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A woman in a department store asking a mannequin for directions.

Finding Humor with a Visual Impairment

Having macular degeneration is serious.  When you have it, it can rule your thoughts.  It can rob you of your joy. It can cause you to become depressed. I try to help people find ways to escape from those things, at least temporarily.

I haven’t laughed in a while

I admit that after some tough times in my own life this year, I realized that I wasn’t laughing as much as I had in the past. I’ve always loved a good laugh especially the kind where you put your head back and LOL! Have you seen this and not known what it means? It’s “Laugh Out Loud.” It’s the kind that makes your sides ache. Feels so good to laugh like that, doesn’t it?

After I added a short animation of a cat typing on a keyboard to one of the posts in my Facebook group, I was reminded that I’m not the only one who is missing the laughter. One of the members saw the typing cat and said that it felt good to laugh. Laughter is important to our overall good health, both physically and emotionally. Research has shown that what’s good for our overall health is good for macular degeneration.

Funny things DO happen

I’ve found that many people are willing to share their ‘blind fails’ which are sometimes embarrassing things that happen when you’re visually impaired. Just to be clear, I never laugh AT the person telling the story. I laugh WITH them. Sometimes, I don’t laugh at all if the storyteller doesn’t. I take my cue from them.

Things gone wrong

It’s easy to grab items we use regularly without looking carefully, but sometimes it’s the wrong thing. OK, it’s not a disaster to use conditioner instead of shampoo. Some people have admitted that they started to brush their teeth with a tube of hemorrhoid cream! Come to think of it, it could be reversed and not worked out so well! LOL!

Here are a few short stories of things gone wrong:

  • One woman came out of a store where her son was waiting in the car for her. She got into the passenger side and wondered why someone was honking the horn. Are you thinking you know what happened? Yes, she had gotten into the wrong car! LOL
  • I read a story of someone who was to start antibiotic eye drops before cataract surgery. A day after he started, his wife heard a loud “Oh my gosh!” followed by his hearty laughter. He discovered he’d been using the antibiotic drops for their dog’s ears! The story had a happy ending, luckily. Dog and owner are just fine. LOL
  • I’ve had a few people tell me that they found out that they were talking to something-other-than-real people. For example, one woman asked a store mannequin for directions. Another was in a store chatting away with what she thought was a person but was a life-size cutout of a celebrity. LOL

There are tons more stories. If you’re interested, you might search for ‘funny things vision impairment.’ If you have one to share, you can post it in our forum.

Why laugh?

My experience has shown me that even with a serious disease such as macular degeneration, there are times when we can find things about it to laugh at which lifts our mood and contributes to our emotional good health. I think that’s obvious, isn’t it? Are there other reasons to laugh?

Laughter therapy

Have you heard the story of a man named Norman Cousins who ‘laughed himself well?’ He was a writer and professor who in 1964 was diagnosed with a fatal illness. The short version of the story is that he ‘cured’ himself by taking massive doses of Vitamin C and watching nothing but funny TV shows and movies and reading funny books to keep him laughing.1 Not everyone is convinced that the ‘laughter therapy’ actually cured him. Even if he didn’t cure himself, it’s nothing that hurt him.

Medical benefits of laughter

When I went searching for the medical benefits of laughter, there was no shortage of articles including those from reputable medical sources such as JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) and the New England Journal of Medicine, both peer-reviewed professional journals. If you are interested, you might search for ‘laughter medicine.’

Here are some of the medical benefits that I found (there are more).

  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Elevates mood
  • Reduces stress
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Strengthens social bonds
  • Reduces anxiety

Some of these are linked to managing and coping with macular degeneration, aren’t they?

Where to find laughter

I’ve shared some of the anecdotes from people with macular degeneration who have laughed at themselves. Laughing with someone is of benefit to both people.

Where do you go to find something to laugh about and people to laugh with? For many of us, we don’t have to go outside our circle of family and friends. Many of the people in my circle love hearing the infectious laughter of their grandchildren, watching a funny movie or TV show, and passing along funny stories. Someone told me that if you have a voice-activated assistant like Amazon’s Echo or Google Home, you can ask them to tell you a joke.

Laugh out loud!

I hope that you practice the fine art of laughing regularly. I’m doing better at it. It’s good for our mood. It’s good for our health. There are no nasty side effects. It brings us together instead of pushing us away from others. There is a LOT to recommend it.

I’ll leave you with this from ‘unknown’: “Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.” LOL!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MacularDegeneration.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Cousins, Norman. Anatomy of an Illness (as Perceived by the Patient). The New England Journal of Medicine. December 23, 1976. Available at https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM197612232952605

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