struggle to support my weight. So I grab at whatever I can to avoid ending up on my rear, well, only thing I could grab was the handle of the freezer doors, and that’s where it started.

    Grab one door handle, door opens, I’m going for a ride with the freezer door, hand slips, grab another door, that one opens and trying to keep my grip on a moving door I get pivoted around, almost end up in the freezer as the door starts swinging back closed due to my weight being on the other side now, try to avoid being closed into the freezer and grab another door, which also opens (Why couldn’t I have found a stuck one that time? I always seem to find stuck ones when there’s something I want inside the freezer!) but this time I manage to grab a second handle so I’m finally stabilized a bit as the assistant manager, who was alerted to what was being seen on the security feed, comes up. Guy’s nice enough, asks if I’m alright, I tell him what’s up, he right out picks me up (I was 17 at the time) and brings me into the customer service area so I can see to my knee and rest it.

    Made a friend that day since I went to that store all the time though and, even though my knee hurt like hell from it, I know it prolly looked funny as hell when it happened.

  • Runaway Train

    In reply to your final paragraph, I also walk into things very often – not usually door frames, but cupboards, tabes, chairs … any furniture, basically! – I rather like your excuse of testing for sturdiness 😀 As I work in a school, there I could claim it’s for health and safety reasons 😉

  • Andieemt

    My youngest son & I found this hard to read through tears we were laughing so hard & couldn’t stop.

    Thanks, we both needed this after all the CRAP life is throwing at us these days.

  • Nicole

    Oh Lordy! I’m crying tears of laughter! I so have those moment! Oh and I have “Dumbass Daze” a TON! You are so right. We can’t change our illnesses, but we can entertain ourselves and each other with the crap that happens! ((hugs)) to all:)

  • Victoria

    I agree humor helps. When I start to wobble because of my Multiple Sclerosis (MS) I can say “weebles wobble but they don’t fall down; but, if I do fall down I can say welcome to Victoria Falls, (grab the skin under my eye, pull it gently) and say and my bags are packed”.

    If MS causes my body to jerk, I say remember the dance from long ago called the “jerk” “well I am preaty good at dancing the MS jerk”, and hold up my arms a little (to painful to hold them high for very long) snap my fingers and move as if dancing (either seated or standing)

    I have a good excuse for my brain “malfunctions” I have Multiple “Screw-looses”

  • Amy

    Oh, the heck with it, they can arrest me for laughing at a handicapped person even if it’s me I’m laughing at. At least I’ll get free medical care…

    You know you’re a gimp when dept:
    1. You have a large, bright red scooter; you’re wearing something with colors so loud people can hear you coming even if you’re sneaking around like James Bond. You’re so NOT small it’s not even funny; you have on red glasses & brightly colored headbands (& sometimes brightly colored hair swatches, too) & someone cuts in front of you, stops short, gets ticked that you tapped them lightly because you couldn’t stop in time, tells ME to watch where I’M going! I say, “You cut in front of me,” & they say, “I didn’t SEE you!”

    I usually answer, “Please, please tell me you aren’t driving…”

    (Problem is, they usually ARE driving, & they drive cars the way they drive shopping carts!)

  • Amy

    I have a scooter. Now, when I went about obtaining this thing, I did so because hospitals are in L-O-N-G vertical lines spanning at least 2 city blocks (vs the “old fashioned” plus-sign shaped building with a large nurses’ station in the middle & ease of reaching any patient from it). As an old, beat up by muliple annoying chronic illnesses nurse that long ago got as sick as the patients in the bed, I needed help if the trek from meeting to meeting wasn’t going to take half an hour & leave me bathed in sweat & the lovely “aroma” of “honest toil.”

    I had visions. I’d eagerly watched all those ads where old people sat in power mobility devices that spun around on an axis, taking on tight turns, as they danced their power chairs down to a pond &, with delighted smiles, spun around the pond, doing old people donuts.

    What I got was a scooter (if you can walk at all, you don’t get a power chair even though it’s the same price). A huge 4 wheeled monstrosity with a 12 ft turning radius-meaning you need to back up & go forward tons of times to the tune of the backup beeper & people’s annoyed groans. Fitting this thing into a bus was like putting a 500 lb woman into size 6 stretch pants. I was banned from lifts because the scooter is too long & causes problems with the lifts, problems that ruin it for the type of device I wanted. It’s only slightly smaller than a supermarket handicrap cart, & even those turn on a dime.

    The other downfall? The way scooters are constructed, they don’t trigger the electric eye in way too many elevators. If the elevator’s small, you’d better hurry & back out quickly.

    I didn’t back out fast enough.

    I’m not small, either. So, there’s my fat @$$ on my humongous scooter, well & truly stuck in the elevator, unable to reach a single electric eye or reach, with my hands, that “sweet spot” on elevator doors that allows them to be pushed open.

    I was laughing, & actually hoping someone was taking a picture or video of it. They thought I was crying, & when someone realized the elevator wasn’t going to go anywhere until I got un-stuck, someone came to my rescue & the door with an appetite bigger than its capacity was forced to renounce its anticipated title of “Jaws: Landbound” & admit its failure to make me a female Jonah in a square, mechanical “whale.”

    And somewhere along the line, political correctness made ME guilty of violating its provisions when I asked if anyone had gotten a picture they could text me, since it had to look pretty funny.

    Apparently, it’s illegal to laugh at yourself if you’re a gimp, so maybe we’d better not have a sense of humor after all1

  • shoshana

    thank you, thank you. i think i need to put reminders all over the
    place that will remind me. way to often i feel stone serious. thank u
    for your very funny, true column!

  • marilyn seenes

    OMG this had me cracking up..especially the coffee-staples- mailroom.You are too funny and so talking about my life.THANKS!

  • Leah

    This is hilarious. My mother and I, (she is a spoonie too), were just talking about how hard things have been lately, and that for her, it may be time to start thinking about disability…
    I went in the other room to decompress, and clear my head and check my email, and i found this.
    NOW THIS is the best medicine! Steph, you are a riot and a half…. thank you.

  • Thank you I so needed that today. after 12 years of in n out of work I got the age of 38 I am on Ssdi. Major emotional rollercoaster. I was just starting to get a handle on using humor but for some reason this week I want to cry everyday. your story made me laugh inside and out. also I am unable to work right now, I am a clinical social worker professionally and innately. It is my purpose 1 day volunteer or part time to empower people like us. Thank you for the laughter And I’ll stay away from a tanning booth !!! I just received my t shirt I bought online that says fibro my what?

  • Caroline Rich

    I loooove it! *still laughing*

    I definitely needed the laughter today and perhaps tomorrow!!

  • Thank GOODNESS I was on the other end of the house from my sleeping husband when I read this! Because I was snorting and giggling so loud that I could have been arrested for noise pollution, lol.

    Staples in the cleavage, eh? Have to admit that’s even weirder than when I end up carrying around a water bottle under my armpit because my arms are too full of other things. I try to pile things on so I only have to make one trip to save me energy, but picking up multiple things that have fallen to the floor really isn’t that advantageous.

    I use a Gazelle glider, which has an accompanying video featuring Tony Little, so I know all about excessive exercise perkiness. I’ve been using the machine for five years, so I end up muttering or arguing with Tony just to make it more entertaining and less annoying.

    I have problems with proprioception, so I constantly mis-judge where I am versus where something else is. I keep banging into door frames when I mean to walk through a doorway. My excuse is that I’m testing the frames for sturdiness, and I’m sticking to it, lol.

    Keep on laughing!

  • WOW… This is another GREAT article! You are the best! Thanks again for sharing! God Bless You!

  • Bec

    I can relate to more than one fo the paragraphs……it is very comforting to know i am NOT the ONLY one in the world that has semi daily if not daily misfortunes….that is what I have learned to call them anyway….May god bless…….Lord knows he blessed me with all sortsa fun stuff to make life interesting……I do have to agree with the above tho…..thank goodness you didn’t get Coppertone tounge or eyeball…….I have given up on trying to get “sun” in any form..haa! Anyway thanks for sharing it makes life a lil mor bearable! BEC!

  • Joni

    I was referred from a post from another group. I agree that having a good attitude about having a chronic illness makes life much better. MY loving and kind Husband of 37 years and I have only made through: MS,loosing house, our business, 3 family deaths, child with anorexia, child marrying an illegal alien, job loss, friends move to other state, and then the daily normal things of life resembling much of what you have described in this article.
    I know that without Jesus Christ in my life things would be impossible! All praise honor and glory to HIM> On the things in life we can somewhat manage laughing over the situations with my very funny and musical husband is a better way to live! I also believe God gave us a sense of humor to use…thanks for helping me “look at situations with a view from the ceiling looking down.
    Blessings for using what you have learned to encourage others <3 Joni

  • Thank you !!! Yr amazing 🙂 xx

  • Just “Thank you !!!” yr amazing 🙂 xx

  • Vickie Foster

    You read my mind! This one brought a big smile and a lot of laugh out louds…Thank you!

  • Cindi

    Stephanie, I Think Your Amazing,Kind,Caring & So Brave,Not to Mention Very Talented. I Always Look foe Stoies by you,Cause Their Always Trueful Wirh a Hint or More Of Humor! I Have Many “If I did`nt Laugh I`d Cry Moments”. Like when I was taking a step with my 4 pronged Walker (Can Be Leathle,Mines Maimed me Several Times,lol) And as I went to put my foot down,My Foot Jerked Forward,Got Tangled in the Prongs And O U C H ******** Down I went in front of med delivery man.Who Simply said You need to be careful, You Okay(As Im Struggling to Get Up) Heres your meds. I Finally get Untagled and Limp to the Door.That was 3 months ago I still have a mark(Softball size) on my shin. Anyway Your Article rea lly Helped me Tonight,I really Needed That Laugh. You Are Da “Bomb”! Thank YOU So Very Much. My Friendship,Peace,Care,Concern,Gentle Air Hugs,Any Spoons I have left,Wishing You PainFree Days & Peaceful Nights & My Prayers for You & Your Family/Friends/Pets.And Everyone here on Bydls Site & Their Family/Friends/Pets. PositiveSpirit/cindi

  • Janet

    This is hilarious! Thanks for the laugh and I’m with you, I laugh at myself, alot! My hubby and children don’t seem to always ‘get it’. They tell me, when I say it was funny, nothing was funny to laugh at. They need to get some funny pills! 🙂

  • Kathy

    I just found this web site through a friend that I can’t remember, that I went to school with, on face book. So glad she told me about it.. We were in the band together. She a letter girl, I a majorette.. How can I not place her???? Not to worry, we are meeting for lunch so I can ?meet? , see her for real. Maybe that will jog my fogged (too much of the time) memory.

  • Pam


    You’ve made my evening! I laughed til the tears ran. Can’t wait to tell everyone about “dumbass daze” tomorrow at work. I’d better write it on a post it so I don’t forget!!

  • I love it Stephanie – especially the paragraph about fitness. I used to be a competitive athlete (Taekwondo). I put on a yoga dvd the other day and after five minutes decided I’d had a fantastic workout and didn’t need the other 25 minutes! I rewarded myself with a nap.

  • Thanks for the laughs!

  • Karen

    Thank you Stephanie! You have an amazing way of lifting my spirits. And you’re right – we should laugh and not be so in to how much our life sucks sometimes. i’m going to make that my goal for tomorrow.

  • Ah Steph… I need to blog about when my arms got locked UP over my head. It was hysterical.

    My attitude about things has become, if I’ll laugh about it later, I might as well laugh about it now.

    Only way I stay unmiserable.

  • Lyn

    Thank you so much, I really needed that laugh. Good thing no one was home, I was laughing so hard, they would have thought I
    lost it.

  • Wonderful and funny article. Great job, Stephanie. It really is so important to have humor and laugh. I really enjoyed reading and laughing as well. Thanks for sharing. <3 🙂

  • Linda

    Just too funny but oh so true. Thanks for the laugh I really needed it.

  • Robby

    My kids make sure I laugh when the FibroBrainFarts hit me. Of course I was always the class clown, and now I wouldn’t laugh about anything if the kids didn’t remind me why it was funny, and they make sure everyone we know, knows about it so they can laugh too. Gotta love ’em. LOL

  • Elspeth

    Love it! The best and worst thing about this article is how true to life it sounds. 😀

  • Jill

    I loved this article – and you’re right, we have to find humor in our situation. If we don’t, we’ll drive ourselves crazy! I particularly enjoyed your spray tan story – well told, and well written! Hang in there, there are more laughs in store for you tomorrow, I’m sure!

  • Jennifer

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud! I now have a new term…Dumbass Daze! I can really relate. You’re awesome! I always look for your articles because I know you will cheer me up. Keep em coming!

  • Shawna

    I almost had an accident, I was laughing so hard! Thanks, I needed that!

  • Amy

    So funny! Your tanning horror story is hilarious! Thanks for sharing and “keeping it real”.

  • My husband & I were laughing last night because I had a hair turn white and it’s shedding more than normal. He joked that it was OK it was falling out because it was turning white and no one would notice if a white hair fell out.

    It was nice to be able to laugh about it.

  • Rochelle P

    LOL I REALLY needed that laugh today. I also look for the humor in my everyday life (of LUPUS), and believe me I am never let down. There is always something that has me laughing until I “pee” my pants…lol After burying my mother last weekend, everything has been so hectic. But this laugh today was a good way to get me out of bed! Thanks for the laugh!

  • Candy Sanders

    Thank you so much for sharing. I giggled until my daughter asked what was going on! :0) I needed this today! Most days I choose to laugh also but depression has been looming lately, so thanks a bunch for the laughter!

  • Carol

    When I laughed well at a joke in public, a friend–yes a friend–told me, “You can’t feel too bad. You’re laughing.” Why would people equate sickness without laughter? I learned a great lesson that day.

  • ROFLMAO!! Awesome!

    Reminds me of my favorite quote from Christopher Titus: “I want to hear your pain. I really do. Just tell it in joke form.”

  • Nicole

    You truly have a gift, Steph. I laughed so hard reading this. Reminds me of why you inspire me. Thank you & love you!

  • I blame my lack of short term memory on my job. I talk with so many people, sometimes 5-6 on a single call! Some days I’m lucky to remember my own name!

    Never stop me when I’m talking, I’ll forget!

    Choo Choo

    Where did that train of thought go?

    Thanks Steph, needed the laugh!

  • Hilarious! You’re lucky you didn’t also get a coppertone-tongue while you were at it!! Dxx

  • Redcurlyhead (Krista)

    We have freak earthquakes here in Central Ky too! And I used to get lost on my way to the office kitchen. Thank goodness for google maps.

    I so needed that today. 🙂

  • Erin Talley

    Again, Steph, great job!! I am in awe of how you can turn tragedy into comedy!!

  • I thank you for making my day. It made me feel better knowing what to do when I magically decide the floor is better suited for me. Or I forget when in the world I was doing in the first place-worst place ever grocery store. I love this website, first time commentor also!

  • Lilli Sarantos

    Laughing as I’m reading this! You’re articles always “hit home” (especially loved “When Spray Tans Attack” ) HYSTERICAL!

  • Steph, you are amazing as usual. And I def needed this today!! I am trying to find my funny among the chaos. Love you.

  • Tim

    Steph, you ROCK, I ROFL!