The Fat Nurse Took Mummy's Cakes!

There's nothing fatal about the seven deadly sins. Displaying greedy tendencies these days isn't offensive at all, as people everywhere seem to shout, "gimme-gimme-gimme!" Towards the end of my family's eight-month "temporary assignment" in the United States last year, I gave birth to our second child. My hospital experience is limited to suburban Virginia, but what happened to me there struck me as somewhat indicative of a global plague.

Typically in the United States, mothers recovering from a normal childbirth are granted a two-night hospital stay. On my second night's stay, I had fed my baby and sent her back to the nursery in order to get some shut-eye. At 11pm I was loudly awoken by the nurse on duty arriving to take my "vitals". On this particular evening, I was especially groggy, and was slow to climb up the rusty rungs of the ladder of sleep.

Earlier that day I had had some visits from friends. One friend had remembered another's complaints about the hospital fare and had brought me five delectable cakes. Each was different. Each was attractively presented. Each was large.

After dinner my husband and our young son and I each tried half of one of the beautiful cakes. Of the five cakes, two were complete and three were half-gone. We planned to sample some more the next day - savouring their creamy fillings and sweet fluffiness.

That evening when the night duty nurse appeared, she announced that she had been at work for a couple of hours. She was an ample woman, in a giant blue uniform, but she had plenty of spring in her step. Despite her nocturnal work shift, the nurse was cheery and liked to strike up a conversation - not an easy thing to do with a post-partum woman, I presumed. Especially in the middle of the night!

After she had taken all of my statistics, she went on with her business and made her way out of the room. As she neared the door some force beckoned her back in, and she said to me, "Cakes or dough-nuts?'

I wasn't expecting anything else from the nurse that night and didn't catch what she was referring to. Far away from her on a table in the opposite corner of the room, was the closed cardboard box of bakery treats.

"Are they cakes, or dough-nuts?" she asked again.

"Cakes," I replied, finally cottoning on.

The nurse came back into the room, ears pricking up, and she gravitated to where the cakes were. She opened the

lid of the box and stood there, salivating. I was a little taken aback. It was the middle of the night; I had been woken up and probed. Now my nurse was standing there, drooling over my cakes!

"Er, help yourself," I felt obliged to say.

Rubbing her hands with glee, the nurse bent over the box and made her selection. When she straightened up, I noticed that she had taken not one, but two of the cakes. And not two of the halved cakes, but both of the remaining, complete cakes! As she did so, she told me that one of her other patients had offered her an apple from her bowl of fruit. "I almost puked!" she confided.

I was flabbergasted!

Then she announced, "Gonna get me some milk!" As she paraded triumphantly out of my room, without a spare hand to turn off the light, she proclaimed, "Cal-O-ries! Cal-O-ries!"

I was speechless. Here I was, lying prone in my hospital bed, recovering from childbirth and a gluttonous nurse made off with my cakes! I couldn't believe it! My friend brought me those! I thought about how I would tell this story to my husband in the morning. And what would I tell Chris - my sensitive friend, who had so carefully chosen these thoughtful morsels?! Nevertheless, I didn't have much time to think about it. I had to climb back down into the darkened well of sleep.

Melanie May
Ho Chi Minh City
February 2002