Shipalized Medicine

Years ago, I took my three children on a cruise through the Panama Canal. They had a cabin to themselves, and in the midst of some horseplay, my youngest, about 5 or 6, got a good-sized gash in his head. We immediately took him, dripping blood, to the ship’s dispensary. The nurse paged the Greek Doctor, who tore himself away from his Ouzo and grumpily took a look at my boy’s head. He said stitches were needed and ordered us out of the room into the waiting area.


In minutes my son’s sobbing turned to outright screaming. I got up to see what was going on, but was stopped by the nurse. It wasn’t too long before the patient’s patched head appeared in the doorway and off we went. It wasn’t until later that we found out the Dr. did not use Novocain or any other pain reliever as he threaded the head in question. The only sedated person in the examing room was the Doctor.

Some years later on a World Cruise I developed a form of sun poisoning on my lower lip. It was split in several places, periodically bled, and was quite painful. The ship’s doctor examined my lip and told me that it was split in several places and must be quite painful. He then suggested I grow a mustache. Swedish humor! To his nurse, he said something that sounded like “Udi, Udi, luta fish” She went to the pharmaceutical shelf and came back with my medicine. I left the hospital clutching a bill for $25 and a tube of Laebesalve.

In the states we know it as Blistex. blistex.jpg

Last year, my son and I took a cruise in the Caribbean.


We docked at the cruise lines private island which had four beaches soon to be populated by close to 2 thousand people including kids of all ages.


In trying to get a decent photo of our ship anchored in the cove, I slipped and my leg slammed into a thorny bush. Within seconds blood was gushing from several punctures.

My son said to get into the water and clean the wound. Warning signs were posted every 30 yards or so about fire coral, barracuda, sea lice, and even sharks. Yeah, like I’m going to make a blood offering to that assemblage.

But wait, there was a sign that said a First Aid facility was on the island, the only thing was, it didn’t point in any direction. We asked two security guards, and a beach employee for directions. I am not sure in which language they replied, but it translated to “Duh”. Finally, with me almost a pint low, a sunbathing woman pointed us in the general direction of a concrete building sporting a big red cross on all sides. Leaving a trail of blood we ran to the building. The Red Cross First Aid door was locked. It stayed locked all day. Apparently, the nurse was busy on the ship. I cleaned my wound in the water.

The good news is, if you are really sick these days, most ships are ready for you. I took ill on the Island Princess last New Year (no fault of the ship), and had the great pleasure to meet Dr. Grant Lindsay.


I only wish he had an office near my home. He was very informed, an interesting person, and cured me in good time. The hospital was fully equipped, and ready for just about anything.


He gave me a hint that might apply to all ships Doctor’s offices. Grant says to arrive about 15 minutes before the office closes. I didn’t need the advice, so I don’t know why this is good, but hey, a free hint is a free hint.

Oh, did you notice his foot in the photo. It is a still painful Rugby injury. Senior Doctor Grant Lindsay, B. Sc., MB. ChB. wears a copper bracelet.

2 Responses to “Shipalized Medicine”

  1. Sue Says:

    Great stories!

    I was a cocktail waitress on Costa cruise ships in the early ’80’s. I fainted while working one evening after drinking a quadruple espresso in a vain attempt to counteract too few hours of sleep and too many hours on my feet. The ship’s doctor diagnosed low blood pressure. He prescribed red wine and red meat to strengthen my blood.

  2. krcvdndijn Says:

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