Romance and Chili

And now, for a slight departure from my usual blog posts…the most romantic story I ever saw in medical school.

I was on a consult month at the time, and every day we would round on a particularly sick patient in the ICU (intensive care unit). He was a relatively healthy middle-aged man until a few months before, and then all of a sudden he got more and more sick until he was eventually having muscle spasms so bad that he actually fractured some of his vertebrae into his spinal cord (you need to have REALLY strong spasms in order for this to occur). To protect his body (and skeleton) from any further damage and possibly permanent paralysis, the man was intubated, sedated, and medically paralyzed.

By the time I finally met this patient, he had already been sedated and paralyzed for a few weeks. They had tried lifting the paralytic drugs once, only to have him quickly begin spasming again with concerns for additional fractures.

Through it all, his wife was by his side. She was a shorter woman, hair pulled back in a ponytail, who sat in his ICU room in a chair wearing his big hunting t-shirts and the exhausted look of a family member with a sick loved one. To be honest, she was the sort of woman who blended into the surroundings, the woman you’d sit next to on the bus or plane and not remember any real features.

Towards the end of the month, we again decided to lift the man’s medication to see if he could wake up and not spasm. The process starts the night before, with the hopes of enough of the drugs to be out of someone’s system by the next morning to see if they’re okay, and if not the medication can quickly be restarted (which had already happened before).

That morning, I was getting a cup of coffee before rounds when I had a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and a beautiful woman was standing there. I had no idea who it was until she began speaking.

It was our patient’s wife. “I just wanted to thank you for all of your help. I hope he’s able to wake up today. Just in case, I wanted to look pretty just for him. Even if he only sees me for just a second, I hope he’ll have something to see in his dreams.”

Our patient woke up that day. While he couldn’t move much since some of the paralytics were still preventing that, he was able to do one thing.

Right after he opened his eyes, he saw his wife and kissed her.

There was not a dry eye in his ICU room, especially not mine.

Worth Waiting For Turkey Chili

true love…in food form


  • 1 lb lean ground turkey (I’ve also done this with chorizo with excellent results)
  • 1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can (14 oz) diced tomatoes with jalapenos
  • 1 can hot chili beans
  • 1 can red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium green peppers, diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper (feel free to use less if you don’t want yours as spicy)
  • Low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • Fat free sour cream


  1. In a large saute pan, brown the ground turkey and drain the fat.
  2. Get out a large crock pot while the turkey is browning. Add the tomatoes, hot chili beans (use all of the sauce!), red beans, onion, green pepper, garlic, and cayenne.
  3. Add in the ground turkey after draining.
  4. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. The chili is done with the onions and green peppers are tender and the tomatoes have mostly broken down.
  5. Top with cheddar cheese and sour cream, or whatever other chili toppings you prefer.

This recipe easily doubles if you’re feeding a crowd with a gigantic crock pot- normally then I’ll use 1 lb lean ground turkey and 1 lb chorizo. It also freezes great in individual portions!

50 thoughts on “Romance and Chili

  1. Aw… such a sweet story! And I love the turkey chili recipe, especially because it can be made in the crockpot (lately, my favorite invention). Thanks for sharing — I think I’ll be making that this week.

  2. That is a beautiful story. Thank you.

  3. i may just be hormonal, but i teared up after reading this too!

  4. Adorable story to read as I sit in my Primary Care class!

  5. Oh gosh! That was the sweetest thing I have ever heard! I hope the story had a happy ending! Beautiful post, thanks

  6. I hope the man has recovered. What a sweet story!

  7. That is so sweet! I teared up too.

  8. Gee, thanks for THAT. Between the story and the recipe, I’m crying and drooling at the same time.

    1. Hahaha that’s a great mental image I now have!

  9. Joanna Reichert Photography October 22, 2012 — 3:55 pm

    Geez, glad I’m not wearing mascara today. A very lovely story and yet another testament to the power of love. Thank you for sharing!

  10. What a beautiful love story. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Im a sucker for this sort of thing. And chili. Thanks!

  12. I always love a good love story. πŸ™‚

  13. petit4chocolatier October 22, 2012 — 6:21 pm

    Beautiful story! Delicious chili too!

  14. I thought stories like that only happened on TV. Good one.

  15. the chili looks delicious!

  16. What a beautiful story…made me teary

  17. I love a good sappy story, thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  18. life is precious, thanks for sharing. as care providers we get to experience that gift every day.

  19. After reading that, my eyes aren’t dry either. Wow.

  20. Very moving story. Hearing tales like this makes me very aware of the difficult work that is done by you guys in our hospitals. Thanks.

  21. Awww, sweet story πŸ™‚

  22. Aw … it made me teary too … it just goes to show that beauty isn’t such a superficial ‘thing’ after all …

  23. Thank you for sharing such a lovely story, it has really lifted my day πŸ™‚

  24. What a touching … so happy for them that find true love and that it stay with them forever. *smile

  25. What a lovely story! That chili looks delicious too!

  26. What a beautiful story πŸ™‚

  27. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time in your increibly busy schedule to share that story! I’m still tearing up…and admire you so much on your decision (and capability) to become a doctor. You’re changing lives and they’re changing yours πŸ™‚

  28. So very sweet! I have noticed similarly touching things with my 87-year-old parents. My dad has advanced Alzheimer’s but lives at home with my mom. The last time I visited, my mom was fiddling with her hospital (non-skid) socks, and my dad watched for a second, then knelt down (difficult for a guy with two replaced knees) and lovingly adjusted them “just so”. Speaks volumes about his feelings for her, even at this stage of health and life.

  29. What a heartwarming story! I’m all teary eyed now! Bless her heart. πŸ™‚

  30. That is a beautiful story. I can only hope to find someone that I can grow old with and someone to love me like hat. Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚ I love you stories and I also love chilli, so this was right up my alley. πŸ™‚

  31. What a sweet, beautiful story – I’m such a huge sap, I actually got teary eyed reading it. Thankfully you brought me back to myself with delicious chili πŸ˜‰

  32. that’s truly amazing. thank you for sharing.

  33. Awww, so sweet! Are you following the story about the lady who has been in a coma since her baby was born, about 5 weeks ago? I’m sure that sort of thing happens all the time (hers was due to preeclampsia), but social media has made it so real for a lot of people. “Bringing Home the Browns,” I believe the FB group is. Thanks for sharing this! We hear too much of the bad in medicine, and there really are positive moments.

    1. Medicine can be tough, but stories like this make all of us really enjoy our jobs πŸ™‚

  34. My eyes aren’t dry either. Nice story.

  35. i love a good story…and a good bowl of chili! today was the day for chili too considering we are driving through the Colorado mountains and it’s a wee bit chilly! Gonna spend Halloween here and then head to the warmer states!

    1. At least you’re avoiding the hurricane!

    1. Thank you so much!!! Glad you liked it πŸ™‚

  36. I love chili (venison) and so visited your story. I cried. πŸ™‚ I love when we humans share our humanity.

    1. Oh venison chili is amazing, too! Glad you liked the story πŸ™‚

  37. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    This story is a real tear-jerker. And I absolutely LOVE turkey chili.

  38. Love your creative blog connections. You may like to look at my uplifting cancerblog since you are in medicine as well as food…

  39. Hi ! Nice post and thank u for visiting my blog.

  40. GREAT story! πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by my blog and the follow. I am looking forward to reading more of your stuff!

    1. It’s probably my favorite story on here πŸ™‚

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