It was nothing serious, just a pretty high fever and chills, and a couple of days in bed--but honestly folks, I felt like I might have to head out to the ER! However, with a lot of loving care, and pampering, from my husband, I'm feeling almost good as new.
Just so you know, he is never happy that I balk about seeking medical help, but I know that you know--if you've read some of my posts--why I am never too eager to do that, and mostly just tough it out, if I can.
While I'm trying to find something really good to blog about, and while hospitals and medical stuff is on my mind, I thought I'd share the following essay with you. It's actually from a radio broadcast in Indiana. It gave me a smile, or two--I hope it will do the same for you.
Humor in the Hospital
When I tell people that I’m a hospital chaplain, the person often makes a face and says, “Oh, that must be depressing.” But there’s a lot more going on in hospitals than pain and suffering. In fact, if your eyes and ears are open, even the darkest situations can provide a bit of needed comic relief.
I first noticed this phenomenon years ago with a family in the intensive care waiting room. Crises bring out the best or the worst of families, and this one was not functioning well. Shouting, threats, blaming each other for old issues. Even the television was blaring away, demanding my attention. The show? Family Feud.
Sometimes humor sails through the hospital room like a sparrow, easy to miss. I was leading a somber prayer with family in one room when a little boy leaned his head around the bed and stuck his tongue out at me . . . causing me to forget not only the patient’s name, but how the rest of the Lord’s Prayer went. Other times the humor emerges slowly, as with the elderly patient I was having a normal conversation with until I asked where she lived. “Wisconsin,” she said. “Oh,” I replied. “Are you visiting this area? “No, silly,” she said. “I’m right out on Faber’s farm. You know where that is.” “Faber’s farm? I said. “Oh sure you do, its right here,” she said. Then she reached under her sheet and said, “Are you ready?” “Ready for what?” I hesitated. “I’m ready to give you my urine sample now.” I called the nurse.
Marriage relations can be a source of mirth in the hospital. Like the woman from the trailer park explaining why her husband was having chest pains. “Aw, he’s just mad ‘cause I brought home more ferrets,” she said. Then her cell phone rang. “Hello?” she answered. “No. This is Janie. I’m talking to the doctor. What? It’s Janie,” she repeated into the phone. “J.R.’s wife. No, this is his real wife.” Another time, a woman had me paged to her husband’s bedside, stat. When I arrived, she said, “Oh good. He’ll tell you how he wants to die, and I’m going down to get a salad.”
Race relations can have its lighter side, in the hospital. One Caucasian man had foolishly been smoking while using an aerosol can of black spray paint. The can exploded causing minor facial burns. When I pulled back the curtain of the ER double room, I found the white man on a gurney with a very black painted face. The patient on the other gurney? A black teenager. The white man with the black face rolled his eyeballs up at me and said, “My face hurts.” The teenager just held up a hand and said, “I don’t even wanna know.”
Even cancer is no match for a sharp wit in the hospital. My friend Stacy is a breast cancer survivor. She introduced me to a group of attractive women having coffee after their weekly cancer support group and yoga class. “So, what did you think of them?” she asked me later as we walked down the hall. “Great people,” I said. “Yes,” she replied, “and not a boob at that whole table.”
Humor and faith are always essential partners, but especially in the hospital. One wise nurse shared with me that she has just two very short prayers each day. In the morning, she prays, “Whatever.” In the evening her prayer is, “Oh well.”
As I leave the hospital this evening I meet a neighbor coming in. “Oh hi,” she says, “do you work here?” “Yes, I’m a hospital chaplain.” “Ew,” she grimaced. “That must be depressing.”
I just smile. “Whatever.”
Broadcast by Jeff Nixa on December 08, 2006