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Please, Have My Pudding

February 2003

This story is not particularly scary, but it has left an impression on me.

I am a cardiologist in training, and to suppliment my income I moonlight at a local community hospital as a night emergency physician.

One evening I was asked to assess a hospice patient to determine the adequacy of his pain control. This poor gentleman (I'll call him Mr. Jones) was suffering from metastatic cancer of the pancreas, and was admitted for pain control prior to placement in hospice. I spoke with him for a while at his bedside, and found him quite a charming man. He smiled at me and said, "Doc, since you're up all night, why don't you take my pudding. I haven't got the strength to eat it." He pointed to a container of chocolate pudding on his tray, but having just eaten I politely declined. I adjusted his pain medications and wished him well.

A few nights later I was moonlighting again when I was asked by a floor nurse to pronounce a patient dead (one of my less pleasurable duties while on call). She stated that this was an expected death, and that the patient was awaiting hospice placement.

I was saddened as I arrived at the bedside to see that the patient was Mr. Jones. His family was at the bedside, and I did my brief exam and offered them my condolences.

The rest of my evening was busy, and I had no time to eat dinner. Shortly after midnight I went to the cafeteria to have a look at what the vending machines had to offer. One of these machines had a motorized , internal 'lazy Susan" (for lack of a better description), and to my astonishment the selections were rotating past by themselves! To rotate through the selections you need to continuously hold a button, but nobody else was in the cafeteria other than me, and I wasn't touching the machine. The selections went round and round for about one minute, then stopped. All of the items in the column the machine stopped on were taken except one... a container of chocolate pudding. I reached for the door on the machine and to my surprise it opened. Mind you, I put no money in the machine. I accepted the pudding gratefully, and aloud thanked Mr. Jones for his undying generosity.

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