Laughter And Medicine

A famous comedian once said, “Tragedy plus time equals comedy.” For the most part, I believe that’s true, though there are several tragedies I can think of that no amount of time can render funny. Still, we sometimes find ways to laugh at things or situations we never thought possible.

Since I was a child, I’ve believed it’s important to find humor wherever you can. I learned that from my mother. She didn’t have much of a filter. If she thought something was funny it usually came out of her mouth. She loved to tell stories and, by the number of people around her at parties, it was obvious people loved to hear them. Sometimes you shook your head and laughed, sometimes you just laughed. But you always walked away with a smile on your face.

My mother would have loved my grandson Matthew because they’re cut from the same cloth, as is Matthew’s mother, my oldest daughter. You think it, you say it, you deal with the reactions. So you see, the apple really doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Must be a genetic thing.

For the first few weeks after we found out about Matthew’s lymphoma, we didn’t laugh very much as a family, and if we did we felt guilty. We put on happy faces in front of him but that was all smoke and mirrors. Reality was still sinking in and we were still trying to get our arms around this thing, do what we had to do and understand how to do it. Lots of information to digest, decisions to make and things to do.

But something happened along the way.  Laughter crept in. Slowly at first, and then a little more. The thing about laughter is that it makes you feel normal again, at a time when nothing felt close to normal. It heals in ways medicine can’t and it becomes infectious. The more you allow laughter into your life, the more life you seem to have. It’s part of the process.

Last week Matthew was in the hospital for four days. Following his treatments, his white blood cell count dropped to nothing, he developed sores in his mouth, an infection that he needed antibiotics for and a transfusion. These are all side effects to the chemo. For a few days he looked terrible. His cheeks were swollen from the sores, he couldn’t eat or get out of bed, his hair was falling out quickly and he barely smiled. But as his white blood cell count began to rise, his sores began improving, the transfusion kicked in and his smile slowly came back.

On his last day in the hospital before they released him, we were sitting around talking to him and realized he looked like Marlon Brando in The Godfather, with his puffy cheeks. So we took out our cell phones, and asked him to repeat a few lines from the movie. As you might expect, he was only too happy to oblige. Still a bit out of it, with some sores in his mouth and his cheeks puffed up, we video taped him say, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” He not only repeated the line, he did it with attitude. Of course we didn’t stop there. We recorded other lines, including the famous, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli’s.” He laughed as he watched them back and we laughed as we watched him watch it. I still view those videos every day and laugh out loud when I do.

This past week, his hair was falling out quickly so he wanted to get it buzzed because it was annoying him. Of course we told him girls think guys with bald heads are sexy and I think that intrigued him, even though he shook his head and covered his eyes at that statement. We did a face time with him a day or two later and told him the haircut looked good. Then I asked him if they gave him a free comb with the cut, in case he needed to fix his hair when he went out. He laughed and shook his head.

And we laughed with him.

 

 

 

79 thoughts on “Laughter And Medicine

  1. A.PROMPTreply

    I’m so glad to hear Matthew and the rest of the family is/are re-finding that laughter, George. I think it’s more important than any of us realize and certainly even now you’re all making new memories….I’m glad they’ll be memories with laughter in the midst of so much turmoil and that this chapter you’re all helping Matthew write right now will be written with tones of comedy and not tragedy….A very good roadway to the future…

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you. Sometimes it’s hard to get there but when you do you find out how helpful it is and that the memories we make, as you mentioned, are those that include laughter.

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  2. Carol Ferenc

    Never lose your sense of humor. Such an important lesson and yet at times so hard to remember. It sounds like it worked beautifully for Matthew and your family.

    Liked by 2 people

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  3. davidprosser

    Laughter has such a feel good factor it does actually help fight illness, or maybe it creates the mood in you to fight it. If we project our worries on a patient especially a young one they may feel they’re going to die and can be obstructive where medicines are concerned. Much better to have the patient smile or laugh and know they’re going to get well.
    Your crack about the comb was great. I hope Matthew makes great progress. Cancer owes me more than one.
    Hugs

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you, David. You’re right, laughter does create a positive mood in you to help fight the battle. Good point. Thank you fir your continued best wishes. Much appreciated.

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  4. Carrie Rubin

    So touching to read. You’re right–laughter can get us through things when nothing else can. Laughter’s been shown to reduce blood pressure, and it also releases feel-good endorphins in our brain, things that may help us heal. So good for you for finding ways to make Matthew laugh and smile. I’m sure it’s a relief to him as well.

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  5. DailyMusings

    Get those endorphins flowing for that immune system to get a boost! Laughter does bring back some normalcy and helps to diffuse the tension of such trying situations. I am glad you are able to laugh through some of this. My heart goes out to you and Matthew and your family-

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  6. uju

    “The thing about laughter is that it makes you feel normal again, at a time when nothing felt close to normal. It heals in ways medicine can’t and it becomes infectious. The more you allow laughter into your life, the more life you seem to have. It’s part of the process.”

    Wise words 🙂

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  7. blondieaka

    Matthews a lucky boy to be surrounded by all that love and laughter and it will help him a great deal when the going gets tough. Keep laughing and making memories and when he is all grown up and the bad memories are in a box somewhere he will remember all of this and that he laughed and giggled his way better. Hugs and prayers 🙂

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  8. Jaye

    George,
    Matthew is lucky to have a grandfather like you to help him through this. You’re probably the best medicine! Glad he is feeling better.
    I miss your humor! You always had a way of making our family lighten up and feel better during difficult times.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you for saying that, Jaye. Humor is a great equalizer, isn’t it. It’s something we can all relate to and has a way of lifting our spirits during difficult times. You would enjoy Matthew. He may make you cringe at times but he’ll always make you laugh…:) As you know, that’s an easy trade off for me…:)

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  9. Jodi

    What an inspiration guy! Matthew AND you, George! Keep Smiling, Keep Shining, Keep Laughing – let him know he can always count on you. There’s a song in there somewhere! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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  10. Sammy D.

    This is very touching, George. I know this must be very scary for Matthew, but he will take cues from you. The laughter now will ease his way, but more importantly, you are giving him a wonderful coping skill that he will utilize and thank you for the rest of his life.

    My prayers are with you all.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Sammy. You’re right about Matthew taking his cuss from us, as most children do in these situations. I appreciate your words of encouragement and, of course, your prayers and best wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Paul. Of you’ve been there you understand and based on what I know about you, I’m sure humor was part of how you coped during that time…:)

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  11. Francesca Smith

    Such trying times indeed. It takes great courage to laugh and smile in the face of all that is against you. A very admirable little boy and family you have.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Smtillotson

    This was an amazing post, George. IMHO your best writing to date. Not to mention a beautiful memory. God bless.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  13. Lori

    Wow. My heart aches for what your family is going through. I’m so glad to read you are all keeping your sense of humor through it all. One specific line jumped out at me, when you said laughter makes you feel normal again. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it’s so true. Every time I’ve had to heal from something like a surgery or an injury, I’ve put on my favorite comedies during recovery. I truly believe laughing helped the healing process go a little faster and smoother. May laughter continue for all of you, and may Matthew have a full recovery. Blessings to you.

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Lori. You’re right…comedy is a great healer and makes us feel better, both physically and emotionally. Watching comedies is a great idea and we’ve used that with Matthew several times. Thank you so much for your thoughts and blessings. It’s very much appreciated.

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  14. Ann Coleman

    Oh George, what Matthew is going through just breaks my heart! But I also loved this post, because it shows the strength and resilience in loving families, and how much you all love and support your grandson throughout this whole ordeal. And you are so right….you have to find a way to laugh together. It’s an excellent way to cope and to stay connected to each other and to remember that there are still things to laugh about, even in the hardest situations. What a beautiful post….

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Ann. You’re right, it’s important for us to find laughter even when it may not be right in front of you. As you said, it helps us to cope and creates memories that are not only related toure than what he’s going through.

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  15. Hugh's Views and News

    Such a lovely positive post from a sad situation George, but lovely to hear that laughter is helping Matthew and the whole family. Laughter is so infectious, as is a smile, and it really does make the world go around. Please give Matthew a smile from me 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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  16. Tejaswi

    As always, I am feeling a little ghoulish clicking “Like” on this post and wondering what it means to the people who wrote it. I hope you understand. I am pretty new to this (what a bizarre thing.. I got into computers when no one even knew what it was.. and here I am being a dinosaur in a world I first ventured into when no one writing now on blogs was even aware or born haha).

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  17. shinepositivepower

    I’m glad that despite this hard situation you and Matthew are still able to laugh. Laughter really is essential for us to get through difficult days of our lives. My prayer goes to you and your lovable grandson Matthew. Having you and your whole family to support him will definitely keep him strong and fighting.

    Liked by 1 person

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      1. shinepositivepower

        It’s really hard when someone you love especially a child is sick. I feel overwhelmed and anxious when my boy is sick but I always tried to be strong and keep a positive mind. I hope Matthew will get well soon. Keep the faith!

        Liked by 1 person

  18. vanbytheriver

    How wonderful it is to realize that the very one who needs to be cheered up is the same one who brings us to a place of comfort and laughter. Bless him for his ability to laugh in the face of adversity, and ease some of the tension of a loving family. 💕

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  19. Flop til you drop "FTYD"

    I am sorry to read about your grandson and I pray he recovers and quickly! Tell him that shaved heads are the THING. My 11 year old is always asking for us to remove ALL his hair.

    I think the first person to coin the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine,” might have been going through a big trial of their own. Here’s why I say that:

    In my early childhood, my mom was a single parent. Although we had our health, we were struggling to “survive,” financially. Food and clothing were most on our mind and paying rent, the bills. I used to sleep walk and find myself at the refrigerator (looking inside at nothing) or front door ensuring it was locked. As a child, I worried about adult things. The basic of needs.

    My mom always told me we were fortunate. We had love and a roof over our head. One day, I was really frustrated/sad over something, it could have been that life just sucked badly. And I remember yelling that it couldn’t get much worse than this and to not tell me about the homeless person…and make me feel guilty over complaining about our situation. I wanted to be ANGRY. I asked my mom why she didn’t cry more. Because our quality of life sucked.

    She told me, that some situations just couldn’t be changed… you should continue to work hard and try to improve the situation, but sometimes events just happen. Crying about it, just makes you sadder and more bitter and doesn’t change a thing. The issue remains. You have to develop a sense of humor. Otherwise, we’d be crying through life. So, she told her 6 year old daughter, that the decision was hers. Face life crying or laughing.

    Although laughing doesn’t change the situation either, it sure makes it easier to move through it, even a 6 year old can see that logic. It sounds like Matthew figured that out, as well. So your post, touched me greatly. It’s a terrible and life-altering situation your family is facing, it’s okay to be sad and cry. I’m glad you’re family is choosing to laugh. If one of my children were to become ill, after we adapted to the situation, I would hope we would choose laughter.

    I’m keeping your family in my thoughts. Big hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you so much. Your Mom sounded like a very wise and positive woman. You’re right, laughter doesn’t change the situation but it does help us cope and I believe it helps in fighting whatever someone may be going through. We’ll continue to laugh and pray that one day soon healing will follow. Thank you again for your story and thoughts…:)

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  20. Holly'sMom

    Laughter truly IS the best medicine. The best thing about laughter is, no matter who you are, where you are, or what you are doing, laughter brings us all together. Gives us an insight into those around us we may never have had before. It creates a bond even with a total stranger, so I can only imagine it develops into an even stronger bond among your family.

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  21. Julia Lund

    I’m not good at remembering the details of statistics, but I remember gasping once at the difference between the number of times a day an adult laughs compared to a child. Being ill shouldn’t be the thing that stops Matthew’s laughter and it’s wonderful to read that, even amongst all the adult company, all the anxiety, laughter is doing his, and your, heart good. I pray your family continues to be strengthened and drawn closer, and that laughter scatters health and peace and light into the dark places.

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