More MS news articles for June 2001

Laughter, the Best Medicine

Tuesday, June 26, 2001; Page HE05

THE CHANGEMAKER: Frank W. Uhlmann, Washington

THE CHANGE: Avoid magical "cures" and live healthfully with your circumstances

THE TRICK: Welcome humor back into your life

THE STORY: Multiple sclerosis has been part of my life for more than 40 years. I have tried various "cures," drugs, diets and fads, which resulted in disappointments.

After three hospitalizations, I read "Anatomy of an Illness" by Norman Cousins. I took responsibility for my illness -- maintaining my weight at 132 pounds and avoiding fatigue by taking short naps. I stopped smoking a pipe and started taking vitamins on a daily basis.

I also rediscovered humor -- something that had been in remission during my lengthy battle with MS. Laughter, I discovered, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and benefits the immune system. When you smile and laugh, you are fun to be with and you have fewer problems.

For the past six years, I have visited a Silver Spring school to talk about laughter and positive self-image. I tell fifth-graders there that even though I need a wheelchair for mobility, I remain productive and independent and still find a lot to laugh about.

I am employed part-time as a psychologist; MS is still with me, and next January I will be 70 years young -- and still laughing.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company