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What's So Funny About Diabetes: How Humor Helps Caregivers

I was on my way to speak to a group of diabetes educators at a regional hospital when I overheard two interns talking in the hallway. They were watching an elderly gentleman, who was moving slowly down the all, and trying to figure out exactly what the man's complaint might be.

“I’ll be you $5 he’s had a hemorrhoidectomy," one intern said.

The other intern did not agree. “No way. He’s suffering from arthritis.”

They both approached the man to inquire.

“Why are you moving so slowly, Sir?” asked one intern.

The old man replied, “My slippers are too large.”

Diabetes and the Family Caregiver

Being a caregiver - whether you're a health care professional or a family member or friend - can be challenging sometimes.   We like to think we know what's going on. After all, we work hard about being a good caregiver. This is especially true for people who care for someone who has diabetes. Over the years, I've spoken with family caregivers who could put the average endocrinologist to shame when it comes to diabetes knowledge - especially when their loved one is concerned! These folks knew everything there was to know about how their loved one managed their diabetes. They could predict blood sugar spikes to the minute. No meters for these folks - they could tell with a single glance if their loved one was about to crash.

But diabetes is a tricky disease. You can do everything right, and have your blood sugar numbers come out all wrong. The medication routine that had been working wonderfully for years can suddenly stop working entirely. Bad things happen - and there's really nothing that the family caregiver can do about it.

How Humor Helps Caregivers

As a caregiver, it's important to understand that feelings of frustration and stress are incredibly normal. You may feel tension building up inside you around testing time, for example. So much hinges on your loved one's sugars staying in the appropriate range. When everything turns out to be okay, some of that tension melts away - but not all of it. We can accumulate stress and tension, building up layers of fear and anxiety. This isn't good for your physical or mental health.

Laughter, particularly hearty sustained laughter, dissipates that tension. The stress level drops. The old residue of fear and anxiety is forgotten in the face of mirth and amusement. Take the time to laugh every day.  It's the best thing you can do to help maintain the emotional equilibrium so central to being a great caregiver.

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