artificial chatter teeth laughing

Laughing All the Way

Last updated: September 2019

I have stage three COPD and I have fun.

I have stage three COPD and I laugh.

I have stage three COPD and I refuse to let it take my spirit and my sense of humor.

Laughing every day

My mother gave me some of the best advice of life eons and eons ago (meaning my twenties) that still serves me well today: Never lose your sense of humor. She may not know this, especially since she’s still my go-to friend for complaining, but her advice has gotten me through some really awful times in my life. Including this one.

My father also gave me some of the best advice of my life. I was a teenager and was spewing teenage angst at him about lord knows what - I’ve forgotten - and I think he was desperate for me to put things into perspective in my life. Or he was tired of me asking for his advice but never taking it. He just looked at me and uttered one sentence, one famous sentence that also served me well, especially now: “Just keep breathing and it’ll all be okay!”

Now, don't get me wrong. I have down days and depression. No chronic illness is a joke, or fun to have, or a funny thing to happen to someone. It's tough, it's ruthless, it's depressing.

So because of that, amidst my will to just keep breathing, I make sure I laugh every day. I especially like it when I can laugh at what’s going on with my COPD. My goal is to be happy and to make my friends and family comfortable around me. Sharing a laugh makes it so much more possible.

Play as much as you can

Playing isn't just a joy we remember from childhood. We play all of our lives, whether it's video games, board games, cards with friends or solitaire, reenactments, hobbies. There are a lot of options open to us, especially with new electronics such as the Nook or the Kindle that have a ton of different kinds of games available, either free or very inexpensive. They range from mindless but entertaining for those days when the brain fog is really bad to games of skill that take planning and strategy for when we feel good. Board games like chess and Clue are staples in our house. Card games are wonderful too. Board games and card games are also nice for the simple reason that they require company to play them. Personal interaction is very important.

Hobbies are wonderful things. They keep our minds active and give us pleasure. They also keep us learning, which is vital for people with a chronic illness. I can't do my old hobbies anymore, so I've found new ones. Bird watching is amazing. It's calming and birds have their own fascinating social structure and interesting lives. I also do calligraphy, since it's something I can do sitting down. It's been fascinating to study the history of it and the different styles. I even use a quill. One of my friends has learned about herbs and their history. Another friend crochets, knits, and sews. Another friend colors every day in a gorgeous coloring book of gardens. And there's always my favorite - photography. Find something that sounds interesting to you and go for it!

Act silly sometimes

For some reason, this one comes really easy to me. I put a colored ribbon in the spokes of the wheels of my walker, just like I used to do to my bicycle when I was a little girl. I plan on putting racing stripes/flames on my electric wheelchair.

One of my favorite things to do at a huge place like Sam's Club is racing. When business is slow and we have a huge aisle free, my son, who's 13, and I race. I am in my electric wheelchair - my personal one, not the store's - and he's on foot. I've learned how to drift around corners, burn rubber, and do donuts in the freezer section. Well, okay, maybe I just learned how to turn around corners and how to turn in a circle without having to back up. That beeping that means reverse makes me feel like an oversize Mac truck with a wide bumper. I haven't won a race yet but it keeps my son entertained and fulfills the Grand Prix driver in me. Well, okay, I'm really more like Tow'mater than Mario Andretti...but only because we go really slow so we don't bump into anyone or anything.

Just laugh

We all know the saying that laughter is the best medicine. I believe it. I make sure to watch a funny video every day. With YouTube, a lot of skits, TV shows, and movies are available. Netflix offers a lot too. It's a perfect way to have fun, laugh, and discover comedies throughout the ages of the golden screen. I've seen everything from Abbot and Costello to modern day B movies, and I've enjoyed every one.

Another good way to have a laugh is to read a funny book or magazine every day. Again, an electronic reader offers just about anything that's been written. Now, this is a joy for me. The PG Wodehouse books about Jeeves and Wooster are some of my favorite gut busters. I've also discovered that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote some really funny stories, outside of the Sherlock Holmes series. And I didn't know that the Scarlet Pimpernel had a whole series of books that followed. Those have been an immense adventure. Try the electronic readers and see what you find.

I'm sure there are many more things to do or see or read that make you laugh, give you joy, and help you grow. Find them. Do them. Give yourself some weapons to fight off the depression we can feel so easily as COPD patients. I believe you can do it!

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