Roy Mundheim | May 29th, 2017
Due to overwhelming demand, here is a second blog post on humour in healthcare. Ok, maybe it’s not ‘overwhelming demand’ but more like a couple people asked me to write this. Well, maybe not a couple people…one person asked me to write this, but they did ask more than once.
With our recent elections and political debating, it can sometimes be easy to focus on the negative or what’s wrong instead of what’s right. We’re in a health crisis with an increasing aging population and an ongoing deadly street drug war that seems to be only worsening. What’s there to smile about?
Focus on the Good
Despite the challenges, there are a lot of positives. We just need to look for them. People are rallying behind safe care for our elderly. Creative and cost effective ways to care for our aging population are being discussed, debated, and implemented by dedicated people every day. Passionate, concerned citizens and leaders are working hard on the front lines to bring an end to the tragedy on our streets as various forms of street drugs continue to be a public health menace. Everywhere we look, we can see people and organizations committed to a greater cause and looking to improve the lives of those around them.
Sometimes when things are bad, our coping mechanisms take over. One such coping mechanism is laughter. While some of you may be too young to remember M*A*S*H (a 1980’s television show set during the Korean war), it embraced the power of laughter and jokes as a way of dealing with the day to day realities of war. It also embraced alcohol (an unhealthy coping mechanism), which is a post for another time. Finding the funny side of difficult situations can be empowering and liberating. A funny story or a shared pun can bring a bit of brightness into a tough situation and remind us to focus on the good.
Attempting to Tell Funny Stories
So if I’m going to write about laughter and humour, I should try to provide some…..the key word is “try”. Without getting into the pros and cons of political correctness from the first post I wrote, which did bring forward many different responses from people, it is important to note that it is not my intention to offend but prepare to be offended anyway. Please send your complaints via telegram or carrier pigeon and I will respond promptly.
I told my wife recently that I wrote a joke
She asked, “Is it bad?”
I replied, “I don’t write bad jokes!”
And we laughed….and laughed.
A 22 year-old patient
A 22 year old patient came in to see me with a small cut on his finger. He had been on vacation in Asia for the past couple of months. His cut required no stitches. I asked him what happened before putting a band-aid on his finger and sending him on his way.
He said, “We were all at the beach as usual enjoying drinks in the sun… looking at birds and palm trees. I got my finger caught in the cooler door as I was getting a beer and cut myself.
“That’s a bit embarrassing,” I said.
“It’s not embarrassing. I was wounded in ‘Nam!!”
My wife’s grandparents
This story comes from a conversation I had with my wife’s grandparents, Al and Jean. They’re both in their 90s living independently. This year, they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. It’s always fun visiting with them. On one visit last year they began asking some interesting questions. I had to think on my feet.
Al: “Roy, you’re a nurse. You could take out an appendix, right?”
Me: “No. I can’t do that. I have a licence and there are regulations which guide what I can do.”
Jean: “Yes but you have the knowledge and skill that if you were in a situation where you had to and/or there weren’t rules against it, you could do it?
*Now I had to really think. In an emergency, could I do take out an appendix? If it was the zombie apocalypse and there was no one else who could do it, would I?
Me: “Yeah, I could take out an appendix….the person wouldn’t make it but I’d get the appendix out.”
*Everyone laughed a little but I wasn’t done.
Me: “I’d dig around in there, reach in, and pull it out raising it way above my head in triumph yelling ‘I got it. I GOT IT!!’…Hey, why is this appendix beating?”
Bonus add-on (that few people will get unless they’re Indiana Jones’ fans)
Me: “And then I’d start chanting, ‘kalimaa…. Kalimaa…. KALIMAAA!’ ”