Laugh Restrictions


I hate doing my breathing treatments. I know. I know. I should be happy to have access to albuterol and a nebulizer and my damn acapella valve. But I hate stopping my life to do the treatments. It’s not even like I had big plans this afternoon. I always get the post-albuterol shakes and feel like my thoughts are going ape shit in my head. I can’t lasso them. They’re jumping off the fence posts, beds, running up the walls, jumping on the trampoline that I must have bought in a dream one night. That kind of crazy.

But, lungs are important. For breathing and stuff.

Usually, the way I know I need to start doing treatments is when I start laughing and can’t stop coughing. And coughing. It really puts a damper on a funny moment. I’m ok. I just need to not laugh anymore. Or do a breathing treatment. I’ve tried offering myself incentives. Like last week, I started a new book that I told myself I could only read during my breathing treatments. Well, that sucked. Once the albuterol starts pumping, I can’t read about raising the emotional lives of boys. A little too deep for a breathing treatment book.

So, today, I decided I would just fold a basket of laundry. Why not do two sucky things at the same time? Kill two birds with one stone, though I would never kill two birds. Unless they were trying to attack my kids or something. I folded that basket of laundry in record breaking speed. Then, I sat staring at the wall thinking about a hundred or so things. All at once.

A few albuterol thoughts….I need to remove that last chunk of wall paper. Why is the dishwasher making that sound? I like Josh Ritter’s music. Those were cool pictures my husband took while in Israel. And so on.

I got to thinking how I do like laughing. My mom said I used to do it as a baby when she put me in my crib. I still laugh sometimes when I go to bed. My mom said that I’ve got a good sense of humor because she was watching “I Love Lucy” when I was born. Makes sense to me. The worst times in my life have been when I had laugh restrictions. That’s right. Laugh restrictions.

Like in church or somewhere that you’re just not supposed to laugh or be funny. Somewhere very serious. After abdominal surgery, it physically hurts like hell to laugh. My mom had to kick my sisters out of my hospital room one time because they kept making me laugh. And it hurt so bad. I would put a pillow over my stomach and modify my laugh, but it didn’t help. They had to leave. The moment they came back in, we all started laughing at the absurdity of my mom kicking them out into the hall for making me laugh. I had been stuck in that bed for five weeks….not laughing. I think that’s what my family misses the most when I’m not me. When I’m so sick that I can’t laugh. When I’ve got those laugh restrictions in place.

That’s why I did my breathing treatment today. I want to be able to laugh loudly. Unabashedly. With my mouth open. Without having a coughing attack. I don’t want my cough to steal the show.

There are not always the right moments for laughing. There are the places where laughter has been banned or placed on the “uninvited” list. It sometimes sneaks in the back door anyways. Meetings, funerals, doctor’s office waiting rooms….I want people to laugh at my funeral though. How awful to come to the funeral of someone who loved to laugh and sit there just so sad and crying. If you remember me, I want you to remember my laugh. I want people to say “she loved laughing. She had a great laugh. And she loved helping others find their laughs.” Then, tell a funny story, like a really funny story about me or anybody so everyone will laugh. Then, leave the boring funeral home and go have some beers, or espresso shots or albuterol and laugh some more. That’s the way I want to be remembered. The world can be so serious and painful and boring too. A good laugh can give you just the perfect amount of hope to help you tackle the next hard thing with a different perspective. Or a little more hope and joy. Find something or someone to make you laugh today. You can always go watch youtube. There’s a lot of funny stuff on there if you don’t have a person around.