Why Inappropriate Laughter is the Best Kind

Photo by Ryan McGinnis

Twenty eight hours ago, I was saved by laughter.

I was holding my dog on a leash in the freezing cold, spraying hydrogen peroxide down her throat. Before you call the ASPCA, let me explain.

Twenty eight hours ago, my dog consumed half of a Mississippi mud cake, made with pure cocoa. As soon as I found the evidence (or lack thereof), I called my little brother, a vet in California, for advice. He said, “You need to make her vomit. A lot.”

He told me how to do it and as soon as my husband got home from work, I went outside with my supplies and my oldest son, hoping to prevent a visit to the local emergency vet.

And right there, in the middle of the yard, watching my dog empty her stomach, I was completely hysterical.

To say that yesterday was a hard day would be an understatement. After having been up most of the night with my ill one year old, I got her an appointment first thing in the morning. Because it was vacation week and my husband was at work, I needed to drag all five children with me, swath them in antibacterial gel and hope for the best.

When we got there, I left my three oldest in the waiting room. I took my two youngest into the exam room with me and waited. My daughter was lethargic, a puddle in my arms while being undressed, poked and prodded. When they first took her temperature, there was no fever. After listening to her lungs, my pediatrician said he believed it was just a virus. He swabbed her for flu, then RSV, and left the room to wait for results.

When he came back in, she was flu negative, RSV positive, and getting sicker by the minute. Her breathing was ragged, her pulse was rapid and I knew this was more than a glorified cold. My good, patient pediatrician took her temp again (which had gone up to 102), watched her breathing and timed her pulse. Then the nurse administered albuterol through a nebulizer.

Meanwhile, from the sound of it, things were not going well in the waiting room. Swaddling my sick girl in my jacket, I went to give my older kids my death stare.

Finally, the doctor recommended a chest X-ray. To top off our lovely visit, as I started to get my youngest dressed (after one hour and forty-five minutes), she broke out in a rash all over her body.

At that point, I knew I was grasping at straws but asked my doubtful pediatrician to swab her for strep and bundled up the kiddos, anxious to get them in the car. As we pulled away, I was inundated with questions which I didn’t have the brainpower to answer.

After making lunch with one arm, I sat down to hold my sick daughter. She dozed fitfully in my arms while I waited for a phone call from the pediatrician. When it finally came, it brought relief. She not only had RSV, but also pneumonia and strep throat as well. The antibiotic was called in and relief was on its way.

At that moment, I heard a loud crash in the kitchen. It was the Mississippi mud cake, and it was gone by the time I got there. After the phone call to my brother–whose chosen profession has saved us a lot of money on sick dogs, rabbits and chickens–I cried on the couch, giving in to the stress of the day.

After what seemed like a long time, I heard my husband’s car pull in with the antibiotics in hand. I passed my sleeping daughter off to him to take care of the dog.

And… I started to laugh. I felt all the tension of the day leaving my body and my mind. For the first time, I was grateful for my weird habit of laughing at inappropriate times (funerals, when I see people fall).

Letting it all out in the backyard let me see that tomorrow would inevitably be better. Because there was no flipping way it could be worse.

My daughter is much better today and my dog is chocolate-free. I’m pretty sure I’m still going to laugh at inappropriate times, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all. Maybe all that laughter has kept my blood pressure low and allowed me to let go of my usual very tight grip on life. Either way, I am grateful for it.

If I ever see you trip and I start to giggle, just remember that I’m laughing at you, not with you. But it’s good for me.

Katie Murray is a 36-year-old mom to five children who give her plenty of fodder for writing and laughter. You can read more at Random Thoughts.

Photo: Ryan McGinnis


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Comments (2)

  1. Mark Summa

    Thank You for the writing. It brings back a vivid memory. This is a different situation but still healing. When my wife and I, at the time were coming out of the hospital after leaving our son for the first time with his grandparents for 7 days, and we just lost our daughter to a bad heart condition and my wife nearly dying from a complication at the same time, my son let out the biggest howling scream of tension release and then stopped and looked at us with a straight face and smiled. Being so overwhelmed beyond words we both , than all three started laughing so hard and hysterically. I can imagine what the hospital staff were thinking or the parking attendant. It was the most memorable and toughest part of my life as a parent and human. The laughter brought us back from the edge. It didn’t make our life’s problems disappear but made them easier to cope with. I still laugh and cry thinking of that time. My daughters name was Racheal, even though she passed, is still a blessing in our hearts and lives. I thank you and many blessings to you and Mike and your beautiful family.
    With Regards
    Mark Summa

  2. Amanda @ Queenofthelandoftwigsnberries

    It sounds like your day is something that movies are made out of. Seriously. Hoping everyone got through the no horrible, no good day and you got an ENORMOUS glass of wine.