Thursday, August 18, 2011

Laughter is Not Always the Best Medicine

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt: Write about a time when you laughed at an inappropriate time. I'm going to try something new and see how it goes...

Exactly one week after my husband asked me to marry him, he was diagnosed with cancer. It was a cancer that is highly common among young men, and it is very curable. However, my husband was heavily into denial about his diagnosis, and dragged his heals a bit. The result was that his cancer had spread into his abdomen, and we ended up at a cancer treatment facility.

Larry is terrified of needles. He told me that several times while we were dating, but it didn't really sink in. I'm scared of needles, but I usually close my eyes and grit my teeth until it's over. I thought that that was what everyone did. I held Larry's hand while they drew blood(using pediatric needles JUST for him), I had him look at me until it was over, and he seemed to do just fine. I thought that that was all there was to his phobia.

Chemo for most people involves being hooked up to an IV and pumping them full of poisons to attack the cancer cells. When it was time for Larry's second chemo treatment, he was placed in a chair that reclined in a room full of people having their chemo treatments. Some were in beds, some in chairs, some had a 'civilian' with them for moral support.

The nurse placed the needle into Larry's arm and started the IV, and then she left the room for a few minutes. I sat in front of my husband so he could see me, and I started to get my book out of my bag. Larry and I were talking about something mundane, when he happened to look down at the IV needle sticking out of his arm.

My husband looked right at me.

His eyes rolled up in his head.

Larry started to slide. Right. Out. Of. The. Chair.

I watched this happening in slow motion, and lots of things were going through my mind all at once. Could an air bubble have passed into his blood stream? Is it a heart attack? An allergic reaction? All three at the same time! What am I supposed to do? Do I remember CPR? Where the hell is the nurse--Siberia? Do they have those electric paddles here? Is this a subtle way of backing out of the wedding?

I couldn't help it.

I started giggling.

The laughter rushed up and poured of my mouth before I even knew it was coming, and once it began, I could not call it back.

It had never occurred to me that Larry had fainted. I thought something was terribly, terribly wrong.

So I giggled as I watched my future husband start his slow slide to the floor. Another chemo patient yelled for the nurse while I giggled. Many nurses came rushing into the room while I giggled. Larry is a large man, and they all seemed to be very tiny women as they: a)tried to keep him from sliding onto the floor, b)make sure he didn't pull the IV out if he did hit the floor, c)calm the other patients in the room, and d)make sure that hysterical, giggling woman in the corner doesn't need a shot to calm her down.

Nurses, by and large, are completely awesome people. As tiny as those women were, they got Larry completely back on the chair without incident. They reclined the chair, check his vitals, made sure the needle was where it was supposed to be. The lead nurse made sure that I knew that the emergency was over. I was extremely embarrassed. I kept giggling, however, until Larry woke up, and then sporadically until we left the treatment center. I don't think that Larry really knew what was going on, but he was worn out from the drugs and just went right to bed when we got home.

I'm still embarrassed about the whole thing even after all this time. I pride myself on being calm in an emergency situation, on knowing what to do in an emergency situation...and I panicked. I was completely useless when it happened. I would have been more helpful if they would have knocked me out and used my body to prevent Larry from falling out of the chair.

I know that laughing is a common fear response.

I know that it was an instinctive reaction.

I know that I couldn't help it.

I know that I am being too hard on myself.

But I still do it.


  1. "Is this a subtle way of backing out of the wedding?" This line had me giggling! I loved this post. It not only illustrates a human reaction to a situation that instills fear, it does it in such an easy to relate fashion. Because, come on, how many of us have never giggled in an inappropriate time at one point or another in our lives? For me, I've giggled when a best friend told me her water broke. This because it happened in her brand new car. When it happened, all I could think of was "How badly will this car stink?" :)

  2. Hahaha! But is it even more inappropriate to laugh at a) someone else's misfortune and b) an inappropriate laughter situation? If so, guilty as charged!!


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