Laughter Yoga helped Me Cope With My Pain
Loretta Bert, Italy: Some days ago, I was running a laughter class in our club. My idea was to lead the class for the first minutes, because I needed to leave my club-mates, at a given time, in order to reach a bookshop for a Laughter Yoga presentation.
I was so happy and all the members were happy as well and full of energy. There was also a new entry in our club and I wanted to communicate all our enthusiasm to her. May be I was too excited that I forgot myself for a moment. May be I felt my head turning as I’m not so young and sometimes it may happen. Who knows? Who can say? Sometimes, things just happen as they must happen and we don’t know why. While leading Orchestra Laughter, I rose my arms up with a sudden movement, running two steps backward. I lost my balance and felt badly to the ground. I was still laughing, so the others were laughing even more. The situation was so ridiculous, but there were two men in the group who realized I had a problem and I said softly to them: “I think I hurt myself seriously”.
I rushed to the bathroom and put my right hand under the cold water. In that moment, looking at my wrist, I suddenly realized it was broken, so I tied my arm in an emergency bandaging but refused to go directly to first aid. I had to reach the bookshop as there were people waiting for me and I couldn’t deceive them.
So, after this bad accident, my friends took me to the bookshop. Thanks to their help, the presentation was good, it was fun and it was great! During the presentation, I forgot my pain, but at the end, for the first time in that really odd day, I focused on myself, on my body, on my miserable wrist. I felt very sad, worried, even frustrated and started to repeat to myself “You are a Laughter Yoga teacher; now it’s the time to use what you learnt. You must keep laughing inside yourself, at least…try!”
A friend of mine took me to a specialized hospital and I was lucky I didn’t have to wait for a long time. And now, the amazing part of this story starts.
I started laughing at the “triage”, where a nurse asked me which kind of accident I had. As a matter of fact, usually, when an adult falls down for no reason, the first impulse is to consider this as a comic situation. If you also consider that, while I was falling, I was also laughing for no reason at all, well, this gives you finally a good reason…to laugh!
The consequence of this fact was that I felt more relaxed, even more loved by the hospital staff. They all were very kind to me; they use to work under deep stress conditions when at first aid. So, the opportunity to laugh is always appreciated.
Finally, I spoke with the doctor, and we laughed, of course. Nevertheless, the doctor said to me he would try to reduce my fracture manually. Sometimes, when people are too scared, they use to make this manual procedure with the patient under sedatives, as it is very painful. They have to pull the arm, overextending it, in order to put the bones (or bones fragments, as in my case) back to their original place. This operation can be repeated, if required (and it was required for me) more times, causing a very hard and lasting pain. The doctor called other people and they told me:” Now, we are going to hurt you a lot. If you know some techniques to relax yourself, this is the time to use them”.
In a shy way, I asked: “May I laugh? I’m a Laughter Yoga teacher. I couldn’t imagine I would experience Laughter Yoga effects directly on my pain, but I can try”. “Do what you want”, was the answer.
While they were preparing everything, I started with some easy Pranayama (deep breathing), then I started to laugh gently. It was a gradient laughter, a deep, high, tough, gradient laughter. It was a cathartic experience, like hypnosis. I felt the pain, deeply, but it was not scary, it was an amazing experience. Instead of feeling weak, scared and contracted, I was feeling strong, nearly excited, physically relaxed. I felt like a glorious knight on a horse, riding through pain (pain was my fellow, not my enemy) and coming at the end exhausted, but…happy. Doctors were positively amazed as well. As laughing is contagious, they also were laughing. We had shared this curious adventure. We also felt friends, it was great and…unbelievable! But it was not over. They needed to pull a little bit more, so they asked me, as if it were a normal conversation: “And in which city of India is based “your” doctor?” You can imagine what followed, as I heard myself shouting: “Bangalore, Bangalore, Bangaloooooooreeeeeeee!” Another great laugh…it was over, at last!
While they were putting the plaster on my arm, I was shivering and was feeling so cold that I asked for some blankets. I felt my cheeks humid: tears of joy and gratitude were falling down on my face. In my heart I was blessing Dr. Kataria, who taught me such precious things for my life. It was like a prayer. I felt so close to him and to all the extended laughter family. Being grateful to be part of it: it was one of my happiest moments, even if it could seem absurd, considering the specific situation.
I learnt that pain is part of our life. Accepting this is very helpful for us all, as we can manage our stress and improve dramatically our life quality.
Now, the adventure is going on. I wrote this entire story with my left hand (so, I’m learning to be left-handed!). I still have to undergo further surgery and rehabilitation which will be long and painful (it is a “colles fracture”). They cannot even say when and how I will recover my hand, wrist and arm functionality, but they will do their best. By my side, I will keep laughing.