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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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Comments

  • mama_m
    5 years ago

    Dear Donna and Lynn: Thank you so very much for sharing this story. I didn’t realize until several years ago how lucky I was to had grown up around family members that were and are always laughing. We “pick” at each other about all kinds of things but NEVER in a hurtful way. It was because of that environment that what could have been embarrassing and stressful situations (even with a spouse who watched you give birth)I used my laughter and the ability to poke fun at myself to help my spouse see things differently and to keep the truly stressful things far away.
    I try to find something cheek hurting funny no less than once a day so that at least while I am laughing there is no stress.

  • Donna Steigleder moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story. I truly believe like you that there is healing power in laughter. Plus there is nothing that relieves stress as well as a good belly laugh!!

  • Lisa Green
    5 years ago

    3 weeks ago i was using a glue gun with shaky hands and dropped a blob of hot glue on my thigh….tearing off a chunk of skin. the next day i feel landing flat on my back on hardwood. that afternoon I bent over to get something and my back went out. i came home in agony and my partner offered to rub my hip. i laid on my stomach but realized i couldn’t because my skin was missing. i then laid on my side but couldn’t due to the huge bruise i received from the fall. tried to lay on my back but couldn’t because my hip was out and so painful. then my beloved partner said….”it is 7pm and time for your shot.” it just was too pathetically sad not to find it hysterically funny.

  • Donna Steigleder moderator author
    5 years ago

    God Bless You! I know exactly what you’re saying. Sometimes it’s just so ridiculous it has to be funny.

  • Robert
    5 years ago

    When I was first diagnose, back in 12/2002, I had a case manager that asked if I would be willing to speak to a man she knew who had been diagnosed, at that time, for over 10 years. I said I’d be glad to hear from someone who might know what living with this disease would be like. So, the man called me, while I was still in the hospital.

    The first thing he asked me was “So, have you been falling a lot?”, I aggressively exclaimed “No, why?” He went on to tell me that, soon I would be. And, that the first thing I needed to remember was that “Falling is funny”. It’s what all of the first made the silent movies so popular.

    He went on to say: “First, do a quick head to toe assessment, make sure you’re not hurt. Nothings broken, nothings bleeding. If you pass that quick self exam, force yourself, I mean force yourself to laugh”… I’ve followed that advice for almost 12 years. The other item that stood out in your story was the bit about being Lynn being stuck between the commode and tub. I had a similar situation happen with a woman I was dating who had been dealing with MS since she was 21. It was still less than a year after my diagnosis. She fell off the toilet & got stuck between the toilet and the wall. She cried out for help. When I entered the bathroom and initially tried to help, which I couldn’t, I lacked the balance & upper body strength to do so. I began to fret and cry. She started laughing. She said “Do you know how many time this has happened since I became wheel chair bound? A lot. We just need to be patient and work together slowly and we’ll get me out of here, eventually”. She was and is an INCREDIBLY STRONG & BRAVE WOMAN.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ll be heading to the library to find his book.

    -Robert

  • Donna Steigleder moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing Robert. I like the advice that man gave you about forcing yourself to laugh. It really does help “slow down” the panic feeling. After all, it can’t be so bad, if you’re laughing, right?

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