I took my first steps at University of Iowa Hospital. I cannot remember the exact date, nor can I remember the exact time. I can, however, remember the physical therapist’s exact words.
She instructed me on how to use the crutch canes. She gave me assurance that she would keep me up and protect me from falling. She gave me strict, detailed instructions on how to encourage my uncooperative body to cooperate. She then told me, “If anyone walks by with a white lab coat, stick out your cane quick and try to trip them. When we are on staff we cannot trip the doctors, but our patients can! Help us out!”
You see, I had lost a lot of my sight then. I could barely see a white coat from a tan wall. She knew that. I could not react quickly because my reaction speed had drastically slowed. She understood this. If I stuck out a cane, she was aware I would have fallen over to that side. She had an understanding of all of this. Yet, at the same time, she also held onto the wisdom that I could still laugh. The numbness created by the stroke may cause our bodies to no longer feel physical pain. Our minds might be lethargically slow as the recovery process begins. For a moment, she took away the fact that I was no longer an independent and strong mom/wife/daughter. As a replacement, she gave me an amazing, unexpected gift. At that moment, in that one instant, she created joyful laughter. I treasured that distraction.
I gained invaluable knowledge at that moment. Even when it feels like all has been lost, when we feel like we have nothing left within our self, we can still create a smile which may give way to a laugh. Once the genuine laugh has escaped our unexpecting lips, we cannot help but feel better. No, humor will not provide you with the sudden ability to field an amazing burst of recovery; however, it does provide miraculous groundwork from which healing can begin. Find humor, find smiles and you will find your soul lifting up once again.
The other thing I grasped on to was hope. My youngest child was learning to walk the very same week I was taking my first steps. They picked her up by holding under her arms. Me, I was held up by a gait belt. I held on to hope that I would learn to walk as strongly and gracefully as she would soon carry herself. My oldest daughter was two and a half years old. She could not see over the wheelchair as she tried her hardest to guide the wheels in a straight line. I held strong onto hope that I would soon be the one guiding her and providing direction rather than this tiny girl trying to steer me on the correct path.
Humor and hope can get lost. They can get knocked out of you when life knocks you down so far. It is not always easy to grasp these gifts and rework them back into your spirit. I promise though, whatever the physical or mental ailment that you may be recovering from, hope and humor can be unimaginably powerful tools to help your body learn to heal again. Using a mix of a generous amount of both of these, it may just create a contagious substance that will feed your soul and help refuel your body. Through humor and hope, we shall all, once again, heal.