Humor Can Be the Best Medicine

Question: “Why did the toilet paper roll down the hill?”

“I don’t know…why?”

Answer: “To get to the bottom.”

For many kids, this kind of bathroom humor is shared on the playground with friends or told to groans of laughter at the dinner table, but for other kids, humor really can be the best medicine.

Even though using the bathroom seems like a normal part of our everyday lives, for many children suffering from constipation or bowel issues, it can be difficult, painful and negatively impact their social and extracurricular activities. Talking about “poop” even with medical staff can be embarrassing and add to the worries that children feel when they seem so different from other kids.

This was true for a boy traveling from out of town to be seen by the Cincinnati Children’s Colorectal and Radiology teams. When he started his week-long treatment plan he was apprehensive and too embarrassed to talk about his medical situation. However, with each new day, he gained confidence, felt better and showed his great sense of humor. On the last day of imaging, he greeted Angie, a Radiology technologist, with a joke and proudly showed off his “poop emoji” toy. Angie took his x-ray picture and then one of the “poop emoji” and gave him a copy to take home. After a week’s worth of x-ray pictures of his colon, now he has a picture of his “poop” to show his family and friends.

As he talked and laughed with Angie, his mom reflected on how much he had changed over the week, becoming more outgoing and interactive. He turned embarrassment into laughter and ultimately became an advocate for himself.

Before leaving Radiology with his “poop emoji” and copy of its x-ray picture, he had one more joke to share.

Question: “Why did Tigger look in the toilet?”

“I don’t know…why?”

Answer: “He was looking for Pooh!”

Image: Poop emoji toy, x-ray.

Catherine Leopard

About the Author: Catherine Leopard

Catherine is a Child Life Specialist who works in Cincinnati Children’s Department of Radiology. She has always been drawn to helping children overcome their fears. As a young child, Catherine remembers sitting in her pediatrician’s office feeling sad as she listened to young babies crying in exam rooms. In response, she began singing lullabies through the walls to sooth and comfort those children in distress. As an adult, she first experienced the support of Child Life when her infant daughter was hospitalized. After that positive experience, Catherine completed her Child Life internship at Cincinnati Children’s and has worked here ever since. Her daughter is now a teenager and her son is an active 3rd grader.

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