Poor Will, his 33rd birthday surprise turned out to be an emergency 000 call in the middle of the night, rather than something fun like a party.
Will’s birthday was last Saturday (Nov 2) and in the wee hours of the morning we were dodging freighters off Seal Rocks as we sailed south towards Port Stephens. Will came on watch at midnight, so received his first birthday wishes (from me) dark and early. I baked him a cake on my 4am watch. By 10am we had scooted into a slip at the free public jetty in the center of Nelson Bay, which is the largest town in the Port Stephens area. [Great tip about this six slip jetty… The marina in the same harbour quoted us $90 per night, but here it’s free!]
All was going well. The ‘Tastes of the Bay’ food and wine festival was in full swing only a step away from our boat, the sun was shining, and we had just completed our [actual] last overnight sail on Hydroquest. We walked around a bit during the afternoon, took a nap, and then went out for a nice birthday dinner in town.
By 9:30pm on Saturday night we were fast asleep in our aft cabin. At 2am I woke up to go to the bathroom (which is only about 5 ft from our bed) and as soon as I got there I knew something was wrong. I tried to call out to Will, but the blackness closed in on me.
Will heard a CRASH and jumped out of bed to find me crumpled on the bathroom floor.
This was a bad surprise. We had no phone, no contacts, and Will had no idea what was happening to me. He moved me into the galley and tried his best to wake me up. It was very scary from my perspective too. My body felt paralyzed and I knew something was really wrong, but I couldn’t snap out of it. Once I regained partial consciousness about five minutes later, Will brought me up into the cold cockpit air.
We were lucky that an Australian boat was moored at the same jetty. Will ran over, woke them up, and used their cell phone to call 000 (we didn’t even know that was the emergency number here… clearly we take our good health for granted).
To make a long story short, the paramedics arrived quickly and diagnosed me as having fainted. Oh – and broken my nose upon falling on my face 😦
The next day, I took it very easy (as in, I didn’t get out of bed until noon). When I finally did start moving around, I felt completely nauseous and ‘faint’ again, so we ended going to the local hospital to get checked out by a doctor.
This is where the story takes a happy turn. To explain, I have to take you back to our arrival in Coffs Harbour two weeks prior. Some of the first people we met on the dock the day we pulled in were Candace and Shayne, a lovely Australian couple who had stopped in Coffs for the day, but were heading south to the Port Stephens area where they live. Fast forward to Nelson Bay. They happened to stop by Hydroquest on that Sunday afternoon and when they heard (from our boat neighbors on the jetty) that we were at the hospital, they came rushing over. They waited around town for the doctor to see me, and then drove back to pick us up from the hospital in the afternoon. Candace and Shayne also offered for us to come and stay at their house for the night (with air conditioning!), an offer that we were more than happy to take them up on. It’s never fun to feel sick when you’re away from home and feel like you know no one, but after a nice home-cooked meal, hot shower, and a long and comfortable sleep at their house, I was on the road to recovery. Talk about incredible Australian hospitality!
Considering the places we’ve been in the last seven months, we feel extremely lucky to have had our first medical issue here, and not at sea or in a developing country. My body was obviously telling me something… ‘slow down’, perhaps? We will be getting a cell phone now, just in case. We also feel really lucky to have friends in town, and we really look forward to hanging out with Candace and Shayne and their boys again this weekend.
Other good news – my nose is on the mend and the swelling and bruising have gone down. It’s dented and has a funny lump on the side, but I’m delighted to report that I don’t think anyone but me will really be able to tell.