Well, At Least This Time We Made It Past Fremantle

On Tuesday afternoon the Zuiderdam’s Staff Captain made an announcement asking for anyone with a blood donor card. A+ or O-  who was willing to donate blood to help a critically ill passenger to come to the front desk.  That critically ill passenger was me.

Me in my new A deck Cabin on Zuiderdam

Within half an hour 37 people had come forward.  The Staff Captain visited me in the ship’s hospital the next morning to tell  me about the response.  He also spoke to a group of retired servicemen telling them that this was beyond precedent.  Blood donors on the ship are limited to people under 70 years of age and this is a world cruise full of people over 70.

That evening I got two transfusions that may have saved my life.  My problem was internal bleeding over a period of time.  My hemoglobin had fallen to dangerously low levels (Normal for a man is 13 to 16, I was at 6.)  The ship’s hospital is designed to treat the normal range of ailments.  It has limited diagnostic and surgical facilities, but they can keep you alive.

A long cruise builds a sense of community and that community proved itself this week in the middle of the Indian Ocean, days from land.  People rallied around Suzi with offers to help her pack and around me with prayers.  Some of the donors showed up at my ship hospital room to tell me that they made the donation, some wish to remain anonymous.  I appreciate you all, and the medical staff on Zuiderdam.

On Thursday morning an ambulance crew from Port Louis, Mauritius, arrived in the Deck A hospital, loaded me onto a gurney and we started out the gangway.  It was hot outside and since the ambulance (or perhaps the paperwork) was not ready they hauled me back onto the ship so I would not be lying on a gurney in the morning sun. Paperwork done, Suzi climbed into the ambulance with me, a couple of bags of unused blood, packed in ice.  I found good use for them in the next day.  Our bags went to the port agent’s car, and we were off on a bumpy ride, sirens wailing, for probably the most unique tour of this port of call.

I am on my third day in the ICU of City Clinic in Port Louis.  I will write about my hospital experience later when I have more energy, the treatment here is good.  This the first day I could sit up and do some typing.

Sitting up today

As of the evening of March 5 my hemoglobin is up to 9, still not good enough to fly in a high altitude atmosphere but much better  It is the first day that I have not had IV tubes sticking from my hands, limiting my typing ability. The tubes are still there for further use but for now I am tethered to nothing except by bonds of friendship and appreciation.  Thanks for the prayers, the support and the blood.

14 thoughts on “Well, At Least This Time We Made It Past Fremantle

  1. Our prayers continue for your recovery. Thank you for your sharing your story.

  2. So sorry to hear that you are the patient we heard about in another post. Prayers for your recovery. I will miss my favorite blogger’s comments. Please keep us posted on your progress as you can while you recover.

  3. Wishing you all the best, Rich!! Hoping you and Suzi can rejoin the ship soon. Otherwise, you will be 0 for 2 !! That should be for batting averages, not consecutive world cruises!!

  4. Praying for a full—quick!—recovery for you. Praying for Suzi that she can continue to deal. It can be just as hard on the spouse.

  5. Scary stuff, Rich! I hope you are continuing to improve and get some solid answers soon.

  6. Oh my! You have been in many settings where you have helped others. This time it was your turn to see the best of humanity. Hope your issues get resolved and you can look back at this as yet another adventure. Until then, remember you have many people supporting your recovery and Suzi’s well being. (I write as if I know you which speaks to your excellent story-telling.)

  7. So glad you are doing better so sad to hear about your illness. Can’t believe you are already writing again. Sending lots of good healing energy to you and Suzi.

  8. Rich and Suzi, I want to put you two in a protective bubble for about a year! You guys have been through a lot. I am thrilled that the cruising community and the doctors are taking such good care of you while you were on the ship and now at the City Clinic in Port Louis. Also, it is wonderful that Suzi can be so close. Thank you for your words – you have a way with great writing. You could say that the Eagle of Guidance in Sitka continues to gift you with writing! Get well and thrive!

  9. Rich,
    I was so sorry to see this news but I also want to thank you for sharing it with your readers. All cruisers wonder about what would happen if . . . Thanks for giving us a glimpse into that. We are concerned for you and so sorry another World Cruise may be coming to an end for you and Suzi. (That was a great headline, btw.)

    I had the opportunity for one of these “unique port tours” during my 2017 World Cruise with HAL. I tripped over something as I was about to exit a big tour bus in Corinth, Greece and plunged head first to the pavement below. The tour bus company took me to see a local doctor who sent me to a hospital for stitches and concussion evaluation. My unique souvenirs were a 10 page print out in Greek from the hospital, a big envelope of x-rays and two big black eyes. I wasn’t seriously hurt and I made it back to the ship in Piraeus with minutes to spare. Plus, I had a great story to tell.

    But you, my friend, are dealing with something much more serious. So thank you for posting even when it was difficult for you to do so.

    I find your writing and photos quite engaging. My favorite pist was about the museum in Adelaid. I was looking forward to hearing about Africa from your perspective.

    I’m hoping your medical issues are resolved and you will be able to rejoin the cruise soon. In the meantime, follow orders, get yourself healthy again, and keep your fans happy with more writing.

    Thank you,

  10. Wishing you great health and a wonderful voyage next year from Fremantle to the end. I love your wonderful posts and hope you will be able to keep all of your followers updated on how you are doing.
    Aloha from Hawaii, Patti

  11. I can sympathize very much, because a couple years back I was in the county hospital at home for a month with all sorts of problems, two major operations and a heart ablation. Infusions of antibiotics for a month, therapy, blood thinners. Catheters. Colonoscopy. The whole works. But that can happen. Anyway I hope you get better soon. It is no fun being sick. At least one gets a lot of attention from the hospital staff and rehab house staff. As if that were a consolation

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