When Is A Joke Not A Joke Anymore?

It's pretty obvious, when you meet me that I am generally a happy person. People have told me more and more recently how they love my sense of humor and my attitude about life. I've learned through my life that laughter does help you feel better. Which probably explains why I love comedies whether it's a tv show or a movie.
I tend to view laugh with a sense of humor as well. When people make weird comments about my scar (like the lady who thought my scar was a drink I spilt on myself), I usually don't get offended (unless they are purposely trying to be rude) and instead, I laugh it off and find it amusing. I'll go home and I'll tell my family about the newest and weirdest comment. We find humor in some of the things people say. Because if I didn't do that, I could have a chip on my shoulder from all the things people have said to me. But when I laugh it off and get a kick out of the stupid things people say, it makes for great stories! 

Now I know that this is a double edged sword, my sense of humor about my health. When my health comes up for the first time with a new group of people, I make a few jokes about it. Such as 'Oh yeah, my grandma who's in a wheelchair probably runs faster than me.' Or I tell them the story about my mom's cousin who told me I should get a pacemaker on both sides of my chest, so it would be like a breast implant. Funny stories. And I tell them for a reason. I want these people who meet for the first time to feel comfortable with my health, and feel like they can ask questions without me getting sad or depressed about the topic. And another reason being, I don't want them to think that my health controls my life or that my health is all my life revolves around because it doesn't. By using my humor and telling funny stories about my health and things that have been said to me, I've noticed that people don't react as if my health is as big of a deal as they used to when I didn't always use sense of humor for it. 

With that being said though... my health is a big deal to me and my family. I have almost died because of my health, more than once. And while I use laughter to help deal with what I'm going through, it really isn't a laughing matter. Now I understand that I can't have the best of both worlds. I can't laugh about my health one minute and then the next expect people to know that it's not the right time to crack jokes. But more and more lately, it seems as if people make jokes or small comments when the topic isn't even being brought up. I'll be sitting there with some friends and someone will decide to just make a joke about my heart defect or lung disease, and that hadn't even been what we were talking about.

I wonder if maybe people don't know what else to say to me. Or if maybe the lines were not drawn clearly enough? I don't mind jokes when the topic is actually being talked about but when the topic is something entirely different, it seems a bit odd and not very considerate to not only bring it up but crack jokes about it... I'm just not sure how to politely tell people not to make jokes about my health since for so long, I've let it slide and I've laughed it off.

And it also depends on the day and the joke. Some jokes are funny and some just leave me thinking, "Really? You find that funny?" I know that they don't mean any harm by them, which is why I haven't told my friends yet to slow down with them. If you were to make a joke about my health about four months ago, I would've laughed it off and thought it was funny. But now that my health could possibly be getting worse again... that changes things and the jokes about my health become less funny.

I know that I've created some of this confusion as to 'Which joke is okay? And when is it okay to joke?' and I take responsibility for that. I know that my friends are going to have to learn to take cues from me about when its an okay time to joke, and I won't mind helping them learn because I'm sure there are other people out there who try to use laughter to help themselves heal and deal with things but may face some of these issues as well. Thankfully though, when all is said and done, I know that my friends aren't trying to be rude or hurt me with their jokes. Maybe in their own way, they are trying to use humor to help themselves understand what is going on with me. Hopefully, we can all work together though and learn how to go through all of this while laughing but not over stepping any lines.

Hope and Love,


  1. Humor is fear's ally. You cannot set black & white lines in a grey state. Living with a Chronic illness changes constantly, so you have to as well. Who you surround yourself with is what makes the navigating a little smoother. I bet you have AMAZING friends, and those who aren't or don't get you has nothing to do with things you need to change. It's the go to place we all have when things get serious quick; and it's plain and simply ok for those lines to change:)

    Peace & Hope


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My Life As A Chronically
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