Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tickle Torture: Stroke vs. Amputee

Some researchers think that the laughter produced while being tickled is actually a sort of panic reflex. Remembering how I react whenever confronted with this most unpleasant experience, I think panic sounds about right. Because there is nothing funny about being tickled. Tickling someone else until they pee their pants—that’s hilarious. Your big sister pinning you to the floor and tickling you until you pee your pants—not so hilarious.

Interesting fact: there was a European version of torture that involved tickling with goats. Yes. Goats. A prisoner’s feet were dipped in salt water and then introduced to a goat. The animal licked the victim’s feet until all the salt was gone. Then then process was repeated over and over again. That sounds twisted but innocent enough.
Only, the continuous licking caused the victim’s skin to come off.
Sick huh?

Tickle Torture: Stroke vs. Amputee
tickle torture, funny stories, physical therapy

I was sitting on the mat with a patient, helping them complete a set of rehabilitative exercises. Truth be told, more than a year had passed since a weakened blood vessel in Tom’s brain ruptured, forever changing his life. The guy had probably made all the progress that he was going to make, but if he walked five extra feet by the end of the week, for him the effort would have been worth it.   
“Eight, nine, ten…ten and a half. That one was weak. Give me another,” I said.
Tom laughed. He knew when he was caught. Then he lifted the weakened limb again.
“Much better!” I resumed counting. “Eleven, twelve…”
Right about that time, Andy rolled in. Now, Andy is a cool guy. Multiple strokes had taken away the use of his left side and his ability to talk. Double below knee amputations had also robbed him of his legs, but somehow, his sense of humor had amazingly remained unchanged.
Both Andy and Tom were war veterans. I’m not sure if they knew each other before the war or met at the facility, but the two were the best of friends.
Andy’s eyes zeroed in on Tom, who was lying on the mat. Andy zipped the motorized wheelchair over to us.
“Hey, Andy,” I said. “How ya doing today?”
Andy grunted and smiled, nodding his head. It was a good day. I grinned back. “Good to see you.”
It wasn’t unusual for Andy to come in and watch his buddy do therapy. So, I turned back to Tom, planning to start the next exercise. That day, Andy wanted to do more than watch. Using the joystick to inch the wheelchair even closer, he reached over and drew the fingers of his working hand across the bottom of Tom’s foot. Tom twitched violently, yelling out as his face turned from white to pink to red. Andy tickled the foot again and again. Tom laughed so hard, he almost stopped breathing. Which was a big problem, considering the guy was on continuous oxygen. He squirmed around on the mat between spasms, powerless to escape Andy’s torment. He couldn’t even swat Andy away, because his paralyzed hand was the only one within range.
With tears running down his cheeks, and gripped in a convulsive panic, Tom looked at me desperately.
I wanted to help. I really did.
But I was too busy laughing my ass off.
Yeah. Yeah. I know. Jerk. 

If you enjoyed this post, check out Don't Say the "R" Word. It's just as morbid, funny, and inappropriate. 

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