Catching up with Karyn

What’s So Funny About Poop? Using Humor in Health Education

It’s no secret: I believe in the power of play.  When we set aside our serious resolve and a little bit of dignity in order to have a good time, we free our minds to absorb information in a fresh and effective way.  Play awakens the imagination and the intellect. “Humanity has advanced,” Tom Robbins said, “when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.”

That sense of play is on full display at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Check out this NY Times Article, “Where Children Discover Their Inner Child.” Eat,Sleep,Play: Building Health Every Day is an interactive exhibit that harnesses the power of play to teach children about their bodies, and what they can do to stay healthy.  The exhibit includes the Royal Flush, which uses an over-sized toilet and Mary Poppins style voice to talk about bodily functions.  As you can...

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What’s So Funny About Wednesdays: Adding Humor To Your Daily Routine

When we talk about using humor to help more effectively manage chronic health conditions like diabetes, people often protest that they’re just not funny people. Luckily, it’s more important to be able to SEE funny than it is to actually BE funny.

Recognizing  humorous moments throughout the day gives us a chance to enjoy them —and all the positive physical and mental health benefits humor offers.  If you want to use humor to more effectively manage your diabetes, you can start by searching for humor in your environment.

We live in a funny world.  We’re surrounded by humor, both naturally occurring and man-made.  Children are experts at finding humor. They love to laugh, and will eagerly seek out experiences that they find funny.  The problem is that we get older, our lives become so very, very busy that we don’t even have the time to stop and appreciate the funny moments.  We’re so busy, in fact, that we...

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What's So Funny About Healthcare?

It might be hard to find an answer to that question.  The healthcare community is facing a plethora of perplexing problems.  There’s a continual pressure to do more with less.  All we have to do is see more patients, cure more conditions, and increase customer satisfaction with fewer staff, in less time, with fewer resources every day.

It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot to laugh about.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Healthcare needs humor.  Humor has incredible benefits for our patients, our health care providers, and for the health care organizations and systems.

The strategic use of humor can transform the health care experience for everyone. Here’s how humor can help:

  • Improve the patient experience, opening the doors to effective communication and alleviating anxiety
  • Create a positive work place environment. Combat the problem of nursing hostility and staff tension
  • Provide staff with an effective, low cost way to reduce...
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Understanding Why Patients Use Humor When They Talk To Nurses

I work in a neurologist’s office. We try to get really complete histories from every new patient but the patient I was working with, Mr. K, hadn’t checked anything on his intake paperwork. No history of heart disease, no high blood pressure, no cancer scares – not a thing. That’s so rare among our patients (Average Age 78!) that I had to ask him about it.

“Medical history?” He shrugged. “Can’t say there’s much. Of course, I’ve had amnesia as long as I can remember.”

This little grin pushed up the corners of Mr. K’s mouth, and his eyes suddenly started twinkling. I burst out laughing, and so did he. It turns out he did have a little bit of medical history, and he shared that with me after our laugh.

I was dropping off the file when one of the other nurses stopped me. “What was going on in there?”

I shared Mr. K’s joke. “I hate it when they try to be funny,” she said, rolling her...

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My Pain is Not Like Your Pain!

How many times, for example, have you had a patient report Level 14 Pain – when you can get them to take a break from the animated conversation they’re having on one phone and text-fest they’re having on another? That patient is almost inevitably followed by a seriously injured person who protests that they’re "Just fine – can I go home now?" Talking them into having at least a few stitches to keep their innards in the usual places is a job in and of itself.

Humor To Help Keep Perspective

Tragedy is when I cut my finger.  Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.

Mel Brooks made a critical point with this quote. It’s far easier to find humor in the things that happen to other people than it is to laugh at our own circumstances. Humor experts caution us to keep that in mind, both when we want to laugh at someone else’s situation and when people laugh at ours. Anyone of us could slip in a Pool of Unspecified Origin while en...

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How Humor Helps: Pediatric Patients

"You either love working peds or you don’t work peds." I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this nursing 'wisdom.' There’s more than a grain of truth to it: generally nurses who specialize in pediatrics tend to love their work passionately.

However, enjoying what you do doesn’t mean that you don’t have challenges on the job – and if you’ve never attempted to make a bed with one hand, while holding a baby in the other and figuring out dosages by weight in your mind, you don’t know challenging! (And if you can master that, try finding scrubs that don’t show formula stains!)

Luckily, humor can help ease some of the challenges of pediatric nursing. Here are three ways humor helps make life with pediatric patients easier:

Humor Help Make The Medical Environment Less Frightening For Our Patients

"Can you make my nose stop running?" Tyler looked up, wide eyed. "Because I’m tired of boogers." The poor kid was sixty-nine...

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Russian Prosecutors Probe Parasailing Donkey

I stared at the headline in disbelief.  This world offers up many strange things, I know.  You can’t be a nurse for any length of time before you run headfirst into the impossible, the insane, or at least the definitively ill advised.  But here we are, looking at the New York Times, a reasonably well respected journalistic outlet, reading that Russian Prosecutors Probe Parasailing Donkey.

Somewhere, a Times editor is laughing his head off.  Not at the story, which is little more than a questionable marketing stunt that left a donkey dangling above the Azov sea, braying its displeasure as the waves crashed beneath its hooves for half an hour.

It’s the headline itself that’s funny – read it aloud to anyone at random, a colleague, a friend, a stranger on the street – and you’ll get at least a chuckle.  The words are so absurd – the juxtaposition of donkeys and parasailing so unexpected – that the only thing you...

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The Legacy of Laughter: Creating Bonds that Last

In the New York Times today, Ellen Lupton has a column on how to lose a legacy.  Lupton examines our relationship with physical things: how keeping a set of dishes within a family for generations provokes feelings on continuity and connectedness – or, loosely paraphrased, how her non-hunting husband wound up with a doe’s head hanging proudly in their suburban living room.

These items can be wonderful, meaningful additions to our lives, Lupton asserts—but they can also be a burden. Storing, moving, and caring for the souvenirs of days gone by can be a challenge – as anyone who has ever tried to decorate for the holidays and move cross country in the same year can tell you!

Even if you want to retain every memento, from your children’s macaroni masterpiece through the dessert menu from the last time you went to Olive Garden, there’s always a risk of loss.  Natural disasters, housekeeping concerns, and plain old entropy are conspiring...

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A Crude Awakening: What The BP Oil Spill Teaches Us About Humor

There’s absolutely nothing funny about the BP oil spill.  No one would argue that – yet people are still laughing. (For example, see BP Spills Coffee)  If there’s one lesson we can take away from this entire tragedy, it’s that humor can fill numerous roles, some of which aren’t immediately obvious.

Humor Provides a Framework for Processing Tragedy

“The oil spill is getting bad,” David Letterman said, “There is so much oil and tar now in the Gulf of Mexico, Cubans can now walk to Miami.”  Confronted with an environmental disaster of unimaginable scope, we reach for ways to make sense of it all.  Letterman’s joke captured the scale of the spill in an unexpected way – weaving in some social commentary guaranteed to get a laugh from his audience -  deftly informing and assuring his audience that the situation was indeed that bad.

In a similar vein, we see the quips about BP’s new...

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Never Try To Teach A Pig To Sing…

An experience that makes your customers ‘Feel Good’ is an experience that is going to bring those customers back to you.  More than that, “Feel Good” creates word of mouth: customers love to tell their friends, co-workers, and at least some of their relatives about the fantastic time they’ve had, so that their friends, colleagues, and family can enjoy the experience as well.

The problem is that not everyone wants your customers (or patients, if you’re in a health care setting!) to feel good.  In a book I’ve recently written with two of the smartest people I know (T. Scott Gross and Greg Ayers), we examined the three types of people you’ve probably got working for you, and how they feel about creating a “Feel Good” experience for your customers.

Never Teach a Pig to Sing…It Wastes Your Time and Irritates The Pig!

Not everyone is psychologically capable of extending “Feel Good” to perfect...

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