Tuesday, January 22, 2008


The Tuna Incident

"There are so many memories I have of Jim and he was such a great friend. I can not begin to even put all of my feelings down on paper. Gary and Gautam have done a remarkable job in eulogizing Jim, and how he has touched the lives of all that he knew. I feel the same way about Jim and miss him already. I think this story is an example of the typical Jim that we knew and want to remember:

Anyone who has ever eaten, and by default also “shared”, a meal with Jim knows two things: #1 He ate fast. #2 He ate a lot. Numerous times after eating at the same table as Jim, I counted my fingers to ensure one wasn’t inadvertently consumed in the frenzy. If possible, his appetite was even greater during our ironman training. We chose to do a VA rotation together in the summer of 2005 to coincide with the apex of our training. There is a very generous sized residents’ office at the East Orange VA, enough to fit 5 residents comfortably. Each resident has a locker to keep what ever things may be needed for the daily clinics…lab coat, books, jacket, etc. Jim slowly transformed not only his locker, but also the residents’ room into a second apartment. You see, he rode his bike to the VA most mornings, and then showered in some God awful shower that probably hadn’t been used, nevertheless cleaned, since the Carter administration. Because of this, he kept a decent portion of his entire wardrobe in the residents’ room. With his clothes, also came a rather impressive assortment of food. Snack time took on an entirely different meaning during that summer. We jokingly started asking permission to use the community fridge and microwave because we felt that we were somehow intruding in on someone else’s kitchen.

One of the highlights of the EOVA rotation is radiology teaching sessions with Dr. Ma. Now mind you, the images on MRI films are small, not to mention the pathology within said images. So it goes without saying that with +/- 5 residents and an attending hovering around a small image on a small lightbox, these were considered intimiate times. A majority of these sessions occur in the afternoon, after the work for the day has been completed. Unfortunately, that also coincided with Jim’s 4th meal of the day. No worries, we became accustomed to having Jim eat while we were all standing together….just background noise. One day, however, things got interesting. Jim decided that he needed more protein. Everyone knows that a good and cheap source of protein is canned tuna. Everyone also knows that there is a reason why there is no eu de tuna cologne. Well, here we are huddled together, in the middle of July mind you, staring at an MRI. Jim wanders off to get a snack. No one even flinches. He returns, however, with an open can of tuna. I am not even sure if he had a fork. Ok, I guess we can deal…after all, with the speed at which Jim eats, the tuna should only be around for less than a minute…we can hold our breath. I happen to glance over to Jim as he is finishing the tuna. We make eye contact…he looks at the nearly empty can of tuna…with the look questioning: “What should I do with the juice?” I give a gentle gesture towards the sink at the other end of the room. Jim gives a friendly shrug of the shoulders and turns back to Dr. Ma and the MRI on the light box. He then nonchalantly swigs the can of tuna juice in one gulp. That marked the end of the radiology session for the day. Jim, of course, wanted to finish reviewing the case."

Casey O'Donnell, D.O.
Kessler Grad
University Rehabilitation
East Providence, RI

1 comment:

Gautam M said...

awesome description casey!!!!