Monday, November 27, 2017

Laugh Attack

I'm laughing on the inside here.
I love to laugh; even when it hurts and I can't breathe. For me, the funniest moments are akin to three-quarters of the jokes on "Family Guy". A visualization to go with something mildly absurd. This has resulted in untimely giggles and stupid grins in the middle of classes and meetings. Such visualizations mesh well with stand-up comedy and times out with friends.
It's not really a secret that laughter is "the best medicine". There are studies linking it to improving mental health among, reducing stress response, lowering blood pressure, providing pain relief and helping the immune system. I have found that turning on some stand-up comedy on a drive home from a long day can really help my evening go smoothly.

However, as with my opening sentence there are literally times when the laughing becomes a little debilitating. Hard laughing does result in my wheezing at times. I also have had instances of light headed-ness and bad headaches afterwards. I wonder if they can pin Jim Gaffigan or Louis CK for my demise if it were to occur.

One such instance, and the reason for this blog entry, occurred on Thanksgiving (American, not Canadian, not that that matters). After dinner, we were gathered around the table playing board games. We were playing a game that required teams to list off various things. For example, list five makes of European automobiles. The topic that got me, oddly enough, was "things made from pumpkin". Well there's pie, roll-ups, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin break, pumpkin bars, pumpkin...omelette. That last one was mine out of desperation from a lack of remaining credible ideas.

The grossed-out look on my brother-in-laws face set off a serious laugh attack. Visualizing someone eating eggs filled with pumpkin mush and being disgusted, but still eating it. I doubled over then the laughing subsided. 

For some reason I revisited the scene a moment later and doubled over laughing again. This time it was a laugh where I couldn't inhale back.  I felt myself go light in the head and black crept in on my periphery. I went back to sitting, but laid more prone. Static. My sister cam over by me concerned and said my eyes rolled back as I sat up. I believe I recall the whole moments, the black engulfing and then coming back. Like an oxygen starved pilot on a high-G force turn, I think I had a minor black out from laughing of all things! Fortunately, I felt fine. The buzz from the game was killed though. It was getting a little later and I think no one wanted another laughing blackout. 

Over the next couple days I have been pondering over the event. There's nothing really peculiar about it in searching Google. It wasn't uncontrollable to the extent that when the humor subsided I was able to stop. Still, it took laughter to a point of discomfort I didn't enjoy. Post game also had some asthma catch up to me as well.  

It would be ideal to have my laughter and be able to breath in a normal, brain oxygenating manner. that has me wondering if there is a way to moderate laughter. There's less on this in the Google search. Much of it seems to be people with a not so fervent sense of humor, justifying not laughing on some spiritual grounds. I see there are many too much free time to decry such a natural reaction. That's not to say there aren't inappropriate times for laughter or inappropriate things to consider funny. Personally, I find that there are many mean spirited jokes that are just not funny at all. 

Perhaps there is a mindfulness that can be had. As with exercise or meditation, just remembering to breathe and relax. It sounds worth trying. I do know that when I snicker at a bad time (i.e. in a meeting) a deep breath can help it dissipate. I will have to try it next time I'm in a comedic situation, or in a situation where comedy is present and report back on how it goes.

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