A Day in the Life: When Laughter Is the Best Medicine
Laughter brings people together. It can lead to positive emotional changes, especially when you’re having a rough day. It can also boost the immune system, which enables our body to fight infections. Laughter can help us feel relaxed and vibrant and make our spirits soar.
Chronic illness can trigger stress, depression, and anxiety, and one way to relieve this pressure is through joy and laughter. The HelpGuide website notes that, “Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.”
On one recent day, I really needed some laughter in my life.
I was on my way to a routine pulmonary function test and six-minute walk test. While rushing out the door as I always do, I rammed my toe into the wooden sofa. I heard a pop and then fell to the ground in excruciating pain.
Despite the pain, I quickly wrapped my toe and headed out the door, as I didn’t want to be late for my appointment.
The pain worsened during the drive. I told my daughter, who was with me, that I didn’t know if I’d be able to do the six-minute walk test. I would have to speak with the nurse to see if I could reschedule that test.
Walking through the hospital to the clinic where the pulmonary test takes place was a nightmare. The minute my foot touched the ground, I wanted to scream. Not only did I have to carry my portable oxygen, but I also had to figure out how to maneuver my way through the hospital with a possible broken toe.
My daughter started giggling and commented that I looked like a wobbly penguin. I stopped in my tracks and bent over with laughter. The situation was rough, but I could not stop laughing.
My daughter and I laughed our way through the hospital, up the elevators, and into the clinic. I was laughing so hard I felt like I had just finished a gym workout.
I kept giggling during my pulmonary function test. The respiratory therapist (RT) must have thought I was going insane. We had to stop the test several times due to my giggling.
I finally explained to the RT why I was so giggly, and then we both started laughing. Laughing is contagious. It sets off a ripple effect. We both had tears in our eyes, and eventually forgot what we were even laughing about.
I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. My stomach hurt, and even though I had to increase the flow rate on my oxygen concentrator, I felt like my lungs were full of good air. I was free of anxiety and stress.
Traveling to my appointments always stresses me out. I’m anxious about being around so many people, especially during the pandemic. But this appointment was different. I finally felt like my old self again as I laughed with my daughter and the RT. It was a blast!
Eventually, I made an appointment with my primary care physician to have my foot X-rayed, and the injury turned out to be a fifth metatarsal fracture. On a positive note, it wasn’t serious enough to need surgery. It just needed to stay wrapped for three or four weeks to heal.
Since my pulmonary appointment, I have found renewed energy and excitement in each day. I try to find the fun in every venture.
I’ve also realized that laughter is not only limited to people. The other day, my family was watching reruns of the sitcom “Fuller House,” and every time the audience laughed, my blue and gold macaw, Nikky, also laughed. This, in turn, made us laugh, too.
It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine, so I will gamble on that being true and start making laughter a part of my day.
Whether you are a patient or a caregiver, try incorporating laughter into your routine. Find things that make you laugh. It’s not only good for a healthy immune system, but also for a healthy mind and spirit.
What makes you laugh? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.