I feel like I need to give people permission to laugh, and I hope you'll consider this that permission. Here are some things that I know to be true as I live life with a chronic illness:
- I need a kidney transplant.
- I need dialysis to keep me alive.
- I will never be “cured” of this, it's something I'll deal with/manage for the rest of my life.
- If I lose my ability to laugh at myself and my situation, then I lose everything.
Since I've been using social to keep my internet friends updated on what's going on with me, I've noticed something about my posts. There are the people who use that sad reaction emoji on Facebook every time I post something that mentions kidneys, dialysis, transplant etc etc.
I appreciate the sentiment, but here's the thing: I'm a joke maker. I know, from spending more than half my life active in online communities, that nuance can be hard in text form, but trust me. If you think I'm making a joke, I am, and you officially have permission to laugh. Hell, I WANT you to laugh because it's a thing I always enjoy doing.
Don't get me wrong; I know you're sad for me. I know that you love me, and want to be supportive in this, but I also don't need or want pity. I'm one of the lucky ones. There's this incredible science that can keep me going for YEARS, until I get a transplant or that artificial kidney gets approved. I get to live a Pretty Normal Life* and that asterisk is totally manageable.
It's ok to laugh through chronic illness
Let me give you an example. Random status I posted recently:
Now, I think it's no coincidence that the comments/laugh emojis come from people who have known me a very long time or, in the case of Sarah, were even my roommate! When I post something like this status, it's because it made me laugh and I enjoy sharing those moments on the internet.
Don't cry for me, Argentina.
It's OK to laugh.
My friend Jessica shared an article about Jeff Bezos reclaiming the “richest man in the world” with his $105 BILLION fortune. It's one of those things that I feel like most of us can't wrap our brains around, that amount of money. BILLIONS. So I shared this quote from the UCSF Kidney Project page:
Because here's the thing. The day I stop laughing is the day I stop. Period.
I made a decision a long time ago that I could rail at the world and cry “Why me?” or I could make the best of what I've got. And today, I've got my life. I've got a husband who loves me, the greatest kid in the world, work that I love, and a machine that keeps me alive. The least I can do is laugh in the face of this chronic illness. There are people who have so much less than me.