When the Craving Hits

In Food, Medicine on March 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm

No matter what profession you’re in, you have your share of wacky work stories.  And medicine is no exception.  Funny medical stories are often difficult to tell because patient confidentiality is so important.  But humour does get you through the day, and with a little careful identifying-detail changing, presto, you have a tellable story! 

One of the craziest things that happened to me was when I was an intern, many many years ago now.  I was on overnight call and running around like crazy at 2:30 AM when I got paged by a nurse in a unit in an adjoining building.

“Can you please come see Mr. X?”

“Sure, what’s the problem?”

“He has our nurse manager in a headlock.”

Silence.  I was sure my fatigued mind was playing tricks on me.

“I’m sorry, he what?”

“He has our nurse manager in a headlock.  You know, like when you put both arms around someone’s neck –”

“Oh dear.”  Crap, I heard it correctly.  “Have you called security?”

“No, my supervisor wants you to come first.”

“Um, I’m on my way, but I should let you know — I’m five-foot-one.  Call security.”

I made the ten-minute run to the next building, all the while mentally scrolling through everything they taught us in med school about releasing staff members from headlocks.  Oh that’s right — they didn’t.  I arrived to find three uniformed police officers waiting outside the room for me to go in and defuse the situation.  (They wanted to make sure it was safe for their men.)  

I entered to find a 6’3″, 250-lb male patient who wanted to express his concerns about the hospital menu.   Was I aware that real butter was not being served with the rolls?  Or that dinner was being delivered at 5:30 PM when in Europe many people don’t eat until 9?  Or of the difficulty in obtaining a quality PB&J sandwich after hours?  No sir, I was not.  I wondered aloud, would he be interested in having the hospital dietician visit him on rounds with the medical team in the morning?  After some consideration … why yes, he would.

I escorted the unlucky (but unhurt) nurse out and assured the three hulking officers in the hall that it was safe for them to enter, now that they no longer needed to.  Did I mention that I’m five-foot-one?  Because I was.  And am.

(Apparently all went well with that patient after the next day.  He seriously was just trying to let us all know how much he wanted a PB&J.)

As a totally unrelated aside, our heartfelt prayers are with all those suffering in Japan.  If you’d like to donate, go here:

  1. Ha. That is hilarious. I get pretty crazy when I am craving something, but certainly not a pb&j.

  2. Great post, Much! I wonder what details you had to change to protect your patient’s anonymity. Maybe he was 6’1″ and 300 pounds? Or he really wanted French Toast, not PB&J? Or it was a bear hug, not a headlock?

    My blog would definitely be a lot more interesting if I shared stories from my work–thanks for sharing yours!

    • A bear hug — I laughed out loud! (You got me.) You’re right, I have no doubt you have the best stories of our entire crew, but for obvious reasons you cannot share them. At least you have plenty of other interesting blog post ideas. (The pancake feast one had me salivating, but it’s already been established that I have a teensy love of food.) Talk to you soon!

  3. Hmmm have you ever considered bodyguard work? I know Tolkien could use some on the subway after dark…

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