Like everything else, humor comes in all shapes and sizes. This month’s first story falls into the category of so bad that it passes into the realm of absurdity. It came to mind when I was writing the history of my medical situation.

The summer I turned 18 I had my jaw surgically broken and wired shut. Because I only breathe through my mouth, there were concerns about oxygen supply, so they did a tracheotomy. (They cut a hole in your windpipe and insert a tube through which you breathe.) The two unexpected consequences were pneumonia and an inability to speak. All the coughing you would expect with pneumonia happened through that trach up to and including bloody mucus.

This surgery took place in Virginia a couple of hours from my Aunt’s home. While I was at the hospital, my sister and a cousin (not the Aunt’s child) visited with my Aunt and her kids. For better or worse, in my family, people are “protected” by not being told negative things if they are already in a stressful situation.) Therefore, it was only after I was discharged from the hospital and we went to retrieve the two visitors that we learned my sister had broken her foot. For the eight hour trip home in our little car, we have me coughing up a storm in the front seat while my sister had her foot propped up in the back and my cousin was wedged in somehow.

Having your jaw wired shut means liquefied food. Since I was unable to even drink, I used a huge syringe to suck my meal up and then squirt it into the back of my mouth. Our long trip home necessitated a stop for food. Picture this: we were in a restaurant with my sister on crutches and me with a trach, coughing constantly, while consuming pureed clam chowder with a syringe and trying to communicate with gestures.

The story gets better. Mom must have been very stressed out and consequently speeding because we were pulled over by a cop. Poor cop. Poor Mom. I engaged in some strategic coughing and my sister and her huge white cast were easily visible in the back seat. The officer let her go with just a warning. The second time – yes, you read that correctly – it was the dark of night and the officer new my family slightly. I guess coughing wasn’t sufficient to sway her because that time Mom received a ticket.

The second story has no tragic elements, instead offered to leave you on a cheerful note in case the above didn’t fill you with hilarity. After reading a previous entry, a friend of mine reminded me of this event’s occurrence though I still cannot clearly bring it to mind.

The basic story will be familiar to you. We were hanging out in a coffee shop and a woman engaged us in conversation. She went on about how nice it was that my companion helped me. My friend fielded these comments as graciously as possible while avoiding continued conversation. Eventually, the woman went away.

When my friend went to the counter to get drinks, the woman approached her again and said, “Oh, it’s so nice how you help her.”

My friend replied, “She’s my friend. I do things for my friends. They do things for me.”

“You’re just such a great person,” the woman enthused, “what do you enjoy most doing for her? What makes you feel the best about yourself?”

With a straight face, my friend answered, “Oh, well, just before I leave I re-arrange all the furniture and the thought of her stumbling over it gives me great pleasure.” Not waiting for a response, my friend walked away.

I am running out of amusing tales with which to regale all of you. If it’s not too much trouble, send out some vibes that will encourage people to do wacky things. After all, it will at least make me laugh — always a worthwhile endeavor.

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About Jen

After acquiring a degree from Vassar College in psychology, I moved to Western Mass where I ran a peer mentoring network for disabled college students as well as activism and organizing around disability issues. I also conducted research on disabled women’s body image. An Upstate New York native, I eventually followed my heliotropic nature to the sun of Southern California. I divide my time between writing (disability fiction and essays) along with moderating San Diego Bisexual Forum which is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the country. In my off hours I can often be found in my neighborhood live music venue enjoying our local talent.

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