Laughter is the Best Medicine

Today’s blog comes to us from Rick Phillips, author of, where he writes about his experience living with two autoimmune diseases. He’s had type 1 diabetes for over 40 years and rheumatoid arthritis for over 15 years. He writes about the humor and struggles of living with these chronic diseases.

I have a lot to give thanks for this year.  A beautiful wife, amazing children, three grandchildren, okay health, the opportunity to be myself, a nice house, and the list goes on and on.  Still, I am often asked what about your RA or diabetes?  Surely these chronic illnesses must make you unhappy?  And I always respond the same: Yes they do.  So, if I have these issues why am I thankful?  It is actually fairly simple; I am thankful even with my RA and diabetes.

I know it is easy to complain; I do as most everyone I know who shares even one of these illnesses. But I’ve learned to keep my complaining in perspective, look beyond myself and find what is positive in life.  As I take inventory this year, I find many positives. Here are three things I am especially thankful for:

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I love to laugh.  I get through days and often nights because I laugh.  I look for and usually find humor everywhere.  I see it in the doctor’s office when I have to wait, I laugh at the infusion center, I ask for a children’s sticker when I see a doctor (and I wear it). 

Someone said laughter is the best medicine?  They were lying, the best medicine is that which works, when and how you need it to work.  Still I find relief as I seek ways to laugh, and I do not mean a chuckle, I laugh with gusto. I figure it this way, I am 58, I can no longer work, my dog likes me most days and I have RA and Diabetes.  So what can someone take away because I am laughing too loud?  Not much, so this year I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to express my laughter as loudly as I want without fear of recrimination. 



I have had RA for 15 years and Diabetes for 41.  I live in an amazing time.  Our medicine has never been more effective, our treatments have never been more successful and our devices have never been better.  We enjoy unparalleled benefits of scientific discovery and that helps us live longer and fuller lives. 

Today we have a host of medicines that are used to treat RA.  I have been on six biologic medicines and three DMARDS since 1999 when I was diagnosed.  These medicines, my doctors, and my sheer stubbornness has kept me going.  I was so fortunate to be diagnosed when I was, because just a few years earlier the standard treatments would have been primitive when compared to our modern medicines.  And yes I think we have a long way to go, but today I am so thankful for the medicines we have available.  

The Future:

I have not always been thankful for the future.  There have been times when I could not see the positive in my life.  Those times have usually been as the result of external influences.  Yes, RA has been terrible.  But when I think of the future, I see great opportunities.  I hope that you also see the great opportunities that lay ahead of us.  We live in an incredible time.  Will RA and Diabetes ever be cured?  I doubt it.  Will it be controlled?  I have absolutely no doubt.  In fact, I believe it so firmly that I have become future focused.  I hope you will join me because things are getting better.  After all, when one of our grandchildren says “Poppa let’s play cars” well, how can I be anything but positive about the future?

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