Humor for Health and Well-Being with Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN: IDA Video Seminar

Humor for HealthIDA Founder and President interviews  Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN, Hall of Fame Speaker and Humorist.

Karyn is the past president of the Association for Applied Therapeutic Humor, the creator of the Nursing Jocularity online publication and author of the What’s So Funny About … book series.

Interview by Wayne Connell, Founder and President
Invisible Disabilities Association
www.InvisibleDisabilities.org

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

http://www.InvisibleDisabilitiesCommunity.org
http://www.Facebook.com/InvisibleDisabilities
http://www.InvisibleNoMore.TV
http://www.Facebook.com/InvisibleNoMoreTV
http://www.YouTube.com/InvisibleDisability
http://www.Twitter.com/INVDisabilities
http://www.InvisibleHero.org
http://www.CleanerIndoorAir.org

All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2012 Invisible Disabilities Association

About Karyn Buxman

Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN, CSP CPAE is on a mission to improve global health through laughter and to heal the humor-impaired. Karyn is a Hall of Fame Speaker and the owner of Journal of Nursing Jocularity. For periodic tips on how to improve your life with strategic humor, visit her website.

What’s So Funny About …

karynbuxmanMy journey over the past two decades with my wife, Sherri – whose life is filled daily with intense pain, brain fog, overwhelming fatigue and isolation – is full of more downs than ups. It seems like the easy thing to do would be to throw my hands up and scream. I joke sometimes that Murphy has nothing on what we go through each day.

Yet, despite all of the daily suffering, we try to laugh. We laugh at each other. She laughs at me more than I laugh at her, especially when I bolt straight up in the middle of the night and try to figure out what just made that noise and where I am. We laugh at the absurdity of each moment. We laugh when her medical records are lost for the umpteenth time. We laugh at I Love Lucy. I bought all 186 episodes and watched them each night for six months straight. She calls me her Ricky and I call her my Lucy.

The real question is, are we just crazy? Maybe we are not serious enough about her illness. I don’t believe that’s the case. I think we would go mad if we didn’t laugh when someone asks Sherri if she has tried Tylenol for her pain (seriously?). Well, let’s ask an expert. Say Karyn Buxman, RN. Her Masters of Science in Nursing is in Therapeutic Humor. She is the Past President of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor and the editor of the Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Karyn is also the author of the new What So Funny About series of books. She has been a long time Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA) Advisory Board member and a personal friend of Sherri’s and mine. Did I mention she is also in the National Speaker Hall of Fame? I could go on.

Karyn, take it away…

What’s not funny about disabilities?

A diabetic, a blind man and an amputee walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What is this – some kind of joke?”

Having a disability is no joke. But it can be a laughing matter. Pain, suffering, isolation, stress, depression, financial hardships – the problems can seem never ending. And to survive you need all the possible tools in your tool belt that you can find. One tool that is frequently overlooked is humor.

Science is affirming what we’ve suspected all along – laughter is good medicine. The benefits for you are so numerous that you are not going to want to wait for humor to happen by chance. You’ll want to be proactive and experience humor by choice. And the good news is, you don’t have to be funny. You just have to see funny.

What can humor do for you?

 Physically:

We’ve known for many years that negative emotions can wreak havoc on your body. Feelings of sadness, depression, fear, anxiety and stress can actually compound many of the issues you or your loved one may already be suffering as a result of a disability. For instance, stress is now known to exacerbate health problems such as diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, COPD, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, migraines, cardiovascular disease, depression  and many more.

Stress raises hormones that cause an inflammatory response throughout your body. Studies show that laughing lowers your levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This may be reflected in lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, improved circulation, enhanced digestion, decreased inflammation, and diminished pain and discomfort, just to mention a few. Another physical benefit of humor and laughter is decreased muscle tension – another great pain reliever.

Psychologically:

In my opinion, language was invented in order for people to communicate, whereas humor was invented in order for people to complain. Dealing with a chronic disease can trigger anger – and humor is a wonderful way to help process the negative emotions. And while people will run like the building is on fire when a complainer approaches, humor can be a socially acceptable – even enjoyable – way for people to vent.

Part of having a disability – any disability – is that you’re going to feel frustrated, you’re going to be angry, you’re going to have moments when you are filled with rage. It’s unrealistic to think that embracing humor as a coping strategy is going to eliminate those feelings. But repressed anger can make your symptoms even worse.

Humor redirects anger, instead of avoiding or denying it. This redirection can defuse a lot of rage, bringing with it a sense of calm, relief and a fresh perspective. The underlying circumstances that made you angry still exist, but after you’ve laughed, you’re better prepared to address those circumstances.

Socially:

Humor is an effective way to combat social isolation. You can use humor to directly address some of the issues that crop up in your relationships. Humor has been found to strengthen existing relationships (which is good if you like the people you know!). Regular use of humor is thought to make us more attractive to other people, which can increase your social circle and your base of support (this is good news if you don’t like the people you currently know).

But can you help me be funny?

Now that you understand some of the benefits of humor, let’s look at how you can proactively make this part of your daily routine. Here are seven tips on how you can increase your Laughter Factor:

1. First assume that there is humor to be found. If your assumption is that nothing funny is happening around you – then you miss it. Yet if you believe that something humorous is waiting to be found – you will discover it.

2. Raise your awareness. If you are proactively looking and listening for something humorous, you will see and hear what most others miss. Like the tourist who called a hotel in Florida wanting to know “Which beach is closest to the water?” Or the 5 year-old who asked his grandmother “Why doesn’t your skin fit your face?”

3. Manipulate your environment. Surround your living and working space with playful and entertaining items. These might be toys or games; funny books and DVDs; whimsical signs, cartoons, art, or posters; colorful clothing; entertaining CDs or mp3s. If you have fun things in your environment, you increase your likelihood of laughter.

4. Create a Play List. Write down at least 10, preferably 20, things you find fun to do. Ideally half of the items on your list should cost little or nothing to do. The plan: Next time you are feeling uncomfortable, sad or fatigued, pull out your list and make an agreement with yourself to do at least one item on your list. Don’t wait to feel better to play. Play and then feel better.

5. Use the Internet. There are numerous joke and cartoon sites – bookmark them and check them out on a routine basis. And YouTube has a plethora of clips that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. (For starters, type “laughing babies” into the search box. What is more contagious than a baby’s laugh?!)

6. Laugh anyway. If there is nothing funny to be found, fake it ‘til you make it – your body may not know the difference. And often it will become real laughter. If you want guidance, there are groups that teach how to laugh for no reason. Check out World Laughter Tour or Laughter Yoga.

7. Laugh at yourself. When all is said and done, you can take your disability seriously – it’s serious stuff. But you can take yourself lightly. Learn to separate the two. You are not your disability. You are an amazing and amusing individual with a rich resource of life experiences.

Hopefully with the tools and information I’ve given you, you can put yourself and your life in their proper perspective. Laugh at your mistakes, your foibles and your embarrassing moments, as well as your successes, your pleasures and your joy-filled moments. And don’t wait for humor to happen by chance. Experience by choice and reap the benefits today!

We hope this has been a very insightful article for you. We plan to bring you more like it in future Disability.gov blogs. Karyn Buxman joined the Invisible Disabilities Association on September 27th for the first ever Online True Help® DisabilityWeb Expo, which was sponsored by Allsup, for one of our online Expert Chats. Learn more about this event and many more on our website!

By Wayne Connell, Founder & President, Invisible Disabilities Association and Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN, IDA Advisory Board.

This article was first published on Disability.Blog by Disability.gov. August 24, 2012.

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What’s So Funny About …

 

About Karyn Buxman

Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN, CSP CPAE is on a mission to improve global health through laughter and to heal the humor-impaired. Karyn is a Hall of Fame Speaker and the owner of Journal of Nursing Jocularity. For periodic tips on how to improve your life with strategic humor, visit her website.

Markers of Aging

“What’s the oldest you’ve ever been?”

A fair question, although it may be obvious chronologically. Personally, I can’t attest to having lived or acted my physical age. Many would agree. Mentally, I don’t feel it.

My friend and speaker colleague Bob mentioned a funny ageism recently. Bob and his family were enjoying a meal together when his little granddaughter piped up. “Grandpa, how old are you?”

“Why, I’m 71.”

“Wow! Did you start out at 1???”

Out of the mouths of young whippersnappers.

This granddaughter still counts her age in years and half years. When do we start counting down instead of up?

Why do we look forward to ‘getting bigger,’ and shortly after we do, we stop looking forward to how our bodies will next change.

It’s not typically for the better.

I was at my annual checkup with my ophthalmologist to make sure 40 years of arthritis hadn’t messed yet with my eyes. I noted that in the last six months, my eyes didn’t seem to adjust or focus quickly when the TV screen would change. A blurry three seconds began to appear before the image would clear.

When it first started happening, I was concerned. The old ‘oh no, what now’ syndrome. But then a sneaking suspicion snuck in that this change was normal…for my age.

I first mentioned it to my neurosurgeon this spring. He looked at me, a half grin creeping across his face. “It’s an age thing, isn’t it?” “Uh, yea.”

My ophthalmologist was no less sympathetic. “You are middle aged, after all.”

Did he have to be so brutal about it?

Why is there no manual for aging? There are books to tell pregnant women what to expect during pregnancy and during that child’s first year, and what’s normal, and what’s not. Why are there no books for those entering middle age? With all us boomers venturing there, it would have to be a best seller. Maybe that’s my next book.

It could be that those in the medical professions have a primer on this stuff. I’d say that’s an unfair advantage. The rest of us slog through, wondering if something is wrong or if our peers are falling apart, too – but that they’re smart enough to keep mum regarding the small horrors coming our way.

We shouldn’t have to stumble through blindly. My slightly younger friends tease me that they’re well equipped to enter middle age because they know from my experience what’s coming their way. I’m glad I can be a beacon (she said wryly).

The preschool niece of an old boyfriend, when she thought we should know better, often asked, “What are you – new??”

Her comment reminded me of Bob’s granddaughter.

I barely remember being new. Heck, I barely remember much of anything some days. But I’m glad I’ve had the luxury of learning what it is to age, to forget, to have mal-adjusting eyesight.

Without it, I would never have lived past new. And I’m grateful I’ve gotten to be the oldest I’ve ever been.

This article first appeared in NurseTogether.com.  

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

Hanging on to Hope

“I can’t do this anymore.”

“What? You have to keep going. You can’t quit. You’re needed. You’re fantastic at what you do.”

“No, it’s too hard. I’m exhausted. There’s too much to do and never enough time. I’m fighting on every front and I have no more fight left. I’m tired of being responsible, tired of doing it all and doing it well. Really, there’s barely time even to do a lousy job at the required basics.”

My friend was struggling in her job and at home. I didn’t like what I was hearing, but I understood. I’d previously slid down a similar slimy slope.

There were no grab bars, no traction, no hay bales to cushion the landing along that slope. It was all downhill, like a runaway sled careening down an icy hilltop.

Has your sled slipped down that same slippery slope of overwhelmingness?

I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit to anyone, most especially myself. I’d wanted to quit workplaces in the past, I’ve wanted to quit my own business, I’ve wanted to quit as a patient, I’ve wanted to quit watching loved ones as patients.

I’ve wanted to quit. But it’s been seldom when I’ve followed through on that desire.

There’s much I have to learn, but this I know: the ‘how’ of how we keep going when we can’t keep going, might be found in a simpler answer than we realize.

The how lies in hope. Consciously or unconsciously, we hang on to hope. We hope for a better day, situation, outcome. We know it can be better than it is. We wait for the day when it is just that. We do what we can to bring it on, and if there’s nothing we can do, we patiently plow through the days until the sun glints through the clouds.

Along the way, we hold on to the hope of the heartfelt relationships of our lives, the intrinsic value and purpose our relationships and work bring us, and the unexpected humor that catches us off-guard.

There is funny in almost everything, including overworked, underappreciated, ‘get me the bleep out of here’ workdays. During some past jobs, I had been known to keep going merely by telling myself that the workplace, in all its messed up unglory, was there simply to entertain me. And not only that, but I was paid to be an interactive audience! I silently voiced a ‘bravo’ for true-to-form stellar performances from colleagues, administration and customers.

I could choose to be either annoyed or amused by their antics and interactions with me. When I chose to become detached and amused, the day was not as bleak as it had been. There was reason to chuckle and smile. From there, I could pass on the good humor, so to speak, to others and be re-energized by it myself. It might be an unorthodox coping mechanism, but sometimes unorthodox is what survival requires.

You can so do this, too. Bravo, you!

Reprinted with kind permission from NurseTogether.com

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

The Rolling Stone

“Maybe I’m an exception to the ‘rolling stone gathers no moss’ adage.”

I’m feeling pretty darn moss-covered myself some days, especially when work and life seem to be rolling downhill. It’s overwhelming at times. It happens far more often than I’d like. Needless to say, I’m a mite suspicious of the proverb about a rolling stone gathering no moss.

Prove it.

The faster the downward tumble speeds up at a breakaway pace, the more moss  – the more yuck, the more issues – I seem to accumulate. I can’t shake it. Its fuzziness is annoying. Get this stuff off me!

Perhaps that wasn’t the original intent of the phrase. Still, I beg to differ with it – as sometimes seems to be my nature.

Do you ever feel that way, about the rolling downhill part? That life is rolling along at its own merry clip, and all you can do is attempt to merely match the same pace, while all the while gunk is building up on you, instead of falling away, off to the side, where it belongs?

I’ve felt that way in the past as a patient, I sometimes feel that way as a professional, and I certainly feel that way in my personal life.

My neighbor Jeanette and I meandered onto the topic of overwhelmingness this weekend. She’s the busy mom of two young boys whom she home-schools and the mom of one husband – who, of course, she doesn’t.

Although we live lives that are more dissimilar than similar, we both feel it. The ‘it’ being the weight of all we carry, all we’re responsible for, all that the world throws at us. It’s never-ending and no matter how much we do, more keeps getting added to the list.

In the midst of our commiseration, Jeanette stopped me when she offered a game-changer, a brain-changer. She said, “We can’t stop from rolling downhill. We can only learn to roll downhill better.”

Ooooh.

Huh.

She’s right. We can’t stop more and more stuff – activities, obligations, requirements, messes, muck and miscellaneous – from entering our lives. But we can determine that we’ll handle them all better. We’ll learn to juggle. Not by juggling nine pointy knives at one time, but by juggling two or three soft foam-like balls.

No rush to learn or perfect the craft. We’ve been dealing with green muck attaching itself to us all our lives. It’ll take a little while to intentionally step back, take a breath, and figure out how to deal with the muck that needs to be dealt with, and how to apply muck-repellant for that which doesn’t.

Identifying the muck and green moss that we don’t need to put up with in our lives is half the battle. Once we learn to identify it and handily repel it so it doesn’t stick to us, our downhill roll will be much less encumbered. Less overwhelming. Much more freeing.

We might even be able to relax and enjoy the ride – sans our green mossy selves.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

Just Add it to the Bottomless List

“Just add it to the bottomless list.”

Ever felt that way? As though the world and all its demands expects you to keep going until you’ve finished everything on your plate, so to speak. Including the Brussels sprouts.

It’s an image that reminds me of long-ago decades growing up in Fargo, North Dakota. The dinnertime rule was we had to eat at least a biteful of every food on our plate, even if we knew we didn’t like it. Logic said our taste buds might change as we grew accustomed to it.

The perennial battle of the Brussels sprouts absorbed my entire being. From the stench (as my nose remembers it) as they boiled on the stove, to glaring at them on the table, and then being scooped onto my plate. They silently waited to bring dismay and disorder to the rest of my night.

One bite would free me from the table, but my gag reflex was working overtime. I couldn’t make myself eat one microscopic bite of those dreaded, despicable, seemingly slimy Brussels sprouts.

While my mother finished washing the dishes, I waited patiently at the dining room table.

“Kristabelle, c’mon. Just one small bite. Then you can go play with your siblings.”

“No.”

She pleaded. I resisted. Eventually, I was let out of sprout prison.

With Brussels sprouts now making a seeming resurgence, I hear that their tastiness is all in the preparation.

I tried them recently, for the first time in decades. A friend hosted a potYuck, where each person brought their most unfavorite food. Not surprisingly, Brussels sprouts were among them. (By the way, what is one person’s food-trash is another person’s treasure. Test it with your own potYuck…)

The sprout was not as awful as I recalled. Yet I was glad to have it off my plate.

What’s on your plate that you keep putting off because there are so many other urgent, take-care-of-it-now issues that need your attention? What is the nagging issue that never leaves the bottom spot on your to-do list, that keeps getting pushed further down, waiting for you to tackle it?

Maybe it’s more schooling. Or preparing yourself to advance in your career. Or perhaps it’s a conversation you need to approach with a colleague – or a spouse.

We’ll never finish all that’s on our plate, at work or at home, no matter how much the world pushes for it. But sometimes the action we most put off, is what most weighs us down.

Whatever your Brussels sprout is, go after it. Move it to the top and check it off your to-do list. It may be the biggest sense of accomplishment you’ve had for some time. Take a first step toward it. First steps lead to second steps, and they eventually lead to walking off the to-do list entirely.

Don’t let the bad taste of it deter you. C’mon, you’ve got this one licked.

P.S. Oh, if you’ve got an irresistable Brussels sprout recipe, send it my way…

####

Reprinted with kindly permission from the Journal of Nursing Jocularity.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

O’ Heart O’ Mine, Tell Me You’re Fine!

“Tick tick tick.”

I take it for granted. My ticker, that is. It’s one part of me that, as far as I know, still works as it was designed.

Four decades of arthritis has not affected my heart. I’m fortunate.

At age seven, four decades ago, attempts were made to figure out what the heck was wrong with me. The first diagnosis was Rheumatic Fever.

Because Rheumatic Fever is a condition of the heart, I was told I could no longer run. How wrong they were! I could, and I did, whenever I was out of my mom’s eyesight – until I took off running a few steps too soon and she caught me, watching from the kitchen window. “KRISTINE!!!!!”

Her voice, screaming across the neighborhood, catapulted me as though into a backward slingshot. Good thing my Flintstone brakes still worked.

My running days were history. Not an easy adjustment for a kid who loved to run around, literally. My bare toes knew well the soothing coolness of the green grass after skipping along the hot concrete sidewalks, like butter in a hot pan.

I felt fine. My heart felt fine. The tests had to be wrong. My legs carried me, quickly, wherever I wanted to go. I would not deny myself the pleasure.

During the tongue lashing, I learned the seriousness of the situation. It’s a lot to take in at seven years old. Disciplining myself not to run – when I was still fully able – was like asking a racehorse not to do what it was built to do.

Medical folks and their tests – what did they know?? I was mad, sullen, sad. My joy was gone.

As an adult, I’ve learned that Rheumatic Fever is often a precursor diagnosis to Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s not known why, or if it it’s an accurate diagnosis, or if one condition morphs into the other.

My heart has always tested fine since those days. Yet I sometimes wonder about that frequent little skip in my heartbeat, and the thirty seconds or more when the beats get all messed up and I hope they go back to normal on their own.

Doctors over the decades declare my heart fine. They reassure me, saying that many people experience these blips in their heartbeats. But as a mere layperson, I don’t want to accept their explanation. I want them to hear it when it blips, and then tell me it’s fine.

O’ heart o’ mine, tell me you’re fine. Tell me you’re fine.

The tick tock of the clock reminds me how fast time skips along. It reminds me of the precious gift of a good ticker that ticks away all those seconds. It reminds me to again ask my medical team about my heart.

Is it time to talk to your team about your ticker?

Tick…tick…

*****

This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

What are you – a comedian?

“What are you – a comedian?”

Nope, these professionals aren’t – aren’t comedians, that is. They operate on a different spectrum. They sometimes share similarities with comedians, but their humor is often more subtle, more cerebral.

Who are they? They’re humorists.

There’s even one month a year dedicated to them. March is always ‘Humorists are Artists Month.’ The acronym especially makes me giggle: HAMM. Anyone who performs to generate a living laugh track has probably been called a ham at some point, and I salute you. It’s something the rest of us admire and benefit from more than we realize.

The Invisible Disabilities Association is fortunate enough to know one especially humorous humorist who is a valued friend to our organization, Karyn Buxman. She makes the rest of us realize that, no matter the situation, there is humor to be found in it. You’ve read her writings and giggled. If you’ve been fortunate enough to see her perform, you’ve laughed hysterically and no doubt, uncontrollably.

And no, Karyn doesn’t know I’m writing about her. So shhh, it’s our little secret.

I gotta tell ya, it’s not easy being intentionally funny. Karyn and so many other humorists have admirable ability and perseverance. Theirs is a craft, an art form. Some of us might make others laugh on occasion, more by accident than anything. But intentionally, repeatedly, and consistently? C’mon, who does that? Oh yea, the humorous artists among us.

And aren’t we grateful? I can’t imagine a world without humor, without an expert in the subject leading the way forward for the rest of us. I especially can’t imagine life without them when the world is otherwise gray and bleak, as it especially can be in all things medical. As a patient, I’ve often needed the respite that humor brings. And patients’ caregivers need those laughs, too.

While the rest of us can sometimes bring a needed chuckle to those around us, we’re all the better for having in our midst those who are professional-grade serious about the craft of doing so. They reliably pull us out of our funk. They put a positive spin on situations we find ourselves in, and are especially needed in the difficult situations found in the healthcare arena.

We can and do learn from humorists. They might not always be right there along side us, yet their funnyisms sometimes resonate in our minds and spirits when we most need them.

Here’s to you who professionally cheer us, and cheer us on with the art of humor. Thank you for putting the funny back into the unfunny and helping us persevere when we otherwise couldn’t. Cheers to you!

#####

Reprinted with kindly permission from the Journal of Nursing Jocularity.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

A Gadget Guru’s Paradise

“A gadget guru’s paradise. Really?”

A medical office?

As soon as I was called back into the inner sanctum for my appointment, I knew something was different. This was merely the warm up act. I walked over to the scale. While not exactly a gadget, it was creatively updated.

Ready to step up and onto the scale, I realized there was no need. The floor was cut to accommodate the base of the scale. It was set down in, flush with the floor.

The ease of use was an unexpected treat for those of us dealing with mobility issues.

Explained Joy, my nurse, “Everyone gets a kick out of it. Except some of our older patients. They tend to step up, not realizing there is no step. We’re hoping not to lose someone that way.” Good goal.

Joy was friendly and talkative. After turning around from the scale (which, by the way, needs to be drastically adjusted to calculate correctly…), I was met with a vaguely familiar gizmo, heading toward my ear. Fully expecting the old ‘thermometer in the ear’ trick, this time it went past my ear, and behind it.

One second later, Joy pulled the thermometer back toward her. “99.8.” No nasty inner ear contact going on there. Love that.

We were off and running (ok, slowly meandering) to The Room, all the while, chit chat filling the airspace.

“Finger, please.” This time I was familiar with the device, softly clamping around my finger, probing for medical measurables.

Next, Joy reached for the blood pressure cuff. My standard line: “Ohhh, usually nurses end up using a kid’s cuff on me. The adult size is too big.”

Still struggling to wrap it around my arm, I heard the expected reply: “This isn’t going to fit. I’ll need to get something else.” Excellent idea.

Joy came back with another new device. Not a traditional cuff at all, this ‘bracelet’ cuff (uh huh, like Super Woman – but not gold) fit around my wrist, barely, and sported its own LED display. We both gave it a thumbs up.

The next gizmo needs a drastic update. Not at all the reason for the visit, but a discovered need during the exam, I was readied for my first-ever ear irrigation. After seeing all these high tech electronic tools, I was fully expecting to see something out of Star Trek for this procedure.

I was hugely disappointed. You gotta be kiddin’ me. A squirt bottle, a drip pan, and water? Seriously? What happened to vaporizing lasers? There’s gotta be a better way.

“Ya know, ear candling doesn’t hurt. In fact, it feels good,” I offered.

“We have candles, but we’ve never used them.” Hmmm. I’d have gladly been their guinea pig.

From Space Age to ‘Hey, Fred, let’s discover fire”, I got to experience The Ages all in the span of 30 minutes.

For the next ear cleaning, I’m hoping for a laser gadget – the 2200A Series Super Sonic Wax-Melt-Away Model. Bring it on.

#####

This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

Please Pass the Attitude!

“Please pass the attitude.”

We routinely recognize the genes that pass from one generation to the next. After all, we see evidence of hand-me-down genes looking back at us each morning in the mirror. (“When did I become my mother??”)

While we recognize genes that are passed along, what we don’t often recognize are the equally important attitudes that we pass from generation to generation. (“I’d like another scoop of the I-can’t-stand-anyone-in-authority gene, please. Yum!”) Awright, so it’s not so much a gene that we’re talking about in regard to attitude. But don’t those passed-down attitudes affect us in similar ways as genes?

Attitudes that are passed along can be beneficial or destructive. And just like genes, we often pass them along without thinking.

When those passed-down attitudes include how we perceive help for medical-related issues, the attitudes in question can be especially destructive.

For instance, I often hear people complain about hospitals. “I can’t stand anything about hospitals. I could never be a patient or visit one. I can’t stand the smell or colors, and I think I’d die from all those germs!”

This attitude sometimes seems to run in families. What a tragedy if and when that person or their family member ever becomes an inpatient. Get over it NOW: ready, set, go!

I mentioned in a recent column that my dad had some issues with hospitals. Fortunately, I didn’t know about those issues until later on in my life, after I’d finished a few stints in hospitals as a patient myself. His opinion was justified from negative experiences early on in his own life. He didn’t trust medical personnel, period. Still, I’m thankful his perspective didn’t taint mine.

I can’t imagine a life-long patient having extreme distrust of her medical team. A whole lifetime of angst and conflict? It’s like being a perpetual teenager. How fun.

On the opposite end of the attitude scale from my dad, was my mom. She trusted medical professionals implicitly, without question. She also believed Richard Nixon when he declared he wasn’t a crook. That was her generation’s attitude. It was the same generation as my dad, yet their trust-y attitudes couldn’t have been more different.

I suspect they each came from their own long line of trusting vs mistrusting attitudes toward healthcare practitioners.

Thankfully, by the time the generational line reached me, the medical attitude that happened to be passed to me was my mother’s, and not my father’s. Lucky lotto.

For those working in the healthcare professions, you and your families are likely passing along a healthy attitude. That’s not necessarily the case for your patients and their families. They may have been passed a more destructive attitude; one that affects their ability to communicate with you, trust you, and to heal well.

Healing an attitude takes more than a prescription to combat what’s been passed down. Nonetheless, sharing your positive attitude might change not only one person’s life, but a whole gaggle of generations to come. Pass it along.

#####

This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

What a Wimp

“What a wimp.”

It must be bad when you recognize it in yourself.

Why is it the older I get, the wimpier I am when it comes to – of all things – needles?

Sitting in the lab technician’s chair recently, I found I was distracting myself from her preparations. The rubbery tourniquet thingy, the vials, the – ugh –needles. I was looking everywhere but at the tools of the trade. What’s with that?

I’ve noticed over the years I’ve gradually become less comfortable sitting in that hot seat. I never used to give it a thought.

For the last couple decades, I’ve typically only had blood drawn once a year. No big deal, you’d think, yet there’s a squirminess going on that didn’t used to be a part of the equation.

It’s the complete opposite of life eons ago.

My first two decades with this body required a decided lack of the wimpies. Pin pricks, arm sticks, and tourniquets were as common as changing underwear. These years, they bring on the need for an extra pair. Well, almost.

All through my school years, including college, I received regular injections of myochrysine. ‘Regular’ being anywhere from weekly to every six weeks depending on the then-current condition of my Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Beginning in first grade, these gold shots quickly became a regular part of my routine.

The shots stung a bit and for my most of my childhood, purply green bruises covered a good portion of my thigh. But the fact that they had bits of real gold in them added a cool ‘wow’ factor. Ooh aah. Yessiree, ripe stuff for the “Believe it or not” crowd.

The more frequent the gold shots, the more frequent the blood draws. All systems needed to be ‘Go’ to continue the injections. Dr. Hunter and his nurses, Pat and Jan, and the lab techs got me through those early years at the clinic. Dr. Hunter made me laugh before sticking me. Jan and Pat followed up with soothing words and trinkets. The lab technicians were as quick and gentle as possible, even on repeated attempts.

As often as needles were flying at me in those days, I seldom had an issue with them. No sense getting worked up over necessary evils.

That was then; this is now. Along with the disappearance of regular prickings, my tolerance has also disappeared. The wimpiness factor has filled its place.

I don’t get it.

This coming from someone who has had eight surgeries with all the accompanying tubings and needles. Heck, I’ve had a good portion of my skeleton sawed out and replaced with someone else’s and with metal and plastic parts. How does such a person lose her courage for procedures medical, large or small? I dunno.

That courage must be out there floating around somewhere. I’m hoping to not require it ever again. If I do, I’ll need to kick out the wimp in me and toughen up again. Sheesh. The lessons we learn from our seven-year-old selves.

#####

This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

The Fewer Times I See You, the Better

“Nothing personal, but the fewer times I see you, the better.”

My comment elicits smiles from my medical caregivers. They know exactly what I mean.

I admire the heck out of all of them. I’m extremely grateful for their dedication and commitment.

Almost as far back as I can remember, I’ve been involved in the medical community – on the receiving end. No one had any way of knowing it would be a life-long relationship oh-those-40-years ago.

As a seven-year-old diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, my parents and I were often told throughout those early years that I would likely grow out of JRA. It wasn’t to be.

While I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, least of all my little seven-year-old self, I have to admit that I’ve learned so much from my experiences associated with JRA that I can’t imagine who I’d have become without it.

Has it sharpened my empathy for other people’s struggles? Check.

Has it caused me to slow down and reflect when I might not have otherwise? Check. Check.

Has it required that I either draw inward in despair or look outward in gratitude? Check. Check. Check.

It’s not been until more recent years that I’ve come to fully appreciate the medical care I’ve received. But it’s more than that. It’s not solely the care – though that’s certainly the most obvious part of it. It’s also about appreciating the people providing the care.

It’s YOU. You who cared enough to choose this profession. You who endured rigorous education and training to realize your goal. You who push through workplace and home challenges so you can continue to provide the care you set out to provide.

Many of you go above and beyond the norm, and the norm itself is simply amazing. For instance, my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Douglas Dennis, and PA, Jim Boyle, returned last week from a week-long missions trip to provide complimentary care in third world countries. They led a group of 65 other professionals who also give of themselves twice yearly to help patients walk – patients who they may never see again.

I’m privileged to have met and been treated by tremendously talented, encouraging, and giving healthcare professionals. They inspire me. YOU inspire me. You keep me going in ways beyond physical health. You are among the many untold StickPeople in my life. You help me keep going and Stick to it – no matter what!

In all, realize this:  you are not one person treating one patient at a time in a never-ending mill of patients. Rather, you are leaving a legacy. You are one of many professionals playing a part in your patient’s story, and the role you play adds beautifully to the medical tapestry of your patient’s life. Speaking on behalf of your patients, we’re humbled and thankful. Thank you for all you’ve done, do and will do. You are a StickPerson extraordinaire.

Nonetheless, I’m all for limited exposure to you and your office. Don’t take it personally.

*****

This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

They’re All Alike

“They’re all alike.”

It was a rude awakening listening to the receptionist at my doctor’s office.

I’ve previously been stereotyped within earshot for various reasons, but not usually when I’m the paying customer. Most employees understand who ultimately pays their mortgage, and it’s not so much their employer.

Another customer – aka patient – and I were sitting in the waiting room this week.  The other customer sat down moments before, following the check-in process, during which she was laughing and chatting with the same receptionist in question.

This apparently newish receptionist then answered the phone. She hung up and turned to her coworker to ask a question: “What’s the process in this situation?”

The more experienced receptionist asked a clarifying question around the circumstances. Unexpectedly, the newer receptionist launched into a mocking tone while mimicking the patient’s story.

The two receptionists ping ponged their talk regarding the appropriate process to follow. The more experienced receptionist ignored the mockery and stuck to business. Shockingly, though, she did nothing to stop the newer receptionist’s impersonation or educate her about her attitude.

The other patient and I looked at each other. Eyebrows rose. Were we really hearing what we were hearing? Were we in the right office? Were we on Candid Camera??

“Ok, whoever you are. C’mon out from behind that wall and ‘fess up. We know you’re there!”

Hmmm, nope. Sadly, no Allen Funtness going on.

The other patient decided to speak up, with a teasing tone in her voice. “Hey, we can hear you, ya know. Sounds like you had a tough call?”

“NO!” came the answer from the mocking receptionist. “All calls from patients are like that. I ask a question about their medication and they answer with a huge long story about their pharmacy and what’s going on there. Like I care.”

“Maybe they think they’re helping you understand the situation,” interjected the patient.

“No, they’re just whiners. I can’t believe how patients go on and on, without saying anything important. All day long, every day. It’s so annoying.”

The other patient and I realized she wasn’t interested in hearing another perspective, and her coworker wasn’t interested in training her on the finer points of customer service. She was letting this golden opportunity slip away to File 13.

No wonder this office has a revolving door of receptionists. “Step right up, try your hand at playing ‘Russian Receptionist’!” In the decade I’ve gone to this specialist, I’ve seldom had a positive front-desk encounter. If I didn’t like my doctor so much, I’d shop around.

I was determined to mention this experience to the good doc or nurse behind closed doors. Alas, my mind was on other matters by then and, following the normal sequence of events lately, I forgot.

Maybe I should call back. “Yes, please have the doctor call me. What’s it about? Oh, let’s see, that would be… YOU!”

I can only imagine the front-desk chatter my message would generate. Receptionists: are they really all alike? Thankfully, NO!

*****

This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

Turtles Share Life Lesson in Giving a Hand

When one turtle is on his back, the other doesn’t fault him for getting himself in that position and walk away. He doesn’t tell him he just needs to try harder and he doesn’t stand there giving advice. He simply walks over and helps him up in his time of need.

Of course, when dealing with a chronic condition, friends and family would most likely do the same if it were that easy. They would simply turn their loved one back onto their feet and on their way.  The problem is that there is not always a quick fix, so people often get frustrated with their efforts seemingly not helping, since the issue remains.

Nonetheless, we can still assist those living with illness, pain or injury by lending an ear or a hand around the house.  Just a little bit of our time and love can make a huge difference!

Video Found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK9Xj7eY0UU

About

The Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA) encourages, educates and connects people and organizations touched by illness, pain and disability around the globe. Formerly known as The Invisible Disabilities Advocate, IDA was founded in 1997 and incorporated in 2004 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. IDA reaches out through our websites, projects, articles, pamphlets, booklet, social network, resources, videos, radio interviews, seminars, events and more! Get the word out! Share a link to our articles and pages with Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and through Email by clicking on the Share link. Leave a comment!

Boo! Oh yea, eek!

“Boo.” Oh yea, eek.

It was a year ago this week that, for the first time, I went through a Halloween Haunted House. I never thought I was haunted house material. So it was with some hesitation and – ok, let’s be honest – downright fear (but not for the usual reasons) that I somewhat reluctantly agreed to participate.

“No, really, it’s ok. I’ll wait for you guys in the car. I’ll be fine. Take your time. Have fun.”

Peter and Wayne weren’t letting me off that easily.

No, leave it to them to be good friends. The kind that go out of their way to help others do what they want to do but are too chicken to do. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

“Not a problem, Kris. I’m sure the operators of the haunted house have accommodated folks with mobility issues before. I’ll talk with them and we’ll figure it out.”

The response? “Of course, we’d be glad to accommodate. Come to the head of the line!”

There wasn’t going to be an easy way out of this one.

I was diagnosed at age seven with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. After the onset of JRA and its accompanying decreased mobility, walking in uneven, dark, moving spaces, surrounded by screaming, running, pushing, shoving kids wasn’t such an enticing idea.

My friends assured me they’d help, guide, and protect me. And they did. Amazingly so. If I’m ever in the trenches, I want them with me.

Wayne led the way. I hung onto Wayne’s waist. Peter hung onto mine. We maneuvered, slowly, carefully. It was a surprise to learn a haunted house might inspire more laughs than shrieks. It was even more surprising that they were my laughs.

The uncontrollable giggling wasn’t appreciated by the ghouls of the house. Because of my lack of stature, they automatically thought I was a kid. They repeatedly got in my face and walked alongside me, while I laughed hysterically the whole time. Ok, so ghouls don’t scare me. But give me an uneven surface, and whoa, baby. Now you’re talking.

And that’s what our little troop encountered next – the slanted room. Not a wimpy slant. We’re talking a full 45 degree slant. No way, no how, was this body going to navigate that room. With Wayne pulling and Peter pushing, and the monster of the room taking a time out to help, we conquered it. Hey, where’s our medal?

Other than Wayne carrying me up and down stairs, both guys calming my fears as the darkened ‘womb room’ pressed in around us, and scary creatures jumping at us from all angles, the haunted house was so uneventful. Yawn.

Not.

It was one of the funnest physical experiences I’ve known. No doubt our echoes of laughter can still be heard as new crowds excitedly navigate a certain Austin, Texas, haunted house.

May your Halloween be filled with as many laughs as eeks and shrieks.

“Boo to you, too!” Back at ya. Try harder next time.

*****

This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

You’re Weird!

“You’re weird.”

Not the typical diagnosis one hears at the doctor’s office. Stranger still, it wasn’t me hearing it.

If it had been, it wouldn’t have been ultra surprising. For several (ahem) decades, this body has routinely presented an out-of-the-ordinary case for my medical team to investigate. I figure it’s my contribution to science. Hey, I help where I can.

So it was nice, for once, not to be the anomaly, the one deemed weird.

My friend “Julie” asked me to go with her to a follow-up appointment at her neurologist’s office. For the last several months, Julie has experienced numbness along the left side of her body, headaches, lightheadedness, and some other symptoms.

She visited a few doctors before seeing the neurologist. In our community at this time, the demand for neurological services outweighs the availability. Appointments are hard to get and are typically several months out. What’s a numb, lightheaded, headachy girl to do?

Julie saw her primary care physician, who was concerned about her symptoms. He was reluctant to order an MRI or CT before the neurologist had a chance to weigh in on which would be more appropriate.

In the meantime, Julie went to a chiropractor. He helped her with a number of issues, and listened intensely while she recounted her last months of symptoms. “Why haven’t you seen someone before now?” “I’ve been busy, doc.” Uh huh. Some of us belong to the ‘if it hasn’t killed me by now, then it can’t be that serious’ camp. Guilty as charged.

After examining Julie, and hearing more about symptoms that didn’t point to any one condition, a diagnosis was determined. “You’re weird.”

It wasn’t the first time she heard those words, and it wasn’t to be the last.

The long-awaited neurological appointment arrived, and Julie was asked to schedule a CT. Waiting for the follow-up appointment with her neurologist to hear the results, Julie asked me to go with her for support and to act as note-taker, if need be. This could be the beginning of a serious ordeal. It required backup support.

I was happy that she asked, as we’re both usually too independent for our own good and tend to tackle big appointments solo. Selfishly, I was glad to be the medical helper instead of the usual helpee. I quickly agreed to go with her.

“Well, Julie, I’ve taken a look at your images, as has the radiologist. It’s not (this awful disease) or (that nasty condition). We know more about what it’s not than what it is. No doubt you’re experiencing these symptoms, but science doesn’t allow us to add them up to any one identifiable finding at this point. In a nutshell, you’re weird.”

Again?? That’s it?  So much for a second opinion. Maybe a third… Nooo, noooo, it’s bad enough hearing the same unofficially official diagnosis twice… Where exactly is “weird” in the medical dictionary, anyway??

“Weird” – twice in a matter of weeks? C’mon. A patient could get a complex.

*****

This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

Wow, You’re Short!

“Wow, you’re short.” The comment still amazes me.

How is it that otherwise intelligent beings sometimes suddenly spew forth the most obvious of statements?

Fortunately, medical folks are generally exempt from committing this comment calamity. My shortness resulted from the medication I took in the first five years of the disease. Back in 1971, there were limited prescription options for arthritis, especially for kids. Nonetheless, I thought I’d relay how it plays out in the rest of the world.

A group of friends and I recently shared breakfast. I was the tallest in the group. Woo hoo! At 4’6”, that’s a rare occurrence; one that hasn’t happened for a few decades. Usually, by fourth grade, kids are looking at the stray, corkscrew grays poking out of the top of my head. It’s just not right.

It was with unexpected excitement and feelings of tallness that I joined the gathering. Inevitably, talk turned to smart people suddenly acting like they’re not.

We each shared our own replies to the ‘You’re short’ comment.

After decades of trying out assorted replies to the standard line of “Wow, you’re short,” I finally decided to go with humor. It helps them and it helps me. Following is my now standard response to ‘Wow, you’re short:’

“Oh my gosh. Really?! I am?! You’re kidding. No one ever told me that before. I always thought I was 5’8”. Dang it. Now I’m going to have to go home and shorten all my clothes. No wonder my pant legs drag on the ground. I suppose I’ll have to change my driver’s license, too.  If only someone had tipped me off ages ago. It’s traumatic finding out this way. Sheesh.”

Pairing the rant with feigned shock and a hint of playfulness typically gets the point across without bruising too many egos.

Humor beats anger any day. Been there, done that, too. Same with sarcasm.

“Kris, you’re so short.”

“And you are so brunette.” (Ah yes, I still like this one and dust it off on occasion.)

I became acquainted with this group of small gals because of a chance encounter outside my neurosurgeon’s office recently. As I was leaving the office and entering the building’s hallway, a small voice from the far end of the hall called out: “I think I’m about to meet my new best friend!”

Coming toward me was an impeccably dressed older woman. She came closer and stopped. We stood eye to eye. What an amazing way to connect.

“Hi, I’m Cari.”

I recognized the voice from local commercials. Well-known throughout the area as a leading businesswoman, I never realized she was my size.

This could be great fun. She obviously had a fantastic wardrobe. We could trade clothes, if we so chose. And we did.

Same attitude, same spirit; we hit it off instantly. Bonus – we both love our convertibles, and ‘met’ each other’s that day. It reminded me of a day 20 years ago when I stepped out of my then-sedan, to hear a deep, booming voice:  “Shore is a big car for such a lil’ lady.”

Cracked me up then, as now. And not a “Wow, you’re short” within earshot.

*****

This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.

About Kris Harty

The Short Chick with the Walking Stick is Kris Harty, Stickability Specialist. Kris’ expertise as an entrepreneur and a lifelong patient helps entrepreneurs and those in healthcare – on the giving and receiving ends – to persevere and Stick To It-No Matter What! Kris speaks, writes, facilitates and regularly contributes to online medical journals, in addition to recently publishing her first book A Shot in the Arm and a Strong Spirit: How Health Care Givers Help Patients Persevere. She can be reached through her company's Web site, www.ShortChick.com or call 1.877.711.KRIS or through any of the links directly below.

Finding Humor in Difficult Times – Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN

Come join us as Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN Hall of Fame Speaker, Nurse and Humorist shares a few heartfelt personal stories of her own. Karyn is the creator of the Journal of Nursing Jocularity, the President of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor and an IDA Advisory Board Member.

Finding Humor in Difficult Times by Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN.

Speaker Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN shares her personal stories of illness in her family when one son suddenly had mysterious debilitating migraines, the other son battled cancer and her mom developed alzheimers. Karyn brings an insightful and hillarious message about loving others and finding humor in the good and the bad times. Invisible Disabilities Association Advisory Board Member, Karyn Buxman delivers this Amazed and Amused Keynote for the 2009 IDA Honors Banuqet. Karyn is a nurse, humorist and Hall of Fame Speaker.

Order the 2 DVD Set of the entire 2009 Banquet from IDA’s Store!

View the Trailer of the 2 DVD Set! Enjoy 2 beautifully filmed DVD’s of an Amazing Night with IDA! Special guest speaker, Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN. Master of Ceremonies CBS Channel 7News Reporter, Jayson Luber and 10 incredible Honor Award Winners! Be enlightened! Be encouraged! Share with loved ones!Order the DVD Set of the entire 2009 Banquet from IDA’s Store!

About

The Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA) encourages, educates and connects people and organizations touched by illness, pain and disability around the globe. Formerly known as The Invisible Disabilities Advocate, IDA was founded in 1997 and incorporated in 2004 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. IDA reaches out through our websites, projects, articles, pamphlets, booklet, social network, resources, videos, radio interviews, seminars, events and more! Get the word out! Share a link to our articles and pages with Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and through Email by clicking on the Share link. Leave a comment!

A Time to Laugh by Karyn Buxman RN, MSN

karynbuxmanWritten by Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN. A personal story about her son’s struggle with an invisible disability. KarynBuxman.com

Copyright 2009. Article written for the Invisible Disabilities Association by Karyn Buxman, RN, MSN. Karyn is a Hall of Fame Speaker, Nurse and Humorist. She is the creator of  the Journal of Nursing Jocularity, the President of the Association for Applied and Therapuetic Humor and an IDA Advisory Board Member.

“If you would just be a little stricter with him, I’m sure he would straighten up.” I stared dumbly into the face of one of Adam’steachers, after my son had missed almost six months of school from debilitating headaches.

My heart sank. My stomach twisted. This person saw my son in between his headache episodes and saw a typical teenage boy—laughing, teasing, joking around. What she hadn’t witnessed was the tortuous episodes that no doctor was able to diagnose; the painful attacks that began when he was 13 years old, out of the blue. Soon we saw a pattern emerge.The attack would begin with an itching burning sensation on his temple that would last about 30 seconds. This would be immediately followed by a taste in his mouth that he described as “bad bananas,” another 30 seconds. Then he would be hit with an explosive pain across the front of his head that would throw him to the floor, thrashing in pain, pulling his hair, kicking his feet, crying out in agony. This part of the ‘headache’ lasted about 10 minutes and during this time, he was aware of his surroundings but couldn’t hear due to the loud metallic clanging noise that filled his head.

And then, as suddenly as it began, the explosive pain would stop, leaving a heavy dull headache in its place. It was at this point, immediately following the explosive portion of the headache, that Adam would get a tingling sensation on the bottom of his feet, and then he would be paralyzed from the neck down for about 90 minutes. Gradually over an hour and a half, he would regain the use of his hands, then his arms and then finally his feet and legs.

Sometimes the headaches would be weeks, even months apart. At their peak, he might experience 6-8 episodes a day. Adam went from being an enthused and happy student in the gifted program with straight A’s to a depressed and disheartened young man who shared, “My teachers get paid the same whether I pass or not. They don’t care about me.”

While the educational system had already made up their minds, the medical world was very interested in Adam’s condition. Which wasn’t necessarily the same as being interested in Adam.

Doctors lined up outside his room like kids in a candy store. Everyone wanted to take a crack at this medical mystery. One after another, neurologists would come in and ask him the same series of questions that had been asked time and time again.

At one point, a neurologist came in dragging a tripod and video camera in with him. Adam sat on the bed, legs dangling over the side while the doctor set up the camera, turned it on, and settled into a chair across from Adam. He pulled out his pen, looked down at Adam’s chart and then ceased to make eye contact for the rest of the interview.

Adam and I doubled over with laughter, perhaps a little slap happy from the tedious day of exams. The doctor paused, and then without ever looking up said, “Clever.” While the doctor didn’t seem to benefit from the humor, Adam and I were rejuvenated by the small bit of comic relief.

Indeed humor became such an important coping mechanism for Adam that, six years later, he went on to school in Chicago to study with Second City. He has incorporated the art of Improv into his personal and professional life. Humor was not, is not, the be-all-end-all, for us. There was time for laughter; there was a time for tears. Both are healing. But we found that it’s much less upsetting to those around us if we laugh, rather than cry.

When one is in pain, it is sometimes hard to believe that humor is available. Yet it is there, just as the stars are there during the day—we cannot see them when we are blinded by the light that keeps them hidden from us. We trust that they are there and will become evident to us again, when the time is right.

*****

Making it work. Here are some techniques for transforming your life with humor and laughter.

Surround yourself with the right people. Seek ways to spend more time with the people that make you laugh and that enjoy your company. Life is too short to spend it with people who can only focus on the negative.

Be proactive—manipulate your environment. Keep funny books, audios and toys within reach. Refer to them at least once a day.

Be proactive—manipulate your mindset. If you have a challenging situation, exaggerate it until you can laugh at the audacity of it. Practice looking for the humor around you.

Take a risk—be willing to appear silly to others. No one ever died from looking foolish, and the benefits far outweigh the risks. Be willing to laugh at yourself.

Be in the moment—play when the occasion arises. Don’t wait until you feel better to play. Play and then feel better.

About

The Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA) encourages, educates and connects people and organizations touched by illness, pain and disability around the globe. Formerly known as The Invisible Disabilities Advocate, IDA was founded in 1997 and incorporated in 2004 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. IDA reaches out through our websites, projects, articles, pamphlets, booklet, social network, resources, videos, radio interviews, seminars, events and more! Get the word out! Share a link to our articles and pages with Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and through Email by clicking on the Share link. Leave a comment!