Little Gifts Often Make Big Differences in Life

Columnist Carlos Briceño's wife, Jill, teaches him a thoughtful gesture for hospital visits

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by Carlos Briceño |

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Who knew a bucket of gum could make such a big difference in the life of a hospital patient?

During the last few years of my father’s life, he had issues with diabetes, something he suffered with for years. The older he got, the more his body had a harder time regulating his sugar levels. He was hospitalized several times after slipping into a diabetic coma.

The last time he was admitted, I was dating my now wife, Jill, who was gene-positive for Huntington’s disease, but didn’t yet know it. (She later took a genetic test to confirm it, as the rare illness runs in her family.) Jill wanted to visit my father despite the fact that he wouldn’t know she was there.

When Jill arrived, I noticed she was carrying a large, colorful bucket with the words “Dubble Bubble” on the front. I knew she liked chewing gum, but why was she walking around with a bucket of it? And even more puzzling, why was it full of gum, chocolate, and pens?

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Making friends

Jill looked at me, smiled, and explained.

It started with her cousin, who was going through a major medical emergency. When Jill visited her in the hospital, she noticed a large assortment of pens on a nearby table, left there by her cousin’s visiting co-workers for the nurses to use in case they needed them.

The gift did not go unnoticed, and the nurses, out of gratitude, gave her cousin more attention — and also used the pens.

Jill, who was working at a pharmacy at the time, also noticed that her pharmacist would buy chocolate candy for the staff in the evenings. He gave Jill, who is allergic to chocolate, gum instead. He said everyone needs a little boost while working 12-hour shifts.

Jill merged these ideas one day when she received a call that a friend had been in a car accident. She bought a bucket of gum, took out half of it, then added chocolate and pens. During the hospital visit, she left the bucket for the nurses in her friend’s room.

She later heard that the nursing staff had given her friend extra attention. Needless to say, all the items in the bucket were gone the next time she visited.

The same thing happened with my father. The bucket caused him to be popular with the nurses, and they took excellent care of him, he told me after being discharged. (He also noted that he thought the main reason he was popular was because of his good looks. My father, who died in 2010, always had a good sense of humor.)

I hope I never have to fill a bucket for my wife because she’s in the hospital, a rehab clinic, or an assisted-living situation. But if I do, I have faith that she’ll be well taken care of.

Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


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