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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Laughter, The Best Medicine

“She is hilarious!”  I heard my co-worker say.  I glanced at him and at the other three co-workers, noticing their playful grins.  While waiting for a meeting to start, I was distracted reading a document and missed their conversation. 

“Who are you talking about?”  I asked, now intrigued. 

“Ms. Clarkson.”  My coworker said.  “She comes up with jokes, and witty remarks that makes everyone laugh.” 

Ms. Clarkson was a new resident in the nursing home.  She came to us for rehabilitation and her stay was expected to be about a couple of weeks.  I had met her during her admission.  She was kind, but there was no humor in her demeanor that day. 

Normally the first day of admission is not a fun day.  There’s stress and uncertainty for the new resident.  They often are experiencing pain, discomfort, or exhaustion from the health issues they are going through.  Even if they come for a short stay, it seems that sometimes the terrifying thought of getting “stuck” in a nursing home crosses their minds. 

As it turned out, when Ms. Clarkson started to feel more comfortable with the staff, she shared her jokes, and even expressed her humorous sarcasm that often got a laugh out of her caregivers.

Ms. Clarkson was a widow, trying to continue living independently.  Her  husband had passed away several years ago, and they never had children.  In her early eighties, this stage of her life was not an easy challenge for her to face alone.  But she was not ready to give up. 

I looked forward to my visits with Ms. Clarkson once she was more settled.  Our conversations became enjoyable, full of laughter.  Her humor was unique.  When she rested, she liked to watch TV, and to drink coffee.  She knew how to balance her day.

One day, I was on the mission of getting her dentures fixed.  As I came back from the dentist office, I rushed to find Ms. Clarkson to return her dentures so she could eat comfortably that evening.  I found her in the rehab gym, eagerly doing her PT exercises. 

I raised my hand, showing her a plastic cup containing her dentures. 

‘They are fixed!” I said, with excitement. 

She seemed curious to see the dental piece.  I gave it to her, she scrutinized it, and her lips curved into a smile of satisfaction. 

“They did a good job,” she exclaimed.  “They even marked it with my name...” 

I thought it was a great idea as dentures can get easily misplaced in hospitals or nursing homes.  But Ms. Clarkson offered a different rationale.  She popped the dentures into her mouth and flashed a mischievous grin, adding:

“... I guess in case I ever get murdered!” 

Everybody burst out laughing.  I had no doubt humor and laughter played a significant part in her health recovery, and her successful return to her home.

Photo source: Inspired Wednesdays

"Laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain." (Psychology Today)

“Laughter is the spark of the soul.”

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” ~ Mark Twain