Miracle Cruise Day 6
Thursday Jan. 31/08
Our early morning arrival in St. Lucia was brilliant and sunny. The island was lush and green, dotted with red roofed buildings and little white or brightly coloured houses.
We were docked next to the Norwegian Pearl, a ship we're considering for one of our future cruises. Behind it, was docked the Royal Princess.
Our originally planned shore excursion to Marigot Bay had been cancelled a few days earlier, so we had to make a 2nd choice. We wanted beach and snorkeling, so we chose the Snorkel and Party Cruise which takes you along the western coast of St. Lucia, to a marine reserve for snorkeling, and a small beach.
My first impression of the "party boat" was not a good one, and I should have listened to my gut instinct.
Compared to the sleek new bright yellow catamaran we had sailed on yesterday, this power boat was little more than an old, grubby tub, in which the "crew" lived, as evidenced by the beat up couches in the inside cabin, and the unmade beds in the cabins below, which I glimpsed when I had to go below to use the "facilities". The toilet was one of the most filthy, cramped and disgusting I had ever used, and it didn't even flush.
As we were boarding, I couldn't help noticing the swells in the water; it was quite choppy, and I wondered if such a small boat should even be going out, but I figured the crew must know what they're doing.
I purposely chose to sit on the bow, so I could focus on the horizon, and I took a precautionary Gravol (for motion sickness).
The hour long ride along the coast was pleasant in the sun, but was definitely choppy, and I had to fight to keep my breakfast down. On the way we saw the Emerald Princess anchored off shore, and we passed by Marigot Bay and saw some of the lovely island of St. Lucia.
By the time we arrived at the designated snorkeling area, I was not feeling up to snorkeling and I thought the sea was too rough to even attempt it, so I stayed on board, as did a few others. Those who did venture out came back after not too long, saying the swells were just too hard to battle.
For the hour that we were anchored there, I lay on the front deck, fighting the motion of the boat. As we started our return trip, the Captain told those of us up front that we "might get a little spray", as the sea was a bit rough. At first, we thought, OK, it's hot, a little spray will feel nice, but once we picked up speed and the boat started pitching up and down 6 ft. swells and rolling side to side, it became apparent that the "spray" was hitting us with the force of a fire hose!
At first, it was funny, as we laughed at each other getting soaked to the skin, our hair plastered down and seawater running down our faces. One had to have a sense of humour about the ridiculous predicament we found ourselves in!
However, when the force of the waves washing over the bow of the boat began knocking us over, and the severity of the pitching and rolling caused my stomach to start pitching and rolling, it wasn't funny anymore.
Soon, I was crawling over to the side of the boat, hanging onto the thin rail for dear life, and hurling my breakfast overboard. I learned the hard way that you cannot vomit into the wind!
I was soon cleaned up by the waves of seawater washing over me, and I crawled back to my spot to lie, soaking and shivering, wrapped in a sodden towel to protect me from the salt spray and the waves beating down on us.
It was a long ride back, and I was sick two more times and feared I would be washed overboard.
Before we arrived back at the pier, I knew I was in trouble. Vomiting inevitably triggers arrythmia, a heart condition I have in which the heart, when stressed, beats way too fast, and skips beats.
I was soon having severe chest pain, palpitations, lightheadedness, in addition to the nausea and vomiting. I could barely stand once we docked, and it took two crew members to help me off the boat, where I collapsed on the quayside.
There was no help available; no phone, no sign of a wheelchair or a golf cart to help me back to the ship. My husband, and a very kind couple of strangers, half-walked, half-carried me the whole way back.
From the gangway I was taken immediately to the infirmary, only to discover it closed for lunch break. It was exactly noon.\
Several returning passengers, seeing me collapsed on the stairs in a shivering, shaking heap, called to the crew for help. Some called 911, and others went to find the doctor. At one point I was told there was an ambulance waiting outside, but fortunately, I never had to use it.
Many passengers stopped to help, with kind, calming words, a warm, dry towel, and one passenger, a nurse, even took my pulse, which was racing. I saw nothing, my eyes were closed against the pain, but I heard everyones' comforting words, and I was so thankful for that warm towel!
Finally, after 25 minutes on the stairs, the doctor and nurse arrived. By then I was in a complete panic with the chest pain, and they brought me immediately into the treatment room. Still wet and shivering uncontrollably, I was stripped of my bathing suit and wrapped in warm blankets, and immediately hooked up to the heart monitor.
An EKG was taken, as well as blood samples for enzyme testing. Although it appeared, and felt, like I was having a heart attack, the doctor concluded it was more the anxiety and the panic on top of the atrial fibrillation that was causing all my symptoms.
However, it took several hours, some medication, rest, constant monitoring, and an entire 1 litre bottle of Pedialyte (I was also dehydrated) to get my heart rate back down to normal. I was very thankful not to have to leave the ship for hospital just before the ship sailed at 1:30 pm.
After a second EKG around 3:30 checked out OK, I was permitted to leave, but directed to rest in my cabin, no sun, no alcohol, and to rest the rest of the day.
So, I took advantage of Room Service, (having disposed of my breakfast, and missing lunch, I was a bit hungry!), and I sat on my balcony in the shade for awhile, then took a two hour nap.
Aside from persistent chest pain (muscular in nature, due to the bashing I took hanging over the boat rail), I felt as good as new. I had a scheduled follow-up EKG at 7 pm, and when that checked out alright, I was able to attend the repeat-passenger cocktail party before dinner, and was very thankful that I was feeling well again!
To be continued....