I am perfectly healthy. I have no prior medical conditions that might cause me to miss scheduled travel either by land or sea. Yet I do travel quite a bit so an annual travel protection plan seemed an appropriate thing to buy. Still, I never expected to need it but the peace of mind it provided for a nominal fee was worth the expense. Little did I know, when boarding Princess Cruises Grand Princess, that I would need that insurance and be quite happy I had the protection it provided.
I had booked and paid for this sailing for a number of reasons. I had some credit with Princess to use up, we had not sailed Princess in a while and wanted experience what they were offering these days and Grand Princess had recently been through a major dry-dock remodeling, adding several new features to the ship.
On the morning of the first of two days at sea, on the way back to Port Everglades and the end of our sailing, seas were rough. Nothing new there, we had experienced rough sea conditions off and on during the entire voyage and I had my “sea legs” early in the voyage. Still there were days when little motion discomfort bags would appear in public areas around the ship, pools were emptied about half way but still splashed water high in the air and ocean waves were capped in white. It was just the way life at sea is sometimes.
Still, this time we found out a couple things: Lisa does not need motion discomfort medicine and accidents do happen when we least expect them.
Sitting in the medical center of Grand Princess, watching one of the marvelous doctors and nurses tend to my broken hand, Lisa realized that she had not taken her daily dose of Bonine since the first day on board. We always wondered if she would suffer from motion discomfort but she had always taken Bonine starting a day or two ahead of sailing, continued through the sailing and never had a problem. The idea was “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” so she just took the Bonine as a precaution and forgot about it.
We were in the ship’s impressive medical center not for an interview or to write about it but because I had gone into our cabin’s bathroom and managed to get my thumb in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I was going to wash my hands upon returning to the cabin, something they drill into passengers here like we are all about to perform surgery and that’s a good thing. We know that hand to (insert name of body part) contamination is a major way to spread the dreaded Noro Virus that has been talked so much about lately. We have done a number of articles about the virus, its effects, how to avoid it and even research in the works for a nasal vaccine that looks promising.
So in the bathroom I was, dutifully washing my hands when the ship rocked to the left, causing the door, hinged on the right and not closed all the way, to open. Just by habit, I reached for the door handle with my left hand while bracing myself against the hinged side of the door frame with my right. At about that same time, the ship rocked back to the right and so did the door that I was also pulling at the same time. My thumb was no match for the metal vice it was it and smashed it got.
My first thought when I saw blood was “No problem, that’s why we bring a first-aid kit along” but it did not take long to realize a trip to the medical center was called for.
Now before we get there, realize Lisa has worked for a major health care provider since she was in high school everywhere from the emergency department to a pain clinic to everything in-between…as a NON-medical person. We know that, but friends and family often ask her and people like her for medical advice that she instantly tells them she can’t give. But just being around a hospital setting for so long she knows who someone might see for whatever it is they are asking about, someone who is qualified. Also, as a part of a healthcare system, there are basic things they do, things everyone does, like wash their hands a lot even though she will never, ever come in contact with a patient.
I also am not a medical person in any way, although I did play one on a cruise ship once. It actually was a Princess ship too, on Golden Princess years ago when my travel agent at the time mistakenly chose “Dr” instead of “Mr” to go before my name on the ship’s manifest. I did not perform any operations on that sailing and the only time it ever came up was when another passenger, one we had done some zany ship activity with or something assumed “you’re a PhD right?” like medical doctors could not possibly do zany things. Rather than correct the guy I just said “sure” and waited for him to tell me his mental problems. Luckily that never happened and luckily there are real doctors and real nurses here on Grand Princess, well versed in emergency medicine, who took really good care of me. Quickly.
The quickly part was really important. Getting to the pain-killing part was a high priority for me and they wasted no time taking care of that, treating me and dispensing a variety of pain medication and antibiotics along with instructions on what to do for the remainder of the voyage and the what to do back home.
It was a real eye-opening experience, actually going through their system as an injured passenger. I had toured ship medical facilities before and was impressed but now here I was, experiencing the system first-hand.
These people are good. Really good.
Once their system is in motion, things move along really quickly. Equipped with everything they need, much like the emergency room at a land-based hospital, it’s one-stop shopping for all your emergency medical needs. There’s no scheduling an operating room, we just went there and took care of business. There’s no going to a pharmacy to fill a prescription, they have what they need right there. Even the billing department is simple, one of the nurses who worked on me printed an itemized statement along with the signed statement from the doctor that I would need to file my insurance claim.
The price was reasonable too, an area Lisa does know a bit about, right at $800, similar to land-based emergency room fees. Unlike land based emergency rooms that might bill our insurance company, these charges went directly on our shipboard account.
“Fair enough” I thought. We know that almost all land-based health care insurance does not cover at-sea medical expenses (or out of the continental United States for that matter) so it only seems fair to pay them with the same urgency as they took care of me.
That’s easy for me to say because we have travel insurance and we have it for exactly this reason: an accident and one that truly could happen to anyone.
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