Henri de Mondeville (1260-1320), a French professor of surgery, came to the brilliant conclusion that smiles and laughter are vital ingredients in helping people heal following surgery. He believed so strongly in this concept that he told jokes to his patients following their medical procedures. (I’ll assume after the anesthesia wore off.)
I’m not a scientist, but I believe in the power of laughter to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. My own experiences tell me that I can go from a pretty lousy mood to a positive one with a few laughs.
I thought about that idea the other day when reading another hilarious post by blogger Bossy Babe (BB). https://bosssybabe.wordpress.com/2021/02/24/game-over/ The condensed version of her post is that BB injured herself while having a pillow fight with her husband. She faced that unenviable position of having to seek medical attention while risking possible humiliation when the doctor would inevitably ask, “So how did you get hurt?”
I immediately pictured the doctor doubled over in hysterics and then wandering out to the waiting room to exclaim to the rest of his waiting patients, “Hey people! I know there’s such a thing as patient confidentiality, but this is just too good not to share.”
I momentarily considered trying to set up a pay-per-view event for the rematch between BB and her hubby. Could it be any worse than some of the stuff that qualifies as “reality TV” these days?
BB’s story made me think of a few past incidents when I hurt myself under (cough cough) “questionable circumstances.” The first such memory comes from 5th grade. I was deceptively quick for a chubby kid and surprised more than one opponent by running faster than him in the fifty-yard hurdles. I competed in the most unlikely duo of events—the hurdles and the shot put.
Like other boys my age, I was forever running through the house like a wild man carrying a football and juking out the recliner, the coffee table, and any other furniture that happened to be in my way. When tiring of that, I’d grab a mini basketball and dribble my way through the house, leaping up to shoot at an imaginary basket. I don’t have any memory of this, but I can only imagine I waited until my parents were out of the house.
On one such occasion, I landed awkwardly and rolled my ankle. I tweaked it so badly I can remember having to crawl to bed. By the next day, the foot had swelled considerably, and Mom took me in for an x-ray. While I escaped a broken ankle, I somehow managed to break my pinky toe. Don’t believe that old nursery rhyme about going wee, wee, wee all the way home. That little piggy wasn’t going anywhere. It’s one thing to hurt yourself in an actual basketball game, but it takes tremendous skill to harm oneself against an imaginary opponent.
In seventh grade, I had my first crush on the irresistible Lee Ann Dodge. I’m sure I was not the only one competing for Lee Ann’s affections, but I had the inside track–not because I was better looking or smarter than the rest of the chumps, but because Lee Ann was my neighbor. I threw all of my sophisticated charms at her (in other words, my Neanderthal moves) to get her attention. As I was riding my bike past her house one day, she was out in her yard doing gymnastics with another girl. I glanced her way to make sure she was eyeballing the cool kid riding down the street with no hands. What girl can resist a sophisticated daredevil? Precisely at that moment, I ran into a parked car and took a header, hitting the back of the vehicle and rolling onto the pavement. Little did I know, I was starting my career as a stunt man. I was bleeding from several cuts, but the only thing that hurt seriously was my pride. The cool factor had gone out the window. I picked myself up and sheepishly rode off in shame into the sunset with a badly bent bike frame. Lee Ann had dodged (pun intended) another bullet.
There were so many times I humiliated myself as an elementary teacher. Some of that comes with the territory when you teach kids, and at other moments I brought this on myself by accident. Before the Christmas break, each of the classes would perform for the Winter Program. It always struck me as comical when only a handful of parents showed up when we had Science Night, Math Night, or some other curriculum area. However, when it came to Halloween or the Winter Program, the parking lot was overflowing with cars.
For years the cafeteria, which doubled as our room for assemblies, was packed as many parents wanted to see their child perform. Space and visibility were a huge issue every year for parents and kids alike.
Years later, we came up with a brilliant solution. Why not have two Winter Programs? The first one was for the other kids in the school (no parents), and the second one was for the parents (no other classes attended). It worked magnificently. On the Friday before the two-week winter break, the parents came to watch their children perform. Each class stayed in their room until called out for their five-minute performance. We got so good at it that each class had a designated time, so parents didn’t have to sit through all of the other presentations just to see their child.
We were in the middle of making ornaments when it was our turn. That wouldn’t usually have been a problem except thirty- seconds before the call, I had a bottle of tempera paint explode (the plastic bottle shattered when I was squeezing it), and a mountain of brown suddenly covered my shirt and pants. It wasn’t some little dab of paint—I looked ridiculous. As they say in show business, the show must go on. I led my class out and introduced their performance while looking like I had just rolled in dog excrement, much to the parents’ amusement. Maybe I should have lost the paint-covered shirt and joined Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley in this classic Saturday Night Live sketch.
Finally, as some of my fellow bloggers and friends can attest to, I’m at the age where mysterious aches and pains happen without rhyme or reason. Who knew that sleeping could be hazardous to one’s health? A few years back, I was out with my family at a nice restaurant when I felt a sneeze coming on. I’m not talking about a little one. This gesundheit was the type that shakes the roof. Not wanting to sneeze all over someone’s steak or seafood, I suppressed the explosive outburst. Suddenly, a spasm of pain seared through my body, practically bringing me to my knees. Two hours later, I was at the ER trying to explain to the doctor how I had hurt myself.
Look what you started, BB. Your confession brought all of this to the surface. I don’t know of any bloggers recovering from surgery, but I hope I provided you with a few chuckles at my expense. If you’ve gotten this far, fellow readers, I invite you to have your own therapy session here for free. We’ve all had those moments where we think, “I’m sure glad nobody saw that.”