MAPLEWOOD, NJ – “The singing patient,” Carla Ulbrich, read from her book and played songs from her CD as she shared her experiences in the 18 years since she has been diagnosed with lupus.

The author of “How Can You Not Laugh at a Time Like This?” appeared recently at the Words bookshop, 179 Maplewood Ave.

Ulbrich said that the hardest part about writing the book was “deciding whether or not to out myself as having lupus.” She added, “I didn't want to be the girl with the scarlet L, the poster-child for lupus.”

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She described lupus as a chronic disease with a lot of inflammation. “It is not contagious, and usually 90 percent of its patients are women between ages 20 and 40,” she explained. “It’s your immune system attacking your own healthy tissues and can affect your joints and attack your vital organs: brain, kidneys, reproductive system.”

When she was in the hospital, Ulbrich wrote parodies of songs. She said laughter is important. Ulbrich's CD, “Sick Humor, The Lighter Side of Illness,” was recorded five years before she wrote the book.

"Creativity helps; creating songs is what got me through it," she said. The CD includes songs such as “Sitting’ In the Waiting Room,” “Patient 2946065,” “Little Brown Jug,” and “What if Your Butt Was Gone?”

Ulbrich said that being a musician is how she met one of her links into the publishing world. “One of the marketing guys that worked at the publisher, he knew me from the music world,” she said. “He played bass behind me at a gig before, so he knew about my humor songs.”

At Words, Ulbrich talked about her personal experiences and her goals. "I almost died,” she said. “I want to help people and am in school to be a health coach.”

Ulbrich said she tries to live a quality-filled life. She never eats meat “unless I'm cornered into it” and usually avoids processed foods.  In 2007 she created a blog as a creative outlet where she could talk about health.  It is:

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