What’s So Funny About Lyme Disease: Humor and Healing

Do you know what really ticks me off? When people don’t take Lyme Disease seriously.  This condition – which can be truly devastating – is often ignored or dismissed as even a possibility until the symptoms become debilitating. By that point, treatment is difficult and expensive – and often, not covered by insurance.

As a nurse, humorist, and professional speaker, I was really glad to see this story in the Santa Cruz Sentinel about Carol Fox – also a nurse – who has devoted her life to teaching people about Lyme Disease. Carol uses two powerful tools – humor and art – to present the facts about Lyme Disease to her community.

This is an effective approach for a number of reasons. People are overwhelmed by information today. We’re all wired up, connected to our smartphones and tablet computers every minute of the day. You can’t avoid being inundated by health attention. There are messages about blood pressure and cholesterol and blood sugar control and the need to exercise and no fat, no salt, no flavor diets – that’s all before the warnings about public health concerns like disease-carrying ticks lingering in the high grass.  It’s not that people don’t want to pay attention to everything, it’s that they can’t.

Humor cuts through the noise and overwhelm with a powerful clarity.  We pay attention to what makes us laugh, and that’s for one simple reason: humor makes us feel good.  Psychoneuroimmunologists are scientists who research the connection between our emotional state and our physical well-being, and it turns out that they’ve discovered some pretty concrete connections between a positive frame of mind and our overall health.  That’s why we’re predisposed to be aware of situations that are potentially humorous.

Any time someone walks into a room with a puppet named “Tricky Dick the Tick” there’s a good chance there might be some laughing going on. Carol Fox’s audiences will pay more attention to her presentation than any of the other health information they’ll encounter during the day. They’ll enjoy, remember, and retain what they heard.  They may even tell other people about it.  That’s the healing power of humor in action – amusing and amazing every time!


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