Sometimes, Ya Just Have Ta Laugh...

People have different ways of relieving stress and frustration and as Lynn’s condition progressed from independence to total dependency, I think we have used them all.  Most provide some relief but some work better than others.  For us, the method that works the best is laughter.

Now when I was a kid, I was told that it was not nice to laugh at someone else’s misfortune so when someone would fall or something embarrassing would happen to them, I would feel sympathetic rather than laugh.  For myself, I hated to have any attention called to me so if I had a publicly embarrassing moment I would withdraw and hide hoping no one would notice.  However, Lynn has never taken himself too seriously.  He could make a public faux pas and it would just roll off his back as he laughed about it--an ability that has come in very handy over the years.

I remember the first time I laughed at his misfortune I felt guilty.  Now, however, I try to find the humor in difficult situations and it makes them a lot easier to handle. I can remember a time when he fell in the bathroom after getting out of the shower-butt naked.  He landed between the shower stall and the commode.  He was in the small bathroom; just big enough to put in a shower, commode and sink and not much else.  Here is my 6’husband sprawled out in a rather awkward position at the end of the day when he had no energy left to help himself up.  He could have gotten seriously hurt!  I immediately ran to check on him when I heard him fall and went to work shifting body parts one way and then another trying to gain leverage somewhere so that I could get underneath him to maybe be able to get part of him on the toilet so maybe I could push something else underneath to gain more height.  We worked and we worked and we worked until finally, in exhaustion, I started to laugh.  Looking at him with my hands on my hips, I say, “It’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into Ollie.”  Then we started talking about “what if” someone saw what we were doing and their reaction.  It just got funnier and funnier as we described what they might “see” or think.  Finally, the tension was released; we had a new idea come from the absurd suggestions we were making; and I finally got him off the floor and onto the toilet where I could move him to the rollator he was using then.

There was another time we laugh about often where “Murray’s Law” was working overtime.  Lynn’s book, Rising Tide, had recently been released and we had been invited to appear on a local public television program to talk about why he took up writing and how we coped with his changing needs associated with having MS.  It was a great opportunity and we were both excited.  Well, it was raining. This was before we had the conversion van and even before he was using a wheelchair (though he used the seat on his rollator like one).  I rolled him out to my Impala, lifted him into the car, in the rain, and off we went more than a little damp for our television appearance.  The studio was an hour away. We left a little early because I was unfamiliar with the area where it was located.  We drove back and forth and back and forth trying to find it (we had no GPS) making us very nervous that we were going to be late.  We finally found it and unloaded, this time in a drizzle.  They rushed us back to the studio where we would be interviewed so we could have a brief rehearsal before the taping.

Wouldn’t you know it; the stage was about two feet off the ground—no ramp.  Being a determined and accommodating caregiver, I asked for the help of the crew to support him while I got on my hands and knees to lift up his leg so I could boost him up.  While I lifted from below, they were to pull from above.  As I did, his new pants (which he had never worn before), fell to the floor.  He was going “commando” at the time so that it would be easier to go to the bathroom if needed while we were out.  Now imagine this…here I am on the floor, damp from the rain, running late for the interview, with my husband’s pants lying in front of me and him standing there being held up by two strangers with everything hanging out just before he was to be interviewed on television by a female personality. I quickly jerked the pants up, everyone laughed nervously, and we proceeded to the stage.  We got settled; the interview actually went very well; and off we went passing the next guests as we scurried out.

As we left, I was pushing Lynn in his rollator down a long hall to the exit following behind someone as I had my head down and steadily pushed (Lynn is a little heavy) forward attempting to keep up with this young lady who seemed to be in a hurry.  As I pushed, barely able to see where I was going; I came to a bump under the carpet I did not see. The rollator immediately stopped, Lynn and I went forward, and his head slammed to the ground as I toppled on to him.  He said it was the first time he had actually seen stars from hitting his head (the floor underneath was apparently concrete).  Somehow, I managed to pick him up off the floor, get him reseated, and loaded into our car.  Once, we were settled and the lady from the studio was back inside, I looked over at Lynn and said, “Bet, they’ll never forget us!”  We started to snicker, then laugh, and then were nearly hysterical with the type of relief laughter that just cleanse the soul.   Sometimes, ya just have ta laugh….

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