Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Too Distressful, Stressful to Giggle

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. [NIV Proverbs 17:22] See alternate translations here: Proverbs 17:22 . I like "A joyful mind maketh age flourishing: a sorrowful spirit drieth up the bones." [DRB]

Merriam-Webster on-line definition of the verb giggle(s)
Main Entry: 1gig·gle
Pronunciation: \ˈgi-gəl\
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): gig·gled; gig·gling \-g(ə-)liŋ\
Etymology: imitative
Date: 1509
intransitive verb : to laugh with repeated short catches of the breath

transitive verb : to utter with a giggle
— gig·gler \-g(ə-)lər\ noun
— gig·gling·ly \-g(ə-)liŋ-\ adverb
— gig·gly \-g(ə-)\ adjective

I have not found an appropriate adjective or definition for prolonged giggling, or giggling becoming uncontrollable, prolonged, gasping-for-breath laughter accompanied by tears, ending in coughing spasms followed by an asthma attack. SEIZURE may come close.

My best friend (BF) and I have known each other approximately 30 years. We have innumerable funny adventures shopping, out-of-town treks, coaching Odyssey of the Mind students, arts and crafts events. You name it, we've may have tried it at least once, often with disappointing, but harmless, endings which usually are humorous. When we leave together for any reason, our husbands in unison say, "Don't call us if you go to jail!"

Formally an owner/operator of a beauty shop, she cuts my hair occasionally. Her day job now is journalist, food and on-line editor and blogger for The Baxter Bulletin, a Mountain Home AR newspaper, for which I once worked as a stringer reporter.

BF and I, with another friend, organized TeleCare (A Simple, Single Phone Call). We organized and served a Community Christmas Dinner for about 5 years with the help of many volunteers and groups who donated time, material and food.

Interestingly, we both suffer some of the same maladies, like earaches, allergies, asthma, and sometimes viruses passed between families. We forgive easily for the viral "gifts." BF connected me with her Little Rock allergy and asthma physician in 1991, for which I am eternally grateful. He finally found treatments which returned me to some degree of normal functioning.

But we have a mutual habit that causes mutual stress and distress. We seem to find mirth in similar happenings, events and circumstances. When we, together, or separately begin to giggle, it continues in an unstoppable crescendo, ending only when persistent, uncontrollable coughing and tears becomes an asthma attack!

On trips this giggling has started as a result of our conversation or something we've seen while cruising down a highway. It is miraculous we've never had an accident. When we start coughing and wheezing, we pass the inhalers, labeled "Emergency/exercise inhaler - use 1-2 puffs intraorally as needed."

We are holding inhaler in one hand, exhaling, pressing the inhaler to release 1-2 puffs, inhaling and holding breath for 10 seconds, all the while driving 60+ m.p.h.

The adage, "two heads are better than one" fits us, too. We figured a way to beat the $95 spirometry (breathing/wheezing) test administered when we have appointments with allergy/asthma doctor. We simply puff the emergency inhaler several times in the restroom before entering the physicians's office. I hate paying $95 for a test and failing it. Just doesn't make sense to me...

We ace the test every time. Of course by the time we are through doping ourselves, we have a not-so-fine hand tremor and increased heart rate, side effects of the inhaler. However, if either of us is experiencing immediate respiratory distress, we don't pull this little stunt.

Our allergy/asthma Doc has no giggling solutions, except don't giggle. Now that is NO FUN. Besides giggling is spontaneous. I don't say: "Hmm it is now time to giggle, or STOP giggling!" It's like sneezing, an instantaneous reflex reaction to thought or circumstance.

Doc seemed to have heard this giggling/laughing complaint before. It seems the muscles and nerves required to giggle are similar to those that provoke coughing and breathing disorders.

The sound itself requires use of air and vocal cords. The definition implies breathing is required to giggle: to laugh with repeated short catches of the breath. I have shortness of breath routinely, so "short catches of the breath" are very short to nil, which may be why the end result is coughing (a kind of reverse breathing) and asthma (constrictive spasms of the bronchial tree, restricting proper air flow).

And how much fun is carrying a pharmacy with you, just in case your funny bone is tickled and you descend into uncontrollable giggling and laughing?

'Tis a puzzlement." [from the King and I Broadway musical]

{Photos are my personal medications, all of which require prescriptions. Not pictured are two cough syrups,two oral Rxs and a nasal spray.]


Arkansas Patti said...

Just love that proverb.
Giggles are good for so many things, I hate that they cause you a medical problem. Doesn't seem right does it?
Think you ladies need to do what cell phone users should do, pull off the road to giggle. Of course that may take the fun out of a good giggle but has to be safer. Also might take you forever to make a short trip.
I have a friend like that. We crack each other up and others just shake their heads looking for the humor.
Keep up the giggling.

Pat - Arkansas said...

I think it's grand that you and your friend have such a great time together. And, although "laughter is the best medicine" in many cases, it seems not to be the case with you two. I'm sorry you have to carry your inhalers with you during your visits, but perhaps that's a relatively small price to pay for the giggle-invoking camaraderie.

Renie Burghardt said...

Hi Carol (Anne). Hehe.

Love the proverb as well. I have a best friend like that, and we have more fun together. We go off on adventures and giggle all te time. People who don't know us have often asked if we're sisters, and we say "we're tootsie twins!" And we are. Neither one of us has asthma, (thank goodness) but we're both oldies with touches of arthritis, and other ailments, but none of them stops us from having fun.

Sunday evening, I got in the way of a jet propelled rock coming from the lawnmower (my son was cutting the field) that gave me a bloody, horrible looking right eye! I spent yesterday with an eye doctor. When done, I met Eileen for lunch, wearing my sunglasses. "You look like a celebrity with those one," she quipped. Guess I will be looking like a celebrity for several weeks, cause I'm not taking them off in town, until the eye has healed. But this bloody eye will not stop me from enjoying life.

What a fun post!

Have a great Tuesday.


Amber Star said...

My sister, my daughter, and sometims my husband can get me laughing so hard it can be an embarrasment. I never know when thy are going to get me, but it is always one on one. Once my sister helped me move a desk to anothr floor of where we worked. She had me back the desk into the elevator and then she reached in and pushed the up button. I couldn't reach th buttons. I was laughing so hard it was pitiful, becaus I couldn't get out of th elevator. She was standing around on the first floor chatting up someone who worked in the same building when it dawned on her what she had done. She came flying up the stairs and opened the door and helped me get the desk out. We both nearly collapsed over that.

NitWit1 said...

AR Patti: yeah we should pull over to use inhalers and get control of ourselves, but then we'd probably get tickled all over again. Others think we are hysterical, not necesarily funny.

Pat- Arkansas: Yeah we are used to the inhaler. Sometimes just one carries the inhaler - me- as I have much worse asthma overall. We share the one inhaler but do sanitize it between users.

Renie: Watch those flying rocks Geez that could be really bad--like sling shots. But enjoy your friend & "sister." I consider my BF as much a sister. We share just about everything.

Amber Star: Stuck on an elevator I can see the humor..maybe not at the time but later.

Send me an address so I can send you something.

Liz said...

And isn't it funny when you just can't stop and everyone else - if they were laughing to begin with - is sated and you still keep on spluttering! as long as I cross my legs I'm okay!

My word verifier is Booffer - I think that could be just the word you're looking for!

kenju said...

I don't have asthma, but my BOF (best old friend) and I can get into giggle fits at the drop of a hat. I have known her since I was 14 and she was 26.

Thanks for the visit!!

Lorna said...

I always loved that part of the play/movie where the King says It is a puzzlement. I look for puzzlements in my life, and every time I find one, something interesting ensues.