My Life as a Traveler

Kicked off the Ship in Ketchikan

Today we arrive in Ketchikan and I’m getting kicked off the ship. Susie, who has the option of continuing on the cruise, decides instead to miss the glaciers and join me. That’s a good friend.

Even though I didn’t sleep much the night before, what with the every-hour blood testing and all, when the ambulance (yes, I needed an ambulance) personnel came at 8am, I was awake and ready. I paid the bills (ouch), said my goodbyes and offered thanks, and feeling rather naked in my hospital gown, I was scooted on to a rolling bed.

Unfortunately, in Ketchikan there is no back door to sneak out of the ship. I’m rolling down the same gangplank as everyone else. It seems like every person stops to stare. I would just pull the sheet over my head, but I’m intrigued by the fresh air and the mountains. An older woman approaches. Is she going to talk to me? Where’s my sheet?  Go away, I’m not really here. She tells me that her husband was one of the people who gave blood yesterday. Okay, now I feel bad about wishing she would go away. I thank her profusely as the medics roll me to the ambulance. I can feel the stares of even more people who are milling around on the pier waiting for their tours. I’m so glad when the doors to the ambulance close.

The ambulance ride is only 3 miles away (cost: $800) and the cute male medic gives me a tour of the buildings we pass. I can only see the top of them from my lying down position, but hey, it’s something. I try to flirt, but it’s difficult wearing a hospital gown with a catheter stuck up my you-know-what. Still, I try.

In the emergency room, I chat with the old doc, who sends me down the hall for x-rays.

So what really was the cause of the bleeding? The theory is that somewhere between Seattle and Vancouver, one of the scabs (ick) from a polyp that they removed (ick) in the colonoscopy I had two weeks ago (ick) was dislodged. Unfortunately, we think this scab was right at a blood vessel. For an unknown length of time, blood pooled in the intestine, reaching critical mass a couple of days ago.  After I got home and got to talking to people, I found out that this is a thing that happens. Geez, wish I would have known. Who would expect this kind of thing two weeks after the procedure? Not me.

Back at the hospital, the x-rays showed nothing major was wrong, so I was admitted on a wait-and-see basis. There had been no more bleeding since the first night of the cruise, but just to be safe, I was to live on IV for the time being. They wheeled me up to a room on the 3rd floor.

Okay, now I was really in the hospital, but it wasn’t’ that bad. I had Netflix and could watch some good classic movies. Heck, I didn’t even flinch when the friendly nurses there wanted to stab me in yet another place on my arm for blood withdrawal. There wasn’t even a bad smell. But there was a bad roommate.

Just a curtain separated me from the other woman in the room, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. She wanted to see the doctor (ok, I did too, supposedly there was another doctor that took over from the ER doctor downstairs, and he wasn’t popping by) but the doctor wouldn’t come. Every time one of the nursing staff entered our room, she badgered them endlessly to take her blood pressure, her temperature, or do a blood test. Her doctor finally came after about several hours of loud complaining and told her that there was nothing wrong with her and that he was sending her home. “Nooooooo”, my roommate wailed. She wanted more tests. She wanted to go to Juneau, to Anchorage, anywhere where they had better facilities and other procedures to find out what was wrong with her. She wanted to stay in the hospital. I’m guessing it was more interesting than her lonely apartment in town. I could not help but hear everything that she told the unending and sympathetic Native American family members that trooped in and out past my bed.

At 4 o’clock, looking out the window past my roommate, I could see the ship leaving port.

Meanwhile, I had visitors. Who knows me in Ketchikan? Princess Cruises, of course!

Two college age girls came by from the Ketchikan Port Authority and wanted to know if everything was all right. “Uh, yeah, thanks,” said I, thinking, “who are these people?” Turns out that in every port there is a fleet of folks whose sole existence is to run errands for the cruise ships. Princess Cruises, even though they dumped us on this island, did not leave us stranded. When they told the port authority that I was there, I officially became part of the Ketchikan family. How am I doing? Would I like anything? Is there anything they can do for me? Wow, impressive. At the time I didn’t need anything, but they were really helpful when I was ready to leave the hospital.

They also escorted Susie to the nearest Best Western, where she stayed for $160/night in a room with no view. Susie checked into her hotel, but came back to chat here and there. There was really nothing for her to do in the hospital room, so I sent her out to explore Ketchikan. She found Totem Bight Park and had a blast looking at the totem poles in the park along the water.

I also got a call from Carol Topping, passenger liaison at Princess Cruises’ Los Angeles headquarters.  She also wanted to know how I was doing and if there was anything she could do to help. Besides getting a refund for the cruise (sorry, no), at the time I didn’t really have anything for her. She called twice today. I let the second call go to voicemail.

About dinnertime, my last visitor of the day came by. Dreamy Doctor Burman sat on the edge of my bed and wanted to know how I was doing. “Fine, just fine…,” I stammered, wanting to just chat with him about anything except for my intestines.  However, eventually I got down to business and complained about the ^$%# catheter that needed to come out and that my stomach was growling for real food. Since the day passed without major incident, he agreed to my demands and said I should stay one more day just to be sure everything was okay. I figured it would be worth it if I got to see him again tomorrow.

After they finally shoehorned my roommate out of there, I had the nurses move me over to the prime spot by the window so I could have a better view of the Tongass strait and the mountain above the hospital. This was better. And let me tell you, beef broth and jello never tasted soooo good.

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