Why we should LOL-even during a pandemic

Finding humor in situations that are anything but funny can relieve some of the fear, anxiety, and dread associated with threats to our well being.

I was planning a post about medical humor when I found an article about that very subject. JAMA published the article November 6, 1920.

No, that is not a typo, it was 1920. But since I wasn’t around then to read it, I’m glad they republished it November 3, 2020 in a feature called JAMA Revisited. (JAMA is the Journal of the American Medical Association.)

In it, the unidentified author refers to another article published in 1920 titled “Two Medical Humorists”, one of whom was Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes who he describes as

a master of style, all of his work illuminated

with numerous flashes of wit.

Oliver Wendell Holmes’ son Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., served as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932. Holmes Sr. was a physician and poet in the 1800s.

The author claimed that “a bit of humor now and then is welcomed by every class of thinkers, no matter how serious minded may be their daily routine”, and I agree, although I know people who seem to have no sense of humor, at least about some things.

Two Goats with Letter Board Phrase “YOU’VE GOAT TO BE KIDDING ME”
Two Goats with Letter Board Phrase “YOU’VE GOAT TO BE KIDDING ME” from LIGHTSTOCK, an affiliate link

What is humor?

According to Merriam-Webster.com “some common synonyms of humor are ironyreparteesarcasmsatire, and wit….”a mode of expression intended to arouse amusement”.  

And from the JAMA article –

Humor is a lively sense of the incongruous (out of place) in the world and in life.

What’s funny about illness?

Most of us find nothing “funny” about being sick, injured, disabled, or dying. But illness and its treatment can create situations that prompt “incongruous” reactions that can be funny, ironic, and satirical. Finding humor in situations that are anything but funny can relieve some of the fear, anxiety, and dread associated with threats to our well being.

Nothing will so quickly relieve the strain with which most laymen confront the physician as the kindly directed remark accompanied with a smile and a sense of humor.

Humor’s dark side-MASH

In 1968 an Army physician wrote a novel about his experiences serving as a surgeon at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. Dr. Richard Hooker’s novel spawned a successful play, a movie, and one of the most popular television series of all time, known simply as M*A*S*H, still in syndication. The movie won the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award in 1970.

In the novel MASH, and the subsequent versions, Dr. Hooker used dark humor to depict the doctors, nurses, and other staff coping with practicing medicine in a war zone. Their pranks, wise cracks, and self deprecating humor distracted them from their loneliness, anger, and sense of failure when soldiers died despite their best efforts to save them.

We need humor in the profession. It is one of its necessary virtues. For who save ourselves live in such a milieu of disharmonies?

Playfulness in a pandemic

Medical humor helps us fight the unexpected, unfair, and disruptive circumstances of disaster and disease , helping us cope with feeling powerless.

In 2020 when the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic sparked fear,confusion, and uncertainty, people took to social media with memes, cartoons,photos, and videos that testified to our resolve to overcome. I liked this video a high school principal produced and starred in. By taking a lighthearted approach to a serious situation, he demonstrated resourcefulness and resilience.

But let us also cling to humor, the antiseptic of life.

Friday Funnies

share humorous medically related cartoons on my Facebook page every Friday. I choose them carefully, because I don’t want anyone to think I take their health issues lightly. I don’t, ever.

But I agree with Merriam-Webster in that humor implies an ability to perceive the ludicrous, the comical, and the absurd in human life and to express these usually without bitterness.

If you don’t already follow me on Facebook, please do. Besides Fridays, somedays I share a Saturday Smile.

In medicine, humor is a virtue.

Unless otherwise noted, the quotes are from Some Medical Humorists which you can read at this link.

sharing the HEART of laughter

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

always LOL, Dr Aletha

a smal dog with round glasses on "What's the funniest meme you've seen lately?":
Describe the funniest meme you’ve seen lately, or leave a link in the comments. Family friendly content only please.

October Timely Topic- INFLUENZA

the majority of physicians and other health professionals recommend vaccination as the most effective way to lower one’s risk of getting influenza. No matter how many people would like to believe otherwise, for most people the risk of influenza is greater than the risk of the influenza vaccine.

updated 10/29/2020

When I published this a year ago, the topic was “timely” because the influenza season typically starts in October in the norther hemisphere. This year it is timely because influenza will be superimposed onto a SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and we don’t yet know how one will effect the other, or how they they will effect us. But medical scientists and physicians believe we need to be extra vigilant in preventing and treating both infections.

(This post has affiliate links; I hope they help you find information and inspiration and help me fund this blog by the commission they will generate. )

a woman taking her temperature
This photograph depicted a woman who was using a modern, battery-powered oral thermometer, in order to measure her body temperature. In order to return an accurate reading, this particular type of thermometer needed to be placed beneath the user’s tongue, for a set amount of time, beeping when the ambient, sublingual temperature was reached. Photo credit-James Gathany, CDC, public domain

Influenza

In this part of the world the influenza season is starting, even though influenza can occur year round. Once again, the majority of physicians and other health professionals recommend vaccination as the most effective way to lower one’s risk of getting influenza. No matter how many people would like to believe otherwise, for most people the risk of influenza is greater than the risk of the influenza vaccine.

I recommend you read Dr. Gretchen LaSalle‘s thorough review

FLU VACCINE 101

FLU VACCINE: We all have a role in protecting each other.
used with permission CDC

Managing influenza and other winter illness

Most of the winter respiratory illnesses are not influenza, but can still make us feel miserable. Most of the time most of us recover uneventfully, but these diseases can cause more severe disease in certain people, like infants, elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Here are some previous posts with info you need to know about keeping you and your family well and safe.

6 tips to cope during a flu epidemic

How you can cope with winter illness

6 smart facts about antibiotic use
graphic created by the Centers for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov

And here is how to know when to seek emergency medical help.

When should you call 911?

One of the most effective ways to prevent and stop the spread of infectious disease.

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dear friends, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 

3 John 2 , NLT

Stay well this winter, or what ever season you are enjoying now.

Dr Aletha

myReader Rewards club- photo of woman on a bench reading a book

My Reader Rewards Club is a great way to earn free books and Bibles for yourself, friends, and family! Your journey to earning free faith-based products starts HERE.
(When you sign up through these links, I can earn free books too.)

As a member, you’ll have access to inspiring literature, Bibles, special promotional offers, and much more. Earning points is easy—you’ll receive 25 points just for signing up!

Get active

Becoming and staying fit may also help you fight off infection. I’ve been using this fitness app on my phone, Aaptiv. Consider trying it. I’d appreciate you using this affiliate link through which you can help fund this blog. Thanks and enjoy.

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