Laughter: A Good Medicine to Add to Your Arsenal

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There I was, slogging through miles and piles of e-mail after my trip, when I opened one and literally burst out laughing. The poster’s insurance company, she wrote, said it had covered her insulin pump supplies "much longer" than it had planned and advised her to look into a lower-cost alternative for her treatment.

"Do they think," she wrote, "I only intended on having diabetes for a couple of years and then maybe I’d move on to a cheaper

While the situation wasn’t funny, her retort was, I thought, hilarious.

If you’ve never played “dot-to-dot” with your injection sites, tried to create an injection bruise in the shape of Asia, had a blood-squirting contest, meter race, or something equally insane, it’s possible you don’t have the kind of mindset that’s necessary to make diabetes a bit less daunting.

In other words, if you can’t find the humor in a lifelong “companion” you never wanted, you’ve got a huge problem.

A local C.D.E. once accused me of enjoying hypoglycemic episodes because I always laughed about them. Well, if you do stupid things like getting up in the middle of the night to muddle through the refrigerator looking for something to treat a low when you had a tube of glucose tabs on your nightstand all along, what else is there to do but laugh? It’s hardly worth crying about. Besides, at that point, you’re thoroughly awake anyway and need something to amuse yourself with.

(“Remember the time you ate dinner with a cocktail fork because you couldn’t figure out the carb content of you meal?” giggle “How about the time you burst into tears in the middle of a crowded restaurant because you couldn’t figure out how to eat your sandwich?” BwaaaHahahaha!)

I recall a person who asked for advice after her doctor told her to remove her insulin pump at midnight before a surgery the following day.

“Ask him,” she was advised, “if he tells his patients without diabetes to remove their pancreases the night before surgery.”

(For those who are unaware, only rapid-acting insulin is used in insulin pumps. If delivery is halted, the pumper can get very sick, very fast.)

Ignorant reporters and headline-writers also can provide some laughs. After, of course, you gnash your teeth. A lot.

News of an experimental treatment that left most of the subjects injection-free provided great fodder for laughs as wire services and headline writers lauded the fact that the subjects were insulin-free.

“Quick!” the speaker said at a program I attended a few years ago. “How many people use insulin?”

Foreheads furrowed as individuals in the group attempted to mentally figure the percentage of people in the United State who had diabetes, then subtract the number of Type 1s and guesstimate how many Type 2s used insulin.

“Everybody!” the speaker announced. Of course! Insulin is the hormone needed to move glucose into the body’s cells for energy. No insulin equals no energy, which equals no life. Why did people with diabetes die before the discovery of insulin? Their bodies didn’t make insulin!

Insulin pumps being mistaken for other objects can lead to amusing situations. A coffee shop owner once complimented me on my “pager,” then saw the tubing, did a double take, and asked why it had an antenna. “How else,” I asked him, “would I communicate with the mother ship?”

After some coworkers asked one woman where she got her “kewl, clear pager leash,” a group of us on the same mailing list thought up an entire marketing plan that would bring in some income while ridding us of our excess tubing. Didn’t see anything about it? Well, we had a problem: We couldn’t figure out how to make attaching the “kewl clear pager leash” to the user’s body palatable to the populace.

Another person, when queried about her tubing, said her “‘pager’…runs on water,” then left it for the other person to figure out.

That last one might not be so far-fetched, however. While watching “Star Wars Tech” on The History Channel, I swear I heard somebody mention a battery powered by urine. But I wasn’t quite sure, so I did some surfing and came up with news of researchers in Singapore who’d done just that.

No joke.

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