Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Whoopee Cushions At Work...

I don't know why Whoopee Cushions are so funny...they just are. Frankly, I'm not sure why most people are so repulsed by bodily functions, yet those functions are the butt (no pun intended...OK, maybe a little) of so many jokes.

All right...I admit it. Mimicking splatty fart sounds IS really base humor and quite adolescent. That's why I felt I HAD to take a Whoopee Cushion to work yesterday!

Most of you already know the type of work I do. It's pretty serious stuff. Except for inappropriate humor, there's really nothing funny about the work I do or the serious problems of the people I see. It can actually be down right sad and depressing if I were to dwell too long on the myriad of issues of human suffering I am forced to deal with daily in my work.

One of the blessings of my job is the wonderful group of coworkers I have...they are all smart, unique, a bit eccentric, and most have a wicked sense of humor. These are the tools we all carry which help to keep us safe and mentally sound each day as we immerse ourselves into the lives of the mentally ill population we serve. But, we are ALL human, too (contrary to some popular belief!).

One of my favorite coworkers just returned yesterday from a ten day ordeal of having to move her mother to a retirement facility. It was incredibly stressful for her and I am sure upsetting on many levels. I doubt there were many laughs during the event. She is also not one to share deep, personal feelings at work or delve into her personal life with coworkers...it's just not her nature.

I was really searching for some type of card or gift I could give her that would say, "Hey, I'm sorry your week has been so stressful and I have missed you at work. I care about you and I hope you know I am here for you if you need". I also had to balance out the fact if I DID say something like that to her, it would be completely out of character for ME as well as a bit awkward...we just don't share deep feelings with each other...it's not our nature!

What I decided WAS "our nature" would be a great, splatty, fart sound to share laughs over...it was the best way I could think of to tell her I had missed her and I was glad she was back at work. Looking back on yesterday's events, I think it was the absolute best gift I have ever given her! We laughed until we cried...it was truly a touching moment.

Now I'm sure some of you are saying (in a rather judgmental tone), "How juvenile. That's disgusting. I would think people in your line of work would be more professional". Wait...actually you may not be saying that at all...I think I just channeled my mother! But regardless of where those thoughts come from, they are probably true. MOST people looking into my little fish bowl at work WOULD turn their nose up in disgust by our juvenile behavior.

But what most people looking into my work world could not also understand is this: The type of work my colleagues and I do is ENORMOUSLY stressful. It is very difficult to shield ourselves from the levels of pain and human suffering we see on a daily basis. We sometimes privately cry over the incredible losses we are forced to witness each day.
The rewards of our work are not always visible to the human eye and must be felt in our hearts. And no matter how "professional" we are, we suffer a bit each time we are exposed to the lives of the clients we see. And this is ON TOP of dealing with the issues already present in our personal lives.

I'm sure my friend is worried about her mother and is most likely dealing with many losses in watching the slow decompensation of a mother who was once a strong and vibrant person. I'm certain I really have no understanding of exactly what she may be going through...after all, we didn't talk about it yesterday.

We also didn't talk about the overwhelming fear I am experiencing in quiet moments when I think about the progression of my MS and the fact the constant pain I am having in my arm and shoulder is most likely permanent. We didn't share any DEEP feelings at all with each other yesterday.

But, just for a few hours, we laughed until we cried at the "juvenile" sounds of a Whoopee Cushion. And I think she may have forgotten her grief over the loss of her mother's functioning, and I forgot how badly my arm hurts and how scared I feel.

Those splatty fart sounds were truly better than a Hallmark card moment...

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