Sunday, July 8, 2018

Howzzis for a baby-boomer pick-up line? "What's your top-10 palliative-care discs?"

Early last week, my wife Helena and I went to see a friend, Dave, in the hospital. (Dave's not his real name, but what I'm about to tell you really happened.)

I was standing beside Dave's bed; Helena was sitting at its foot. She commented on how high-tech the bed was; with all sorts of switches, guages and little lights.

I looked down at Dave and said, "All these years Dave I figured you'd be going out in an electric chair, not an electric bed."

Dave sort of whisper-laughed and said. "Electric chair. That's funny."

And I was, like "yessssss!"

People who know me well might tell you I spend a lot of time trying to make people laugh. Never mind whether I'm successful or not.

Some might say the constant joking thing is as an attention-getting device. Which makes sense. After all, I was raised the youngest of 10 brothers and sisters. We're all pretty good at playing the what-I-have-to-say-is-way-more-entertaining-than-what-you-have-to-say game.  (I just remembered something. My friend Nigel Simms once observed that we Carters all employ the string-of-hyphenated-words-linked-together-as-an-adjective trick. An observant man, that Simms.)

Where was I?

Right. At Dave's bedside. What was particularly happy-making about that particular little electric-chair joke (Nigel was sure right, re: hyphens) was this. Dave is in palliative care.

You read that correctly.

He is not coming home. It's sad that he's so sick, and we'll miss having him around. However, soon his suffering will be over and I'm really glad we went to say bye.

But what I'm getting at is this.

I'm really happy with my electric-chair joke.

Here's why:

If you can make somebody laugh when they're in palliative, your work here is done.

Like it or not--all of us are going to have to get comfy with "palliative care" real soon. (I even wrote a song about it. Thank me for NOT posting it on YouTube.) Palliative care is going to be part of your life, sooner or later.

And about a week before our visit with Dave, I was driving in a car with a lawyer, writer, beer connoisseur and blogger named Edward Noble and he asked me what my 10 desert-island discs are. What records would I choose if they were to be the only ones I'd ever get to listen to?  ("Desert Island discs" is a great conversation starter, btw.)

But I'm never going to be on a desert island.

I will, however, wind up in Dave's slippers.

I will want to be cheered up.

So here, in no discernible order, are Pete'sBlog&Grille's Top-10 Palliative-Care picks.

Things that will make me laugh, when the going gets as tough as going gets.

10) First, lots of visits with family. These are key and when I assume Dave's position, please expect Google Map instructions to my bedside, from wherever you are. All Carters and MacIsaacs (my mom's maiden name) and McIntosh's are infected with that last-laugh gene. My cousin Don MacIsaac (the Don MacIsaac in Vancouver; not the D.M. in Germany) said "we could be on the phone with a cousin talkin' about how we're so depressed we've a loaded gun to our heads but by the end of the phonecall we'll be laughin' and talkin' about gettin' a drink together."

9) "Blazing Saddles."

8) Visits from almost any friends who know the best conversations are punctuated with laughter. Take Rodney Frost, in Orillia, for instance. He once pointed out that laughter accompanies discovery; Every conversation with Rodney is a voyage of discovery and when he and I talk on the phone, we don't say goodbye; we always end phonecalls the same way--in fits of laughter that make conversation simply impossible. I'm lucky enough to have several friends like Rodney. Nigel from back there in paragraph five is one.

7) "Young Frankenstein."

6) Speaking of horror movies, if you're scared of palliative care visits, get over it. Once you go to one palliative care ward, you'll be overcome by the sense of calm that pervades the place. I mean it. I've been to, I think, five, and they're all happy-making in a very strange way. If you know of somebody in palliative care, quitcherbellyachin and go see them. You think it's hard on you? Think about what it's like for them!

5) A few episodes of "One Foot In The Grave." The Eric Idle theme song alone's worth the price of admission.

4) Screw this list. It's beautiful out. Life is far too short for me to stay inside writing about palliative care.

Besides. You know what I'm talking about.

Laughter may not be the best medicine, but why shouldn't it be the last?