Yesterday I was sanding teak on Galapagos when suddenly a large splintered area stabbed my finger, ripping it open and possibly leaving a nasty splinter deep under the skin. I can’t tell yet. The finger is still too tender and raw to really know until the swelling goes down. It happened so fast! There was a lot of blood. If I had xeniatrophobia, I’d be really worried about infection because it would mean I’d have to go to some doctor I’ve never met before. This phobia is the fear of unknown doctors.
Actually, if I had this fear, I’d be even more worried about sailing outside of Commencement Bay in Tacoma. I don’t know any of the doctors we might encounter should we need medical care while we are away from home. Good thing this is a fear I actually don’t have. But I do get a bit concerned about getting hurt or ill while we are doing a passage across the ocean.
We’ve lived in the same general area for 30 years, which is so weird to me I can hardly believe it. When we go sailing we will be leaving behind our carefully chosen medical providers with whom we’ve had good relationships over many years. Here at home, if I have a medical concern, I know who to call and how to get to her office. If there is an emergency, there is a hospital down the road. What will we do if we need medical care when we are at sea? I can get into the nice protective space of denial on things like this because on some level, I just do not think that’s going to happen. Then I do things like rip my finger open with no warning. That’s how accidents happen, generally. With no apparent warning. Amy G. Dala begins to awaken and begins spinning her dark web of fantasies. What if someone breaks a bone? What if someone cuts themselves badly? What if? What if?
Just shut the hell up, Amy, right?
We always want to be as independent as possible and medical care is no exception. As is the case on all other things like the engine, water availability, food, etc, we will prepare to the best of our ability and then, we will have to let go and just make the leap. By way of preparing, we will both be taking at least one marine first aid course designed for people who are going offshore. There are also wilderness medicine courses like this one, but it’s more expensive. Still, might spring for it as it looks comprehensive. Anyone taken that class from Longleaf Wilderness Medicine?
Second, we will have a fully stocked medical kit on board. I will work with my primary care provider to get medications we might need and instructions on using them. There are many lists of medical supplies for cruisers that we can use as reference for buying supplies. As usual,where there is a need, someone has found a way to fill it so you can buy prepared medical supply kits designed for cruising in mind. I have not decided about this. The convenience of buying something already put together may trump any money I could save by putting it together myself. Any suggestions from experienced cruisers out there? Some people even carry things like intravenous equipment, but since we are not trained medical personnel, I’m not sure we’ll be doing that. On the other hand, if it’s available, we’d have it to share with other people, or with a cruising doctor or nurse who would know how to use it.
We will also carry paper copies of first aid books like this one. There is a free PDF of the third edition of A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine, a similar book by the same author, but without the marine emphasis, if you want to download it. I like having paper books for quick reference. Thumbing through my kindle to find the right page is not something I want to wrap my brain around in an emergency.
Third, we will have a sat phone like the Iridium Go or the Delorme Inreach. These two sat phones are a little like anchors. Everyone has their favorite. Not many have used both. So we will just choose and let it be done. We’ll leave with the phone number of someone we can contact for advice in case of an emergency. In fact, my primary care provider offers services via skype, so if I need to talk to her, I can probably set something up. The chances of something that difficult happening during an actual passage are probably less likely than Amy G. Dala thinks. I mean, the longest passage we’ll likely have will be about 5 weeks depending on wind. This is one of those times when you just prepare as well as you can, then trust and go.
Because people all over the world get medical care, I am not overly worried about finding a qualified doctor or nurse, or even dentist, if we are in port. There is medical care of some kind almost everywhere and we are both in good general health (knock on wood, throw salt over the shoulder, spit three times and sacrifice a number of virgins if I can find them). Being a member of the Women Who Sail FB group has relieved my mind about this on a number of occasions as women post questions about who to go see in this port or that port, all over the world, and receive detailed answers with phone numbers and even offers of assistance getting to the office. It’s a great resource, although there are other cruiser resources as well, such as Noonsite. The great thing about the cruising community is that there is a network of people who know where to go and how much it’s likely to cost (hint: much less than it does here in the United States).
Do you know anyone who has xeniatrophobia? If not, teach the word to any children in your vicinity so they can wow their friends with their word knowledge. The young children of today are the word geeks of tomorrow.
Hey! We are almost finished with the A to Z Challenge! But you may have just joined us and want to read about anxiety from the beginning. Here’s a link to the first post.