In this post, I thought I would tell you what happens if you get on ill on a ship.
As you live in such close quarters with each other on a ship, things can spread very easily. It only takes one person to have the flu and not report it, and before you know it half the ship has got it. Because of this, if you are ill with flu or something serious, you will be confined to your cabin to stop the virus from spreading further.
Normally when you get confined to the cabin it’s because you have become ill somewhere in the middle of your contract, so although you can’t leave, you can call your friends and use the internet and talk to your roommate when they get back, but my situation was a little different.
I had been transferred off my first ship and had flown to Singapore to board my new ship. So, by the time I arrived I was emotional because I had just said goodbye unexpectedly and hurriedly to all the friends I had made on my last ship. I was tired because of the time difference but also excited because I was embarking on a new adventure, so to say the least, emotions were very high.
Before embarking a new ship a lot of paperwork has to be signed, including a sheet of paper that basically says you haven’t had any flu or diarrhoea symptoms, etc. Of course, I signed it because at that point I was fine.
I embarked my new ship, unpacked my stuff, briefly met my new Chinese roommate Sha-Sha, and then went to work. Later into that evening, I started to feel a little ‘off’ so I asked my Manager if I could go to The Medic. I went downstairs and didn’t think anything of telling them how bad I felt. I just thought it was the emotion, mixed with the tiredness that was making me feel sick, but after she checked me over she determined that I had the flu.
She left the room so I thought she was going to get me some medication, but she came back and started waving the piece of paper that I had previously signed to say I was fine, in my face. I asked her what her issue was and she said very aggressively ‘My issue is that you are a lier! You said you were fine and you are clearly not!”. I couldn’t believe this, I was being shouted at for being ill.
She came back with the Senior doctor, pointed at me and said to him “She must pack her things & get off the ship. She will infect everyone.” It was as if I was a walking virus who was out to bring down the whole ship. The male doctor nodded, confused. I stood up and explained that I didn’t lie and that I felt fine earlier, but this had just come on. The nurse scoffed and said, “I won’t have it, she needs to go.” I demanded that I wasn’t to go anywhere because then I would be stranded in Singapore and that she should follow normal procedure when someone is ill rather than overreacting and trying to kick me off the ship. She wasn’t having any of it. She called my Manager and shouted at her, and then called and yelled at another bunch of officers while I sat crying in the corner.
My manager who I had known for 2 hours, came down all flustered to try and see what she could do. The nurse instructed her to accompany me to my cabin, and for me to pack my things and disembark the ship.
She was shouting the word “diarrhoea” but I didn’t know where that came from because I had just got in with a sore head, stuffy nose and a sore tummy. Anyway, before I knew it, The Captain (of all people), had been called down by this crazy nurse, so he wasn’t best happy to be called to something so trivial.
She explained her side of the story to him and how I must be sent off immediately, and then he calmly walked her to me and asked if I was ok. It was lovely for him to show a bit of compassion. I lifted my bobbing head and explained my side. He went up to the nurse and explained there was no need for me to get off and for her to simply confine me to my cabin.
After all that, I was confined to the cabin. I went into my cabin and sobbed myself to sleep. When confined, your food is delivered to the cabin, which sounds great, but it’s sick people food so it’s dry chicken, rice and a banana for every meal. I was confined to the cabin for 3 days in total until I had fully recovered and it was basically like being in solitary confinement for 3 days.
If I had been on the ship for a while before being confined, it wouldn’t have been as bad because I would have known some people and I would have had a chance to buy wifi and little snacks for my cabin, but as I had about 5 hours between getting onboard and being confined, I didn’t have any of these things which made it 10 times worse than it should have been.
Now I look back on it and chuckle to myself, but at the time it was horrendous.
If you are ever in that situation where you are confined to the cabin without having a chance to prepare (which I hope you never are) I have a few tips for you:
Ask for help
I was too shy to say anything, but I wished I had asked my roommate to buy me some wifi and I would have paid her back at a later date. At least then I could have called my Mom.
Being on your own in the cabin leaves a lot of thinking time, so it’s important to keep it positive otherwise it can quickly become a downward spiral.
Things to keep you occupied
If the crew channel isn’t tickling your fancy, you have watched all the movies you can stand, and you have no internet, then you might like to try these alternatives.
Make a list of the places you have visited. If you are working on a ship you are probably obsessed with travelling, so making a list will help you realise how lucky you are to have seen all these places. You can make a list of places and things still to do.
When alone in the cabin, having no-one to talk to about how you’re feeling can make you go a bit crazy so turn your video on and start talking. I opened up a photo booth on my mac book and talked to that, but if you don’t have that, a phone will work just fine.
Have a pamper session
I always feel better after I’ve pampered myself a bit, so if you have one, stick on a face mask or hair mask. Maybe paint your nails or shave your legs.
As I said, I hope you never have to use these tips but if you do find yourself in a similar position I hope these come in handy.