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Go To Health! (Because Life's Too Short. . .)

the Author:

Shara Rendell-Smock, author

Shara Rendell-Smock has written more than twenty computer software manuals, numerous newspaper articles, including a monthly health column for The Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

She's the author of two books of non-fiction: Getting Hooked: Fiction's Opening Sentences 1950's- 1990's
Living With Big Cats: The Story of Jungle Larry, Safari Jane, and David Tetzlaff
For ordering information, click here.

To read more about these books, participate in an ongoing joke contest, surf on over to .
The author currently lives on Florida's Space Coast.

Shara has recently signed with a New York Literary agency.

Humour and Health

Humour as a Coping Mechanism
- Part 4 of 5

"Besides being a great way to develop a rapport (with a patient)," says the Journal of Nursing Jocularity's (JNJ) publisher Doug Fletcher, RN, "humor is a healthy coping mechanism."

Patty Wooten is the first to agree. One of the nursing experts at Journal of Nursing Jocularity, Wooten (RN BSN CCRN) says, "a sense of humor helps us to manage the stress of care giving. The 'detached perspective' that humor provides helps us to disengage from the suffering we witness and, yet, still remain sensitive."

"A sense of humor is both a perspective on life--a way of perceiving the world--and a behavior that expresses that perspective. It is a quality of perception that enables us to experience joy even when faced with adversity and to fully experience the joy that humor can bring, we must share that perspective with others and join together in the laughter."

Wooten defines humor as "a complex phenomena that is an essential part of human nature." She contends that anthropologists have never found a culture or society that was completely devoid of humor.

Wooten's concept of humour is derived from two different sources; the root of the word ("umor") means "liquid or fluid", and a modern definition which can be defined as "the quality of being laughable or comical" or as "a state of mind, mood, spirit". For Wooten, humor is "flowing; involving basic characteristics of the individual expressed in the body, emotions, and spirit."

It is that flowing state that gives humour its strength as a coping tool for both the caregiver and the patient.

Manny Facio, RN, RRT (aka Tex), would agree. Nursing is surely the epitome of good coping. Facio runs the Weird Nursing Tales web site of true stories about the sometimes funnier side of medicine.

Medicine? Funny?? You bet. As Facio explains, "since Florence Nightingale first helped the dying, nurses have been there to provide comfort for the sick. But not all is as serious as you may want to believe. In the medical community, as in all life, events happen that defy explanation. And at times, things happen that cut through our professional persona, which cause a chuckle to erupt like a volcano, even during a life or death situation."

Facio has collected true nursing examples of levity that bring relief to this all-too-serious profession. To prove his point, here are some of the best "You might be a nurse if" one-liners. . .drawn in no small way from the often grim reality of their everyday lives.

You Might Be A Nurse If. . .

  • You avoid unhealthy looking peoples in the mall for fear that they'll drop near you and you'll have to do CPR on your day off.
  • It doesn't bother you to eat a candy bar with one hand while performing digital stimulation on your patient with the other hand.
  • You've had a patient with a nose ring, a brow ring and twelve earrings say, "I'm afraid of shots."
  • You've ever bet on someone's blood alcohol level.
  • You plan your next meal while performing gastric lavage.
  • You believe every waiting room should have a Valium salt lick.
  • You have your weekends off planned a year in advance.
  • You have ever had a patient control his seizures when offered food.
  • You know it's a full moon without having to look at the sky.

For more examples of nurses using humour as a coping mechanism (as well as the therapeutic uses of humour), take a look at Doug Fletcher's site, the Journal of Nursing Jocularity . (And if you need to do some "coping" right now, you can go to the Joke Contest page at my web site at But don't forget to come back here to read other Sideroad writers' columns!

Next Week:

Wooten In-depth on Humour and Coping

Does laughing make you feel better when you're sick? Got any experiences to share? Or jokes for next week? If so, e-mail me at

Back to the top / The New Sideroad

Issue # 12
Tuesday, Jan. 20, 1998


Humour and Health

Part 1 of 5 - "Think You're Funny?" (A look at laughter.)

Part 2 of 5 - What the Experts Say. . .

Part 3 of 5 - A Matter of Perspective

Overcoming Sleep Disorders

Part 1 of 4 - how your mattress can make all the difference.

Part 2 of 4 - strategies to help you sleep.

Part 3 of 4 - more strategies to help you sleep.

Part 4 of 4 - what is a sleep log and how does it work?


Stats indicate that for those over the age of 50, one of every two women and one in eight men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. Our sedentary lifestyle puts us at risk for this disease. Yet osteoporosis is not inevitable. Here's some information on this disease and how we can prevent it.

Part 1 of 4 - - details the likelihood of developing this disease, and its dangers and consequences.

Part 2 of 4 - - presents the risk factors of osteoporosis and some of our misconceptions about the disease.

Part 3 of 4 - - insights into diagnosis, and basic management techniques.

Part 4 of 4 - - new medical treatments to stop osteoporosis, and safety in the home of osteoporosis sufferers.

Next Week:

Wooten In-depth on Humour and Coping

In Two Weeks:

My Achin' Back. . .a look a back problems, common treatments, and more!

Part of the original Sideroad. Text 1998, Shara Rendell-Smock. Posted Jan. 20, 1998. The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at

Shara's books can be ordered from her web site at