24 thoughts on “Humor and Chronic Pain: A Top 10 List

  • March 27, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Thank you for this insight. Many, many people are unaware of the tremendous strain that is on-going in the lives of individuals living in chronic pain. My younger brother suffers with it and his quality of life is very poor. A sense of humor, ah- so essential whether or not you are related to someone suffering, are that person, or are a friend to him or her. Every day in our lives is a gift!

  • March 28, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I could SO relate to your top 10 list! Dr. House where are you?? I was on disability for 10 years until I found the right pharmaceutical combo. Now I am back to work, thinking how dumb this was every morning at 6AM. Some days I curl up in my electric blanket and whine. Other days I use humor, blogging, and mindfulness techniques to get through the day. As a clinical mental health counselor I attempt to share these techniques with others who experience chronic pain and/or anxiety. Perhaps I’ll send them to your blog! Humor creates endorphins and we can never have too many of those.

    Keep smilin 🙂

    • March 28, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      Such a true piece. When you live with chronic pain, you have to find ways to laugh or you’d cry all the time! I wrote a post on my chronic pain blog, Nip Pain in the Bud & Let Your Soul Blossom, that plays right into your piece and I think you’ll enjoy it:

      Humor Heals: Science proves Laughter is good medicine

      I look forward to reading more from you and perhaps you’ll visit my site as well. We have to stick together!


  • April 1, 2013 at 1:23 am

    They all describe me!

  • April 9, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    I am with you all . Almost thirty years of chronic pain and I would say …..most of all laughter is the best medicine

  • April 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    So true! Most of these apply to me too. I am grateful for having a sense of humor, a belief that I still deserve to go out and have fun, and for my love of music. As long as the iPod is on, I feel happy, inspired and energized to keep moving.

  • April 9, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Hi I really push people to enjoy humour. Studies show that pain and humour are on the same nerve path so for that one brief moment you are laughing you do not hurt.

  • April 10, 2013 at 2:43 am

    11- You are on a first-name basis with your Pharmacist, who not only knows you on sight (and knows what you’ll be picking up that day,) but also sends you birthday and Christmas cards.

    12- You’re not sure, but when you made a sudden movement just now, you’re pretty sure you heard yourself rattle from all the pills you just ingested.

    13- You have ‘Street Cred’ with your children’s play friends because, “OMG! LOOK at all the pills she can swallow at once!!!”

    14- You’ve actually cleaned a much larger region of the floor than intended when you bent down to wipe a spill because, ‘Gosh darn it, if I’m down here, I might as well since it was such an effort.’

    • July 1, 2014 at 8:02 am

      Wow, you are so right! I just laughed my ass off because you described my life to a t.

  • April 24, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Funny!!! I rrtired from my medical practice 15 years ago, at age 37….survived lymphoma, but have, as my consolation prize, severe painful peripheral neuropathy in my leg. Make a plan, right?!!

    Humor helps. Sometimes more than oxycodone. Well….

  • April 24, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    15.You know you are a “chronic painer” when your box of “don’t take any more” meds is too big to fit under the bed !!!

    I am a retired RN w severe, progressive sensory and motor Neuropathy. By the time I found a combination of meds that kept me half way sane, the Neuropathy had progressed so far that I fall very easily and I need a walker to ambulate. I am now 74 yrs old and I had hoped to travel and do lots of volunteer work in my retired years but now I just try to continue on a day to day basis and as you said, a sense of humor is my savior!
    One thing the above #15 reminds me though is most of us have lots of meds we start and never get to finish for one reason or the other. Putting them down the toilet is NOT recommended and you certainly don’t want to put them in the trash for someone else to find. Giving them to other people to take is definitely a “no no”. Most cities now have specified pharmacies or locations where you can take your old meds. This is something we all should do.
    I look forward to anything you may have to contribute to all of us who need that impetus to keep the sense of humor !!

  • April 27, 2013 at 1:01 am

    When my pain doc & hubby are good buds (husband comes to appts. w/me) & spend so much time talking about their latest fishing/hiking/biking escapades (Hey–me, in the wheel chair here; the patient!! Waving my one good arm)I have something to say!

    Pain doc carries in my heavy folders of medical notes & makes joke to hubby how I am a “complicated” case & hubby says, “Yeah, she is a complicated woman.”

    NOT SO FUNNY: Hubby complains to pain doc about how he can’t sleep at night (even though he is now sleeping upstairs on another level–far, far away from me) because of my crying all night & THEN pain doc thinks to try morphine ER. What??

    Get ear plugs if you can’t sleep. I’m the one in pain here & I was amazed that there was some option to try that hadn’t been brought up–but was brought up cuz MY HUSBAND COULDN’T SLEEP W/MY CRYING ALL NIGHT!!

    The only way I get a restful sleep is when I’m put under w/a general–love profonal & versed (sp?)…

    Have another procedure coming up this Tuesday so I can catch up on my ZZZ’s. Had one 2 weeks ago; need another nap!

    When all the nurses know you at the surgery center by first name & ask about your kids, your pets & share recipes (of stuff to eat after your fasting that was required before the surgery or procedure that required a general).

    The NURSES are the best. The ones at my pain doc’s office & neurologist’s office & numerous surgeons’ offices & internal medicine doc’s office. They can comprehend my sniffling, weeping messages left on voice mail. They will call me after hours when needed & one from pain doc’s office always comes to surgery center w/me to be w/me…

    They know that when I do the urine tests (required when taking narcotic pain medications; though I’ve only had to take 2 tests in 6 years because my hands & arms are affected severely by pain & I end up peeing all over my hands & it is so humiliating) that I will be in the restroom for a long time mopping myself up & the cup as it is hard to do when your hands don’t work…

    Yeah–have to laugh when you can as when the pain is so severe you cannot help but weep.

  • April 27, 2013 at 1:11 am

    Oh–also when my sister-in-law was dxed w/lung cancer I flew up to her place w/my suitcase full of humorous DVDs (such as Reese Witherspoon in “Legally Blonde” & that one about the bridesmaids!).

    And David Sedaris’ complete works on CD. We laughed so hard & kept reminding ourselves that if we weren’t licking light bulbs (David Sedaris had terrible OCD as a child & licked light bulbs & pretty much everything else)–if we were not licking light bulbs we were going to make it, not only make it–but thrive!

    She even passed that treasure on to her grown daughter so now they greet each other with: “Have you been licking light bulbs?”

  • August 11, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I have RA. Humour really is the best defence! Suggest No. 16 You know you are a ‘chronic painer’ when your rheum professionals thank you for cheering them up!

  • August 22, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Oh, love to all of you! I know there is now a fibro support day, but for years, these were my favorite fibro jokes:
    1. Why isn’t there a fibro support day? Because none of us can remember when it is!
    2. Why doesn’t fibro have a colored ribbon for support? Because they couldn’t find a color that would go with everybody’s sweats.
    In the 90s, I found a few copies of a newsletter from a fibro group in Florida somewhere, and these were both in it.

  • October 26, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    I do agree that laughter does help with Chronic Pain, but there is a limit to how much one can ‘laugh’ and find humor when they are completely alone 98% of the time. Please don’t suggest I join any social groups because I may have to cancel due to diarrhea or constipation and gas that is very embarrassing, or perhaps a severe debilitating pain in my lower back, legs, feet, or hands/arms which leave me speechless, frozen in place, and scare people who see happen in person I have severe spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease in my neck and lower back, severe sciatic pain in my lower back and down both legs for as far as that nerve will go, and now peripheral neuropathy in both my feet, legs, and spreading. I am sick and tired of people who give the ‘chin up’ advice if they have never had real severe chronic pain day after day for years and years. When you are multi-symptomatic as I am, it is difficult to impossible to find humor in anything, since in my case, all I do is take handfulls of pills daily to help with the pain, and other handfulls of pills to counter what the 1st set is doing besides managing some of the pain. This may sound awful, but I am a real advocate of self-euthanasia (sorry for any mispellings). I see my day as doing all the things I can think of to push back at my failing body (and mind), doing nothing really useful, and just cat napping most of the night in a semi-upright position and finally get up and start the same cycle over and over again. When I was healthy, I was a giver, and now, I am only a total taker…a taker of resources, a taker of other peoples times who do those things for me that I no longer can. So yes, for those of you who still have some quality of life, laughter can help, but when the pain, and all that goes along with the pain(s), laughter does not even scratch my surface. This is coming from a person who loved a good joke, and was a practical joker for most of his healthy life. The joke is now on me, and it is a dirty and filthy one.

    • October 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      I am heading to Mayo Clinic tomorrow. They have me scheduled for a week. I, too, am crying more than laughing these days but am hopeful I can get some pain relief.

      Morphine knocked me out too much. Butrans pain patch caused hives.

      Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in both hands & arms; now spread to right foot. Plus, all these herniated discs, bulging discs, a “tear” & doc said my back looked like a 90-year-old’s. I’m 59 but the pain has been getting increasingly bad for 10 years. I wake up crying, wondering how to face another day.

      But I try not to talk about dying so much as my husband came to therapy w/me & told therapist how scared he is of my attempting suicide again (did 4 yrs. ago). I realized how unfair it was for me to cause him so much more fear & emotional pain by talking that way.. I apologized & promised to not do that. Why make his life more miserable?

      Have to wear gloves (hurts to touch things) so using stylus. Please excuse errors.

      Still try to find humor like when I wear mismatched garden gloves to pain doc appt. & tell nurses this is the new look & will be in “Vogue” magazine next month.

      Meds make me thirsty all the time. My husband said today the reason I have to drink so much water as am dehydrated from tears!

      Found a pill on bathroom floor today–common occurrence as my hands don’t work well so drop pills often. Don’t know when I dropped it &’not sure what it was so didn’t take it.

    • May 27, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      So sorry to hear the extent of your pain, I truly do understand .. There ARE times when there’s not a lot to smile/laugh about .. It can seriously get you down knowing that you probably won’t be able to go to (insert name of specific occasion here) for whatever reason. Or worse, planning to go, and at the last minute having to cancel .. I certainly DO understand that feeling of being alone, there are times when even my wonderful long-suffering wife “gives up on me”, and I truly “get” that, it’s just so hard on her too …. So … to bring a positive tilt to this !
      I discovered Twitter, and learned to love it when I found I could filter it to include only the people I wanted to talk with … there are some wonderful communities of like-minded people who share my “living the dream” with CRPS and Rheum. Arthritis … I have chosen to be the “class clown” in these groups, and my tweets are all about (respectfully) finding a comical angle to all but the most serious of exchanges. A little bit of humour is contagious and generally the others join in (often to the point where it can just get outright silly) .. in my opinion, “silly” is a gift to be nurtured and accepted and revelled in ! ..
      it works for me .. these Twitter friends are all over the planet, so even if it’s 3am and pain won’t let me sleep, I’m never ‘alone’ … I had to give up full time work which crushed me, but I discovered the joys of blogging, and then later, started recording a half hour internet radio show (podcast) which allows me to work a few days a week from my little home studio, and I can stop what I’m doing at any time to rest if needed. The podcast is aimed squarely at over 50’s and folk with a disability .. tailored to educate and entertain the listeners (all 400,000 + of them & growing !) .. Anyway, this is not about me, it’s about you, and my encouragement to you to smile often, and if possible, find a way to go hunting for humour, amongst kindred spirits who understand you as they live in the same world of chronic pain as you do .. We are never alone ! .. Cheers & be safe, ~ AJ ~ 🕊☮️

  • October 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Hey Tracy, it is hard to be a “serious” mental health writer then write comedy and expect everyone to laugh with you. Especially when we have been in a mental health system that for years over emphasized how “serious” living with mental illness is…that it sucks joy and happiness out of us, we forget that it is OKAY TO LAUGH. Many of us lost or numbed our sense of humor for a long time. I know I did during a period when I was depressed. I commend YOU for adding a little levity and humor; lighting things up. I think it was Charlie Chaplin that said, “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it.”

    I know that is how the Mental Health Humor cartoons I draw got started. I was in the Psych Ward when I came up with the idea for the cartoons. At my time of deepest emotional pain, I used humor to bring me back from the edge. Humor gives help, hope and healing. If ever you see a cartoon from my blog you want to share with your readers, please feel free to share it. 🙂

  • November 30, 2013 at 6:40 am

    More for the list,
    11. When someone says, ” you look good today”, you think,”this new makeup does wonders”

    12. You know the breathing patterns of your spouse when he/she is asleep because your awake to hear it.

    13. You look up “night lights for toilets” because you don’t want to turn on the big light at night when you go to the bathroom to pee fir the third time or to get some pain mediicne.

    14. Your kids friends call you for medical advice before going to the doctor.

    15. When talking to new people they ask, “are you a doctor?”

    • November 30, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      So true, so true 🙂

  • July 3, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Another one for you all:

    You know you’re a chronic pain patient when your chart is SMALLER than “War and Peace.” 🙂

  • July 3, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I grew up in a ‘punny’ family, thank goodness.
    I’ll admit I could be a little slow. It took me years to get the joke: “If your nose runs and your feet smell, then you were built upside down.”
    Maybe I was.

    Pain, no matter the origin, is all emotional. It wears you down, the clouds come in. Humor lets the sun shine again.

    I do remember the day after my last day on a ‘real’ job. I was really messed up from my “normal reaction to an abnormal event” the day before. (I was told later by my counselor that I had handled it the right way, for me.)
    I went to the ER. I doubt I was suicidal, but I really was pretty crazy thinking. The nurse took my information and then mentioned that I still had a sense of humor, as if I should have that reaction then.
    I remember so clearly. “Humor saves me. But I assure you, inside me there is this knot that is just screaming in pain.”
    Good thing I had good support there and elsewhere. My dad died the next day. I spent the next 4 years helping my mother and brother. I didn’t have time for a ‘paying’ job. But I did get into volunteering, which is WORK. It is priceless.

  • August 11, 2016 at 1:29 am

    Having lived for almost 25 years with RA I’ve become pretty good at skating on towels to clean the kitchen floor. I use the sprayer at the sink and a squirt if floor cleaner then skate around until the floor is clean. My hand, wrist and knee joints are too sore to do it on hands and knees. Also no back ache from bending over. I use a dowel rid to get in the corners. I may look silly but it works.


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