I answered the pre-boarding health screening honestly and set off some sort of early warning system.
“In the last seven days have you had any of the following?”
Fever – Tick
Cough – Tick
Runny Nose – Tick
Chills – Woo hoo, a symptom I can say no to.
“Ma’m I’ll just escort you over to this waiting area.” (They stopped short of calling it quarantine, but it was just me and the dogs getting checked for rabies.)
Once segregated they apologized several times while we were waiting for the nurse to come and give me my free medical exam. It was our first all-inclusive from the cruise. Yay. But bright side, not everyone got a free exam. All those people having a healthy vacation were S.O.L. And it’s not like a cold would keep me off the cruise ship…right?
I didn’t start to actually worry about a formal quarantine, until I saw the nurse’s face after taking my temperature for the third time. Her face was a cross between fury and shock. Her stern and not at all hospitable “wait here” was somewhat concerning.
Within the next hour I had the head nurse and the ship’s doctor show up to take my temperature, a lot.
Then the doctor wanted to know exactly what symptoms I’d had and why I hadn’t seen a doctor if I’d been sick for five whole days.
Seriously? A Canadian doctor would have laughed me out of the clinic for coming in with a cold. The ship’s doctor didn’t seem to believe me when I told him that little fact.
At home I feel like a hypochondriac because I go in if I have to miss more than a week for work. Apparently, in Italy I’m some sort of martyr for failing to seek medical attention for a cold. Or maybe it’s a Paraguayan thing. Either way I was a potentially infectious freak who had intentionally avoided medical professionals.
“You must understand, this isn’t a regular cruise.” Where apparently Ebola symptoms would be tolerated. “We have many days at sea in a restricted area.” (Cut to me nodding in agreement. It didn’t seem like the best time for smart ass comments.)
After the inquisition and getting my temperature taken 15 times we were told we could board. Apparently one of the first three temperatures they took falsely indicated a high fever and it took the other 14 to confirm normal. But we were approved. Yay!
The ship pushed off from the dock and we were on our way, for like two minutes, until the thrusters brought us back to the dock and an ambulance arrived.
Que casual “they changed their mind” and “I wonder where they quarantine Ebola suspect” jokes.
I practically cheered when we saw them wheeling off a poor woman who we think had a fall. But I stopped myself in time. I didn’t think the other cruisers would have appreciated my emotion. Does schadenfreude apply? Plus I’m pretty sure would have set off a round of coughing and I was still trying to look super healthy.
Seriously? How could you not already be planning an Ebola outbreak on a cruise ship story? Happy writing.