It’s been a bit of a week. After our epic snorkelling / human barbeque incident last Monday neither of us were feeling particularly chipper. The basic acts of sleeping, dressing or even sitting down were arduous and painful. And tentatively applying thick layers of cold gel to our burning flesh four times a day was both wearing and uncomfortable. Our temperature regulation temporarily lost its bearings and we fluctuated from shivers to fevers several times a day. I wrapped up in jeans and a hoodie around the ship, earning me some confused looks from passengers in shorts and t-shirts. But with each day that passed, the raw stripe that stretched from nape to ankle decreased in intensity by another notch.
That’s when we caught the bug.
That goddamn annoying Scottish woman who had come to our first workshop had lost her voice. At first I had joked about it, because she was one of those negative people whose idea of conversation was to complain at you about everything. And so, it did seem rather fitting when the next time we encountered her she was literally speechless. But now Paul has a headache and my throat is raw, and it’s not so amusing any more. Clearly, she has infected us. One kind of shiver was replaced with another and as the bubbling skin cooled, the flu like symptoms gathered momentum.
Or so we thought.
On Friday Paul’s leg became a little red. When snorkelling earlier in the week he had been scratched by coral that had made a tiny break in the skin. The wound began to weep and so he popped down to the medical centre for advice, which was freely given by the lovely nurse called Sue who hailed from the Lake District. ‘It’ll cost you 95 USD just to go through the door to see the doctor’, she explained, ‘so try this sample of antibiotic cream first and see if it helps’.
So, of course he did; And, of course it didn’t.
On Saturday evening the shivers took hold and his temperature started rising. By Sunday morning his lower leg had swollen like a lump of dough, the wound was still weeping and he had developed an angry red rash over much of his calf and shin. Paul wasn’t himself, he looked tired and older than his years. He resolved to visit the doctor at 4 pm when the medical centre opened.
We sat in the coffee lounge whiling away the day, while Paul checked and double checked the insurance policy against all possible scenarios. Main thing, he announced was that he was covered for air sea rescue and repatriation.
I think he might have secretly enjoyed that!
Dr. Sandra LIm, the Philippino Medical Officer, brought a degree of panache to the rather drab but functional Medical Centre. Her simple naval uniform elegantly accessorised with Cuban heels peppered with shiny studs, a pearl necklace and funky round framed glasses.
Paul, who loves a bit of fashion, was enthralled.
After completing a thorough medical examination Sandra diagnosed an infection. ‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that the idyllic azure waters are pure’ she warned. ‘And that the salt water is good for healing wounds. The ocean is polluted and it’s very easy to pick up an infection in the water’.
She prescribed a course of antibiotics, three days intravenously and a week of tablets. There should be no water activities, and Paul must drink lots of water and sit with his leg raised as much as possible
So no air sea rescue for our hero then, but lots of sympathy from around the ship. Unlike my own condition contracted from the Scottish misanthrope that goes entirely unnoticed.
Finally, and somewhat appealing to Paul’s visual sensibilities, Sandra drew a thick black line around the luminous red outburst, transforming Paul into a walking work of art!