Old Bones

Life has not been kind to my back. My first career as a farrier (someone who shoes horses) did some big damage. I have lived in détente with my back all of my life, and as I do not bend wrong and keep in some sort of shape, it lets me live in peace. Every so often I offend it and it lets me know who is boss, which is exactly what happened the other day. There was a thunderstorm during the night and I twisted my back closing the large hatch above my head. The stab of pain cut through my spine like a knife.

Usually this causes some discomfort, but a bit of rest does the trick. This time the pain was severe and when I went to get up, no way Jose. I lay there all morning and did not make my usual coffee-grinding racket which awakes the crew. Finally, I heard some stirring and my groaning greeting brought Sam to my room. I told her my dilemma and that I probably needed some help. She fetched the pain killers from the med kit but they did not do much good on the mobility side.

After some discussion, the girls sought help from the marina staff who tried to get a doctor to the boat to no avail. An ambulance was called and soon I was aided out of bed and on to the stretcher on the doc. The pain was excruciating but the scene was so comical I had to laugh. The marina staff and the ambulance crew got me off the dock with only a few hard bumps and into the ambulance. Sam and Rosie grabbed my passport, credit card and some cash. I was dreading the cost of all this but seemed to have to option.

Once at the hospital, which thankfully was very close, the staff there went into action. They took my blood pressure, pulse and even a blood sample. The female Muslim doctor was very nice and poked and prodded a bit. That I could move my toes and legs, and had urinated, all seemed to please her.

The next episode was nothing less than comical. The staff pulled the curtain around me and disappeared. Soon Rosie came into the enclosure with a pitcher in hand and the strangest look on her face. Quizzically, she stated that she was there to collect a urine sample, clearly not knowing why. I began the arduous task of sitting up when I heard quite a commotion on the other side of the curtain. There was some discussion as to whether Rosie was my wife, and when they determined she was not, the very embarrassed nurse burst into the enclosure and retrieved the pitcher. She then quickly escorted Rosie out of the area. After some debate, a male staffer came back and took the sample. Our own Puck-like Sam had told them Rosie was my wife and she my daughter so they could stay in the family-only area. It seems in Islamic tradition the wife is invited to collect a urine sample; Rosie did not get this and was only going along with their request. We all had a great laugh over this debacle.

After a few X rays, they soon determined I had only soft tissue damage and some rest and good pain killers would solve the problem. They released me from the hospital with no bill to pay. The RM50 ($15 USD) registration fee Sam had paid on arrival was all I was charged for this amazing service. The marina manager, Prakash, who was exceptionally helpful throughout the ordeal, collected us from the hospital and procured a wheelchair to get me back to the boat.

A few pills, the air con on and my temporary bed in the salon, I rested well. Soon I was able to get up and the pain subsided. That night I made it back to my berth and the next day all seemed much better. Two days’ rest and I was up and moving, albeit slowly, thankful there was not lasting damage.

That night I got chatting on facebook with a past crew member we will meet in Bali for some diving. She, being a yoga instructor, suggested I do some stretches. I agreed, commenting that now my downward dog would look like a fallen log, that got ye old LOL.

So back at sea, a bit stiff but none the worse for wear and grateful for my wonderful crew, the marina staff and the amazing medical attention I received. The old bones came through another one.