1 LiveBloggin' the ICW

Friday, June 26, 2015

Whooops! Well.....

anchored out in the Jumentos....
When last we left our intrepid sailor - oh, wait, that’s another blog!
My last post here a week ago, the plan was to leave the following day and then post to you - from Cuba.Things didn’t turn out that way, and I’m still in George Town, Bahamas. I’d tell you I’m now leaving tomorrow, but a) who would believe me now, and b) I don’t want to jinx myself.
The morning following that post, about 4 am, I woke up with what we can considerately call an unpleasant gastro-intestinal feeling. I’m going to avoid details for the squeamish and faint of heart, and myself, because it isn’t much fun to recall.
A word to the wise here unless you’re into scaring yourself silly: never google pain symptoms at 4:30 am. First of all, my symptoms could have been for any one of over 50 ailments, including appendicitis or kidney stones. All fatal.
By 5, I had convinced myself that seeing a doctor was the smart thing to do, since those two - appendicitis and kidney stones - are illnesses you don’t want to get in a place like the Jumentos, well south of the Exumas, or crossing over to Cuba. Heck, I wasn’t going anywhere feeling like I was, much less away from civilization - and medical care, such as it is here in George Town.
Seeing the doc on a small island doesn’t always mean you get to see the doctor. Typically, you get to see the nurse practitioner.
Nurse practitioners, in my experience, don’t leave me with a lot of confidence. I’m the sort of person who likes answers because then I can work on solutions. Give me a ‘fuzzy’ response and I’ll try to nail it down with questions. Great if you’re a journalist working on a story, but if you’re a patient trying to determine your life expectancy...
Naturally, if all the nurse has to work with is a few ounces of urine and your description of how you feel, you don’t get a lot of answers. The decision to sit tight for a few days while this sorted itself out was now final. No way was I going out and taking any chances.
I thought that this might offer an opportunity to catch up on some writing, but that wasn’t happening. The prescription I had against infections was knocking me out - I was napping mornings and afternoons for hours at a time. Thankfully, I had turned down the painkillers (prescription, not recreational) or I’d still be asleep.
On the serious side, when you’re cruising in areas off the beaten path, medical considerations have to be thought out in advance. To that end, I carry a fairly comprehensive first aid kit, the Marine Series 400 by Adventure Medical Kits. It’s good for wounds and breaks, has some basic meds, and is intended to support a victim while you transport to proper care.
However, there’s a lot more that can happen to you out there than just stepping on a spiny urchin - or sitting on one. Let me digress a moment with a story - a close friend who is a dive instructor told me one of his most pleasurable work days occurred when a 19 or 20-something hottie in a much too small bikini sat on a spiny urchin (how???) and required removal of the spines, said job falling to him as the senior instructor, there being no other trained medical staff on the island. Apparently it was slow, but very pleasant, work. End of digression.
A proper first aid kit should carry a variety of easily purchased medications, against some of the ailments we suffer. For the various GI problems and even simple upsets, you should have Tums or similar, an anti-diarreahal (yes it’s spelled correctly!), and a laxative on board. Basic stuff, yes, but they can turn the tide, if you’ll forgive the horrific pun, in a bad situation.
Some basic painkillers are also mandatory. I have both ASA and Acetaminophen with 15 mg Codeine, a product I can purchase OTC in Canada. They’ve stemmed some severe toothache pain over the years and I don’t travel without them.
In this instance, they were both a bad choice against the headache the antibiotic was giving me, because Codeine plugs you up, same as morphine. Fortunately, I had some straight Tylenol with me, and purchased some ASA for stores.
Along with these, you should carry some sort of easily purchased topical painkiller. These are usually sold as part of an antibiotic creme - which of course you should also have available.
I could go on for quite a while - and quite possibly should, because not everyone pays adequate attention to this topic. I feel an article in the works here...
Let me finish on this note: if you’re going cruising - and even if you aren’t - take a good first aid course, and CPR along with it. Any sailing school will be glad to set up the appropriate courses for you. CPR is not hard to learn, and can be a lifesaver. First aid can be used anywhere, at anytime, not just on your boat.
The instructors will be teaching from the foundation of injuries derived during water based activities, which is what you want. Bottom line is, there’s no point in having lots of bandages if you don’t know how to keep the victim alive long enough to use them.

 p.s. yes, I’m now feeling much better, thanks. Good to go, even! And, the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally is very close to being full. If you're considering joining us, don't hesitate too long, you'll miss out. For more details on this exciting event, running Oct. 20 to Dec. 15 from Deltaville VA to Miama FL, check our website, ICWally.com