Last week, I was sent ashore in Barbados for severe dehydration. I woke up that morning at around 8:00 a.m. to get ready for our divisional safety meeting before an all crew drill. I got going on my normal morning routine but I started to black out, so I got back in bed as quickly as possible, running straight into Mel on the way (it’s a tiny cabin). I told myself to just shake it off. Mel left for breakfast. I tried getting up again but same thing, couldn’t stand. Couldn’t sit up even. I called Danielle, our dance captain and she ended up bringing me a wheelchair to get to medical.
They checked my glucose levels which were fine. They hooked me up to an IV and started pumping me with fluids. They took an EKG and my blood pressure. The results came back that my heart was doing something that made the doctor “uncomfortable” and my blood pressure and heart rate were very low. After asking me three separate times if I had any family history of cardiac problems (to which I said no) I was told I’d be sent to a cardiologist for further tests. Danielle suggested Isaac come with me since everyone from the cast needed to stay and work on the reblock for shows that night and I was relieved that I’d have someone I trust with me.
After an extremely dramatic ambulance ride, full out with sirens and speeding through traffic for no actual reason (I was cracking up laughing in the back because it was so over the top), we made it to the cardiologist where I explained to him what happened. Sitting in the chair talking to the doctor, I nearly passed out again. Trying to fight it and stay conscious is painful. At this point, I was exhausted.
To preface, this has happened to me before. I’ve woken up unable to go to work or school due to dizziness, weakness, and blackouts. I’ve fainted many times in my life for reasons that have been basically inconclusive. I’ve had an EKG come back with unsettling results. I’ve been told I’m borderline anemic. I’ve been told my blood pressure drops dramatically when I’m stressed. But it hasn’t happened in a while and I was starting to think I’m in control of things. Silly me thinking I’m ever in control, because here I am again, getting really frustrated that my body is betraying me.
After a few hours of blood tests, more EKGs, and constant fluids pumping through now two IVs, the doctor concluded that I was just extremely dehydrated. While the thing with my heart is still something to keep an eye on, it wasn’t pressing at the moment and I was able to return to the ship. Hallelujah. Flashbacks to Julie’s week in a Barbados hospital with no diagnosis was at the top of my mind and I think that would be all too much to add to the Adventure.
And this brings me to my point. Living on a ship has so many challenges, especially for athletes like the dancers and ice skaters, to stay nourished and healthy.
The water is awful. In our showers and our taps, the water is so chlorinated and recycled that drinking it gives me a headache and showering in it has made my eczema out of control. And the doctor even said that my body is using my water storages to try to help my skin, hence even more dehydration. We usually buy bottles of water from the slop chest (the closest thing we have to a mini mart on board) to have fresh spring water to drink, but sometimes we fill up with the water fountains around the ship to avoid constantly buying water bottles. Plus, the environmentalist in me hates the idea of using so much plastic. But now that it’s clear that the fountain water isn’t actually hydrating me, it looks like I might have to bite the bullet on that while living here.
The food is ok. It’s not the best, it’s not the worst. Sometimes the mess is full of wonderful options that are nutritious and tasty and satisfying. But sometimes, like the night before my Barbados extravaganza, I ended up settling for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and cereal for dinner. Which perhaps isn’t bad for someone who was just planning to lie around all night. But that night I went to the gym for a full body workout and had dance class. A dinner like that is just not enough for those of us who are extremely active. And we have to be this active. It’s our job.
Now, I’m not trying to place all the blame on the ship. Clearly, I’ve felt this way on land as well. It’s my responsibility to take care of myself. I was drinking alcohol more than normal last week. We had a cabin crawl which is exactly what it sounds like. A bar crawl except it’s with our cabins, all with different themes. And the night before that I went to hang out with the guest entertainer. He turned out to be gay but it’s fine, he bought me wine anyway. But before that, I haven’t been partying much lately so two nights in a row was a lot for me without replenishing properly. Plus, I’ve probably been a little extreme about my workouts. And I’m probably not getting the most sleep. All in all, I can take responsibility and do better.
I’m seeing it as a gentle (well, maybe not so gentle) reminder to take care of myself even when it’s difficult on the ship. As dancers we don’t like to sit still. I hated not being able to do Jackpot the other night, especially because I can hear Craig’s voice (you’re loud) from my room under the stage but I’m learning and re-learning my boundaries when I feel like this.
I’m back to work now and feeling better each day, still trying to take it slow while easing my way back to my normal. My friends here are the best, making sure I have water with me at all times and letting me/forcing me to rest. Take care of yourselves, friends. I’ll do the same.