Ch.24. If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry.
Pat and I attended our Lewy Body group in St. Paul today. Part way through someone I’ll call Mel mentioned his frustration at frequently not being able to finish the sentences (and thoughts) he’d begun during a conversation. Mel chuckled as he remembered his embarrassment. He then accidentally gave an example of what happens; he was telling his story when his mind went blank. (From what I’ve observed, though, with Pat, it’s as if her mind goes numb, like it simply cannot work another second at the difficult task of talking). Then three more persons with Lewy Body described how they too sometimes failed to complete their sentences and thoughts, contributing their own vivid memories of these situations. Again, everybody laughed with (not at) the speakers, who always laughed as well.
Today we also discussed memory failure, hallucinations and telling people about one’s diagnosis. All with humor.
Finally, someone said what we were probably all feeling: “If we weren’t laughing (about these issues) we’d be crying.”
Lewy Body Dementia is a terrible affliction. It eats away at a person’s ability to think, remember, communicate, and even to be self-aware, not to mention its devastating physical effects on the body. Lewy Body also attacks a person’s capacity for joy. And the same can be said of the family and friends of the Lewy Body person. They too can become more apathetic and joyless.
Yes, Lewy Body can be disturbing, but only if you let it. Well, then, how can you deal with difficulties like not being able to finish your thoughts? One way is with humor. We humans have a great ability not to take ourselves too seriously. We let the universe play its cosmic jokes upon us and we laugh along.
I don’t think we could see ourselves realistically if we couldn’t sometimes see the absurdity of our lives. Perhaps dealing with Lewy Body humorously lets us put our lives in perspective, balancing the pain of inevitable loss with the joy of just being alive today.
Pat’s comments on If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry:
One thought I have is that if I can just be where I am and look around and see what is here, it will please me. I don’t see the world in terms of being all good or bad; I don’t see my experience these days as being any less than before. Other people might see that, but I don’t. I want to say that just because a piece of life isn’t always amusing doesn’t mean it’s not worth anything.