I am on a Northern European cruise with my family and friends on Holland America’s M.S. Rotterdam. This is my first time on a cruise since I was 7 years old and went with my parents on a small trip from New York City to Nassau. Things have changed a lot: casinos, variety shows, and an on board infirmary that rivals many emergency rooms.
Coming up I will host a Patient Power hour long program on “Health and medicine” at sea. Today’s situation presents an interesting point of discussion. We are at sea today – no ports of call – as we make our way to Oslo, Norway. We are in the midst of a storm with force 10 winds and the ship is often rolling pretty significantly. And many people are feeling a little queasy. Me included, until I took some “Sea Calm” medication.
One worry from nausea and vomiting people in our small “floating city” would be the spread of viruses. That’s a worry anytime on ship these days and to fight that people are urged to wash their hands frequently and Purell antibacterial lotion is in dispensers everywhere. Crew members even squirt some in your hands as you enter the main dining room.
Beyond viruses, of course, in rough seas there is the risk of falling. Since many people on board are in their 70′s a fall could be the opening to real health complications.
In my radio show I will report how both the passengers and crew have great medical care at the ready on board ship and, in most cases, at the nearest port.
Now some commentary on some health issues on my mind as I travel:
- American health insurance – As a follow-up to my discussion about Michael Moore’s new documentary “Sicko,” an indictment of our health insurance system, I have been getting an earful from some of the seniors on board. One complained of rising monthly premiums from Humana for Medicare Part D coverage. Another complained of having to fight Cigna to get coverage for her dying husband, who, by the way, died of CLL, the same leukemia I have had. (That woman wished me well as I said I was in deep remission and as she explained how she had wished it had gone so well for her husband. Certainly, I am a lucky guy).
- The good (little obesity) and the bad (lots of people smoking) in Amsterdam – During our three days in Amsterdam I couldn’t help but notice how trim people were. No wonder! They all ride bikes everywhere (you have to be careful or you will be run down!) And they don’t seem to eat fried foods. All that’s to the good and we can learn from that. On the flip side is the fact that no one wears a bike helmet, a very bad example for my kids; and many, many people smoke. Our group was all set to eat i n a nice restaurant but ended up leaving because it was way too smoky.
I am sure I’ll have more to report during the next three weeks. In the meantime, I hope you are having a relaxing summer and that your seas are calm!