The pain was no laughing matter – not like hitting your
“funny bone” or tripping over some invisible thing on the sidewalk. Not even
like the old slipping-on-a-banana-peel routine. This was full-on
get-me-to-the-ER-on-time pain. As a Laughter Wellness Instructor I felt
betrayed by the “laughter is the best medicine” philosophy. What was so funny
|Hospital Feet ©2018 Noreen Braman|
As I arrived at the hospital, I suddenly remember the same
trip, almost exactly one year earlier. The day I stepped down the one step in
front of my house, turned my foot in a nauseous un-natural way, breaking my 5th
metatarsal. That was crawl-into-the-house-before-I-faint-or-vomit pain. I realized
that T.S. Eliot had it right, April is the cruelest month. You would think my
birth month would treat me better. It wasn’t a belly laugh moment, but it made
me smile. And we all know what smiling does – tells the brain to release some
I kept that smile on my face, not sure if it was more like a
grimace. I presented that face to the
hospital receptionist. “How are you?” she asked. “I’ve been better,” I replied.
She smiled in return. Bingo! Mirror neurons firing off more endorphins.
The triage nurse and I chuckled about the name of my primary
doctor’s practice group, still named after their town of origination. They had
since moved from there, and the nurse laughed because he had been wondering how
good those doctors are that I would travel so far. Endorphins!
More laughter on the way to the x-ray when the person
pushing my gurney through an equipment-clogged hallway took out an entire
computer workstation, sending pieces of the workstation and papers flying. “Oh, that is something I would so do!” I said.
Laughter for her, laughter for me.
The pain was still there, a hot sword in my back, however,
the humor, laughter and smiling, that I was purposely keeping my brain busy with,
was distracting me. Every so often it would viciously grab my attention, but
the smiling and laughing was giving me some respite. Not a cure, but surely a
part of the whole treatment picture.
|Hospital Still Life ©2018 Noreen Braman|
MRIs are not technically painful, but can be uncomfortable
and anxiety inducing. I’ve developed my own form of meditation to calm myself
and keep from moving. Using a laughter yoga chant, I take a deep breath and
begin to recite “Ho Ho Ha Ha” in my mind. Memories of groups I have lead in
this dancing chant exercise fill my mind and I can actually feel the joyful,
creative movement. If headphones with music are available, I request something
lively, and keep my chant in time to the music. If not, I try to keep time with
the percussive jazz sounds of the MRI machine. Beeps, buzzes, thumps and bangs.
I imagine Buddy Rich or the Blue Man Group drumming on the outside of the MRI
tube, and it takes some of the scariness out of the cacophony.
One of the technicians remembered Laughter Yoga from her
childhood in India when I mentioned to them how I was distracting myself in the
tube. She recalled going to the park and “just laughing and laughing.” Great
memory for her, smiles all around, and more endorphins for me.
Today I am home resting, and my pain level has been greatly
reduced. As I settled myself into the couch this morning, with my computer,
cell phone, coffee and cable television, I heard something familiar. On a
courtroom show called “Hot Bench,” one of the judges was complimenting a
plaintiff on her smiling, laughter and positivity, even in the face of a losing
case. “Just remember,” the judge said, “Laughter is the best medicine, so keep
on doing that.” Thanks for the reminder,
Judge DiMango; I’ll do my best.
|Hospital Window View ©2018 Noreen Braman|