Learning to laugh thru the tears...

Remember the old saying that “laughter is the best medicine”? There is more truth to that than you may think!

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter can have numerous short- and long-term health benefits:

·        Laughing increases the amount of oxygen rich air in your body, which in turn, stimulates your organs and promotes endorphin release.

  • Stimulates circulation

  • Decreases heart rate and blood pressure

  • Releases neuropeptides, which work to fight stress

  • · Produces hormonal pain killers

  • · Produces hormonal anti-depressants and anti-anxiolytics.

As patients with IBD and/or ostomies, laughter could be very therapeutic. Some of our GWGs shared some of their funniest experiences:

“My first week with my ileostomy I didn’t realize how watery my output was, or that it would come flying out immediately when I opened my bag… So, I went to empty it and missed the toilet completely… Luckily I was at home.” -Sarah

“I have cats. My very attached kitty immediately decided the bag was a pillow. Fine, ok. Then he decided to milk tread the bag. With claws that had not seen clippers in a good month. I regularly clip them, but my husband was preoccupied with me in the hospital, then recuperating at my parent’s house. He punctured the bag…” – Felix

“I accidentally drank part of my husband’s colonoscopy prep. I had to conduct a rehearsal of 65 people the next hour. I was sweating through the whole thing but told them what I did and if I ran away, that’s why.” – Jamie

“I worked for a chiropractor awhile back who was a misogynistic pick. When I returned to work after ileostomy surgery, I got small revenge by saving up gas in my ostomy bag and releasing it in his next treatment room so patients would think it was him leaving that horrid stench. Bonus, he would ask me to check for sewage backup in the basement afterwards, so I got a quick smoke break as well.” -Amy

“I forgot to Velcro the end of my colostomy bag and was standing in the kitchen and of course started pooping and ending up getting sh*t all over the refrigerator.” -Ashley

“When I first got my bag, when I changed it, I would forget to close the Velcro. Welp, took a fresh shower (with an active stoma) put the bag on b/c Jabba was acting like a nut. Thought I did it well, then poop slushed all over me due to the open Velcro. It was horrible.” -Swy

“I was out shopping and went to the bathroom to empty my bag (luckily it was a private store bathroom they let me use after explaining my situation). I emptied the bag and set the bag on my leg and turned to get a wipe so I could clean the inside of the end of the bag and it fell off my leg and the remains dripped into my pants and underwear! I had to spend the next 10 minutes and a whole lot of wipes to clean my pants and underwear before walking out. I did a pretty good job cleaning up too. No smell, no stains, so I just continued to shop!” -Brandi

“My best friend is convinced that our biggest problem during an apocalypse type situation will be the fact that I don’t have access to supplies and will be pooping everywhere…we talk about options frequently.” -Michelle

“Well, before I was diagnosed, I went on a school trip to Europe. I was already experiencing all the classic symptoms of Crohn’s but didn’t know that’s what it was, and I also didn’t know my “limits” yet. So, we arrive at our hotel in Italy after a long day of traveling and I have to go…BAD! Were there bathrooms in the lobby? Nope. I had to get to my room first if I wanted to use a toilet. What floor was my room on, you might ask? The 10th. At least there was a working elevator, right? No sir, no Ma’am. I’m sure you can see where this is going… Around the 4th floor, I lost the battle, and I had 6 more flights of stairs to climb with poop dripping down both my legs. Somehow, I miraculously managed to hide it from my classmates and chaperones (I was 13, so my shame/embarrassment levels were still astronomical). Made it to my room, and at least the shower and the toilet were both in the same room (this isn’t always the case in Europe, based on my experience), so I could finish going and then hose myself off. Sadly, I did have to throw that pair of pants away. There was just no saving them.” -Bridget

“Well, there was the time several years ago (got my ileostomy almost 14 years ago) that I decided to change my appliance while very tipsy…took a few tries and a lot of towels! Thankfully I found it incredibly funny (I was drunk- I thought EVERYTHING was funny) and so did my wonderful husband who was completely sober. Haven’t done it since, but it’s a fond memory.” – Michele

I don’t know about you, but sometimes my journey thru Crohn’s Disease gets me down. I always try to keep a sense of humor about it all…. Because if I didn’t, I would spend my day in bed, sobbing, and feeling sorry for myself.  Try seeing the humor in some situations, and it just may help you cope with all the crappy stuff going on, pun intended.  

 

Sources:

Stress Relief from laughter? It’s no joke.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

 
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Charlotte Rensberger is from Battle Creek, Michigan. She has been battling Crohn's disease since she was 16 years old, and currently has a permanent ileostomy at age 36. She has been married for 13 years, and they have two school aged children who keep them busy. Charlotte is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who currently works in a newborn nursery. In her spare time, she bakes, re-finishes furniture, buys antiques, does crafts, and sings with her church's worship band. She started a Facebook page/blog in 2015 when she underwent permanent ileostomy surgery. During that time, she realized that she enjoys writing and finds it fun, relaxing, and therapeutic.