“At Laughter On Call, we’re so committed to making you laugh, we’ll crack a rib if we have to!” this was the ad copy running through my mind lying on the cold metal table in a paper dress slit down the back waiting for my torso to be x-rayed.
Ten days before this, me and one of my favorite improv comedians, Michael Yousser, spent a very funny hour at Silverado Beverly Place in Los Angeles fully engaged in an interactive storytelling show with its residents. From their suggestions we had spun a tale of two co-workers of BIG-PHARM drugstores who make their way across the country quality checking the other stores, tasting their ice cream and inspecting their pet departments. On a whim, we ditched our rental car and decided to take a flying carpet home to LA from Cincinnati, with a brief stop in Colorado to go skiing.
During our ski trip it was revealed that Michael was not just a co-worker but, in fact, my long lost son! For improvisors, there really is only one thing to do given this suggestion, a long slow- motion run from opposite sides of the room that speeds up culminating with the biggest reunion hug evah!
In this case, Michael actually picked me up in the air and spun me, which would have been delightful and cinematic, if we both hadn’t heard a popping sound coming from ribs.
“It’s nothing, don’t worry,” I whispered in his ear, and then blurted,
“My son! You’re such a big boy now!”
To which he replied like a petulant teen,
“Well yeah, Mom, I’m 40. It’s been a while.”
Everyone laughed and then we got back on our carpet and flew home.
Riding the adrenaline high of the magical transportation, I didn’t much think about that popping sound until I got in my car and twisted my body to pull down my seat belt. Ouch. Oh dear. It’s fine, it’s nothing.
A week later breathing deeply felt like someone was thrusting a knife in to my heart. Not the figure of speech kind. As much as I wasn’t enjoying the physical pain, my panic was not entirely in response to the possibility of a broken rib, it was about what I was sure this would mean for my brain. After spending at least five years reading about Alzheimer’s, it’s been drilled in to my mind that exercise is key for keeping it at bay. If my rib is broken how will I guarantee that I never get Alzheimer’s?!
There are so many flaws in this thinking it’s tough to know which to address first. Let’s start with the obvious, I had no proof that I had broken a rib. Equally as important, there is no guarantee that any one behavior, including daily exercise, is 100% effective in eliminating cognitive impairment in my lifetime. But you know what really doesn’t help? Stress. Letting my mind spin out in to negative fantasies about my demise. Tough because this is one of my favorite past times.
First things first, I needed an x-ray. Strike that, first I needed to calm myself down with 20 minutes of meditation. Because in a five-point prevention plan recently outlined for me during a visit to Leeza’s Care Connection, I was reminded that along with a healthy vegetable and grain-based diet, sleep, exercise, and continuing to learn new things, meditation is also a great preventative tool.
I set a timer for 20 minutes, meditated for at least 12 of them and headed to the doctor.
Which is how I ended up on a metal table in a paper dress convinced I had broken something doing Improv.
I had not.
Two weeks later and I am pain free and back throwing myself on magic carpets, still hoping I will not end up like my mother. Still not sure I won’t.
Happiest still for the chance to make people laugh in the meantime.