The idea for this blog post has been rattling around in my brain for a while so I finally decided to get it out of there and write it.

Apparently, having a stroke is hilarious.  I’ve noticed on several TV shows lately- I’ve noticed this quite a bit in the last 6 years –  but it seems to have been very concentrated lately.  In recent episodes of multiple shows, the common thing to say when someone is acting weird is, are you having a stroke?”  I’m wondering if there will ever be a day in the future that I will see that or hear that and it won’t have an effect on me.  6 years later and it still has a major effect on me.  I so wish it didn’t, but it does.  Will there ever be a day that I’ll be apathetic and unresponsive in the presence of some insensitive joke on TV?  Or insensitive people? – which are RAMPANT in this world.

I dealt with my trauma mostly with humor.  Self-deprecating humor.  I think resorting to comedy is a very common way to deal with horrible things.  It’s how I dealt with it most of the time.  Certainly not always, but when I wasn’t a basket case of tears or unbelievably angry, I was laughing at myself.  I know it’s how a lot of you have dealt with it.  The problem with self-deprecating humor is this – other people see me make fun of myself and think that means I’m comfortable with jokes being made about certain things regarding me, strokes, whatever.  That’s not the way self-deprecation works.  It has the word ‘self’ in it.  I can make fun of myself all I want, you cannot.  There are 3 people on this planet that have liberty to say absolutely anything to me, about me, around me, etc.  Everyone else – no.

The fact that TV shows think it’s for some reason funny to say “Are you having a stroke?” doesn’t make sense to me.  Most people don’t know how to be funny and are not good at it.  The majority of people that I encounter in life don’t have near the sense of humor and wit that comes so naturally to others (myself included).  If you know how to be funny and empathetic, and are delicate and intelligent with highly sensitive topics, then pretty much any topic in life can be skewed somehow into something humorous.  Granted, I’m incredibly sensitive to this.  I would not have noticed it 7 years ago but I sure do now.  But, correct me if I’m wrong, it seems to me like a stroke is joked about and made fun of way more than other illnesses and disabilities.  I guess it’s because strokes are all-encompassing.  Any movement, function, amount of language, thinking, conversation – just about anything can be f’d up after a stroke so I guess it’s easy to say on TV, “my god she’s having a stroke or something.”

Maybe I wouldn’t be so incredibly sensitive about this if people within my own “support” system had not said some incredibly idiotic, stupid, insensitive things to me in the last 6 years.  Oh well, c’est la vie.

Categories: Brain stuff, Recovery, Stroke stuff

Tags: ,

18 replies

  1. OMG! I hear you loud and clear.

    I’m always like “WTF?” when they say that. I’ve had to learn to just let it go, you know?

    I’m the same way when it comes to my stroke-related disability. I have post-stroke dystonia, which is most definitely not funny. But I tend to use self-deprecating humor to deal with it.

    Anyway, just know you’re not alone! 🙂

  2. I get the same way with spasticity. ‘ You are such a spaz’. Nobody gets away with joking about such stuff with me. I ‘very gotten very sensitive about that.

    • That’s terrible. That would drive me nuts. I understand that some things are innocuous figures of speech but sometimes you have to be very aware of who is in your presence when using a certain figure of speech. Most people in my life are not.

  3. To me, AmerIcan humor has always seemed jejune and juvenile. For example, it’s considered hilarious to depict someone intoxicated; we laugh and admire them at the same time. Whereas in most of the rest of the world behaving intoxicated is totally deprecated. Then there are those banal US “comedies” – no wonder all good TV humor comes from the UK – think Fawlty Towers, Benny Hill, and the Last Detective. Is this because we are a young country and it just takes time to develop some degree of intelligence, subtlety and sophistication? Whatever, it’s so.

  4. Hi Amy. Of course your sensitive to this subject…what a painful process you, and all of us, went thru with having a stroke. I, too, make fun of myself..”Im MUCH more of a dizzy blonde now that I had a stroke’..or “I still walk like a drunken sailor, except without the drunk”….but if someone else made fun of me..I would way react. And that’s the problem. I REACT instead of RESPOND. Its a never ending challenge that I have made it be my lifes work…to reverse that.

    It made me think tho’…like how I used to say “God, don’t have a heart attack”, or “Shes just having a fit”. It goes on and on. Don’t be too hard on yourself….the world is an insensitive place.

    • Yeah, I would say stuff like that too before the stroke. But once I was aware of something or was asked not to say certain things I was immediately acutely aware of my words and actions. People around me – not so much. One of the hardest things I’m dealing with now is unbelievably insensitive stuff being said by my husband’s family – who didn’t see all the hell that I went through. But they’ve been talked to and still say some really weird, over the top things. It can be very hurtful. It’s one reason that I can’t wait to move far away. To get away…….

  5. Amy,
    We know that there’s nothing humorous about having a stroke or its effects on us. The pathetic, insensitive people that get their jollies from ridiculing the difficulties of others will probably eventually have their karma catch up with them. All that I know I can do about it is to do the best I can and to feel good about that. After having had a stroke my life is fuller and more meaningful than it was before (through pain there is growth) and I know that there is not a person on this earth that can rob me of my dignity, even though I move slowly and awkwardly.

  6. Oh geez Amy..I find it appalling as well. I know I’ve had to of unknowingly said stuff on occasion that may have been insensitive to others , but like you.. Once aware of it .. Never again! It’s not at the same level as your experience at all…but people would say to me… “It’s just like you’re Alex’s REAL mother”! Hello…. I am his REAL mother. Do I look like I’m pretending?? I must have heard that a million times. That’s just one painful comment an adoptive Mom hears… There are many more!! Need to catch up with you. Congrats on the sale of your house!! I’m happy for you. Love you lots💕

    • People said that to you? Jesus, that’s terrible. WTF is wrong with people?

      • Oh that’s only one thing. How about you’re so Lucky you didn’t have to get pregnant and go through childbirth. No gaining weight. Adoption is much easier. ( yeah right! ). Or where are his Real parents? Or he looks like you even though he’s not yours.l!!!! Or do you think he’ll want to find his REAL family some day? Or how much did you have to pay???? Oh I could go on forever. You just learn and know that you are a better person and right with yourself. There will always be those people out there even when you try to educate them. I chose to rise above. The correct term is where are his BIOLOGICAL parents or Birth Mom. How is that so hard to understand ?? After all these years I can still feel the hurt but know I’m as REAL as it gets!!!

  7. I’m feel the same way. I get very upset when people say “Don’t have a Stroke” like it’s nothing when they mean Don’t get mad. I am just a couple weeks shy of my one year anniversary. I just had another stroke on 3/4/17. There is NOTHING what so ever humorous about a stroke. Unfortunately people (for the most part) just don’t think. People who haven’t been through it or have a loved one go through it never really think of strokes as anything other than what they see on TV. It’s something OLD people get, then they are stuck in bed, then they die.

    We are not the faces they see when they think of stroke, heck I sure I didn’t expect to have a stroke at my age. Thank goodness I finally found a Neurologist that felt I needed one more test, he had a feeling that since I hade the stroke and several past TIA’s and Migraines with Aura I might have a PFO (whole in my heart). I had the test, and I do. I was told my Heart Murmur had resolve in my early 20’s, I guess it didn’t. Now. I get to have my hear fixed, it’s like having a ticking time bomb in my body. it can go off at any time and set off another stroke.

    • I have a PFO too, Penny. I never got it closed. It’s not a ticking time bomb in your chest, it’s really not. There is a ton of mixed research on it and no definitive conclusions one way or the other.

      • Please remember that surgeons will pretty much always recommend surgery as that’s their livelihood.

        • Amy, I finally met with a Cardiologist, he doesn’t think I have a PFO. So he wants to do a TEE and Echo with microbubbles to see if I have a PFO, how big it is and exactly where it is so if it needs to be closed he can go in and close it. I guess if doctor’s don’t find it themselves you don’t have it…. LOL

  8. I am with you about feeling angry and not amused by so many “jokes”. It is really poor humor and language used about many health conditions. I have an autistic grandson and children with ADHD and the horrible comments directed to or about them in real life or as entertainment is heartbreaking and damages their self esteem and mental health. The jokes are so entrenched that it changes how people treat them.

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