Laughter: A Good Medicine to Add to Your Arsenal

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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  • Kassie

    Humor is essential!

    The first time I went to the pharmacy to fill a syringe prescription (21 years ago) the woman behind the counter asked me if I’d be needing a whole box ūüėČ

  • pollydance

    Humor gets you throuhg… when I first started “shooting up” I went out for a special evening with my husband. I was six months pregnant and got all gussied up and forgot to allow for acess to an injection site. We were in the car parked outside a theatre in downtown Nashville trying to get my pantyhose down far enough to “shoot” when along came a cop… in the end he was very nice but not until he had delivered a blistering lecture on drungs in pregnancy. My husband ( a pediatrician) was so terrified it would show up in the headlines… pediatrician’s wife pregnant and using drugs…

  • The Peach

    Humor is definitely an essential component of managing this disease.
    I belong to a d board where one thread was titled: You know you’re diabetic when…
    …You’re at COSTCO and you pass up the free Hagen Dazz sample for broccoli florets with lt ranch dressing…
    …you cut yourself and go searching for your meter as to not miss the opportunity to test…
    Your kids say I’ll eat the berries with you mom, instead of the candy…etc etc
    try it, we all need to smile

  • deafmack

    I belong to the same group as The Peach. One of my favorites on that thread when the guy says he is packing his camper to go grocery shopping because he has to take time to read the label and nutrition information so he is packing his tent and a sleeping bag and food for the journey.