Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Comed-o-Therapy Part 2

This is a quickie, which I understand is just enough for some. In a few weeks, I return to the Dana Farber Institute to hopefully succeed at teaching people dealing with cancer that humor is a great shot in the arm. Or shunt. Or picc line, whichever. I usually write material in the bathroom, as I am pretty comfortable there. I know where to sit, and where to stand. One thing I have to shake, there really isn't a need for me to turn any lights on when I am simply there for the toilet visitation. I'm not saying the toilet is visiting me, and after things I have done to it, I expect if it could it would absolutely run away.

I do lean over comedy. This makes me one with other gimps. One of my cousins is infuriated that I use that word to describe myself. For some reason she thinks it's an insult. This to me is like having people explode over the keenly New England word, re-tahded. First of all, there isn't anyone who hears this that thinks there is a belittling of a mentally challenged, Down's Syndrome nor mongoloid child. For anyone hearing this, it is an endearing response to an often goofy, or stupid move. For example, Larry Bird missed a shot in the finals, "he was totally re-tahded". Only those from elsewhere, like California or Florida took that to mean we were insulting the people missing mental faculties. How dare we compare them to Larry Bird? Ew! In California, my co-worker used to use the phrase, "you so stupid" when I had her laughing about the moronic move I had managed that week. (There was always at least one.)(I was Porky Pig at Magic Mountain, for chrissakes.)

Now, I know people in Harvard who would feel insulted at the word stupid. Stupid to them is a complete mar to their intelligence- it says, they haven't any. The fact they'd feel that way about a word leads me to believe that in fact, there is some stupidity there. Some, but obviously not all. One of my favorite people at Mass Art was a woman who has two PhD's, and was studying art through a consortium program. We would absolutely end in fits of giggles discussing the superior attitude, and overbearing erudite pomposity some of her MIT co-graduate students had because she was, in their words, "playing with crayons", in our computer lab. This was the decade of the Apple IIe, and Targa. Computer Art wasn't quite the level as it is now. In fact, she and I were the only students of 3d programs which we purchased ourselves, in a collaborative independent study degree. We were, in their words, re-tahded.

Digression done. Comed-o-Therapy is the word I coined to help my aunt get through the last few months of her life battling lung cancer. If she couldn't feel her best, at least when she was able to, she could laugh her best. Our guess is that laughter helped her live through a grandchild's next birthday and a Thanksgiving meal, before she finally died the following year. 

There's a lot of goofiness in medicine. In cancer medicine, even more than that. Do you know there is a museum that displays different tumors, varied in shape, size, or area of the body, sitting in glass cases? When they took mine out, it was in the throat, it had a long thickish shape, and then a mushroom kind of cap on top. Yes, it did look like THAT. It wasn't so much that my tumor was being kept by a doctor that weirded me out, I just first thought it was left behind by a dark knight some dark night. What had been there before to make THAT shape? There's comedy there. Or I'm re-tahded. 

My hope is that, aside from blue material here, people will learn to de-blues their medical experiences. There is nothing really funny about almost not being on the planet anymore. There is something really funny about how we handle others in their responses and feelings. Gilda's House is great at teaching people to unnerve others with honesty, and often humor. There's more to life than just being patients, or care  givers. The ability to reach into the pain and laugh about it, that's the real cure of cancer. Ability to live life is far more important than the inevitability of death. We aren't our illness, which is why I can call myself Gimpy. I'm not able to do things as I once did, which is gimp-like. What does that do to my cousin to hear it? I don't know. I've never felt insulted by words. I felt insulted that others didn't think I could be someone who grew past them. But I laugh about that, in my own gimpy way.