Lessons in Humor and Humility

In Memory of Sherri Landsman

Many years ago, I saw a movie that was more about a style of medical treatment than the treatment of a specific injury. When I recently saw clips of the movie, I was flooded by memories of my experience in the hospital and the experience of a friend who I last saw in the hospital more than 20 years ago.

In the first clip, Patch Adams, played by Robin Williams, helps patients in a hospital smile and laugh even though the patients had life-threatening medical conditions that required scary and sometimes painful treatment. The clip reminded me of my friend because she was able to smile even though her medical condition was difficult to treat and the solution, if one existed, was well beyond her control.

Years later, when I was at the hospital recovering from brain surgery, I realized how lonely a stay at the hospital could be and I wished I had spent more quality time with my friend when she was in the hospital. Unfortunately, my friend passed away in December of 1990. I no longer have the chance to say “I’m sorry for spending so little time with you at the hospital” or “thank you for teaching me how to enjoy life after brain injury.” You do not need an excuse; share your love, humor, enthusiasm and support with family, friends, and strangers. Please! You may not have a chance later.

Questions

If you have spent time in the hospital, do you feel that humor or seriousness is more appropriate in a hospital setting and why? If you have spent any time in the hospital, do you feel that humor or seriousness is a more effective treatment style and why? What can you do to help others enjoy life? In what way would helping others make your life more enjoyable? What was, or is, missing from your recovery? In what ways could others help you enjoy life? How do you thank the people who help you find happiness when sadness fills your body, mind, and soul? How do you find the people who need your help? How do you find the people whose help you need?

Thanks to Sherri’s family members who reviewed the content of this post as well as Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams, Robin Williams, Universal Pictures, YouTube and all the people who, directly or indirectly,  made it possible for me to include the clips of Patch Adams in this post.

6 Comments

  1. Sherri came to visit me every day when I was in the hospital. I loved the visits with my friends. They usually made me laugh so hard I had to take extra pain killer after they left, but it was so worth it. When Sherri was in the hospital I was overseas and I have always been saddened that I couldn’t visit her the way she had visited me. I sent her many, many letters, but it could never equal the generosity of spirit she shared with me. I love her always!

    1. In some ways our stories are similar. I was not present when she needed me, but she had given me the strength to fight when I needed help. The difference is you did what you could to encourage her, and I was too scared to do anything. If I could go back in time, I would not change what happened to me, but I would definitely spend more time with her — regardless of whether or not she was in the hospital. If only I knew then what I know now . . .

  2. In the hospital, the Chaplain sent me a Christian Healer who did laying on of hands. I wasn’t laughing during my hospital stay. i couldn’t. I was in shock. So I have no opinion about how hospitals are operated. when folks are desperately illl or injured, they want compassion.

    Also during the inital years of recovery, I had stand-up CD’s that i played in the car and laughed until tears ran down my face. if I wasn’t watching Comedy Central often now, I’d be dead

    1. Frances, its funny that you spent time watching Commedy Central. I spent no time watching news. Any news I heard during recovery was purely accidental. My television stayed on Commedy Central whether or not I was awake. If I woke up for three seconds, it was three seconds of Commedy Central that I would watch or hear. I strongly believe that laughter is the best therapy — in sickness and in health.

    1. What do you propose? The owners of clinics and hospitals want to see financial results and the patients want to see health results. Is there any place to meet in the middle? Do you see a change for the medical system?

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