Five Tips for Finding Hidden Humor in the Hospital

hidden humor

Hidden Away in Area 51

I held the clean pair of hospital pants up to show Pedro, and shook my head in disgust.

“Pretty big,” he said with a lopsided grin—lopsided because one half of his face didn’t move due to paralysis from cancer.

“Both you AND I could fit in these puppies,” I exclaimed. “That seems to happen a lot on the weekends.”

We laughed at the mental picture and then Pedro said, “I’m ready.” He slowly sat up and swung his bacon-thin legs over the edge of the bed.

I grabbed a towel and steadied him and his IV pole as we shuffled to the shower.

After living in the hospital with Pedro for weeks at a time, I knew the drill and the nurses didn’t mind that I assisted Pedro with his personal needs whilst they changed the bed linens.

This involved making a trek to the laundry closet hidden behind an accordion door in the hallway to get towels and clean hospital gowns and pants (thank goodness this hospital had pants—not all hospitals come with pants).

Not all #hospitals come with pants! 5 tips for keeping things #humorous in the hospital. Click To Tweet

On weekdays, the closet held carts labeled “Area 17,” signifying Eleven Long at UCSF, where an ample supply of neatly folded and stacked gowns and pants marched up the cart from size small to XXL. Another cart held sheets, blankets and pillowcases, and a third cart carried washcloths and towels.

Weekends told a different story. On Saturday mornings the carts would arrive in the early morning hours from the laundry, but instead of multiple sizes and items, they had a more all-or-none flavor. For example, the carts contained only XXL pants or only washcloths and no towels.

And I had a theory. Call me crazy (or bored), but by the third weekend in the hospital, I had decided that on the weekends, aliens pushed their “Area 51” carts around the hospital before dawn and filled them with items from the other Area carts. Small pants from one, towels from another, pillowcases from a third. Only they weren’t organized aliens, and they would crisscross the hospital hallways haphazardly grabbing items to fill their carts.

Once, I shared my alien theory with a friendly nurse. She laughed and decided that the aliens probably stocked the exam gloves on weekends, too, since the available boxes would suddenly change from three sizes to one size by Sunday night.

There’s Humor Everywhere

I’m glad she didn’t have me committed. I don’t believe in aliens, but the mind movie of aliens rushing around with laundry carts did give me reason to chuckle and laugh in a hospital ward where things were dead serious. As a caregiver, I needed to keep the atmosphere upbeat and positive.

Every couple of hours we’d “walk the dog” around the ward and mark Pedro’s progress on a whiteboard. We joked with the nurses and doctors and played Pedro’s theme song after chemo. When he felt well enough, we watched funny movies and played endless games of UNO.

We banished bad attitudes and kept God’s promises hidden in our hearts. We knew without a doubt that whatever the outcome, God knew the number of our days and the purpose for our lives.

5 Tips for #caregivers to keep #humor in the hospital. Click To Tweet

If you’re a caregiver remember this:

1. A cheerful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22) (and it costs less than what goes into the IV drip).
2. Your positive attitude will affect the culture in the sickroom. Don’t be afraid to decorate the room with what makes you happy.
3. You don’t have to worry about the outcome, that’s God’s job. Avoid the ‘what if’ game.  Read books by Patrick F. McManus or other authors with a well-developed sense of humor.
4. Levity belongs in hospitals—don’t be afraid to watch funny movies, laugh out loud and crack corny jokes.
5. Keep God’s promises hidden in your heart (or taped to the IV pole).

What about you? Do you have any funny hospital stories to share?

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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