Saturday, March 29, 2014

the cure for the itch


Last night was a bit of a rough night.  I awoke from a deep sleep a little after midnight, hearing a strange sound and feeling thirsty.  While heading for the companionway to check out the noise, my groggy eyes spotted two bottles, one of which was my water bottle.  I continued to the companionway steps, looking out to see if anything was unusual and reached for my water bottle.  As I raised it, I felt and heard it slosh.  I removed the lid and tipped it up for a big swallow of 91% isopropyl alcohol. 

I had reached for the bottle from memory, handled it by habit, never looking at it.  What would have been the second swallow was spit out and the coughing and spitting began.  The alcohol had been left out because of its supposed ability to relieve the itch from sand fly bites if applied externally.  There was no itching felt now.

I grabbed the water bottle, rinsed and spit and then drank a pint of water.  After a little contemplation and urging, I leaned over the side and stuck my fingers down my throat, expelling as much as I could.  All my life I had heard of that maneuver but never used it.  I did not want to, but thought it better than leaving the poison inside me.

I fired up the computer to research treatment options.  “Get thou to professional medical attention post haste” or words to that effect.  Hard to do from a sailboat in the middle of nowhere.  Oh, and don’t induce vomiting. Hmm.

We looked through the boat for first aid information but found none.  Both of thought we had a good first aid reference aboard.  Memo to self.

I called for any medically trained folks on VHF channel 16, the hailing channel.  There were about 30 boats in the area, give or take, but none responded at this late hour.  There is a handful of staff on Warderick Wells Cay who monitor channel 16 while working to assist with emergencies, no response.

We tried to remember recommended treatments for ingestion of bad “stuff”.  I thought of charcoal tablets but wasn’t sure if that was correct in this situation and besides, we have none.  I elected not to tear open a water filter.  “eat bread” but for what?  “drink milk”, but for what?  We weren’t sure, so I ate some bread and drank some milk and more water. 

My son and daughter-in-law were probably needlessly worried because my next step was to email them for medical advice.  I lost internet before they could respond.  As of today, I seem to be doing ok, just some chest congestion and a raw throat.  And a little tired.  It was a fairly long night.

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