Laughter is the best medicine, haven’t we heard that since time immemorial? Follow it religiously or even believe in it…i don’t think more than 0.01% of the population does. For that matter, even I belonged to the group of non-believers. Not anymore. Suffering from a chronic back pain for the past few months has made me the most irritating, obnoxious and almost insufferable human being! I got into the habit of venting the anger and frustration of my pain on anyone and everyone who happened to cross my path. Of course, I had two favourites. My mother and my best friend. And surprisingly and thankfully, they took in the bitterness I spat every now and then like a calm sea which takes everything that we throw, in. And to my surprise, they would immediately forget the offence and change the topic. To something more cheerful, something that would make me happy. I would feel ashamed, but the pain sometimes intolerable, would make me do this. During these times, I realized that whenever I was in the company of these wonderful people, my pain would be less felt. The times I was happy, I could easily ignore the crippling pain.
Working in a cancer hospital, I regularly see the intensity of pain that the cancer patients go through. Although blessed with a lot of empathy, the excruciatingly difficult times they undergo during and after treatment are beyond even my imagination. Small children, aged about 2-10 years are afflicted with this horrific disease. In an age of running around, falling, making mistakes and learning new things, some of them are crippled and forced on wheelchairs. Elderly people are more seriously affected, with their waning immune and overall health systems. So, I wondered, with a minor spinal issue of my back, if being happy can help me deal with the pain, wont happiness in their lives alleviate their suffering – even if it’s a little bit? The children stationed in the child care center on campus. Can’t anything be done for them to reduce their anguish? I remember when we celebrated Children’s day with them some years ago, how happy they all seemed! Even if the happiness that the cake and the chocolates brought was temporary, it made them smile in moments of pain. That sense of fulfillment is difficult for me to aptly describe in words. If something on the same lines could be done in the hospital, orphanages, home for sick people, a wider patient population holds a chance of being benefitted. Nothing elaborate and fancy: I bet even a simple game of gully cricket might make the children stationed in my cancer hospital delighted. Of course, chocolates would be an added bonus! For the elderly patients in sick homes or hospitals, reading out from Holy Scriptures, moral stories, musical evenings or simply spending some time with them are some suggestions. In fact, listening to their experiences and their grueling fight with the disease might teach us a lesson or two. We usually spend our weekdays and holidays whiling away our time- eating and watching TV. If we can divert just some of our evening time and small finances, we could end up doing so much good work. Trust me. Doing a noble job like this is far more satisfying than spending a lazy afternoon binging on your favourite food. So this weekend, plan a visit to the nearest orphanage, hospital or sick homes, and take your children along. Inculcate the lesson of being sensitive to other’s problems and miseries from a very tender age in them. In the process, make them good human beings. Some of my talented friends are planning on a musical evening for an old age home that houses terminally ill tuberculosis and AIDS patients. The excitement of the care-taker (warden) on hearing the idea only tells me how really important such things are – for the less fortunate people than us.
For those who don’t want to take the extra effort. If you know anyone going through a difficult situation health-wise, make it a point to keep the person cheerful during periods of increased discomfort or pain. Try to get their minds off the problem, even if temporarily. Be a little more courteous and understanding when they suffer more. If it’s your mom, help her in household chores. If it’s your dad, discuss in detail the latest twists in politics. If it’s your wife, let her have the pleasure in eating in what you can cook. This might not cure their problem, it will just give them an enhanced motivation to positively deal with their difficulty. Like when you prefer to be in the company of people you love when you are sick. You like someone to be near you in times of distress. These people, while making you happy, drive your sickness-related problems out of your mind!
How true it is! Only when one endures something, one understands what it is to actually deal with it. My back-pain has made me more sensitive to other people’s suffering. Thankfully I am surrounded by a wonderful set of people who are trying to make this difficult phase tolerable for me. Though now I have only 1 favourite remaining to vent out my ire (me and my best friend have parted ways), life is not all bad. His antics, his efforts to make me smile even when I was crying (because of the pain) still make me smile when I remember them. As a new feel good factor, I am seriously contemplating getting a pet (adopting a stray dog) – another very effective way of dealing with stress for all you loners in pain out there.
To conclude, happiness does make life bearable, especially for those in sickness. And there is an enormous population of unhealthy people waiting to be loved and made happy. Go find your sense of fulfillment, achievement and true happiness.