Flies in the ointment

Our replacement sheave box that Mack Sails sent pronto has been held up in Papeete by Customs, despite that it is a no-charge warranty replacement. It has taken so long that the three people who offered to climb the mast and install it had to take advantage of a weather window and are gone now, on their way westward to Tonga, Suwarrow or Samoa. 

The big bite is that after a few days of my sciatica improving I was awakened last Friday in intense pain. I was ministered to by the various cruiser nurse, doctor and pharmacist, but in the end Jack had to go chase down a doctor ashore and bring him aboard because I was completely immobile. The doctor (who was the last choice on the recommended list but the only one available to come to the boat — now I know why) lacked any bedside manner at all, answered none of my questions, but after a quick examination pronounced that I have injured a lumbar disk. He told us we’d have to go back to Tahiti for an MRI, which is of course impossible, not just because it’s to windward but because I’m in no shape to sail and it takes two to handle the boat and stand watches. I asked if the treatment would be different depending on what was wrong with the disk and I’m pretty sure he said no, so we won’t worry about that for the moment. The doc charged an arm and a leg for the visit, shot me up with a steroid and a painkiller and sent Jack to the pharmacy for some very expensive name brand drugs that scare the shit out of me. 

Alex the pharmacist came aboard and talked me down from my fear perch and explained all the options for the drugs — I rarely take so much as an aspirin, so swallowing a pile of various painkillers, anti-inflammatories and other concoctions that include narcotics is terrifying to me — and patiently wrote down step by step instructions and reassured me of a good outcome. It’s so easy to sink into that depressed feeling that the way you feel now is the way you will always feel, so I’m working on getting my positive attitude back. 

What this means in the long run is that as the time ticks by we may not have enough time to get to New Zealand by cyclone season, so we need to find what other options we have where we and the boat are safe come November. 

Alex and Diana, who along with Jack have been my lifesavers, caregivers and dear friends need to sail on the next weather window. Our good friend Tim has gone. The anchorage is thinning out. Jack is still hammering away at Tahiti Customs to get our part sent as soon as possible without massive fees, then we need to find a rigger to install it. 

Life is not good right now, but it’s a reminder that even when you sail off into the sunset you don’t leave trouble behind. The trick, I guess, is to face trouble with hope and good cheer and I’m working on that. 


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11 Responses to Flies in the ointment

  1. Doug from VT

    Hi Marce,
    You’d be surprised how many back problems are really muscle spasms and inflammation. A strong muscle relaxant combined with anti-inflammatory hopefully should do the trick. Narcotics, as you may know, can stop you up, so heavy up on tea made for such purpose or something that works for you. If you have a “belly band” try using it as it helps /assists the weaker muscles and aligns the spine.
    I began reading your blog before the mast accident. Can’t tell you how happy I was to see you get things fixed and leave Central America.

    From one who throws his back out a few times per year
    Doug in VT

    • Joey Riday

      Once or twice a year I will have sciatic pain from a pinched nerve from an old roofing accident back in the day. Just as doug had said, I was prescribed anti-inflammatory´s, muscle relaxers, as well as a vitamin B complex and ofcourse rest. I feel your pain Marce, for the past two and a half months I´ve been trying to kick the Chikungunya Virus with very little luck. I hate to take meds as well, but I don´t think I would be able to get around without them, especially the anti-inflammatory ( Diclofanac)

      Best of luck to you Marce


    • I know, right? Who’d have thought I’d be the one with the back problem, what with my strong spine and clean living. Just goes to show the universe is laughing behind our backs.

  2. We hope that every day in every way you feel better and better!
    In the mean time ONLY if you don’t have Rx’s have a drink of Scotch.

  3. phatdad1

    Rest, rest and more rest. I just had my back MRI. herniated disks. No fun at all. Best of luck to you.

  4. Bonnie

    Oh! Suddenly I am not quite so envious of your marvelous travels… Hoping you will heal quickly and completely so you can continue your great adventure.

  5. TomG

    Sorry to hear about your double whammy, Is there anyone around who does massage? Just a guess, but you may well have a tight psoas muscle. Some gentle but specific work in the abdominal region can do wonders for sciatica. And don’t forget the lumbars, calves and bottoms of the feet! I wish you both all the best.

  6. dave (s/v Cheval)

    Once you are able to walk again a short flight to Papeete will enable a visit with a very good doctor. Having said that, back problems usually work themselves through with out intervention. Hoping that’s how it goes for you.

  7. Joey Riday

    So sorry to hear about the pain you are going through Marce. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  8. Cindy Balfour

    Marce, I am so sorry,

    I hurt for you when i hear that you are still in so much misery. So glad you had Alex and Diana. We are in American Samoa where customs is only open M-f and we have to got to at least 4 different places to check in. This is UD soil for Gods sake…all those patriotic songs etc I was singing to myself on the way here just went silent. I know its homeland security but it can’t be secure having people sit in the harbor from all over and they don’t even know who is who. If our dinghy wasn’t injured we’d probably go ashore anyway.

    Many folks seem to be making the dash to NZ a bit early.

    If cruising isn’t fixing your boat in exotic places it could be healing the body in the same places.

    Saying prayers for you to heal completely.

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