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Old 22-05-2017, 00:20   #1
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Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

Or, in my case, several years ago...norovirus on a 25ft boat. That was the WORST. I've got a cold now. I think it's a cold. Half the harbor and my brother have strep, so I am doing every rain dance trick in the book. Avert!

Still, this brings to mind--how do you cope and what do you keep on hand? What if you are on passage? Is there whining? I whine to myself.

I'm happy to take advice from people currently on 40+ ft boats, but I guess I'm most curious about liveaboards and cruisers with boats 30-40ft, as their boats will probably have similar systems and amenities as mine.

I'd start off with--if I know I am miserable and contagious, I will not use a public shower at a busy time, and if I must shower off the boat because I am so miserable, it'll be the middle of the night with bleach spray. I don't leave messes for other people to clean if I can help it.

Dos: clutch a hot water bottle to my chest, drink water, eat fruit fruit and more fruit, sleep.

Not sure what I'd do on a trip. If I had norovirus and was singlehanding..I'd probably drown myself 😥.
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Old 22-05-2017, 00:33   #2
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

First off, you need to be around other sick people who are contagious in order to get a disease. Second, just because someone has a contagious disease, doesn't mean you're going to get it or give it to someone else. Go ahead and take a shower.... please.

Case in point: For six months each year I work more than full time as a Registered Nurse in a hospital where I'm surrounded by and in close contact with sick people every day, many with diseases which have no known cure. I do wash my hands frequently while at work in between contact and I don't touch my face.

I don't get sick and neither does my wife who's also a nurse, and we don't stress ourselves worrying about getting sick.
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Old 22-05-2017, 01:33   #3
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

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First off, you need to be around other sick people who are contagious in order to get a disease. Second, just because someone has a contagious disease, doesn't mean you're going to get it or give it to someone else. Go ahead and take a shower.... please.

Case in point: For six months each year I work more than full time as a Registered Nurse in a hospital where I'm surrounded by and in close contact with sick people every day, many with diseases which have no known cure. I do wash my hands frequently while at work in between contact and I don't touch my face.

I don't get sick and neither does my wife who's also a nurse, and we don't stress ourselves worrying about getting sick.
Utterly respect your background and advice--but certainly think you can get sick from dozens of things without being around people all the time (food poisoning, stuff with longer incubation periods, intestinal parasites, what have you), and even the most dedicated remote cruisers probably spend >50% time near population centers so standard exposure applies. Handling bad seasickness is a pain too. Not a hypochondriac here, just asking for a peek into your life WHEN you get sick. Not, will I won't I dang dirty scum lol.

Lord, try and stop me from basic hygiene. I spent my childhood and early adulthood in dry cabins. If I could live in water I would...wait...riiighht ;-)
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Old 22-05-2017, 02:01   #4
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

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Utterly respect your background and advice--but certainly think you can get sick from dozens of things without being around people all the time (food poisoning, stuff with longer incubation periods, intestinal parasites, what have you), and even the most dedicated remote cruisers probably spend >50% time near population centers so standard exposure applies. Handling bad seasickness is a pain too. Not a hypochondriac here, just asking for a peek into your life WHEN you get sick. Not, will I won't I dang dirty scum lol.

Lord, try and stop me from basic hygiene. I spent my childhood and early adulthood in dry cabins. If I could live in water I would...wait...riiighht ;-)
Please get a grip and stop worrying.

Maybe the stress created by worrying about getting sick is causing you to get sick, and yes.... one does need to be around disease and infection in order to get an infection. Food poisoning is different, can easily be avoided by properly cooking your food and doesn't last more than a few hours anyway. I think I've had it twice over the past 60 years... big deal.

Please go back and re-read post #2 more carefully. You do sound like a hypochondriac IMHO. Maybe cruising isn't ideal for you if you're going to be constantly fearful of getting sick from the people you meet.
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Old 22-05-2017, 02:06   #5
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

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just asking for a peek into your life WHEN you get sick.
Peeking back on over decade cruising, WHEN you get sick seems to happen most often the day after getting on a plane to visit family. Otherwise it's a very healthy lifestyle.
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Old 22-05-2017, 02:17   #6
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

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Please get a grip and stop worrying.

Maybe the stress created by worrying about getting sick is causing you to get sick, and yes.... one does need to be around disease and infection in order to get an infection. Food poisoning is different, can easily be avoided by properly cooking your food and doesn't last more than a few hours anyway. I think I've had it twice over the past 60 years... big deal.

Please go back and re-read post #2 more carefully. You do sound like a hypochondriac IMHO. Maybe cruising isn't ideal for you if you're going to be constantly fearful of getting sick from the people you meet.
Good grief, Kenomac. Maybe YOU should reread the posts. Oddly rude for such a short encounter.
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Old 22-05-2017, 02:24   #7
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

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Peeking back on over decade cruising, WHEN you get sick seems to happen most often the day after getting on a plane to visit family. Otherwise it's a very healthy lifestyle.
For sure. Haven't had a cold in a year+, Mermaid Fest happens and floods the harbor with people and whomp, here I am. *shrug*
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Old 22-05-2017, 04:13   #8
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

While not discounting the germ theory of disease transmission, I believe it is the state of our immune system has the dominant role in deciding whether we succumb.

And yes state of mind and stress are important factors, along with sufficient sleep, nutrition etc
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Old 22-05-2017, 04:46   #9
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

Let's get back to the practical question: How do you prepare for, and what do you do IF/When a medical issue arises.

Just yesterday I "nicked" myself with a box cutter while doing some routine maintenance. I figured out pretty quickly that it was time to break out one of the 3-4 first-aid kits we have on board. It took a little longer to admit I was going to be better off with a few stitches.

So, lessons learned: Throw away the old, useless crap from the pre-packaged first aid kits and make my own, with proper sizes, quality and quantity of stuff like gauze and tape. Also, make sure they're easily accessible and easy to open with one hand.

Don't forget basic OTC medications, and be sure everything is in date: I always stock Aspirin, Naproxin, Ibuprofen, Bonine, ginger pills, and a few others. Not to mention sun screen and insect repellent.

Being just plain sick (common cold or Norovirus) there's not much you can do except have electrolytes and simple foods available, and a comfortable place to wait it out. Tough on a long crossing, worse if single-handing.

It would be interesting to hear what supplies others stock, and creative ways to get through a bout of illness on board.
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Old 22-05-2017, 09:11   #10
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

I woulda thought that the stuff to worry about is not contagious stuff gotten from others, since there aren't vectors around in a cruising boat that is kept clean and occupied only by yourself. Normal cleanliness should do the job, tho those of you in the GofM might have to worry about zika. But you don't let the mossies in, do you?

Things to worry about are the kindsa things that can happen to you if you take a fall on deck, or, let us say, "nick" yourself with a box cutter :-). For those that are given to tying themselves in knots worrying about bug-borne nastiness, I recommend a first-aid course tailored for seafaring folk. Here in Vancouver there are several accredited schools such as B.C. institute of Technology that offer such courses. Took one several - many - years ago aimed at the fishermen on this coast. It included not just the standard stuff about spraining an ankle and having a heart attack, but also the more esoteric stuff such as getting your paws in the line hauler or getting impaled by serious, grown-up hooks, but also such utterly delightful topics as what to do if someone has a run-in with a running chainsaw. The topics were splendidly if gruesomely illustrated by 8mm films. Perhaps that was the inspiration for that odd Hollywood product called "The Chainsaw Massacre" :-)

I forget (and that really worries me) the proper medical term for having a compulsive need to worry about ones health, but if there be any among us who have such a need, I can assure you that such a course will yield a healthy harvest of stuff to worry about :-)!

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Old 22-05-2017, 09:16   #11
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

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I forget (and that really worries me) the proper medical term for having a compulsive need to worry about ones health, but if there be any among us who have such a need, I can assure you that such a course will yield a healthy harvest of stuff to worry about :-)!

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hypochondriac

hy·po·chon·dri·ac
ˌhīpəˈkändrēˌak/

noun
1. a person who is abnormally anxious about their health.
synonyms: valetudinarian, neurotic More

adjective
1. another term for hypochondriacal.
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Old 22-05-2017, 09:28   #12
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

Back in January I discovered my medicine locker lacked a lot. Though I had items to bandage sores, etc. because I "never" get sick I had nothing for a cold. I wrote an article detailing what I learned and the Dollar Tree meds I now stock.

Missing Medicines article on janice142
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Old 22-05-2017, 09:54   #13
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

I think this is a topic that cruisers and voyagers should get some training on. An illness that might be a minor inconvenience on-shore could be a serious matter for a short-handed off-shore sailor.

As noted above, seasonal viruses are spread from other infected people. Period. And there isn't much you can "do" about them except stay hydrated and rest.

Dengue, Chikungunya, Malaria, Giardiasis, etc. etc. can be contracted from the environment and can be seriously debilitating to the point that you cannot sail your boat.

Reading through various voyagers books and blogs, I find it striking that almost everybody seems to get a serious staph infection at some point. Vibrio vulnificans and marine mycobacteria infections also seem to be common among sailors. These organisms can cause fast-moving life-threatening acute infections from even minor scrapes and nicks that you might not even notice.

So the first obvious take-away is don't go off shore if you have even a minor issue. It might "go away" but it could just as easily escalate. Wait until you are 100%. A "wilderness medicine" course might be a good investment. I think DAN offers something similar in some areas.

I haven't been a big fan of lay-people stocking antibiotics and such, because most people wouldn't know when and how to use them correctly. But I recently got a copy of "Marine Medicine" by Weiss and Jacobs to keep on board. They've got a concise guide to field-diagnosis of common infections and specific directions on what to take for them. (I'm sure there are other similar books.) Of course, that only helps if you get prescriptions for and stock the stuff that they recommend. (Probably can get most of that OTC in Mexico and many other places.)

(Not a hypochondriac: semi-retired microbiology professor.)
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Old 22-05-2017, 10:34   #14
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

I have Diverticulitis, and it seems to strike at any time, for no apparent reason. I will not go on a passage without the antibiotics, I do not know what would eventually happen if left untreated, but it is painful at least. I assume it could kill.
When I was in Indian territory in a former life and could possibly become a POW I carried two antibiotics with me, apparently there are essentially gram negative and gram positive bacteria, and there is no one that works on everything, but most likely bacteria you would get from wounds can be covered with two? At least I was going to try, thankfully I never had to.

Currently in our med kit I carry stitches and mostly just the "regular" stuff, however I do carry Oxy contin if I have that spelled correctly, I'd rather take a couple of those if the wife has to stitch me up.
also if you can get them there are suppositories that are very good for diarrhea, dysentery is apparently a very deadly thing not to be taken lightly.
She never worked professionally as one, but she did get her two year RN degree. I hope she remembered some of it

When younger if I got the flu, I would wrap myself up in a blanket and sweat it out. probably not a good idea, but it did seem to shorten the illness.
Real honest to God flu is a killer, it is not something that is an annoyance, it kills, or can anyway.
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Old 22-05-2017, 10:47   #15
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Re: Liveaboards and Cruisers get the flu/sick too

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Things to worry about are the kindsa things that can happen to you if you take a fall on deck, or, let us say, "nick" yourself with a box cutter :-).


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...The topics were splendidly if gruesomely illustrated by 8mm films. Perhaps that was the inspiration for that odd Hollywood product called "The Chainsaw Massacre" :-)
For a while we'd have films like that at our monthly safety meeting at work. I always scheduled myself for the session right after lunch. It was always the most entertaining (the audience "reaction", not the film.)
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