October 1978 – II

St Thomas Hospital

St Thomas Hospital 1942… there were some improvements by 1978

 

After 24 hours of my “stomach bug”, I was in the ship’s hospital with a high fever, severe cramps, and dehydration from having thrown up every ounce of fluid in my body.  The Russian doctor’s diagnosis was appendicitis, and he said I needed immediate surgery on the ship while we were on the transatlantic crossing from Europe to the Caribbean. My folks felt it was safer to wait out the few days until we got to St. Thomas than it was to put me under the knife on the rolling seas with not much more than vodka for anesthesia, in questionable operating facilities. My parents packed my stuff, knowing we were not going to be on the ship after the next port. If they found this journal in the process, maybe they were deterred from reading it by my first page pathetic poetic plea for privacy: Unless Ive gone missing, or to do so I said, please dont read my diary unless I am dead.

After being loaded onto the gurney, I closed my eyes to hide myself from embarrassment while  I was rolled through the crowd that was gathered to disembark, and then precariously carried down the gangway to the ambulance waiting on the dock. Tears silently fell from the corners of my eyes, not from the pain or because I was leaving the ship, but because this meant no more time with Paul. I had no doubt he would move right on; everyone does. At the island hospital, which didn’t seem to be much of an improvement, they ran a few blood tests and said it is not appendicitis, but a fallopian tube infection. I overheard my father outside in the hall with my mother, in a hushed tone that actually sounded like it was being yelled through clenched teeth, “I know exactly what that really means.” She was skilled at arguing in a soothing tone to diffuse his anger, “Not necessarily…. It could be just a fluke infection from the water on the ship… God only knows what is in it.” That seemed to work, because when they came in my room a little later, his brow was not furrowed, and she was smiling. Nobody asked my opinion. We always used protection, so I can’t imagine there was any risk of pregnancy. Every time someone opened the door, it hit the foot of my hospital bed, and sent shockwaves of pain into my back, so I think it was more likely I had a kidney infection from too much sex. Whatever it was, kept me in the hospital on heavy doses of antibiotics and fluids for a week.

Pineapple Beach Resort Hotel, St. Thomas, USVI

The silver lining was that I got my wish to not have to slum it in Italy; instead, we will be working at a beach resort hotel here for the 10 weeks or so until we go back to pick up the ship in New Orleans around Christmas. While I was in the hospital, they roamed the island and negotiated a deal with free room and board in exchange for a couple shows a week at Pineapple Beach Resort Hotel.

The beach is great, the food in the restaurant is good, and the hotel property is fairly nice. However, we’re staying in some sort of run-down staff studio apartment on the grounds.  It’s really only one room with a curtain separating my parents’ bedroom area from the living room where I sleep on a pull out couch. There’s a small bathroom about the same size I’m used to on the ship, so if I wanted, I could shower while sitting on the toilet.  The cockroaches seem to have taken advantages of that synergy as well; the other night, I went to the bathroom and actually sat on one in the dark, and the next day I stepped on one in the shower. We finally went into town to get some spray to get rid of them, but no aerosol can get rid of my ongoing cockroach nightmares.

 

 

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