Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Glass Half Full

In my continuing quest to view my glass as "half full", I consider my dry eyes (Sjogren's syndrome) a little "perk" of having lupus. I've had lupus for nearly 20 years and the Sjogren's "perk" for the last seven.

In a nutshell, the silver lining, so to speak, is that my eyes don't make tears, so I don't cry with tears-- Not ever.  I couldn't squeak a tear out if my life depended on it, even at my most emotional times, therefore, I never have to worry about "mascara tears".  See what I mean about my glass being "half full"?  No more make-up running down my face.  How's that for positive thinking!

It's a strange feeling though, not having tears when I cry, and honestly, crying is a lot LESS productive without them. I actually feel silly crying, because without the waterworks, it's just a series of funny looking facial contortions.  As a result, the physical part I used to feel when I cried simply does not happen anymore.  Look in the mirror and try boo-hooing without tears and you'll see what I mean.  

So basically, I haven't cried in years and that makes for significantly less drama in my life!  Instead, I channel my sadness, angst, anger, stress, happiness, joy, love or excitement in other ways-- Sometimes it works great, but sometimes, I'm left wishing I could just have a great long cry like Diane Keaton in "Something's Gotta Give" when Jack Nicholson dumped her.  That was a "wail" of a good cry and eventually she felt better!  Crying can be a good thing and sometimes I miss it.

Something's Gotta Give

The thing that bugs me about my lack of tears is that, I'm pretty sure, when I'm not crying and should be, people wonder what I'm up to-- as if I'm not hearing, feeling, participating or caring, when I really am.  Yes, I am taking all the emotions IN, I'm just not releasing them with a flood of tears.  This leaves some people wondering about my sincerity.

Take funerals for example-- I've attended more than my share lately-- No tears! Not even when my heart was breaking as I delivered a eulogy for a longtime friend. Everybody in the place was sobbing and passing Kleenex except me.  Grieving, without the benefit of a good tear cleansing, takes much longer, by the way.

On the flip side-- Weddings-- I used to cry like a baby at weddings.  I love them!  All that joy, the love, the hopes and dreams.  I always carried my make-up with me to weddings so I could "fix my face" after a good cry.  Not necessary anymore. 

In a crisis, I look like a pillar of strength because I'm the only one not crying.  At times like these, the doctor, Rabbi, police officer, funeral director, or the likes, usually walk straight over to me-- as if I know what the heck to do.  (Ha!)  In those cases, my inability to cry isn't suck a great perk.

How about sappy chick flicks, corny love songs, Hallmark card commercials?  Bring 'em on!  I don't even whimper.

Menopause mania, hormonal swings, volatile emotions- Cry me a river, right?  Not!  Oh sure, I can be a crazy woman, but I'm not crying.

Watching President Obama's inauguration would normally have left me in a puddle of emotions.  That was a day I will never forget, but my eyes were bone dry. Watching Sarah Palin resign early as Governor of Alaska would have left laughing so hard I cried-- Instead I just laughed, and laughed, and laughed-- dry-eyed.

That's the really good news-- Laughing until I cry is one emotion that has not changed despite my Sjorgen's.  And all I can say is thank gawd!  There is nothing better than a great, big, throw my head back, heeheeheehee, snort through my nose (embarrassing), roaring, fall on the floor and laugh hysterically until I can't speak, kind of belly laugh.  Even without the waterworks, all the joy, feelings, emotions, and hysteria are still firmly in place, regardless if tears aren't rolling down my face.  And for that, I know I am truly blessed, despite my chronic medical issues.

My vision is not impacted by my dry eyes, at least not yet, but I get it checked all the time.  I'm not a fan of the prescription eye drops I could take to help the dryness. They burn like a trip to hell so until I must take them, I'll be the driest eyes in the house.

When I was first diagnosed, life expectancies for lupus patients were discussed in "five year" increments with less than favorable odds.  It scared the living daylights out of me.  These days, lupus has come a long way baby-- diagnosis isn't followed by the "get your life in order" speech and medical progress is slowly being made.  

Over the years, lupus has occasionally had its way with me, but all-in-all, I've been lucky and have successfully dodged medical bullets.  I'm holding up pretty darn well. 

When I council other lupus patients, I remind them that a good sense of humor goes a very long way when dealing with the disease.  I share medical "war stories" and what I call my "lupus bloopers" to help ease their concern and to show lupus is usually pretty manageable.  If I can get a big belly laugh of of them, well, all the better I say-- even if tears aren't rolling down my cheeks.

Is laughter your best medicine?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor  -  Joanna


  1. I have never really even heard of this! How interesting!

    I can definitely see the ups and downs with not being able to cry. Like when you see The Hoff, you can't cry with how good looking he is. Definitely a downside.

  2. I didn't know this about Sjogren's syndrome so thanks for the information. A glass half full is a wonderful way to view life, and I think it's people who share your outlook that continue to live their lives with purpose, regardless of their physical limitations.

    Thank you for posting my "Live your life" badge on your side bar and keeping the message out there. :)

  3. I did not know this. Every time I think I have read my favorite post over here, you top yourself! Informative, tender and hilarious. Quite a talent to get that mix. xoxox g.

  4. Oh Joanna, I had no idea! I have a couple of days off coming up and I'm definitely going to send you an email. I hope you don't mind.

    Thanks for your supportive and helpful comments.

    Hugs and love,

  5. Wow. What a huge post and the video clip was perfect.

    I think your ability to write about this aspect of your life is amazing. Thank-you for sharing, and in it's way, putting my own "glass" into perspective.

  6. Umm, you made me cry with this one for you. So, there you go. When you need some tears, all you need do is ask any of us who have grown so fond of you, and we'll be happy to shed some for you.

    I heart you Snarky Sister! Really.a

  7. I found your post very informative. Thanks for telling all of us about it.
    I won't, however, be laughing at my girl Sarah Palin. She will be doing great things! Then I will laugh at those who are so afraid of her.

  8. Hi Joanna. I just found your blog and I am glad I did!

    I had never heard of the syndrome either. Thanks for sharing with us. I can't imagine what it must be like because I am a sap and a half.

    Look forward to getting to read more about you.

  9. I like the fact that you are so matter-of-fact about your suffering! I have a friend with dry-eye syndrome and he had bloodshot eyes which itched and irritated him constantly. I think his was a more environmental effect coz after he moved to another place (coincidentally NYC re: your last post!) he hasn't had this issue. This post was really touching! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Lovely post. May we all be so optimistic.

    I wish I could cry less, especially with so many loved ones dropping like flies over the past few years. I bawl and I bawl. And I feel so silly. But I just can't help it...

  11. I had no idea this was a side effect of lupus. Drs have tried to diagnose me with lupus and since that didn't fit, they tried Reynauds Phenomenon (aka syndrome). That isn't it either. I remain a medical mystery to many "ologists".

    While you did not write this story for sympathy, I do feel for you. I can't imagine not being able to shed a tear and just being able to go through the contortions of crying. I'd never given this a thought till reading this.

    But, I see you have found laughter and you manage to keep your chin up with all that you deal with. So congratulations on being the strong woman that you are and for sharing your experiences.

  12. Joanna, I think a sense of humour and laughter are such important ingredients of life. I didn't know that dry eye syndrome was related to lupus, and thanks for sharing your experience with the disease in such a strong, positive way.

  13. You really made me think on this. I had never thought of not being able to cry before. You really do have a whole different perspective on things because of that problem.

    I am so sorry that you have to deal with your disease. It is never fun to have something that is there all the time to have to work around it's rule over your body.

    You have great perspective though.

  14. This post reminded me of my friend Susie who lost all her hair. ALL OF IT!! She misses her eyelashes the most to keep the dust out of her eyes. She feels the need to guys up front it is a wig - what if they gave her hair a tug?

    I have another friend who lost her sense of taste. She is as skinny as a rail without taste - she has no real desire to eat. Awful.

    Great post!!

  15. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! And for leading me to your blog. Your post cracked me up, and I love your sense of humor. I try to laugh a lot, too, even tho my laugh lines are getting deeper. They build character, right??? At least that's what I'll keep telling myself until I can get Botox every four months! : )

  16. I work in the HR profession and someone at work has Lupus condition. I'm trying to find case filters for the fluorescent lights in the office. Great to read your positive out look on life - you put me to shame!

  17. I had visions of what I would look like crying but without tears. Like you said, it just doesn't feel as productive. But then again, you can give the I Love Lucy wail that she always did. She never shed tears but she had results!!

    Darn, I was going to hire you to cry at my wedding. Bring some eye drops and sprinkle them on the corners of your eyes. After all, it's just for the special effects portion anyway.

    Thank you so much for such a candid post. I loved it.

  18. Well, I didn't know you had Lupus or Sjorgen's. Neither of which are fun, I know but kudos to you for looking at the bright side! I'm a crier - funerals, weddings, movies... I could stand to be a little dry eyed but not the way you got it. You did give me a smile with this post and your great attitude thought!

  19. I didn't know you have lupus. You are strong and positive, and I salute you. xo

  20. I've never really thought about what it would be like to produce tears when you need them. Tears can be cleansing can't they. I'm know you miss them. Thank you for sharing this with us and letting us know how you cope with this condition.
    I was crying too when Mr. Obama became president - for different reasons.


  21. How have I not found your blog before? Hunh! I learned something and was entertained. Love your writing. Life without tears...it's a lot to wrap my pea brain around. We take them for granted. I depend on mine, in good times and in bad. Is laughter my best medicine? You betcha! Especially when it's raucous or hysterical...and I always cry at those times!

  22. Hello Joanna! Thanks for visiting my blog and for your sweet birthday wish for me!!! Hugs from Alaska to YOU!!!

  23. I knew I liked you Joanna, from the first moment I laid eyes on your blog. However, it wasn't until I read your note about Sarah Palin that I really understand why.

    Are we soul mates?

    I died laughing at Kristina P's comment too. Crying over the Hoff!?!

    Your sense of humor is amazing.


  24. Hello, thank you for visiting my blog. I cry too much, tears fall easy for me and it's annoying. However, I am not sure I would like your problem of not shedding any tears. Thanks for sharing, I'll visit again soon!

  25. Having lived behind a veil, nerry a veritable rapids of tears, for a little bit too long, I can say that for one, would welcome less of the sad kind. There are still days when the kind that make you think you might have wet yourself (just a tiny bit) occur, and they are always a welcome "letting go". I don't know if it is scientifically accurate, but apparently the chemical composition of tears that flow through sorrow are completely different in their makeup than those from laughter, but I have always found that an interesting titbit of "useless" information. Thanks for visiting BTW! Glad I can bring a smile!

  26. To answer your last question, YES, yes, yes! I always think laughter is the best way to get over something. Even though I would really miss having a good cry, I would miss a good laugh more.
    I think you are managing your "ailment" wonderfully and I´m sure you´re an inspiration to many with lupus.

  27. it's really interesting that you say you actually feel less of the emotional release of a good cry without the tears...perhaps there's something to literally washing away our sorrows.

    also interesting that the laughter side is unaffected.

    someone should really study that connection between tears and emotional release (they probably have already done so), it seems like a really interesting question.

    i'm sorry that you can't cry, but i think it's really cool that you've written about it and that you've clearly put a lot of thought into it over the years.

  28. Thanks everyone, for your kind words. I've had lupus so long it's like a second skin so I'm pretty used to it. Same with the dry eyes although, like I said, I miss a good cry every now and then.

    I thought long and hard before blogging about lupus because a) I'm not looking for sympathy and b) I don't identify myself with it. But, after I posted the picture of the cute little girls on the right sidebar, I received numerous emails for readers with lupus asking questions. So I thought it was time to "put it out there".

    Anyway, laughter has been good medicine for me. I hope it works for you too. xo

  29. Great post! I think it's wonderful that you have such a positive way of looking at things. I'm a glass half full kind of gal, myself!

    By the way, thank you so much for the link to the info. about Willoughby, Ohio. I never knew that Rod Serling had based that episode on a real town. According to Mapquest, Willoughby is about 4 hours away from my home. I may have to plan a trip there soon!!

  30. How interesting. I didn't know this about Lupus, but then, there's a lot that I don't know about it. I wish you'd posted this about 3 months ago. One of my coworkers quit because she was moving out of state and she had Lupus. She was a young girl, in her 20's. She couldn't tell me much about Lupus and I think it's partly because she didn't know herself. Her family was in another state and she rarely communicated with them, so she didn't have any support. I felt sad for her. I'm sure she's doing well though and if I hear from her, I'll send her over to your blog. I'd like to read more about Lupus, that you're willing to share.

  31. Fascinating! I never heard of this. I wrote a story on lupus a long time ago when I was a 'cub reporter', and this was back when it was much harder to control.

  32. Laughter is definitely my best medicine. But I feel bad for you. Gosh, I cannot imagine crying and not making tears! WOW!

    I suppose there would be some upside like you explained. But what an odd thing I've never heard of something like this. Sorta a mixed blessing, huh?

    Interesting post!

  33. Very enlightening. But it must be terrible not be able to put on a fake cry to get your way. I'm not above that, you know.

  34. Tears do come in handy sometimes, but I like that you just deal with life with acceptance and humor.

    And I live that clip from the Keaton/Nicholson movie, which is one of my favorite movies.

  35. Yep absolutely... laughter is my best medicine and a good hug too.

    You've written this so well.
    It's a great informative read.
    I didn't know about the tears and lupus. I've met quite a few people living with the condition.
    Sounds like you've got a healthy realtionship with it.

    Now here's a funny question...
    what abut men ~ have you noticed that a lot of them don't produce tears when they cry?
    They wail and feel sad, but no tears.
    just a thought.

    Your blogs beautiful and you're a bit of a gem.
    take care.... hope a laugh comes your way today.

    best wishes

    ps... word verification for today bumshi.... now that's a little bit funny

    lots of toilet humour in our house with a 5yr old

  36. That sounds incredibly frustrating, but not when put in the perspective of "holding up pretty darn well" as a whole.

    Yes, absolutely laughter. As much as I challenge myself by sticking to humor on my blog, I think the reward lies in lightening some of life's burdens.

  37. It takes a lot of courage to share these things so openly and honesty and I think a lot of people can be encouraged by your words and wisdom. You walk this road with these medical condtions, yet you make the choice to live your life fully. That is an amazing testimony for people to hear. I really enjoyed reading about this. Thank you!

    I love the "glass half full" philosophy that you have. I too, share that with you in the various struggles in my life and I must say that it makes all the difference in living. The woman I care for every day, shares this too and I cannot imagine what it would be like if we didn't. She suffers horribly and yet she, like you, chooses to take each moment and issue and see it "half full".

    I too, think laughter is great. I love to laugh and find it very healing.

    Great post...thank you for sharing.

  38. Something's Gotta Give. Classic flick. Nice choice and beautiful blog.

  39. Wow, I'd never even heard of Sjogren's syndrome before.

    Thanks for the lovely comment you left on my blog. I'm one your blog's new followers and will definitely stop by again real soon. Maybe some of your optimism will rub off on me!

  40. Very interesting post. I've never heard of this, but I suffer from dry eyes. My body doesn't produce enough tears so I use Restasis eye drops...a miracle for me.

    Laughter really is the best medicine though.


  41. I had not heard of this before but I love how you are able to look at the glass as half full.

  42. Joanna! I had no idea you suffered with Lupus or Sjogren's. {I knew somebody with Sjogren's and it was terrible!} I know Lupus is very serious... so glad you are living well in spite of it.

    Tears are overrated and can be very inconvenient sometimes. Speaking from experience I have never once regretted not crying, but there have been plenty of times I couldn't turn off the waterworks and regretted THAT. Case in point - my boss' office. But anyone who knows me also knows I cry watching commercials, so they usually pay me no nevermind.

    Awesome post as usual. You are such a gifted writer.

  43. Well you definitely have a great perspective on life and a wonderful sense of humor. As a menopausal blabberer, I can tell you replacing your mascara often is not much fun anyway.

    I have only heard of Lupus moreso with all the media about Michael Jackson having it. Glad you are living well and remaining healthy.

    How is that book coming along?

  44. Joanna, your words are a perfect replacement for your tears.

    Like Lilly I am prone to the pre-menopausal blabbering and can trainwreck over everything from a greeting card to a perceived slight at the grocery store checkout...

    Tears or not, if you need a shoulder come on over :)

    Peace - Rene

  45. What a great attitude to have! I need to adopt it and I'm not even dealing with something as horrid as Lupus. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

  46. I didn't know this either. Sometimes some of us take the smallest things for granted. I enjoy your outlook and reading your blog. xoxo

  47. You are a strong woman. I really admire you for being so positive and love the way you write.

  48. Thanks for sharing information about Sjogrens with us. This post hit really close to home for me and I so appreciate the humor you've brought to your situation.

    I know that laughter makes everything a bit lighter and you captured it so well in this post.

    Take care and keep on laughing!

  49. Your post was very thoughtful, very moving and very interesting. Thank you for sharing such a prsonal insight into something I have had limited exposure to.

  50. I love it when bloggers teach me things--I've learned so much from this post! Thanks, Joanna!

  51. I had no idea! Thanks for sharing. I have dry eyes (nothing like yours) and I use restasis (sp?). You are right, it burns but I have finally got used to it. I also have what I call self-induced not being able to cry - it's call anti-depressants. Sometimes I feel really bad because I should be crying, but can't. It's embarassing.

  52. You've educated me today. How interesting.


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