Sunday, May 6, 2018

Broken Foot Laughter! For World Laughter Day!

Here is Last year's video—when I couldn't get out for World Laughter Day—reposted for those of you who can't get to a local celebration. Laughter is the universal language that can enhance peace, personal well being and physical health.

Join me on Friday, May 11, 2018 at Paint the Mall Purple - A Recovery & Mental Health Awareness Event at Freehold Mall in Freehold, New Jersey. I'll be speaking about Laughter Wellness at 5:30 PM. Let's laugh together for the health of it!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

An Adventure at the Ho-Ho-Hospital

Hospital Feet ©2018 Noreen Braman
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 about this?

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 feel-good endorphins.

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