This week hasn’t been the best, Cameron got struck down with the flu and was VERY poorly for 48hrs, but thankfully as many kids do he has now bounced up as quickly as he went down.
When we arrived in the port of Moorea, Tahiti a few days ago he was quite hot and off colour in the morning but I didn’t think it was anything major to worry about. I took the first course of action that most parents do when their kids are running a temperature and gave him a couple of spoonfuls of paracetamol. We were due to do a dolphin watching expedition in the afternoon and he had been really looking forward to it. Had it been a more active excursion then I probably would have cancelled it but I said to him “all you have to do is sit down on a boat and look out for dolphins” so he was happy to still go.
When we got on the boat all he wanted to do was curl up and go to sleep. We saw several large pods of dolphins and I know under any other circumstance he would have been shrieking with delight, but this time he didn’t even lift his head of the seat to catch a glimpse.
We later stopped to get off the boat for a swim with stingrays and black tipped sharks, he had done this 3 days earlier in Bora Bora and LOVED it, I also thought the water might cool him down a bit, but no, all he wanted to to was sleep.
The dolphin expedition was absolutely fabulous as we had a dolphin & whale biologist on board with us and what he didn’t know about these creatures isn’t worth knowing! I was therefore sad that Cameron was too out of it to enjoy it and by the time we got back to the ship he just crawled up into a ball on the bed and went to sleep.
I hoped that a good nights rest would do him good and all would be well by morning. By 8am the next morning he had slept solidly for 16 hrs and not stirred, I could also feel by touching him that he was burning hot, and I mean burning!
I tried to wake him but I couldn’t raise him, I was gently shaking him and physically trying to open his eyes only to see his eyeballs rolling into the back of his head.
I was silently panicking by this stage and immediately rang the medical emergency number. Within about 2 minutes there was a steward at the door with a wheelchair ready to take him down to the medical centre which turned out to be almost directly below our cabin.
I cannot praise the medical centre team highly enough, they were all AMAZING and I immediately knew we were in safe hands. The nurses did the initial observations on him and then within minutes a lovely doctor ‘Dr Sandra’ was giving him a thorough examination. She then took me to one side and told me that they needed to get him on a drip asap and also take bloods to find out what was going on.
Any parent who has gone through similar will know how scary it is to watch your small helpless child having huge needles put in them, and having on previous occasions seen Cameron completely freak out just having his blood pressure and temperature taken I wondered how the hell they were even going to get the needles anywhere near him. The nurses came back and put some numbing cream on both his hand and inside elbow joint and having given the cream sufficient time to work they then returned to do ‘the deed’. I was waiting for the screams and the fight but bless his little heart he was so completely out of it by this time he didn’t even flinch.
This should have pleased me but it made me realise just how poorly he was as he lay their completely motionless as they took bloods and then stuck the big needle /canular in him and hooked him up to the drip. I was the one who was almost passing out and in tears by this stage!!
He lay their good as gold as the drip filtered though and they covered him in cool sheets and icy flannels to try to bring his temperature down as well as administering more paracetamol to him.
His temperature wasn’t reducing and the doctor was worried. Partly due to a slight language barrier but when she said “we have to get his temperature down or he may have seizures and his brain will fry” she put the fear of god in me!!
Later in the day they let him return to the cabin to sleep in more comfort as we were so close to the medical centre anyway. He was still very poorly so they left the canular in his arm and I was sent back to the room with a thermometer to record his temperature every couple of hours and ice packs to keep his head cool. He continued to sleep and sleep, and all I could do was watch and wait.
At this stage they still had no idea where the virus was coming from and the blood tests came back inconclusive. The doctor understandably had to then quarantine him to prevent the spread of anything to other guests or the risk to taking viruses ashore.
I perfectly understand the reason for doing it this but over the next 3 days being the single parent and sole carer did become challenging because although I wasn’t technically quarantined I couldn’t leave the cabin to get a break or some fresh air, and as we stopped at the next 3 paradise islands all I do was gaze at the crystal clear waters through a cabin window!!
I have thankfully never had to go to a ship’s medical centre before, and nor did I understand just how hard the small team of medical crew down there work. They are running a drop in doctors surgery, a medical response team, an emergency room, a hospital, a theatre, an intensive care unit and for worst case scenarios a mortuary too. It’s quite incredible to see just how well equipped it was and the staff quite literally never stop. As well as caring for Cameron that first morning I saw them deal with numerous other passengers and crew members, they had an emergency drill in the middle of it, one nurse dashed off with a kit bag to a passenger who had had a fall and then they had another emergency with a passenger who had suffered a stroke.
The care and medical attention Cameron received though was amazing and the doctor was relentless in finding the cause for his fever. We had to return to the medical centre early the next morning where she then did urine tests on him and then a nasal swab. It was the latter which revealed that he had ‘influenza type A’. I never realised that the flu could make a child so poorly, but I think everyone breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t denge fever picked up from one of the tropical islands we had visited, especially given that he had a couple of mosquito bites.
So now he is on tamiflu and I have to take them as well as a preventative. Finally this evening after 72 hours he has also been released from Quarantine. He is much better but still gets tired easily. He was desperate to go to an onboard party tonight but lasted little more than half an hour.
What I will say though is that all the staff on board have been absolutely outstanding, not only the medical centre staff but cabin stewards, housekeeping staff, room service, guest relations, shore excursion staff. I have literally been blown away by people’s kindness and support.
Next time I am sick I am heading straight for the nearest cruise ship. All meals cooked & delivered directly to your door, laundry all done free of charge, room cleaned twice a day, beds made and changed, and various people phoning up to see if you need anything and to basically be there at your beck and call if required. Now I understand why so many older people virtually live on cruise ships, I am certainly going to be reviewing my long term retirement plan!
It’s been disappointing to miss 3 beautiful South Pacific Islands, but my little boy is on the mend and that’s really all that matters 🙏🏻