Thursday, July 15, 2010
Just keep on laughing
Laughter is indeed the best medicine.
My most recent example of the “laughter medicine” came Sunday, when my family visited Pam’s mom in the hospital at Nashville.
Gran, who turned 81 years old in April and has experienced several health problems in recent years, had been through a difficult few days. The news was not good Friday and Saturday from Pam’s brother and two sisters who live nearby in Tennessee and do an excellent job of helping take care of Gran.
We decided to get up early Sunday, drive to Nashville, visit Gran and return late Sunday. When we left Holly Springs about 6 a.m., we really did not know what to expect when we got to Centennial Medical Center about 10 a.m.
Gran had not recognized some of her immediate family members the day before, and the medical personnel had to put “gloves” on her so she would not pull the tubes attached to her.
She had told her daughter Jan – “You’re not Jan.”
But thanks to progress overnight, Gran was a different Gran when we walked into her room. Daughter-in-law Vicki went around the room pointing out all who had come for a visit – Pam, Barry, Andy, Emma, Pat and Katie.
Gran smiled and said, “I know who they are.”
We were allowed to go in together – later joined by other family members, Bill, Susan, Rachel and Jan.
I often played the role of jokester and Gran responded with big laughs – like when I walked up to the bed and asked her if she was ready to box since she had those big mittens on her hands. And later, when she told the nurse she was hungry, and I said, “Bring her a Big Mac.” She was actually being fed via a tube, but, hopefully, that was going to change for the better early this week.
Later I had gone down to the food court and Gran had become tired and restless. She was wanting those big mittens off, but those in the room would not let her (best for her at the time).
She said, “Go get Barry. He will help me.”
Gran, with lots of family surrounding her and all sharing smiles and laughs, was constantly trying to talk and regularly laughing. Everyone remarked about the drastic improvement.
It was loud. The ladies nearby at the nurses’ station never said a word. They, too, knew Gran was enjoying herself and improving. Before we left, the nurses had allowed her to remove the mittens.
According to an article by Hara Estroff Marano in “Psychology Today,” there’s lots of evidence that laughter does lots of good things for us. It reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort. It reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and nondiabetics alike. It improves your job performance. It really is the glue of good marriages.
Some researchers believe the major function of laughter is to bring people together. And all the health benefits of laughter may simply result from the social support that laughter stimulates.
Now comes hard new evidence that laughter helps your blood vessels function better. It acts on the inner lining of blood vessels, called the endothelium, causing vessels to relax and expand, increasing blood flow. In other words, it’s good for your heart and brain, two organs that require the steady flow of oxygen carried in the blood.
So, keep laughing.
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