Update from Singapore (SG)....and some overall general catch-up

Sea Mist > Sold to New Owners July 2016
John and Cheryl Ellsworth
Sat 3 Nov 2012 05:23

Now reporting from Ben’s (Marian’s cousin) apartment; all went well yesterday with final steps at the hospital and I was discharged at 2 pm and Cheryl and I made our way here by taxi. I see Dr Dutton next Friday after another x-ray that day to check on how the joint looks. The priority now is to take great care of the hip through these early days …given my weight and the large size of the implant.  The titanium implant is fixed just as a compression fit into the femur for the ball component….and a couple of screws give initial stability of the socket component connection to my pelvis.  Both components have porous surfaces on the titanium and the porosity encourages a biological stability fix for the joint as the bone growth moves into that porosity from the pelvis and the femur over time….particularly important are these first few days…and then the next 6 months of continued careful attention ….albeit then with full weight bearing but ongoing range of motion prohibitions until the 6 months are behind me….I should then be able to carry on normal life.


As for Sea Mist, the marina apologized for a miscommunication within their operation and they immediately responded to Cheryl and me that the boat could stay where she was moored and no need to relocate….so that was all good and removed the concern that I mentioned in the last blog.  Cheryl is staying with me at the apartment over this next 7-10 days that I need to be here so Sea Mist is on her own and we expect her to behave and keep our frozen food frozen and bilge pump operating, etc…..as she is plugged into shore power and batteries should stay topped up in a “float” mode on the charger.


I was very fortunate to have quite a few sailing friends come for a visit while I was in hospital…some with whom we have not had a chance to be connected for quite a while:


Ø  John and Pam (S/V Passages) were flying through SG this week as they started out on an air/land tour of South East Asia while leaving their boat in Brisbane so that was good timing for a visit with them; John was having a  SG orthopaedic surgeon assess his knee after a meniscus repair operation in New Zealand earlier this year did not give a good result …so they visited with me in the morning before going to the orthopod in the afternoon. They fly on to Cambodia on Sunday and will roam through most of the countries in South East Asia over the next 3 months…..passing through Langkawi, Malaysia in January on their way back to SG and on to Brisbane….and since we will then be in Langkawi, we hope to meet up with them at that time and I will be in shape to tip back a few brewskies with my fellow Canadian beer lover.


Ø  Frank and Karen (S/V Tahina) just arrived in close by Malaysia from Indonesia mid-week and they came in for a visit with me at the same time as Frank was having a  specialist check the condition of his right eye…some months back, I reported in our blog that he had the misfortune of contracting a very serious infection from water borne bacteria while swimming at Lizard Island….and the treatment kept him in Cairns, Australia for a couple of months causing him to miss the Sail Indonesia Rally but, as is characteristic of Frank’s determination, he has now caught up to all the rest of us as he accelerated his time around the top of Australia and through Indonesia…..all with only one eye for vision….he now has positive confirmation as to the expected outcome of a corneal transplant when he does take time out to have than operation to regain vision in the affected eye.


Ø  Justin, Debbie, Hailey and Riley (S/V Miss Behaving) who are also moored at ONE15 Marina in SG on a dock adjacent to Sea Mist dropped in for a while; they were also sorting out some medical attention for Riley…related to a situation I will describe next.


Ø  Marian and David (S/V Kilkea) came by a couple of times. By coincidence, they were quite familiar with Raffles Hospital by the time I was admitted. Marian, first, and then David became aware of something burning and itching and making red marks on tops/bottoms/toes of their feet….Marian was first to get the symptoms and it progressed much further with her before it got properly diagnosed and turned around. It seems that a number of us must have walked with our bare feet on sand beaches that had been used by cats/dogs to crap and pee…and worms and their eggs take up residence in that contaminated sand….and these parasitic worms have the capability to penetrate your skin without there being any crack/cut/scratch  in the skin….they can get through the dermis and set up shop between the dermis and epidermis and over a course of a couple of weeks, they lay/hatch eggs, increase and multiply and start roaming through the body traveling at a lightning speed of a few millimeters a day. On Marian’s first visit to a Raffles Clinic, it was mis-diagnosed by the GP …just athlete’s foot…even though Marian told the Doc that she thought it was a worm.  Well after a couple more days, you could see the obvious track of the worm making its way across the top of Marian’s foot and David was getting the first similar indications on the bottom of his foot/feet.  They went back to the clinic and this time the GP in the clinic immediately referred David and Marian to a Dermatologist who recognized it at once as a parasitic worm. The treatment….one large pill that kills the worm(s) and a course of antibiotics to ensure that no ensuing infection takes hold.


Now, I want to add a dimension that shows how inter-related are our cruising lives: we were at dinner last Saturday evening with David and Marian and Stuart and Shelia; when I mentioned the worm issue to Stuart and Shelia before David and Marian had yet joined us, Stu said he had a little nuisance thing going on with one of his feet >> I told him to have Marian take a look when she arrived…..and, when Marian did arrive a bit later, sure enough…..Marian recognized it as the same wormy thing at a very early stage. Then, above, I mentioned Riley has an issue requiring medical attention….also diagnosed by the same dermatologist as the parasitic worm….and then, it comes to me: after doing so well with my first days post op….and not using the self-administered morphine pump at all for pain….I awoke in the middle of the night (Wed morning) with the most excruciating pain emanating from my left heel. I hit the nurse call button and was in tears and moaning/almost screaming with pain as 4 of the nursing staff entered my room within moments. They found it so out of character for the patient they had gotten to know….what on earth was going on. The head nurse was soon telling one of the nurses to go and get a morphine injection and just as she said that…..I said hold it!...and within seconds the pain went from maximum threshold to zero.  What had happened?  They used a flashlight to try and seen what was this extremely sensitive point on my heel?...they saw a bit of redness and could feel a slightly raised line on the heel.  I said…it’s the wormy thing!  I explained it all to them….we waited til 7 am to call Marian on Kilkea…hoping they might be awake early….and got the name of the dermatologist and the name of the meds. Later that morning, my nursing ward staff had the same dermatologist come and examine me….and, although he could then not see anything, he prescribed the same worm killer pill for me ( my already established course of antibiotics made it unnecessary to add anything to prevent infection from the worm). Once Stu had been confirmed with the same “wormy thing”, he started to talk to other cruisers at Danga Bay….and another case was discovered at an early stage with newly acquainted German cruising friends.

So there must be a lesson here somewhere: maybe it is don’t follow the footsteps of the sailor in front of you…??  …..and such a BEAUTIFUL white sand beach it was in North West Belitung where this must have happened.


Well that was my in-room visitor list….but I also had Skype (voice/video) connection with Steve and Helen (S/V Dignity) from their present location in Australia. Steve and I have had the opportunity to get very closely reconnected over recent calls; this has been a most difficult year for Steve since May  when he was hit with primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) while sailing in Fiji > urgently flew to Melbourne where it was eventually, definitively, diagnosed and where he has been receiving chemotherapy and, now, radiotherapy to combat this terrible and most rare form, in Steve’s case,  of cancer. I had found it to be emotionally too heavy for me to talk about with Steve as the past months came and went…here was a young man of 48 being struck with such a terrible disease….it seemed so wrong and unfair…....so it has been terrific to get well reconnected recently …..as we had developed such intense friendship over the years since first crossing paths in 2009 while sailing in the French Caribbean Islands. Cheryl and I have had our lives deeply enriched through the good fortune of getting to know Steve, Helen and their 3 sons, John, Ben and Sam. The depth of that relationship was ever so clear as we sensed the loss of their proximity when we sailed away from Fiji in 2011 and continued our westward  track to Vanuatu and beyond…while S/V Dignity remained in Fiji, then back to NZ and then back to Fiji early this year …at which time Steve came down with the disease. This cruising life has a tremendous richness in the varied experiences, countries visited, culture and people…and relationships with one another as the miles go by….but no connection has been more positive and meaningful as with Steve and Helen. Steve is battling the cancer very well with the help of an outstanding medical team in Melbourne; he is very much back to the Steve that we know and love as the treatments have made positive impacts in remission…..and Steve and Helen’s attitude and orientation through these difficult times are a true inspiration.  Check out their blog at:  http://aboarddignity.com/blog/?page_id=1336


And, I have had daily contact with Stuart and Sheila (S/V Imagine) from their present location at Danga Bay Marina, Malaysia as they prepare to start with the Sail Malaysia Rally this coming week.


Also a nice surprise call from Frank (S/V Destiny) as he and Barb were visiting SG while leaving Destiny in Nongsa Point from where they will next sail onward directly to Malaysia.


That’s it for my banging away at the keyboard at this time.

Wishing everyone a great November as the year is speeding to a close.

Cheers…the Seamisters