Family and Humor

Dear Everybody,

Our phone always rings when I am trying to get some work done at the computer. Sure enough, it is one of our kids whom I have explained my schedule to and what times are best for phone calls. Well, the other night when the call was disruptive and using my precious and limited free time, our daughter let me know the call was for my sake. She said, “My calling you so often is so you have to get up, keep active and avoid blood clots from forming.” Once you smile or laugh, you can’t be upset or angry. I think our daughter learned from my wife and me; how do you handle an angry husband? “You’re so handsome when you are angry.” Or, “You’re upsetting the pets.” Neither resolves the problem, but they make me smile and away goes the anger.

Our daughter was born with a hearing impairment, and was the one whose comment ended a sibling conflict when I entered the kitchen and said, “You may choose peace or you may choose conflict.” Her response, “I’ll have pizza.” The conflict immediately resolved.

Our daughter recently had carpal tunnel release surgery and has learned from that, too. What an experience it’s been. Her message: “Let it be a lesson for us to be blessed with all limbs and faculties working. Her problems: My brain is moving faster than my only working hand—can’t type without the fingers hitting the wrong keys on the computer. After all, you need both hands to type. I’m using one hand. Amazing reading what was typed afterwards. Putting the password in, forget about it. It must have taken me four times before hitting the correct key. I know my vision is good.

The hand is healing well. I can almost feel my nose when picking it! First day was completely numb, second day felt like sandpaper. Now it feels like fine sandpaper. I have to hold my hand up over my head to keep swelling down. People first react with the, “Oh my. What happened?” I want to tell them I won in a good fist fight but I’m too honest. Then you have people asking me if I have a question because my hand’s up in the air!!! Talk about eating, I must be wearing most of the food on me—lots of love. It’s been a fun, challenging experience. I’d do it again and again to help my hands function better.”

I would say her attitude is something for all of us to acquire. As a surgeon, I can tell you the body experiences what the mind visualizes. It amazed the nurses when some of my patients woke up after major abdominal surgery and refused pain medications because they were sore, but not in pain. I can tell you when they saw the procedure as the right thing for them to do, and as a way to be healed, not mutilated or cut up, their body lived the message. I even had one of my patients attend a lecture I gave, the night of her surgery at Yale in Madison. I have never forgotten her response to my asking her, “What are you doing here?” She said, “Don’t worry, the nurses put all the tubes under my dress.” Studies show that placebo surgery also cures problems in patients who thought the surgery, which was simply a skin incision, had been performed to correct their affliction.

Please remember, anger puts you into a place of danger. And a major part of danger is related to your anger in the world and in your life. Instead of bringing the anger with you wherever you go, bring a sense of humor and empowerment and do what is right for you, based upon your feelings and not your thoughts and fears. The Monday morning increase in all afflictions is related to the internal chemistry created by our feelings when we get up on Monday—and staying in bed cures nothing. A change of attitude, a sense of humor, a little love of life, and of the other residents of our planet, can help enormously.

One of the reasons I became a surgeon was because I loved fixing things. It was painful for me to realize that, as a surgeon, I couldn’t fix everything. And it took a lot of personal work for me to adjust to the nature of life, and suffering I couldn’t resolve. But I have also realized there are a lot of things I can fix, and which make me feel good. They can be things as simple as clearing broken branches from the road, or repairing a neighbor’s mailbox as I walk our dog Rags. I just feel good doing something for someone else, and I may add that I love to do it anonymously when the residents are away. So it is my thing and does not in any way seek a reward, or even a thank you. I enjoy it when they wonder who did that. I mentioned a while back how I repaired a mailbox only to see a new one replace it a week later. Then I discussed with the neighbor and her family that I was the miracle worker, and we all had a good laugh as they had ordered the new mailbox before I did the repair job.

In closing, the mailbox theme makes me want to share a word of gratitude for our mailman, Jim Franco. One of his acts of kindness is putting rubber bands around our large volume of mail. It makes it much easier to take out of the box and carry home. At times he brings the mail to our door, so I don’t have to go to the post office to pick things up which don’t fit in a mailbox. I can tell when he has a day off. I also return the rubber bands as my act of kindness to make it easier for him. And my newspaper man, Bob Vendrone, offered to leave me another newspaper, as a gift, on days when USA Today isn’t printed. So remember folks, there are a lot of ways to help fix the world. A theme that is a significant part of Judaism, and I hope will become a theme and an actuality for all religions, races, nationalities, and the readers of The Bulletin someday.

Peace, Love & Healing,

Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
~  Marcus Aurelius