A dose of medicine and the bag of the week

Sadly, I am forced to re-examine the question “Am I too old?”. Not just too old for a hipster hotel, but too old in general.

I have been having pains in my leg for some time and they have become so bad I can hardly walk a hundred yards without having to sit down. Now that’s old. I have been emailing my doc back home who suspects it is sciatica. I have heard the word, but never paid it any attention because it is something that only old people have.

Suddenly I am like half the people we see on cruise ships; old, infirm and barely able to walk. Next thing you know I will be pushing around a walker with tennis balls stuck on the feet. Surely my doc must be wrong. But what ever it is I need drugs, and good ones.

Cruise ships have doctors but my experience with them has not been good. If you have anything that worries them or might be infectious they want you off the ship and well away from any liability that might affect the cruise line. I have no intention of seeing the ship’s doctor

Trois Rivieres has a hospital quite near to where the cruise ship has docked. We decide to go to the emergency care room. It is not a welcoming place. No one speaks English and the corridors are packed with the havenots of humanity. A young man in a wheel chair seems to have taken over the place. He has no control over his limbs and little control over his mouth. He is charging up and down the corridors yelling what I take to be insults at everyone who gets in his way. He is aggressive, obnoxious and just a little scary. At one point he falls out of the wheel chair and cannot get back in by himself. Two hospital workers come to his aide and he is as docile as a mouse as they help him back in the chair, but once they have him settled he starts all over again.

He nearly runs over a young couple who hardly notice. They look as if they have been too long without their drug of choice. She cannot sit still, and walks jerkily around the room, endlessly twisting a piece of string in her hand, her eyes flitting from one place to another unable to hold her gaze on any point for more than a brief moment. He slouches in a chair, twisting his greasy black hair in knots and then wiping his hands on his stained trousers.

Another young man has placed his backpack on the floor and is using it as a pillow as he stretches his 6ft 3” body across the floor. He lies there with headphones over his ears, staring at the ceiling and singing along to whatever he is listening to, completely oblivious to the fact that people have to step over him to get past. A young girl heavily pregnant is comforted by her partner as she sobs on his shoulder. This is what my life has come to. I have gone from the luxury of an Oceania cruise ship to this.

It takes three hours and slightly less than a thousand dollars to see a doctor.

The price is shocking but when I make a comment about it, the doctor becomes very defensive and says in a rather confrontational tone “Do you know how much we have to pay if we need medical care in your country”

I do not, but I am still shocked by the amount I have to pay in his country.

He confirms sciatica is the problem and prescribes a muscle relaxant. He warns I cannot drink alcohol when taking this medication.  I am sure he has prescribed those particular pills out of spite. He knows I am on a cruise ship. Being on a cruise ship and not drinking, is like being in Fortnum and Mason without a credit card

As I leave the emergency room and open the door to the car park, a woman dressed in nothing but a hospital gown and clutching the pole of an intravenous wheely from which all sorts of tubes disappear under her gown, asks me to hold the door. She walks outside where the temperature is in the low 40’s with nothing on her feet and her hospital gown gaping embarrassingly open at the back. Her hands fumble beneath her gown and produce a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I have no idea how she managed to conceal them about her person when wearing nothing but a hospital gown, and the more I think about it, the more I don’t want to think about it. She lights her cigarette and sighs with contentment.

I can’t wait to get back to the ship.

I open the package of pills and read the warning “Do not drink alcohol when taking these pills” Damn it. But it goes on to say “Alcohol might intensify the effect of this medication. ” Well, that’s altogether different. Doesn’t that mean I should take the pill and wash it down with a large glass of bubbles?

The next morning my aching leg seems to be worse. I email my doctor who replies quickly that a muscle relaxant is not the right drug for sciatica. Had I really offended the emergency room doctor that much?

My doctor tells me the name of the drug I need and I now have no choice but to go the ship’s doctor and get the drug. Here the wait is only ten minutes, the time with the doctor considerably less and the bill a mere $200. But he will only give me 10 of the desired pills, insuring that I will have to pay him another visit and pay another $200.

Later that day a large brown envelope arrives at our stateroom. In it is the bill from the doctor and a copy of his medical report. The medical report includes the doctor’s comments on my physical examination, an examination that I was unaware had taken place. But there it was on the bill with the cost right next to it. The report states “patient is well developed and well nourished”

That has to be the politest way I have ever heard of saying I am fat and overweight.

He continues with this statement

“Positive bowel sounds”

What the hell does that mean? I can assure you I did not fart while I was there. I can also assure you that he never used a stethoscope. So what is a positive bowel sound? Are my bowels making sounds that are audible to doctors but no one else? Or am I going deaf and my bowels really are making a noise that I can’t hear? I am open to comments on that one. (Ed: My comment – TMI already) And if my bowel sounds weren’t positive what would they be? And most important of all, what has this got to do with leg pains? And when the doctor is making completely unsolicited notes about my bowels and the sounds they make, is that one more sign that I am getting too old?.

This is all too depressing so let’s get back to life on board the Marina, one of Oceania’a wonderful cruise ships, which is anything but depressing. Those of you who have stuck with my blogs through thick and thin (mainly thin I fear) will remember that I often feature a passenger of the week. Today I am featuring “Bag of the Week” , which I hasten to add is different from passenger of the week, although sometimes it could be the same.

Those of you who cruise regularly know that while onboard you need no money. There is no need to carry anything other than your stateroom key which looks very much like a credit card and behaves exactly like one, racking up huge charges whenever you go near a bar, shop or the spa. As this is the only thing you need have about your person, many women do not carry a handbag, preferring to rely on their husband, boyfriend, girlfriend or nearest admirer to pick up any tab or open their stateroom door.

But handbags are as big a status symbol as shoes and some women just can’t be without one, even if it is of no use. The Queen is of course a prime example of this. She always has a huge handbag hanging from her arm. But what does she have in it? The front door key to Buckingham Palace? But she is not on the ship. Those that are and feel the need to have a handbag, carry a small purse But even a small purse has to be noticed, although it is much harder to make a statement with such a small item. But I am here to tell you that every effort is made. As an example I would like to present the bag of the week, which was carefully placed on the ground by a very well dressed woman at dinner. She made sure that the giant sized logo (compared to the size of the purse) was facing the dining room so that we could all see it.

I love that it also has the address on it, just to let you know that she actually bought this at the original store in Paris. But the size of the logo compared to the size of the purse seems a little tacky to me. Actually the bag looks a little tacky. It appears to be made of felt. Perhaps she bought it at a dollar store and then took it to the printers

Bit I am old and feeble and know nothing of designer bags.

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6 Responses to A dose of medicine and the bag of the week

  1. ron says:

    hang in there Andrew , you r the most exciting , fun , guy I know . I hear its only a number . And you look good for your age . but yet my right knee is done and waiting for replacement . where did my youth go ? Enjoy life and smile . you may be showing wear and tear , but remember the ride to get there

  2. BAZ says:

    Well developed and well nourished. Love it.

  3. Pamela Varga says:

    Hi Andrew. I want to give you a suggestion for when you get home. Try something called Prolozone. Not Prolotheraphy but Prolozone.. My husband Bill could barely walk for 6 years. He tried absolutely everything. He was pretty good after a cortisone shot but there is only so many of those you can have. Prolozone is a natural injection. Oxygen,Ozone and vitamins and minerals. It’s been the miracle for him. He is a very active 75 year old and is now back to playing tennis with the pro 2X a week. Look it up. Email me if you would like more information. PS Welcome to our Canadian Health system. Works well if you have patience as we don’t pay for anything! Best Regards Pam Varga. Calgary Alberta.

  4. James says:

    . . . could the sciatica have anything to do with the poutine or that hot dog with onions – up or down? Just askin’ . . . . jp. (Enjoying your Québec adventure. You, two, can find the underbelly of any destination.) Bonne continuation!

  5. Pat C says:

    Oh, my good friend, who BTW is NOT as old as Don and I, but perhaps a bit travel tired like great luggage. I am so sorry to hear of your current health issues with the legs. I still struggle with the collarbone, but that was a result of being clumsy. Loss of balance IS an age issue. Should we just pass notes from the VDS condos….I can’t use stairs and you can’t walk. Don and Gordon can still manage to float about. Hope the drugs get better or help.

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