Sometimes You Just Really, Really Need A Good Laugh.

So. Things have been pretty fraught around the old homestead lately. Pretty tense. I’d say we’re living in an atmosphere of anticipation and dread in equal proportions.

You see Hubby had a bad fall last spring playing hockey. He hurt his shoulder very badly. And so, one trip to emergency, a misdiagnosis, several weeks of physiotherapy, a diagnostic ultrasound, a different diagnosis, an MRI, two more doctors (one a sports medicine doctor and one a surgeon who agreed to do the surgery but didn’t hold out much hope for success), one shoulder operation and five months later… we still don’t know if he will ever recover full use of his right arm and shoulder.

He finally had the surgery two weeks ago. And after a summer of frustrating limitations in what he can and cannot do, he’s facing six weeks of complete immobilization with his right arm in a sling worn 24/7, and twelve to eighteen months of rehab. Or so we’re told. Fingers are crossed. All twenty of them… his and mine. You see there’s a lot riding on this for Hubby. Hockey is out for sure. But there’s also golf, and fishing, and cross-country skiing, and canoeing. Especially the canoeing. It’s impossible to hoist a canoe and carry it through a portage when you can’t move your right arm above your waist. I know, I know. As many, many friends and family have already said to me… at least it’s not life threatening. No. But it definitely is life-style threatening. And when you are as active a person as my Hubby… that’s major. And when you are used to be very active and NOT used to being patient. Well.

The waiting ain’t easy. For either of us.


We waited two weeks to find out if the repair the surgeon hoped to do had even been done. That’s because Hubby had the surgery in the morning and I brought him home later that afternoon. He had no chance to speak to the doctor before they released him, just a follow-up appointment with the surgeon in two weeks. They simply wheeled him to the curb and helped him into my car. As she pushed the wheelchair back up the ramp, the nurse said, “Have a nice recovery.” “But…but…but…no instructions for me?” I stammered. Apparently all instructions were in a typed handout in the package Hubby was holding in his lap. Big help they were too… confusing in places and contradictory in others. The nurse’s handwritten notations about which drugs to take when did not match up with the names of the meds when I had the prescriptions filled. So glad I could call my pharmacist sister for clarification and help, there. He could start taking showers in four days, but how could he do that in a 24 hour sling? Etc. Etc. And I would have to change the dressing on the four inch incision in three days. Were they kidding? Me? Nurse Nervous Nelly. I have trouble taking a splinter out of someone’s finger. I’m so afraid I’m going to hurt the “patient” that I flap, and hyperventilate, and basically do NOT engender confidence in my nursing abilities.

But, we made it through the first few days. The pain was pretty bad, but Hubby had some pretty good drugs. And thanks to his cousin’s daughter, Chelsea, a surgical nurse, we had access to more info than just the “info package.” Especially about when to start the heavy duty pain meds. Thanks for that, Chels. And Hubby was managing pretty well with his left hand. Although eating soup was an exercise in patience… and humility. And then we came to dressing changing time. I thought I did pretty well. I managed to get the old dressing off. The sight of the incision was a bit of a shock. But I was able to secure the new dressing firmly enough so that it wouldn’t move, or fall off in bed. Okay… there were a few barked instructions from the increasingly impatient patient. But we did okay.

It was afterwards, when Hubby had gone for a nap, that the knot in my stomach just wouldn’t go away, and I knew I was being silly. It was a bandage, for god’s sake. Suck it up Burpee! So I made myself a calming cup of tea. And carried it to my desk to work on my blog post. And the toe of my flip-flop caught on the lip of the step up into the den. And I was moving quite quickly, so I launched myself horizontally into the room. And landed heavily, my ribs on the corner of a plastic file box, and my thigh on the metal stand it sits upon. I tried to catch myself, dropped the tea, and then just watched as a slow motion swath of brown liquid flew up the wall and across my desk. Ahhhh! Ouch! Ow…ow…ow…ow! By the time Hubby managed to disentangle himself from the duvet and rushed into the den, all the time shouting…”What? What? What did you do?” I was on my hands and knees, holding my ribs with one hand, sobbing. And trying to mop up the tea with a kleenex.

I did actually manage to finish my blog post that day.  Applied several ice packs. Made a new cup of tea. It was the next few days which were more painful. Bruises blossomed on my ribs, thighs, and arms. An X-ray established that I had not broken any ribs. Just pulled or bruised my intercostal muscles. The cure? Ice. Painkillers. Not doing any abs work-outs. And avoiding hanging washing on the clothesline, as I discovered yesterday. Oh, and time.

So where does the laughing part come in? Stay with me here; the post I wrote that day was the one about my Make-Up Shake-Up. And reader Wendy in York commented that she liked a bold lip colour on others but when she wore it herself she felt like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. I’ve seen Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, the aging silent screen star, in that 1950 movie. And so I knew exactly what she meant. And her line literally cracked me up. See below.

Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard  

And if you’ve never seen Sunset Boulevard, you must. But in the meantime check out the famous final scene of the film below. Poor disturbed Norma makes her final entrance for the cameras.

And in my reply to Wendy, I asked if she had ever seen the Carol Burnett skit based on Sunset Boulevard. I remembered it from the seventies. Nora Desmond, famous movie star, or as they described her “a living legend in a dying body.” And then I found the sketch on You Tube.note: Originally I had posted the video here. But it subsequently disappeared from You Tube … copyright issues. So we’ll have to be content with this shot of Carol as Nora.

Anyway… when I watched that video again after so many years… I laughed so hard my ribs hurt. Even worse than they hurt before. But boy, did that feel good. And Hubby came into the den to see what I was laughing about, and I played it again, and we both had a good laugh.
Wow. We really, really needed that.
We all know that old cliché about laughter and medicine. But according to one 2003 study “mirthful laughter” has all kinds of measurable “psychological and physiological effects on [our] immune functioning.” And an article on the Mayo Clinic website, called “Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke” explains that laughter can “sooth tension,” “stimulate our heart and lungs,” “release endorphins,” boost our immune system, and aid in long term pain relief. Huh.

Hubby had his two week appointment with the surgeon the other day. We were holding our breath. And the news wasn’t all bad. They had managed to repair some of the damage. But they had to do some pretty invasive stuff, no arthroscopic surgery here. But we’d gathered that much from the size of the incision. The surgeon said that part of the damage had been repaired successfully. And that part of the attempted repair was tenuous, at best, that it might not hold and, if it didn’t, definitely could not be reattached. So we’re glad that they at least had been able to do something. Better than nothing. Hopefully the result will be better mobility than what he had going into the surgery. We won’t know for weeks yet. Doctors aren’t very good at making promises. Or giving odds.

In the meantime, we’re taking Doctor Burpee’s advice. Frequent and fulsome laughter. Hubby has been “ordered” to watch the CBC program “Just for Laughs” (which he loves), several times a week. Especially on nights when there has been extensive election coverage. Me. I’m watching one funny You Tube video each morning. Like my fav “I Love Lucy” episodes. Remember the one where she and Ethel get a job in a chocolate factory? That was a good one.

Hopefully this will alleviate some of the stress. Because when you’re living in The Castle of Grumpy Grouch… sometimes you really, really need a good laugh.
By the way. The Castle of Grumpy Grouch was a favourite children’s book at my house when I was growing up. My mum read to my older brothers and sisters, and then to me, from that old book. I remember it as a tattered copy, with a cover that looked exactly like the picture above. I surely don’t need to explain why the title of the book came to mind when I was writing this post, do I?
How about you? Can you think of a time when you just really, really needed a good laugh?


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32 thoughts on “Sometimes You Just Really, Really Need A Good Laugh.”

  1. Not too long ago I was going through a tough week and somehow watched Carol Burnett as Scarlett O'Hara…I also laughed until I cried that night! Thanks to Carol! I hope you and your husband feel better really soon…and be thankful it was bruised ribs and not a hip! You are lucky there.

    1. I love that one too, Pam. When she comes down the stairs with the curtain rod sticking out of her dress? I love that bit. I know I am lucky; I could have broken so many things…hip, face… whatever. And bruises are nothing compared to the pain and frustration Hubby has been going through.

  2. Wow. Double Wow. Triple Wow. And to think you wrote that fabulous post when you were, literally, all shook up!

    Your hubby has my deepest empathy (yes, that's empathy, having lived through several misdiagnoses on a shoulder and arm that resulted in years of pain, complications, and reduced mobility that I now live with. So here's to a complete recovery for him! And good for you both for persisting in getting to a point where you have some hope of that.

    Norma Desmond indeed! (That's a great movie, by the way.)

    As for your fall, I am sending hugs (no humor… don't want to make you giggle)… And wishes for a very speedy recovery.


    1. Yep. That's exactly what I was thinking as I finished that post with those words. And laughing to myself over my secret little pun. Thanks for the virtual hugs and the good wishes.

  3. Oh. my. gosh. I would totally be a Nurse Nervous Nelly just like you. That is my worst fear, something happening to my husband. And then you go and hurt yourself too! I wish you both a good recovery. Here's a comedy recommendation for when your ribs have healed a bit – see if you can get your hands on the BBC tv series Gavin and Stacey – hilarious! I have the box set and regularly put it on when I am puttering about the kitchen. Here's the first episode on You Tube:

  4. So sorry to hear what you've been going through and I wish you both the best for speedy healing and pain-free ribs for you, renewed mobility for your husband. It might not be life-threatening but I'm not sure how I'd live with my guy if he couldn't do the activities he takes for granted. Very impressive that you can write through all of this. May you keep finding the funny!

  5. Thinking about you both Sue and well done for writing such a cheery post about it all. I guess it's definitely a case of "you've got to laugh or you'd cry" Although at the moment laughing probably does make you cry … Sorry! Hubby's injury may not be life threatening as such but as it does threaten the lifestyle he loves, I can understand he must be so frustrated with it all and yes, I can imagine why the post is titled as it is!!
    Dreadful Post Op care from the hospital as well … I think you're coping really well considering. Such bad luck that you then fell …. hope your injuries are starting to heal and you and hubby can relax together….??
    Take care …hope hubby's not in too much pain and that his meds are effective. Hope also that his rehab proves successful

    1. Thanks Rosie. Hubby's pain has backed off…that is until he starts his rehab. And his mood has been much better since we saw the surgeon. I know he's making a Herculean effort to be patient.

  6. Hi Sue … Just realised I signed off as Rosemary whereas I've always put Rosie here!!! I go by both names lol 🙂
    Rosie …

  7. Oh Sue , wish I was there to give you a hug in all this . You're right though , I feel sorry for people who don't have much sense of humour as life must be very hard for them at times . Family life in the UK in the post war fifties was not easy for most of us , such shortages of everything & we suffered in the cold winters but there was no shortage of humour in our house – ' you've got to laugh ' was often heard & we did . Then many years later , when mum was in the final stages of cancer we decided to have an early Xmas celebration . My husband was designated to carry mum from her bed to my sisters house nearby . All went well & we had a good last Xmas together . Later that night he was carrying her back upstairs & I said " Didn't he do well " , mum replied " Yes , he only dropped me twice " . He nearly did drop her then – we were all laughing so much . The most loved comic in the UK is a ' Northerner ' called Peter Kay , we loved him in ' Phoenix Nights ' – he might help the therapy .
    Wendy in York

    1. Oh, that's a great story Wendy. Your mother sounds wonderful. Wry humour in difficult situations is my mum's stock in trade as well. And thanks for the hug.

  8. Wow, you two may need to get a life alert system, so you can call for help. it sounds like a pretty dangerous house.

    My mom has had a shoulder injury that she ignored for several months, while it just got worse. Unfortunately, her doctor says she is too old for surgery (at 74), even though she's in very good health. I guess success is just not high enough to warrant the risk. I do hope your husband has a strong recovery and finds something to replace what he can no longer do. It is hard. I had to give up running and skiing in my twenties (knee injury) and they were both big parts of my life.

    Humor is important. A few years ago my son was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and temporarily lost the ability to walk. The emotional pain was unbearable for us. Then we all watched The Pink Panther with Steve Martin, stupidly funny and just what we needed. It was all downhill from there (downhill in a good way). Adversity will always be a part of life, so we all need to learn to face it. I can't imagine life without laughing,

    1. Yep. Like a friend commented on Facebook… thank god we live in a bungalow:) Gosh…sorry about your son. My older brother had a brain tumor when he was in his twenties; it was a really difficult time for him. His daughter was only weeks old when he had to leave his home in Newfoundland and return to New Brunswick where we had a neurosurgery unit. He recuperated at our house, cared for by my mother who had only a few months earlier remarried. My stepfather took it all in his stride. Three new stepdaughters and now an invalid step-son soon joined for the Christmas holidays by his wife and baby. We had a houseful that year. I still remember on News Year's Eve, that my brother wanted to dance with his wife…and since he had no balance and couldn't walk, my brother held his wife and my stepfather held my brother up from behind. We still laugh in my family about the three of them dancing. I can't imagine going through that with a child. But you're right we all need to learn to face adversity. And laughing sure helps.

  9. Best wishes on your recoveries. It sounds like you are doing everything you can to heal as fast and thoroughly and well as possible. Shoulder surgery is a bearcat, but the results can be far better than the predictions (which seem to be designed to prepare the patient for the worst possibility). My occupational therapist, a long-distance swimmer (English Channel, etc.), had very complicated shoulder surgery last October and has had far more positive results than anticipated. Take care, Leslie

  10. So sorry to hear about your and hubby 's woes but you've managed to make a great post from it. You're so right about the power of laughter. Wishing you both a speedy recovery. Iris

  11. I am a long time lurker here, but I am breaking silence because I went through very much the same thing four years ago with my husband, then aged 68. He is a tennis player, not a hockey player, and his injury was a result of long term wear and tear and not trauma, but there were four different issues addressed in one surgery including a tendon repair, a partial rotator cuff repair, bone spurs, and something else that I had never heard of and don't remember. I did not have to change the dressing, but I did have to wake up every four hours to change the ice packs, and I had to get him dressed everyday…you know the drill. But the end result was better than expected. He did his PT faithfully and after 7 fairly fraught months, he began to practice again. Tennis was/is the center of his social life, and those months were really hard. But today, he plays tennis twice a week, kayaks when he can (we live in Minnesota, its not a year round climate), shovels the snow, manages the lawn, etc…way better than he could before, and his tennis game, after all that PT, is much improved (it helps that he can now straighten his arm!) He still does his home PT 2-3 times a week , and checks in with his therapist periodically. Now at 72, he would definitely say it was worth it (Did I add: he sleeps pain free now?)

    Hang in there, even aging athletes can make comebacks, and you will survive this, I am sure of it. The worst is over.

    1. That's so great, Ellen. Thanks for telling me your husband's story. And thanks for commenting and "lurking"… really appreciated. Really:)

  12. Without laughter – we are just sitting in pools of tears. You poor thing. You are a trooper for caring for your hubby, but make sure you look after you too. I suppose if all else fails take your hubbys meds! Mel xx #AllAboutYou

  13. Owch! I'm so sorry you guys are going through it at the moment. I'm glad you've found some way to feel better about the whole thing. A good laugh is a wonderful thing. Fingers crossed for your husbands recovery too #allaboutyou

  14. Somehow I missed this post. Oh my goodness, what a tough time! It's true that doctors aren't good about making predictions; our son's neurologist once said "we call it 'practicing' medicine for a reason." I hope you're on the mend by now and out of pain, and glad you've found some humor analgesics. I hope your husband's shoulder heals beyond expectations.

  15. WOW you have been having a rough time!! I'm so sorry to hear about your fall. Glad you are not broken, but bruises do hurt like hell. Fingers crossed for hubs full recovery. Losing our ability to live how we like to is awful. Laughter is some of the best medicine, but drugs do help too so I'm glad they gave him enought to keep him comfotable.
    I'm having a small problem I hope you can help me with. I have signed up to recieve your posts by email, several times and still never get them. Can you check your feed? You are not landing in my spam…they are just not coming. What is somethig I said :-D?

    1. Thanks Jennifer. Sorry about the e-mail posts not coming your way. I started scooting around in the e-mail subscription thingy on my blog. Once I figure out how to check my feed…I will. This is part of the blog that I've not really had much to do with…just trusting that it works, I guess. This is what happens when an English teacher/book person tries to tackle and master technology. I'll keep trying. Thanks for letting me know:)
      P.S. Definitely NOT something you said!

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