Coping through humor

By Jared Shuff / Campus Editor

Have any of you ever seen that gif of Elmo raising his fists in the air while the fiery depths of hell surround his fuzzy red body? That is approximately how the inside of my brain has felt for the past few weeks.

For me, this COVID-19 pandemic has been a never-ending nightmare. As someone with a compromised immune system, every day is filled with constant fear and anxiety.

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease the summer before my freshman year of high school. Basically, my immune system is constantly trying to kill me from the inside, specifically my intestines. 

I lost 40 pounds in two weeks because of how sick I was, and by the time I was released from the hospital, everyone I knew said I looked like a ghost. Not even a cool ghost, but rather the ghost of a 15-year-old clarinet player with bad acne.

Before I was released, the doctors were pretty much left with two options: surgery to remove part of my intestines or an immunosuppressant infusion. I was still rather fond of my intestines at that point, so you can probably guess what my first choice was. 

Within a day of that first infusion, I was already recovering at an insane speed. It was like my intestines snorted a line of coke and told my immune system to “step the f— up, Kyle.”

The thing with this infusion is that I have to get it every seven weeks. The infusion takes approximately three hours, and I’ve been getting it for nearly six years. I’m not even gonna try and do the math on how many hours I’ve spent with a needle in my arm. You know, for my infusion.

So, as someone that pretty much has to put my immune system in timeout for beating up my organs, you can imagine how the thought of a virus that is deadly for people with compromised immune systems is not what the kids these days call “Gucci.”

If any of you have seen my Twitter (otherwise known as my personal journal for the world to see), you wouldn’t really be able to tell just how freaked out I am on a daily basis. Even reading this column you would think I don’t take myself or my disease too seriously.

The thing is, I like to cope using this fun little thing called self-deprecating humor. It’s so much easier to make fun of yourself and the situation you’re in rather than take the time to cope in a healthy manner. It’s like choosing to down a bottle of vodka and call your ex when you could be doing a juice cleanse and creating stable relationships. Where’s the fun in that?

I would like to note that because of my Crohn’s, I do not have the option to drink away my anxiety since it could possibly hospitalize me. As a minor, I would never do such a thing anyway, and I can imagine that none of you law-abiding students would either.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I’m scared. I’m scared of the uncertainty of my future and for the well-being of my already damaged health. It doesn’t ease my fear when I see people my age disregarding all of the safety precautions because they couldn’t miss their Spring Break in South Padre.

I’m currently locked in my house, only going out for the occasional walk around the block when the walls start talking to me.

I’m not saying you need to hunker down with a throne of toilet paper in your basement like some weird Game of Thrones/Walking Dead crossover episode. All I’m saying is, for the sake of people like me, at least make an effort to stop the spread.

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