Do you remember the 1998 movie, Patch Adams, in which Robin Williams starred as a doctor who wanted to bring humor and humanity to his treatment of patients? That movie was based on the life of the real Patch Adams, founder and director of the Gesundheit Institute and author of two books, including House Calls.
House Calls is a great read for anyone who believes that joy, laughter and kindness have an impact on health. As Robin Williams writes in the introduction, “…read this book. It’s filled with good, honest, common sense. Even if you are not ill, this book offers positive ways to lead life.”
Here are some excerpts from House Calls, examples of the heartfelt advice from Dr. Patch Adams. In my opinion, it is what the best nursing assistants already do for their patients!
“Nature is powerful medicine. Never let yourself get bored with nature. Appreciate every tree, bird, or sunset. Feeling the miracle of life through interaction with nature can be essential for your good health. Pets and gardens have been found to be beneficial for health. Watching a fish tank and listening to moving water have both been shown to lower blood pressure.”
“When in doubt, relax. Be cool. Don’t worry, be happy. Breathe in slowly, breathe out slowly. Think sweet thoughts. Think of your blessings. Hang loose. Melt in the presence of your friends. Pray, sing and make weird noises. Laugh for long periods of time. Hug for a long time. Get and give massages. Give up guilt, hate, duty, sacrifice, boredom, loneliness, fear, judgment and formality. Plop down on a big pillow. Say nice things to yourself and to others.”
“Fun (humor in action) and the accompanying laughter bring great medicine into the hospital room. Studies show that laughter relieves pain, relaxes stress and stimulates the immune system. For many people, the humor can come through stories of their past or present that show the funny sides of life.”
“Do not presume that if the illness is serious you have to remain solemn. I remember a young man who had cancer that killed him in his twenties. He told me how disturbing it was to constantly have people around him treat him as if he were already dead. Friends could not see the cancer in perspective enough to treat him as a regular living person. People are always so much bigger than their illness.”
“I suggest that whatever you bring to patients to enhance their healing and cheer them up, you can also share with everyone you meet. Each one of us can contribute toward creating a healthier society. It is well documented that helping others benefits one’s own health (physically, mentally and spiritually). And you don’t have to give up anything in order to help others. Giving to others is really a gigantic gift to yourself.”