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Humor: A Smart Way to Live with Hepatitis C

When I was a child, I loved April Fool’s Day. I schemed for weeks, hoping to trap my parents in one of my pranks. Of course, they were way ahead of me and by day’s end, I was always the April fool. Fortunately, I enjoyed being the brunt of a good joke. Hepatitis C didn’t change that—in fact, it made me want to laugh more.

The average child laughs around 400 times every day. Contrast this with the average adult who laughs approximately 25 times a day. This fact makes me want to either cry, read Dave Barry or watch Carol Burnett reruns.  For me, laughter is the backbone of physical, emotional and spiritual health. Humor is the thread that keeps me from unraveling. I find ways to inject appropriate humor into nearly everything.

Laugh with hepatitis C and at least you are laughing

Laugh with hepatitis C and at least you are laughing

For those of you who appreciate laughter, you may be delighted to learn that there is a practice called Laughter Yoga. Originating in India, Laughter Yoga is the practice of laughing as a discipline rather than merely for pleasure. Dr. Madan and Madhuri Kataria developed Laughter Yoga about ten years ago and now there are laughter clubs worldwide. Training is available for anyone interested in becoming a certified Laughter Yoga instructor.

The Laughter Yoga website takes laughter very seriously. So much so, that the following warning is given: “Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. You cannot laugh too little, but you can laugh too much and put your body into destress (sic).” I assume that this is a typo or translation error and the author meant distress rather than destress. Heck, to de-stress is the main reason why I laugh. Also, I have a hard time believing the statement that one can laugh too much.

The Laughter Yoga caution goes on to say that, too much laughter can actually be dangerous, especially for older people (geezers like me). Well, this may seem closed-minded, but I cannot imagine getting through the geezer years without laughing a lot. Between the loss of eyesight, hearing, brain, keys, stamina, waistline, and sex, I am hanging onto laughter as if it is a life preserver. Besides, death by laughter sounds like a great way to go.

Humor has helped me cope with all of life’s challenges, particularly hepatitis C. Hepatitis C was not a laughing matter when I was first diagnosed, but over time, it has provided some amusing moments. This is particularly true when I am with others who live with hepatitis C. Laughing with others is a communal act. It is like sharing an intimate moment or a fine meal. Laughter lifts the spirits and for a brief time suspends the hard edge of reality. It reminds us that we are all in the same boat.

(This excerpt is from an article first appearing in the HCV Advocate, April 2006)

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