The Best Hospital Food In the World

I am writing this in my bed in Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan, where the staff are extremely friendly and competent, and I have a gallstone problem that is very routine for them.

In walks my nurse, Michelle, ready to stab me again (but only in the best possible way). “Did you enjoy your dinner?”

“Yes,” I say. “You have great hospital food here. But it is not the best hospital food I have had.”

“Really? Tell me after this patient!” as she moves on to my roommate, who is much sicker than I am.

“So where was this?” as Michelle returns. Beth Israel is proud of its food, they brought in a chef a few years ago to thoroughly reform it. They do a very good job of providing tasty meals, while complying with a host of dietary restrictions and nutritional requirements.

“But I have to tell you the story!”

“What story?”

“So I was diving on a World War I shipwreck off Long Island. I had unfamiliar equipment on, and had an accident, ballooning uncontrolled to the surface.”

She nods. She understands the dangers of rapid decompression.

“The captain warned me to be wary of the symptoms of decompression sickness, including fatigue. I nodded, but felt my fatigue was due to having been up since 3 a.m. for this expedition.

“My wife told me I looked tired when I got home, something must be wrong. My co-workers the next day told me that I was so tired, something must be wrong. Eventually they persuaded me to go to my doctor.

“When I told the doctor that I was only tired because I had been diving the previous day, he cut me short and asked me to wait. Outside in the corridor he stopped a colleague who was a diver, who whipped out his Divers’ Alert Network card (I have one too), and said to call.

“My doctor put me on the phone to Durham, NC to describe my symptoms. The doctor there said that if I were in front of him, he would put me in the chamber just to test whether I have DCS. I realized that he is an expert, and comply.

“I set off for Einstein in the Bronx, my whole day gone. The diving medical technician was expecting me, but had to walk me through the emergency room anyway to be admitted.” Michelle nods, of course.

“We went into the chamber as it pressurized to 60 feet of sea water for alternate cycles of twenty minutes with the oxygen mask on, and five minutes air break with the mask off. He asked me if I have eaten?

“I had had no time to eat lunch, so what’s to eat? He said they have a McDonald’s on-site. They can lock in a meal and I can eat on my next air break. I asked for a Big Mac, fries, and a large diet coke.”

Michelle says “So you ate that Big Mac in one gulp?”

“Best hospital food in the world!”


Network engineer by day, activist by night, and I try my best to have some fun along the way.

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