Dirt dwellers often wonder what we do about health care and how we manage it on the boat. For the most part, living on a boat is healthier than on land. We come in contact with few sick people. The demands of the boating life; unlike those of work, does not force us being ill on anyone else nor them upon us.
On the rare occasion one of us becomes ill we do have a full medical kit aboard. In the remotest of places we can use the SSB / Ham setup to contact shore side medical personnel on the maritime frequencies. We also carry two excellent medical texts aboard: Your Offshore Doctor by Beilan, and Medicine for Mountaineering by Wilkerson. However, it is quite rare to get anything other than seasick offshore. Injuries can occur, yes, but general sickness not so much.
The other factor involved is time. We spend less than 10% of our cruising time actually offshore sailing. Mostly we’re at anchor in some of the world’s most beautiful places. And quite often where those places are there are villages, towns, people, and medical care. There is an excellent Dr. In Savusavu.
There maybe more than one Dr. in Savusavu but there is one in the private sector that cruisers use. He is a US certified physician who was the head of medical care at one of the hospitals in Fiji. He’s now eased up his work load and does private care in paradise; oops…. Savusavu.
It had been rainy all week and we’ve been cooped up aboard. In general that doesn’t help my mood. I like to get out and about. So for whatever reason, not feeling good about the weather my body decided to mimic that feeling.
It started out with a little fever one evening and I started treating it. The following day I noticed a mild soreness in my throat. I was treating the fever and sore throat with over the counter remedies. But; I was having difficulty. I ran out of Aspirin and my throat lozenges were getting low. I was using Saline mist like crazy so I never had a sour drip (sorry if it’s Too Much Info). Day one a temp of 102º F. Yuck. Day two I went in with W/ to town but I hung at a picnic bench and waited for her to complete some shopping. When we returned to the boat my temp was 104º F. Oh-Oh. W/ wet me down good- wet back, cool cloth on forehead, I added another aspirin especially since I had run out. 30 minutes later my temp had dropped 1/2 a degree. I forgot I could have slowly immersed myself into the water around the boat and that would have cooled me down. I don’t know how smart that would have been but it was an option. In Medicine for Mountaineering they suggest sitting in a stream if the body temperature gets too high.
We decided the following day to visit the clinic. From our readings of the above books a temperature this high and a sore throat could easily be Strep throat. Streptococcus is not a friendly bacteria to deal with. Even if I made it past this stage the following stages might also be problematic. As instructed in the books we should look for white spots on the back of my throat. W/ didn’t see any. We went to the clinic anyway.
There the Dr. found the white spots and showed W/ what to look for. He wrote out a script for the medicines I would need and off we went. Cost of the office visit: $20 Fijian. I waited at Snowy House and had a thick chocolate shake to soothe my sore throat (Cost $9 Fijian) Now I had some more energy. W/ walked to the pharmacy for the drugs and for $45 Fijian we had the weeks worth of antibiotics, Advil, and Sudafed. I was good to go.
Back at the boat I started my regime. My throat wasn’t too bad yet but I could tell it would take some time for improvement. That night swallowing was painful. I sipped Sprite, ate salted popcorn and laid around.
Day two was a little better body temperature wise, I was down around a 100º F now but my throat was still afire. As the day wore on my throat improved hourly. I’m still laying low. Reading books, playing games, and keeping up with friends on the internet all helped pass the time. And; a few extra naps never hurt. All in all, in 10 years of cruising I think this is my first time I’ve needed to see a physician and only my third time being visibly ill. Life is good!