Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sick at Sea

Pacific Ocean, somewhere off the coast of Panama---I feel terrible. I caught a cold the second day of our passage to the Galapagos. I pulled out all the meds: Cold-Eeze (zinc), Vitamin C, Comtrex Cold (a supply from Greece), gargling, lots of water and sleeping between all my watches. Still, it has moved to my lungs, a critical thing for me because I have asthma and even though it’s very controlled, my lungs are the weakest part of my body…something I’ve lived with since childhood. It’s also the only thing that scares me. The crew knows I have a cold, they don’t know what it could mean. And I can’t let on unless I know I’m in trouble. I also have Cipro Anti-biotic and a steroid pack specifically for an extreme case of lung infection. So I am prepared. But, I am one forth the crew on this boat and want to pull my weight. Shannon saw me struggle and took a watch for me during the day.

My specialist back home has driven it into my head that I always check my meter, don’t trust my mind. The meter will tell you how much air I am getting. I’m not in danger, just below my normal. I am sick.

I have been so fortunate to have calm seas and beautiful watches with little stress. It’s just not fun to be feeling bad with a boat constantly moving and knowing I must still get up at 1am to watch until 3am.

I guess I am learning how wimpy I am at home. Normally I would have run to the doctor by now, gotten antibiotics, called my sister to whine a little bit and been sitting in front of my TV veg’ing. But not at sea. It was my turn to cook and I managed to make meatloaf, mashed potatoes and an onion, tomato, cucumber salad.

I do however, feel really safe with this captain trained as a Sea Medic, he has a storehouse of meds in a large Styrofoam box full of everything imaginable, plus two smaller first aid kits in the head (bathroom).

Other mishaps have occurred. Jake had a large cup of boiling water fall off the counter and burned his side, bringing boils and raw skin up during their transatlantic passage: he put medicine on it and wrapped it in kitchen plastic wrap for days. I cut the tip top of my pointer toe off walking through a field in Dominican Republic: out of nowhere, the captain pulled out a bottle and put iodine on in immediately, later hydrogen peroxide then wrapped the cut off part to the toe with breathable tape for several days until the skin under it toughen up enough. Jake got thrown against the table during a big wave and appeared to break a couple ribs: he used an ace bandage for a while but finally after enduring a lot, he spent a day in the St. Marten hospital having it checked. Andy had a tooth with a root canal fail and visited a random dentist in Panama City when he really needed to see someone two months earlier: they had to completely redo the procedure. I was in Greece when the remains of the Para dental surgery that had happened before my trip appeared and two small pieces of bone dropped from an area where a tooth had been pulled. Yep, bone dropped from my jaw. Sometimes you just have to suck it up.

And so we do. Actually, right now we are 400 miles from Panama and 400 miles from the Galapagos so there really isn’t a choice except to be brave.

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