The Medicine Bottle

medicine bottleIf laughter is the best medicine, then a smile must be the medicine bottle. When I was in the hospital a few months ago, I was feeling fairly good one day and I decided to test drive the new to me wheelchair that was delivered to my hospital ward by the Occupational Therapy Department.A friend I had previously met, and a former roommate of mine was in a different wing of the hospital, and knowing I desperately needed the exercise, I headed in that direction.
As I rounded a corner and wheeled through the sealed door into the geriatric ward where my friend was, I saw an elderly woman, head down mumbling to herself, and walking fairly fast for her seasoned age. When we passed each other I saw that she had the most dour expression on her face, and it was clear she was wrestling with dementia, as was the case with some of the patients in this section. I smiled and bid her a good morning.
“What are you looking at?” she demanded with a scowl.
By now we had both stopped, and I smiled and replied, “Oh, I just wanted to wish you a good morning.” The cloudy expression seemed to lift from her face, and she smiled in return and asked, “Do I know you?”
I told her that I didn’t know her and she smiled again, turned and continued on her way. I watched as she walked away from me, head up, and not mumbling, and I thought how different she looked now. Did I cause a difference in her immediate health? It sure looked that way to me. I’m certainly not asserting that I cured this woman’s dementia with a smile, but I’d like to think that, because of that simple act of kindness, in her otherwise cloudy day, I had lifted her spirit enough to smile back, and that was the moment the medicine bottle opened.


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