Wednesday, January 9, 2013


1-9-13 2156

Wow,busy day. Didn't start off that way, but it sure got that way. It was my first day being 1st call. I got to the clinic, opened it up and started things just like I was supposed to. A few minor problems cropped up, a passenger with a sunburn, seasickness, etc. We got an email saying a passenger had chipped a tooth on a piece of bacon the previous night and declined to see medical. The passenger showed up right before lunch time and wanted to talk about his tooth problem, which quickly ate into lunchtime. But, it is a customer service job, so I answered everything I could and tried my best to be helpful.

I skipped lunch up on the Lido deck because we were pulling into San Juan at 1300 and I, along with all newly embarked crew, were supposed to meet up with Puerto Rico customs agents on the 2nd deck. So, I had to change out of scrubs and into the monkey suit and hang out so that a guy could look at my passport, look at me and say have a nice day. Only took about 40 minutes. I got to talk to some of the musicians I met at the hotel and around the ship. Nice folks.

So, I ended up snatching a bite to eat down in the PO mess, which is not of the same quality as they feed the passengers. More like Phillipino and Indonesian comfort foods. Still pretty tasty, just not as healthy for you. We pulled in to port and I took the stairs up to the 11th deck to check out the city. San Juan is pretty from here. We moor right across from an old stone fort. Pretty neat really. The Nieuw Amsterdam is here along with a Norwegian Cruise line and a Carnival cruise line. I snapped some pictures and headed back down. Getting tired of those stairs, but I made a commitment. I am averaging 40 flights of stairs a day.

Then it was back down stairs so I could open the clinic by 1400. I am supposed to run the clinic until 1600 and then be off for two hours to rest because I will be on call all night. It stayed pretty slow until the ship's captain walked in. He just needed some OTC medication, no biggie. Then the phone rang. It was the front desk telling me there was a 911 call up on the 4th deck. I called my backup to come take over the clinic, grabbed teh cabin bag and closed the doors on my way out. I checked the elevators as I passed, but they were all up on 8 or above, so it was the stairs. 5 flights at a sprint and then a run all the way to the back of the ship.

Chest pain.

We took him back to the clinic and started the workup. Potential heart attack. The guest physician was on shore, enjoying the day. Luckily the crew physician was there and we got busy. All of the normal ER protocols were done, although some of our testing on board is limited. I think back to the door to balloon time goal of 90 minutes in some of the heart care ERs and laugh. It took all day figuring out what to do with this guy and where he was going to go. Everything from med evac jets, to several local hospitals, to 24 hour ICU care on the ship all the way home was considered. Eventually, after around 5 hours, he was sent ashore to a local hospital in San Juan.

All of this, on my first day as 1st call. Now I get to try to get some sleep while waiting for the phone to ring.

All of this leads me to the suggestion that, should you go on a trip like this, get the travel insurance. I heard a story about a ship getting turned around to medically evacuate a patient back to the port they just left. IT was $70k for the fuel alone, which was charged to the patient. Above all the other medical cost onboard. Get the insurance. Some air services won't take an uninsured passenger without cash up front. Unless you can produce $10,000 or more for a medical charter flight, get the insurance.

That's all for now. Time to try for some sleep.


Just as I was about to turn out the lights, the phone rings. It was the ships doctor asking if I wanted to go to the bow to watch the sail away. We ran up in time to watch the pastel colored lights of the city shrouded in fog as we passed by in the night. The old Fort on the hill, the doctor called it Moro, was beautiful. But, the fog turned to rain and we went back inside. There are parts of this which are awesome.



Another clueless new guy moment. The schedule I was given said that we were supposed to set the clocks forward one hour. So I did. Apparently the schedule i was given was a misprint. The time change was supposed to be tonight, but no one told me. So I woke up an hour early and wandered around wondering where everyone was. Eventually I wised up. Turns out they had realized the mistake and corrected everyone else's schedule, but I didn't get the memo.

Oh well, call it a head start.

Today I was 2nd call. I again spent pretty much all of the day in the clinic. Eventually I will get this stuff down. Hopefully be tomorrow when I am 1st call.

I miss my family. Sarah emailed today and told me a story about the kids. Max was afraid my ship would be attacked by pirates. I thought about the kids and smiled for most of the day. Not everything is buffets and sandy beaches.

Now, I have to go check the secondary infirmary. Oh well, then a quick bedtime because we set teh clocks ahead by an hour and I am 1st MO tomorrow for the first time.

OK, a few minutes later and I'm back.

Got my work for the day done. I didn't do much in the way of extra today. I wanted to work out, but it doesn't always work out the way you want it to.

Also, I got trapped by the TV. Damnit. OK, I'll watch the last few minutes of MIB III, then off to bed.


1-7-13 2111

Good day today. I'm getting more comfortable at work, though I am still not particularly confident that I will remember all of the various forms and processes. Tomorrow we dock at Grand Turks and I will be 2nd call. That means that I am the primary backup if the main nurse needs help. I have been spending the hours in the clinic as though I was first call since I got here. I needed all of the repitition that I can get. So, the hours have been 0800 to 1800 daily with a two hour break in the middle for lunch or whatever. On my day as first call I will take a break from 1400-1600 and probably take a nap in case I get a call during the night.

I always hate to need to ask how to do things. I don't like it when I don't know everything. Heck of a thing for a traveler, I guess. You would think I would be used to be clueless by now, but it never gets easy. So today, while emailing home, I noticed a very large binder labled 'Lead Medical Officer Manual'. I started reading it figuring that I will need to know that stuff some day and it just might clue me in to some of the things deemed important by the higher ups. I think I am going to try to read a bit of it every night.

In my room there is a small fridge and a small TV. It is so tempting to just come in and veg in front of the tube, but I am trying to resisit the impulse. I need to be writing, working out, learning about my job, something productive. The TV thing is just wasted time. Still tempting.

So instead, I checked out the book Freakonomics from the library and am reading that for leisure.

OK, we are in Grand Turks tomorrow and I am 2nd call, so I can't get off. The next day we are in San Juan, PR and I am 1st call, so I can't get off. I had been attrubuting this to being the junior guy and they scheduled me that way because I was the FNG. Then, I read the LMO manual and found out that all new orientee's are schedule a certain way on their first cruise to maximize the time between embarkation and being first call. It turns out that the port days just randomly hit on the days I would be 2nd and 1st. So, no picking on the new guy, it just seems that way if you are the clueless new guy. The more you know...


1-6-13 1330

Getting closer to being a real boy! Today I got my ID. Got my uniform request form completed. Got my safety lecture done and my NEOP form finished. That's New Employee Orientation Program for you landlubbers.

I have located the gyms, yes plural, but haven't visited yet. I certainly need to. A large focus of cruising life is food. Pretty good food too. I have had sushi twice, Indian food, asian and a made to order sandwich. Hell, I even had breakfast this morning. And I have only been on the ship around 24 hours. I will need the gym.

One of the important things that I haven't done yet is any nursing. Even though I am technically off today, I am going in for the afternoon clinic so I have a clue tomorrow when I actually will be responsible for something. And I am going to, eventually, get to know the duties of the Lead Medical Officer. So much to do. Oh well, it's not like I was going anywhere.


1-5-13 0720am
Sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for the shuttle to the ship. It has been years since I had the pleasure of engaging in air travel, I can see why I waited so long.
I don't see how anyone gets work done in an airplane unless you are beyond the curtain. There is probably enough room to type in first class, but not in the trenches. I am unhappy with Hilton as their coffee sucks and they charge extra for internet. Hell, most RV parks have free wifi. I am anxious to see what kind of company I will be working for. The meal reimbursement rules are weird. They say they only pay you for dinner if you arrive before 8 pm local time. Also can't wait to get on the ship and start answering some of the questions we have about if and how all of this is going to work.

1-5-13 2115

Made it to the ship. We are underway. Needless to say, it has been a busy day. There is a lot to learn not only about my job here, but the shipboard life and routine. I can't seem to get my hands on a can of coke right now and it is frustrating.

At the hotel, there were hundreds of cruise line employees waiting for the shuttle. I managed to get on one and was tucked way back in the farthest interior seat. As the driver pulled off he asked, "Everyone got their passports?" Uhhh...yeah. In my bag, in the trailer behind us.

When we got to the gate at the port, he told us to get our passports out. Oh shit.

I loudly stated it was in the trailer. The guy in the seat next to me said it was OK, they might not check. Luckily they didn't.

 As we pulled up amidst all of the ships, I could hear Michael's voice in my head, "Whoooaaa, do you see that?"

Once onboard I found out that I was the only brand new person on the ship. All of the other staff had at least been on another ship. So, I got to watch a couple of orientation videos all myself.

I got to the clinic, got assigneed my buddy Mary and started learning how and where. Everything.

I still don't have an ID, still don't have any uniforms, and still barely have a clue. All that being said, it is good to be back on the water. I missed the motion of the ocean.

It is going to be really tight when Sarah and the kids come up. I am currently in a one bed stateroom with a bathroom smaller than the big bathroom on the RV. Oh well, the price of adventure.