Sunset from my window
Sunset from my window

The next 48 hours were tough. When the aggressive soup was restrained at dinner on New Year’s Eve I received a visit from Liz Gifford shortly after

dinner started.

She was doing her cabin check and there I was groaning in my bunk with the window opened a slit for fresh cold air. I was on the 5th level and between the roll of the boat and the size of the waves they were breaking at my window level and would drench me if it was left open.

Liz is a wonderful person; very caring and sensitive. She is well read, an anthropologist who studied in Greece, a yoga instructor, a qualified wilderness guide and knows bears very well.  She is also an excellent host for Penguin Pictionary.

More than that, as I was to discover later when I had recovered, she takes the most amazing photographs. I have never seen such sensual and sensitive pictures of icebergs like the ones she has captured. I cannot find a link to any over her beautiful work, otherwise it would be here.

Liz Gifford Bio
Liz Gifford Bio

I sipped water through the night, double dosed on Stugeron and still struggled. I was bed bound. The next morning Liz found me in bed still after the breakfast call. I felt still the same at lunch. It was my first New Year’s Day that nobody wished me for St Basil’s Day. It really felt empty. At lunch she brought me my One Ocean motion sickness survival pack: a packet of cream cracker biscuits and a can of ginger ale. I was still in bed at dinner.

The ship’s doctor, Sarah Oxley, had been to see me and given me another tablet at first. The next day when I was still sick she gave me some Odansitron.

Fuji Moment: Portrait by Marius Coetzee -he does not know how to use a Fuji yet.
Fuji Moment: Portrait by Marius Coetzee -he does not know how to use a Fuji yet.

This is a super strong medication they use in post-anaesthesia nausea, but it made no difference. When she gave me the Odansitron she said something to the effect that “you really shouldn’t be on the ship if you get this sick, because it is going to get much rougher!” Liz visited me again that evening and during the day, Stephen, my roommate kept popping in and supplying ginger ales. Marius came by a few times and the next morning captured a Fuji moment with me weak in bed. Johan also came by on the 1st and then on the 2nd  he brought a small bread roll after lunch and left it on the counter next to my desk.

Liz visited again at dinner and for breakfast. On the morning of the second I was so weak and scared I was thinking of getting hold of the satellite phone and calling for a helicopter to get out. Sarah came by after the Odansitron had failed and gave me an injection of Phenergan later that morning and I slept till late afternoon. When I awoke 2nd Janaury I devoured the bread roll, cancelled the satellite phone call and wrote in my journal:

Hmm, only writing now after Stanley’s fish & chips.

 Sick forever.

 1 Jan: was very sick. Lay in bed.

 2 Jan: Got Odansitron from Sarah then injection of Phenergan and woke up OK.

 Am so weak & tired. Managed soup for dinner.

                         Good night

Lights out to save petrels en route to South Georgia

That evening I hobbled into the dining room and raised my hands:

“I am no longer Basil. Lazarus has arrived on board!”

Everyone laughed and from then when anyone was sick on the ship they used a new euphemism. No longer did they say the person is sick. They just said they “had been Basiled!”

This is a long post to explain what happened when the forces of nature relegated me to my bunk and had me wish for a puff of grass as instructed by my anesthetist, Pawel Wisniewski. It was just not available in the dispensary. Maybe if I sailed through Colorado where it is now legal I could get some for the nausea.

But the setback cleared two things in my mind:

  1. I really wanted to be going to South Georgia and the Antarctic, and I would survive anything to get there.
  2.  During the two days in my bunk I came to the realisation that I had not been touched nor had touched anyone for days and felt strangely isolated. My everyday life is filled with touching people, at home and at work, and I really missed that.
Ocean Notes Day 5
Ocean Notes Day 5
Ocean Notes Day 6
Ocean Notes Day 6

3 thoughts on “My Travels: Laid Low by Aggressive Soup

  1. Good to know you survived, but I can totally feel where you are coming from. I had a day like that on one of these local cruises – I can’t imagine being miles from home and needing to get a helicopter. I’m glad they found a way to help you!

    And the insights from that time in your bunk are really profound.


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