Sometimes? All You Can do is LAUGH

chloe hug

You’d think by now hound dog was accustomed to me bustin’ out into peals of laughter. I’ve done it often enough, after all! But I still take her by surprise sometimes!

I had a “Murphy’s Law” kind of day just recently. One of those days where if something COULD go wrong, it WOULD. Some interesting facts about Murphy’s Law and where it all began, visit this link. “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong”.

Chloe and I were walking one evening and the weather was DIVINE. Hardly any clouds, low humidity, and I had a “pep in my step”. For once, my Meniere’s disease was allowing me to walk at a pretty good clip with very little weaving. When I walk, I talk to my dog. Chloe would probably freak if I took a walk and was totally silent. It helps her pay attention to me, and I throw her name in there from time to time. However, sometimes I’m just…

Yackin’

Yup. Just talkin’ about anything and everything. It helps me to think out loud and I tend to go on and On and ON. I actually said out loud, “Wow, Chloe. Look at how easily I’m walking this evening! No wobbles! Moving along at a good rate! I’m smokin’!

Chloe gave me this LOOK. Almost as if she anticipated something going wrong after that lofty observation. Within 30 seconds (I kid you NOT), I stumbled on an ornery piece of elevated sidewalk and opened my mouth to shriek (for I do precious little QUIETLY) only to have a bee swoop in my open mouth as I began to fall into a nearby bush. So here I am choking on a bee, trying like crazy to spit it out while being impaled on various twigs and branches of a bush… a ROSE bush – wouldn’t ya know? So thorns grabbing me everywhere. Worse, it was damp earth under the bush thanks to recent rains so when I connected with the ground there was a obvious squishy sound and splat as my hip, knee and foot connected. So there I lay in the mud INSIDE a bush, choking on a bee, covered in thorns, desperately trying to hang on to my leash because Chloe was …

OUT THERE

SOMEWHERE

outside the BUSH.

I laid there a minute trying to go through my Meniere’s “play list” that automatically begins playing after I fall.

It’s a cute little jingle.

I’d share the wonderful lyrics with you so that you can sing along… but frankly I can’t carry a tune in a bucket and it’s one of those songs one whines and sings to oneself. So anyway… I run through the steps.

1. Am I dead?

2. Is anything broken?

3. Where is Chloe?

4. Can I move?

5. Do I need help?

So I was able to answer, No, No, *POINTS – somewhere outside the bush*, Barely, Yes.

I tried to turn to see if I could reach my bag. You know… the one with my cell phone in it that I carry in case of emergency? I can see it just out of reach out *there* near Chloe’s legs.

So… I asked Chloe to fetch the bag for me. She grabbed it up and ducked down to look under the bush at me. What she saw, made her drop her jaw and the bag tumbled back to the ground. Crap. Now my phone is laying outside the bag. So I tell Chloe to “fetch phone” – which is actually easier for her to do as it is something  she does several times a day. She grabs the phone, looks down under the branches again to where I lay and squirmed to reach my outstretched hand to give me the phone. Success!

Only… the phone is dead. That’s right, I carry around a phone with a dead battery on walks because it is SO helpful to do that. *rolls eyes*

So I decided that I needed to get out from under the bush. Easier said than done. I’m hung up, slightly injured, dizzy, muddy and on the verge of crying. Not a good combination. I thought, “Oh my gosh. I’m going to have to lay here until somebody walks by to help. How embarrassing! How will I explain this?” I didn’t have to lay there very long before I noticed that Chloe was now snuffling at my hung up hoodie sweatshirt.

TUG. YANK. R…I….P! Unbelievable! She tugged me free!

I rolled to one side to get out from under the bush and was wise enough to sit there a minute. Chloe plopped down and waited for me to “collect myself”. I fall SO OFTEN, if I am able to just go down without hitting my head I consider that a coup. So I checked out all my scratches and now torn clothing and thought that – heck. It could’ve been worse. It HAS been worse. So I started to laugh. Sometimes? All you can do is laugh. Chloe looked at me and just panted and “grinned”. It’s not the first time I’ve sat laughing covered in mud and trying to find the wherewithal to get up and keep going! (Likely won’t be the last time either!)

Can You Laugh at Yourself? Should You?

If you live with an invisible illness, have a disability, or a chronic condition, it can be helpful to learn to laugh at yourself. A great little article about the benefits of laughter can be found HERE.

But if you don’t believe in the power of endorphins or social connectedness, you still should learn to laugh at yourself. At least… that is my opinion. Here are some reasons I have learned to laugh at myself:

1. If I am laughing, it can reduce anxiety that others may feel when my disability pops up and causes me to do something like fall, mishear something, or other “Denise blooper”. Does it matter if someone else’s anxiety is lessened? Well… I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable around me. If I can laugh at myself, hopefully they will learn that I take who I am and my new “life parameters” in stride and am fine with it.

2. It reduces MY anxiety. Endorphins are real. It’s not some kind of borg nanotechnology that only re-routes and fixes sci-fy actresses. I FEEL BETTER after laughing.

3. If I laugh, it really helps me accept myself – just the way I am. You can’t change the unchangeable. I’m a klutz. I’m going to fall. As long as I’m in one piece and don’t have any odd bits of bone poking out anywhere, (Yeah, I know. Right?) laughing at myself helps me just accept what happened. It is MY WAY of embracing my flaws. This is who I am.

3. It helps me put things in perspective. While cackling like a hyena, I can take stock too. My little “jingle” may re-play. Some deep breaths – a mirthful hiccough or two, and I’m good as new!

4. Laughing helps me de-stress. Likely I’m laughing because I just did something that COULD cause me stress. (What if someone saw? Bet this mud will NOT come out of my jeans! Chloe tore my hoodie! I’m never walking again! As a matter of fact I’m just going to sit here on the sidewalk and feel sorry for myself! I’m going to stomp on my phone – when I finally get up. I hate my life! I want my mother… ) Laughing… de-stresses me. I can feel the tension roll off of my shoulders.

So I do believe “laughter is good medicine”. But…

There are perfectly good reasons to take the time to CRY too.

Or Scream.

… but those are best left for another writer to touch on! 😉

Denise Portis

© 2014 Personal Hearing Loss Journal

 

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By Association…

by association

You’re gonna think this is off topic. Hang with me, I promise this is a “typical Hearing Elmo” post.

I’m turning in my “Christian” card. 

I’ve been so aggravated with “Christians” over the past month, that I decided to shred my “card”. Being a “card carrying Christian” doesn’t mean anything anyway.

It matters how you live and Who you put your faith in… at least that is what I believe. Sometimes I get extremely annoyed on FaceBook. But…

I stay because the disABILITY community is alive and well, thriving and connecting on FaceBook. In the last month, however, I have seen folks post a couple of things in the name of God, that made me shred my card. Carrying a card doesn’t mean squat. I’m going to live what I believe and ignore some folks that choose to make the “real deal” look bad.

1. The suicide/death of Robin Williams

Some things I actually saw posted:

“Shame on Robin Williams for causing such grief and forcing his family to shoulder this for the rest of their lives. No way is he in Heaven”.

“A Christian cannot commit suicide. It keeps them from Heaven. Guess we know where Robin Williams is”

“It’s is so sad he (Robin Williams) didn’t get help for his depression. Had he known God, that would have helped”

“Disgusts me! Suck it up and be a man. Seriously, the coward’s way out”.

All these from folks who regularly post things making it clear their faith-based beliefs. Yet this erases all of that in my opinion. They only show their stupidity (I mean… try doing some real research on what clinical depression is, would ya?) and judgmental attitudes. Yeah. That will win others to Christ.

2. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Some people who have made it clear what “card” they carry when it comes to personal beliefs and faith, reported that they could not accept the challenge because ALS research conducts stem-cell research. It doesn’t seem to matter that stem-cells can be harvested from a number of different procedures – only one that is from embryos. Couples with frozen embryos can:

  • simply discard the embryos
  • can store the embryos indefinitely at their own expense
  • can give the embryos to other infertile couples. (More information about that option is available through the RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association)
  • can donate the embryos to general research or stem cell research (CIRM, 2014).

Stem cells can also come from adults, however, and umbilical cords of newborns. Scientists and researchers have even learned to induce pluripotent stem cells – alter adult stem cells to have the properties of embryonic stem cells (Mayo, 2014). But wait, let me guess. You have issues with genetic research, too?

Let’s say stem cell research goes against your personal beliefs and world views. So you do not support infertile couples seeking help in order to conceive? So if stem cell research is done and embryos are used… and a cure or viable treatment is found for diagnosis such as: spinal cord injuries, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, burns, cancer, osteoarthritis, and ALS (Mayo, 2014), you would not participate in this treatment or cure if diagnosed with one of these, right? Or, if someone you love is diagnosed with one of these debilitating diseases you will let them suffer? Do you know how many relatives I have that would not be alive if not for diabetes/insulin research?

OKAY!

Ok.

ok… I will calm down. After all, you are allowed your opinions and biases. This IS (still) a free country. But I don’t have to buy into that, nor drink your proffered kool-aid. I read some posts about rejecting the ALS Ice Bucket challenge that made me weep.

I mean I cried buckets (though not ice buckets).

Because people who have this disease or love someone who does may have seen your post. And heard your excuses.

Hey. Most of us have limited incomes and must choose what we do with our discretionary monies. There are only a handful of places I give to each year because they are causes and non-profits that I am passionate and convicted about. If you choose not to accept the “challenge” that is your choice. Maybe say, “sorry, I give to other foundations/charities but I salute those of you who are giving to ALS”. Just please don’t make excuses about why you aren’t going to give to the ALS foundation and say it is because of the “card” you carry. Worse… explain that you are going to give your donation directly to a patient with ALS instead of the evil foundation. Because that person wants your money and not a cure.

Who Am I – by Association?

So all of this has made me think. (Can ya tell? LOL) Some of my associations I am very proud of and gain physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual benefit from participating. Others make me keep my distance though. I may even shred my “card”. It doesn’t change who I am – merely my associations. I am a person of faith, but I want to be transparent, compassionate, and a friend who makes a difference.

What are your associations? (Other than those that are faith-based)

I am associated with groups who have bionic hearing. I have a cochlear implant. Sometimes we disagree on “best company” or hearing health strategies, but we don’t judge or behave holier-than-thou. We agree to disagree when needed.

I am associated with groups with vestibular disorders. There are SO MANY different specific diagnosis that are vestibular disorders. Meniere’s disease is a fickle pickle. Few have exactly the same symptoms and triggers, and what program works for one may not do anything for another. However, we work hard to accept that “whatever works” for each sufferer.

I am associated with groups who advocate for the rights of those with service animals. Fidos For Freedom, Inc., radically changed the course of my life. I don’t agree with all training practices and at times am rubbed wrong by certain personalities. However, I proudly wear the mantle of service dog “mom”.

Yet at some point in my life I had to dis-associate with the culturally Deaf. My reasons are a long story, but it is my story and I shoulder the responsibility of that choice.

I chose to dis-associate with my undergrad alumni. Again a long story, but one I stand by.

I chose to dis-associate with people who don’t like Greek yogurt. They can’t be trusted.

These are my choices, and YES. I “get” that you have the choice to “dis” Robin Williams, individuals who took their own life, and depressed people who have lost hope. I respect your choice. Doesn’t mean I can and will choose to associate with you. I understand that your conscious will not let you give (one time or regularly) or support (by posting a video and challenging others) the ALS Foundation. But if you choose to voice that opinion and choice in such a way that it harms others, I don’t have to associate with you.

There are numerous organizations in our great country that I do NOT support because of ethical concerns and personal choice. But you will never see me posting things in a public venue something that may cause harm to someone else – even peripherally. I have the freedom to express my opinion one-on-one to close friends and my husband. Believe me… I do this regularly when my ability to cope with those who hate Greek yogurt overwhelms me.

Y’all? Go be nice to others. 🙂

Denise Portis

© 2014 Personal Hearing Loss Journal

CIRM. (2014). Myths and misconceptions about stem cell research. Retrieved September 2, 2014, from http://www.cirm.ca.gov/our-progress/myths-and-misconceptions-about-stem-cell-research

Mayo Clinic. (2014). Stem cells: What they are and what they do. Retrieved September 2, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/stem-cell-transplant/in-depth/stem-cells/art-20048117