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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Gene Hackman, Sep/Oct 00

(continued from page 3)

I specifically recall thinking, for one brief moment, that this could be the last smoke of his life. After he finished his cigarette, he lifted himself with great effort and shuffled back to his room. I finished my work, collected my things, and left. I considered the irony as I walked through the smoke-filled lobby to the elevator. As a physician and hospital representative, shouldn't I have stood for good health, and enforced the hospital's sensible no-smoking policies? And as a bystander, should I have had to endure that smoke? But rather than ponder those questions at that late hour, I decided to forget the whole thing. No harm had been done, and I assumed that I would never see him again. But here he was staring up at me, his eyes only slightly more vacant than the night before. This ghostlike figure, whom I had deigned to let smoke only a few hours before, was now dying in front of me.

Determined to save my new patient, I went to work. My hands trembled as I pounded his chest with my fist, his vomit splashing onto my face as I desperately tried to bring some rhythm to his fading heart, some life to his stiffening body. IV lines were started and medications were given as I tried everything I could to stop this man from dying. After struggling for over an hour, I slowly realized that I would not be able to save him. I stopped the code and somberly signed my name on the chart, formalizing the first time I lost a patient. I eventually went home, but still couldn't stop thinking about the morning's events. At home, I sat on the side of my bed and tears filled my eyes. I had done my best, and failed. Despite all of my efforts, my first coded patient had died. I'm sure that it was not that final cigarette but the countless ones that came before that ultimately took this man's life.

That final one was simply his final pleasure. A pleasure that I could have taken from him by exercising my rights or enforcing the rules. During the years of intense training that a physician endures, there are certain moments that are burned into one's memory. Yes, I will never forget the look on his face, the sweat in my palms, and the fact that I could not save his life. But with those painful memories comes the comforting thought that at least I let him enjoy his last cigarette in peace and did not force him to go to his death with the bitter rantings of a self-righteous intern fresh in his memory.

Marc Deshaies, M.D.
Chicago, Illinois

Dear Marvin,

I've had two issues to become acclimated with the new look and sequence of your magazine. Thus, I have the following to report: One, I love words. Thus, I appreciate your emphasizing the word "aficionado" at the expense of "cigar." Further, the content of the articles is the major reason that I buy and read your publication. Two, I love cigars as well. I smoked my first in October 1993 at a famous Manhattan steak house. My second was at a popular Miami steak house in December 1995.

Since that time I've become a regular consumer. However, I do not consider myself a consummate expert nor do I care to be. I simply enjoy one of the great pleasures of life. The articles and ratings about cigars are secondary to the enjoyment I receive by reading the numerous informative articles. Thus, the fact that you've decided to position the cigar material near the back of each issue makes no difference to me.

Three, given the fact that the cigar craze went bust several years ago, I fault you not at all for seeking to broaden your readership. Finally, like a good cigar, your publication starts well, ends well, and is to be savored.

Tim Culbertson
Englewood, Colorado

Dear Marvin,

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