3 simple ways to help someone suffering from illness | Jeannie Gaffigan | Big Think


I think that when someone is critically ill
they need a few very simple things. They need compassion. They need humor and they need touch. Because people do not touch you when you’re
sick. I mean nurses and people stick needles in
you and feel your pulse and touch you that way but I couldn’t eat or drink. I was on tubes and I couldn’t swallow at
all and that was pretty brutal. But at a certain point I realized that there’s
something about – and I have a ton of kids so I’m touched like all the time. And then I went from being touched like stop
touching me kids to like could someone touch me please. I think that human contact like touching and
like looking into that sick person’s eyes and not avoiding looking at them and looking
into their eyes and just being like it sucks. Sick of it. You are sick of it. When my sister said you’re sick of it she
would be in my mind and go you’re sick of it. I’m like I am sick of it. Like it meant so much to me that she knew
I was sick of it. And the thing that I write about in the book
that is so important is humor because first of all I love Jim to death and he was so,
so important to me recovering at home when things got really, really hard. But when I couldn’t move and he was all
busy in something and not really making jokes or being him, when somebody would come in
the room and say something funny I felt my blood start to move. I felt like I was getting better. I tell a story in the book about my friend
Karen. She came in and she is a comedian and she
came all the way up to Mount Sinai to visit me. God knows why. She probably had like a gig in the neighborhood. And she came in and she was like she walked
in – a lot of people would look at me and start crying. They would be like oh my god, I’m so sorry
or whatever and I’m like uhh. She walked in and she goes what, you’re
not even bald. I came all the way up here and you have all
your hair. Your hair looks great. And then she’d say things like actually
you look pretty good in that gown but I guess you can wear anything when you’re model
skinny. Like she was just funny and I was so happy
because people are trained to enter a sickbed room like it’s a funeral and creep in and
be like hi, how are you doing. I mean I got that all the time. But this different thing about coming in – I’m
not saying dress up like a clown. You’ve got to be appropriate, but people
think it’s inappropriate to be funny around critically ill people. But people want to be talked to, be listened
to even if they can’t talk. My sister was listening to me. She looked into my eyes and she was like oh,
you are sick of it. I was like it gave me so much joy. So those kind of things like touching, compassionate
looking and being funny. And also in my book I have a whole list of
do’s and don’ts. I suggested everyone who reads my book look
up the do’s and don’ts because those were written in the hospital, in reaction to both
do’s and don’ts.

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