Saturday, January 26, 2013

1-26-13 Homecoming day

OK, last night.

The phone rang at 0330.  I checked.  It was the front desk stating that the Mrs from cabin 7146 needed medical assistance.  My first thought is that anyone calling at this hour must really need help.  So I was tempted, in my sleep deprived haze, to collect the cabin bag and head up.  Then sanity made a brief appearance and I instead called the room.  I identified myself and used a wonderful phrase taught to me by Kelly.  "This is the emergency on call nurse, what is the nature of your emergency?"

Well, Mrs. 7146 said, "A few weeks ago I was sitting on my sofa and I started sliding off, because of the plastic.  I was going real slow and my friend asked me what's happening and I told to help me because I was falling.  And I kept falling because I had a car accident a few years ago and went to see the doctor.  My urine was really dark, almost brown.  I think it was cystitis or something, but my doctor gave me some pills that made it better, but made me pee red.  I can't see my doctor until (pause) 4 this afternoon which is (pause) almost 12 hours from now.  Can you get me those pills?"

As you can imagine, it took me a while to parse this narrative.  I asked her how long this had been going on and she said a few days.  So, she waited until 3:30 in the morning on the day before we get back to call and seek medical attention.  I mentioned that it would be $150 just for me to go down and open the clinic, not to mention the doctor's fee and any media cines on top of that.  She sounded offended that I would presume to charge a fee for this.  So, I told her that she could stop by the clinic when it opened at 0800 and see the doctor before boarding.

"Will the still be a charge?"

"Yes, but it will be less."

"Well, never mind then."

Back to sleep.  Eventually.  It took some time as my mind tried to process who would make that call. I did manage to fall back asleep though.  Just in time for...

The phone rings.

It is the front desk.  Mr. 5056 is standing there and he needs medical attention.  I ask them to put Mr. 5056 on the phone.  It is now 0500.

Good Morning Mr. 5056, this is Eric, the emergency on call nurse.  What is the nature of your emergency?

Well, I think I have a bug bit.  It's raised and kind of pinkish.  I have, maybe a few red areas on my stomach and around to my back.

How long have you had this?

Oh 2-3 days.

Well, sir, I can save you considerable expense by suggesting that you come by during normal clinic hours at 0800 this morning.

But it hurts.

I understand sir, there is a $150 dollar charge just to open the clinic outside of normal hours.  The doctor's visit and any medicines or treatments would be on top of that.

Don't you care that you might have an outbreak of bedbugs or spiders on your ship?

I would never suggest that sir, we would be very concerned about that.

Well, I have insurance.

Of course sir, we would present an itemized bill you could use to send them a claim.

Well never mind then.

So, now I am really tired and I get to sit in the Ft. Lauderdale airport for 6 hours waiting for my flight.

It will be good to get home.

Friday, January 25, 2013


What a day.

I keep trying to escape, but I just can't manage it. 

Started out OK.  It was a Half Moon Cay day and I was 1st call.  This means that two nurses go to the island and two stay on board.  I was scheduled to stay on board.  All started innocently enough.  Slow clinic day with a few minor things.  Then things started happening in rapid succession.  We had a 911 call for shortness of breath.  We get her down into the infirmary and are pretty sure right off the bat that we would have to send her off the ship.  The passenger doctor and the LMO are on Half Moon Cay along with one other nurse.  So, the crew doctor, the other nurse and I worked it up. 

As the new guy, the decision was way out of my hands, but I agreed with it.  In the end, the Captain was mad about it.  Not sure why, but it is what it is.  While we are getting all of the many things done with this patient, we get a call about an accident on shore.  Somebody was thrown from a horse.  We need to get them off of the tender and get them x-rayed.  So now we are into that. is crew doctor hours, so the waiting room is filling up with crew that need to see the doctor.

The decision is made, unbeknownst to me, that the other nurse on shore will have to accompany the disembarking patient on the flight to Ft. Lauderdale.  And in order to maintain staffing, they want me to go ashore now.  So, I hurry and eat lunch, all of this happened about thirty minutes before we close up for lunch, and change to go to the island.  Half an hour to get there and half an hour to get back only leaves an hour or two on the island, but at least that was somewhat relaxing.  I passed out a few bandaids.  Then I helped get the patient from our tender to another ferry which would take them to another island which would take them on a flight to Ft. Lauderdale. 

Then I went back to the ship.  I arrived in the clinic, told them I was back onboard and went to my room to change. 

I didn't make it. 

Before I could get the door closed, the phone rang with another 911.  Someone fell down the steps in the main showroom.  So, still dressed in the island clothes, I ran back to the clinic, grabbed the medical bag and went running to the showroom. 

In the end it was time consuming, but luckily no one was seriously hurt.  By this time it was well into the afternoon clinic time, which is not the responsibility of the 1st call.  So, I took a break for an hour and went to pack. 

In through the evening, the phone has continued to ring.  Nothing serious, just little things that require 15 minutes of time.  Oh well. 

I get to go home tomorrow. 

I plan on updating some more pictures and perhaps even a video or two onto the website or Youtube or something. 

Sitting here at 10:30 boat time, I am still getting regular phone calls. It could be a long night, but it is only one night....


Thursday, January 24, 2013


Today I was nominated for table hosting duty.  What that means is that, at certain meals, an officer is assigned to a table and asked to 'host'.  Schmooze, entertain, whatever. 

I made sure that I asked everyone else if they wanted to do it.  I didn't want to step on anyone's toes.  I think I might have even offered to do someone's laundry for a month or something, but no...the honor was all mine. 

So I get dressed up in the uniform and head up to an early lunch in the passenger dining area.  Fine table settings, china, fancy napkins, the whole bit.  Now many of you who have worked with me in the past know, I usually try to skip out and eat my turkey sandwich lunch as far from other people as possible.  So this is not really my comfort zone. 

That's OK, I am somewhat used to being outside of my comfort zone.  It's kind of my comfort zone. 

I get there early, as directed, and sit.  I rise when woman arrive and sit when they are seated.  You know, sometimes the world throws you a sign.  Literally.  The placard in front of my read, 'Medical Officer'.  The placard to my left read, 'Dorothy Dull'. I was to be seated next to Mrs. Dull.  I am not afraid that she will read this, she didn't speak English.  She was a lovely, if quiet Japanese lady.  Her husband was sitting next to her.  Somehow it came up that this was only my third week on board (one of the men mentioned something to the effect of that was probably the reason I got stuck coming to the lunch.), so I mentioned that I had been in the Navy before, so ship life wasn't new to me.  Mr. Dull took the opportunity to say that he had been in the Navy too.  In WWII. 

Yeah, the Japanese Navy.  Awkward. 

He was apparently a weather forecaster for the ship based aircraft.  I didn't press for more information as another one of the table guests was of the age that, had he been close enough to hear, might have taken offense. 

So, where have your cruises taken you before? 

The husband of one fo the couples was on his first cruise.  His wife and her friends had taken several.  He wasn't too keen on it though, he said, "too many people on here."  They were from the Black Hills in the Dakota's.  I mentioned that was one of the reasons my family and I had left Houston, too many people.  We gave up the city life for a life of travel. The older gentleman across the table asked if I had heard about the sailor that decided to give up his life at sea. 

"He picks up an anchor and walks off the boat.  A  guy asks him what's he going to do with that anchor.  The sailor replies, 'I'm going to carry it until somebody asks me, "What is that thing?" and then I'm going to stay there.'"  How is that for screwing up nested quotation marks?  The Chicago Manual of Style would shake itself in shame at that demonstration I'm sure. 

Only two more days and I head home.  I need that. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Ahhh St. Thomas, I couldn't wait to leave.  The landscape of the island reminds me quite a bit of Avila Beach in central California.  It does appear, however, to be missing a large landmass to the East.  Instead, a short distance off is another beach.  Which is beautiful by all accounts.  I don't know.  I chose not to go ashore today.

Good thing too.  Because it was very busy in the clinic today.  We disembarked three people.  Two of them made it back and were able to reboard and continue the cruise, but the third had to stay.  Everything happened all at once and then there was a break and then it all happened again.  Each of the three disembarks made two appearances.  The last disembark actually happened late enough that the ship was waiting for the ambulance to arrive before it could leave.  Believe it or not, the Captain and the Chief Officer (XO for you Navy guys) get a little anxious when they can't leave at the appointed hour. 

Tomorrow is a sea day. 

Here, have pictures. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


San Juan. Puerto Rico.  The long awaited day off.  As soon as they released us I was off an on my own out in the streets of a strange city.  It was lovely. 

I can't wait to get home where I will be able to update the Adventure Nickel website with some pictures and videos. 

Old San Juan is much like what my imagination brings to mind when I hear the phrase 'old world city'.  The streets are narrow and lined with blue bricks.  Three and four story buildings spring up after only a foot or two of sidewalk.  As I walked down the streets I was occasionally met with the sound of a television blaring and I could see as I walked past, a grandmother watching not three feet from me.  Comfortably ensconced in her sofa, she paid no mind to the passers by.  Another time a calico cat sat perched on the counter of a kitchen, peering through the slats of the wooden shutters at all of the people. 

I wandered back and forth between the two old stone forts before descending the hill and wandering through the old city.  Many beautiful parks were nestled in between the buildings and streets.  It is a city where I could imagine you must be a part of the larger community.  The proximity thrusts you into the lives of your neighbors.  Each person must become a diplomatic ambassador for their family in the community.  I saw friends slow to shout greetings through upper balcony windows open to receive the cool carribean breeze. 

Another thing I saw was more cats.  There seem to be an endless stream of semi stray cats around the city.  People leave thin aluminum roasting pans full of food out for them.  I don't know if it is more because they love the cats or loathe the rats that might spring up in their abscence. 

It was a beautiful day made less so only because I was not able to share it with Sarah.  Next time dear.  Until then, pictures will have to do. 

The mighty "E".  Kind of fitting really.  Sometimes it is hard to get over just how big this thing is. 

 This is the picture I took while I was talking on the phone to Sarah.  I never actually made it down into the cemetary, but there were some really ornate statues and memorials.

Man, I miss my good camera.

The blue brick streets.

The lighthouse for Jane.

I guess this is one way to entertain the kids.  I'll not pretend to understand this one. 

 A lovely little park sprung up.  There are a ton of cats wandering throughout and a cat lady there to tend them.  She is in the back on the right extolling the virtues of the cats to passers by.

That's all for now.  Man I miss the good camera.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Here I sit. White, long sleeved, starched shirt on, top button undone and tie loosened. Dinner jacket with brass buttons thrown over the back of the chair. Yep, the charter cruises are over and I have to wear the jacket and tie to dinner at night unless I want the PO mess food. Which I discovered, I don't.

The routine for 1st call is that I open the clinic at 0800 and run it until noon. There is a break from noon until 1400 for lunch and I reopen the clinic. Then I run it until 1600 when whoever is 2nd call takes over until 1800. When I got relieved, I went to my cabin to read and finished my book. TV sucks and I can't seem to write right now, so I went forward. Below decks forward you can hear and feel the ship crashing through the waves. The deck heaves, there is a pause, and the everything shudders to the accompanying crash. I sat there for a moment, listening. It is a neat sensation.

Then I climbed up the stairs to the 4th deck and went out to the bow. Up there, I was alone in the twilight. There was no sound really, but the hum of the wind and the occasional vibrant hum of a taut line in the wind. We are heading East, into the growing darkness. There were low flying, scattered pastry clouds. They looked low enough that I waited for parts of the ship to disappear into them. Behind us was the glow of the sunset interrupted only by the occasional dark shadow of a cloud like a bad memory in the rose colored past. I enjoy sailing East at sunset. It is like we are charging forward to meet the night and whatever it brings. Let us leave behind the memories of the day and gladly fight through the night to tomorrow.

Allow me a little artistic license for the day.  Tomorrow is San Juan and a day off.  Let's get there and see what the day brings. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Some days just don't need to be blogged about. 

So instead...

I was thinking today of how much I miss home.  Odd concept for me, home.  Home isn't where I sleep, it isn't where my stuff is, it is where my people are, wherever that may be.  And, that isn't a new development. 

Here is a list of the places I have called home in my 39 years. 

I was born in Long Beach, CA.  Not really home.
Oswego, NY
Virginia Beach, VA (Thanks Mom for reminding me)
Doylestown, OH
Ardmore, OK
Shawnee, OK
Houston, TX
Branson, MO
Concord, CA

None of that counts a year on a road crew living out of hotels while I built cell telephone towers.  It doesn't count the time spent on the road doing shows as an audio engineer.  It doesn't count any of the RV living over the past few years.  It distill my travels in the Navy to our homeport, where we didn't spend much time anyway.  During these travels, only one of my family has really had a long term home.  Well, maybe two now.  I'm a nomad and always have been apparently.  So, to me home has always been represented by wherever the largest number of my family members were currently living.  Until Sarah, then the kids.  Now home is wherever they are.  Right now I miss home. 

Less than a week left.