Alzheimer’s disease disrupts so many lives that it can seem mean just to consider laughing, but that’s exactly what you must do. When Alzheimer’s disease is connected, sometimes it’s hard to figure out and to focus on the next right thing, isn’t? Here’s a little story from my life this week as a tiny tip toward laughing.
Night before last, I fell. I caught my right pinky-toe on a stool. It was a four legged stool that was sticking out a bit too far from under a counter and I went flying.
Boom! I crashed. Hard.
My little toe flipped all the way out. I got hurt from my little toe all the way up to my head. Yikes — I did not know my little toe could move that far or that landing so hard could flare up so many old injuries and surgery sites.
I’m still recovering from major surgery. So you can imagine falling’s not the best thing for me, right? I iced my little toe, my foot, my ankle… I iced lots of pains.
Old stuff flared up in pain. I bound my ankle’s old surgery site in a freezer pack. I iced my gut, now hurting more deep inside this year’s surgery sites.
I iced old sports injuries! In my younger days, I picked things like trampoline team and gymnastics, among others. I was involved in dangerous actions that created long term injuries.
Old! After flying through the air, I did not bounce as I might have in earlier years. Instead, I crashed and burned in pain and felt very old and creaky.
Sometimes there’s not a whole lot you can do when you are in pain that doesn’t make it worse, is there? Yet, for me, wallowing around feeling old was not appealing and not likely to lead to anything remotely helpful. What to do, how to pick something?
I reached for laughter. Finding laughter in that moment took a lot of looking
because I was feeling sorry for myself. Hurting and feeling old because of old
pains that returned.
I found laughter. Unusual spot, I suppose. Since I’m recovering from major surgery, and one part of that did not stop bleeding for months, that’s where I found a spot of laughter.
Hey, my bladder’s healed or it’d be bleeding! That’s what I wrote to a friend by email and somehow writing that helped and I laughed. Writing to someone who really matters a lot to you helps many ways in healing, even when you don’t hear back — try it!
Laughing helps. There are other things that help, you’ve got to pick something. Socializing in person, by phone or in writing email are three ways that work for me.
I took it easy yesterday. My nephew’s getting married and I’m traveling more
tomorrow. So I’m taking it easy today, too.
I can’t do much right now. I am focusing on figuring out what I can do, sometimes you’ve simply just got to pick something. Then I am simply doing the next right thing, one by one, one at a time.
“Just do the next right thing!” Michael Hyatt said in one of his blog posts this summer. My actions in getting up the next morning, yesterday, became my way of doing the next right thing.
Walking was not possible. I walk to church, attend Mass, and then I walk back. Here,
that’s a mile each way.
Clearly, right now, walking a mile is no longer part of my next right thing. Skipping ahead, I found I could, ”Do the next right thing!” Going to my morning Mass was still possible by driving, so when it came time to just pick something, I drove to Mass.
I filled in as Lector, as planned. Except? It was St. Luke’s feast day –and I didn’t know that. And since I was in pain, I did not do my usual “reconfirm” that the right
page was opened and ready for me.
After hobbling in, and then over to the ambo, I found my next right thing was lost! I kept turning pages, forward, backward, over and over, bewildered. I turned to the celebrant because I was flabbergasted and in pain.
Sometimes I get stuck and I need help to find the next right thing. The celebrant walked over while saying it was St. Luke’s feast day. He pointed to the reading.
Sometimes finding the next right thing isn’t enough for me. I stumbled through a collection of unusual words and place names I did not recognize until, finally, I found myself mispronouncing a word that I did know how to say correctly. Realizing, I started to freeze.
Hmm. I corrected myself – though your supposed to — and usually better off — just going onward! After I repeated that one word, Ephesus, correctly this time, I found myself going on with a lot more confidence.
Recognizing and correcting errors helps me get back on track. Once I’m feeling more confident, I do better. I find myself doing the next right thing again.
Alzheimer’s disease makes it difficult to do the next right thing. Partly because there’s no way of knowing ahead of time what might happen at any moment. Life is unusually unpredictable when Alzheimer’s disease is a part of the picture, isn’t it?
As difficult as it can be, laughter helps. Look for laughter. Share your laughter with your loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease because laughing helps even when you have no idea why you’re laughing.
Yes, laughing helps. I don’t know why. But I do know that laughter helps in many ways.
I invite you to look for laughter, right now, this very moment. Even if your laughter is simply at me for sharing my little story of getting my little toe stuck, flying through the air because I’m connected to that little toe.
Why? I’ll tell you why. When you’re connected with Alzheimer’s disease, every laugh counts.
How can you help? You can gently point out moments of humor. You can laugh.
Your laughter helps! I don’t know exactly how that works. But there is an old saying that fits, “Laugh and the world laughs with you!”
Your prayer helps too. All through this story, I was crying out to God, deep inside of me. “Help!” is a short prayer I live over and over – try it!