Malaria scares and scorpion stings are not part of the usual suburban American experience. Like most cruisers, we went to great lengths to educate ourselves on what might happen “out there,” how to handle it, and stock a medical kit before we departed. Other than the occasional Tylenol or meclizine, most of that kit has happily gone unused for the last few years.
Well, that’s changed. In a recent 24 hour span, we had the unwelcome opportunity to break out our first malaria test and to use our venom extraction kit on a scorpion bite. We’re all fine, but was an educational process.
We’ve had exceptional health while cruising. That all changed when we parked in Australia for a while. It might seem counterintuitive to some, but the school and office germ factories were just much less healthy than our vagrant lifestyle.
Back in cruising mode, once more we’ve had nothing more than the occasional mal de mer. So when Mairen spiked a fever, we took notice. The fact that we’d taken ourselves into malarial territory made us nervous. With medical care a multi-day journey away from our location, we didn’t wait too long before opening up our first test kit.
Thankfully, it was a snap to use. The hardest part was keeping Mairen from falling off her seat when she was startled by the pinprick. The instructions were simple and the results display was very clear: a valid test, with a negative (e.g., desirable) result. Whew.
Then, there was the scorpion.
We know- we really do know- that a stem of bananas should get dunked in water before coming on board. There are plenty of critters hanging out in there that you don’t want to introduce on board, so an extended bath in the sea is a good way coax them off first. Before leaving Panapompom, the family we had anchored off had given us a large stem of bananas (very large- I stopped counting at 200). They didn’t think there would be any gardens in Budi Budi, and wanted to make sure we had more than coconuts and fish to eat!
I was cleaning up the stalk and cut off a hand of bananas one morning to bring below. I had a gorgeous plumeria lei on, a parting gift from one of the girls I’d done some trading with, so when felt something on my neck…I just thought it was the flowers. But something wasn’t right- I brushed at it, and it was not a pleasant moment when I realized that dark spot to fall down to the cabin sole was not a dead bit of flower, but a little scorpion. YIKES. Scorpion was promptly disposed, and then I noticed the pink spot on my neck where it had been.
It could have been so much worse- if there was going to be a painful reaction, I think I’d have known by pretty quickly, so this was probably no more than a love bite (ha, ha). But I took the dead critter, my neck, and a magnifying glass to the cockpit so Jamie could check us all out. My neck was going a little tingly and numb, so he pulled our venom extraction kit out. Also a first, also easy and drama free. We’re just getting tired of the medical firsts on board.
By way of silver lining, a careful process of cutting out and dunking banana hands later in the day, we found another (and more welcome) critter in the stalk.
Geckos, the ultimate low maintenance boat critter! This is probably our fourth or fifth “Stevie”, but they all get the moniker. We listen for his welcoming chirp and hope he’s having lots of good midnight snacks from any uninvited insect guests on Totem.