Tag Archives: illness

The Main-Danube canal – and cases of gastro

Entering a lock

The morning talk from the cruise director was not good news. Our resident gremlin had struck again, and a number of the guests on the Amaverde had contracted a gastro illness. At that stage, no one was sure if this would be the dreaded, highly contagious, Nova virus, or just plain food poisoning. And if the latter, where or what from?

Jude and the hotel director took immediate steps to try to minimize the problem. All guests who were ill, or had a partner who was ill, were asked to stay in their cabins (duh). All buffet services were cancelled. No more soup and finger food lunches in the lounge, everybody had to go to the restaurant. No guest was permitted to handle food. If you wanted bacon from the hot box at breakfast time, you had to ask a staff member (wearing surgical gloves) to serve you. The same with fruit, cereal, and everything else. The public toilets in the ship were closed – if you needed the loo, you had to go to your cabin.

Most people took the measures in good grace. As Jude pointed out, if more than a given percentage of the people on the ship became ill, the cruise would have to be cancelled. I think she and the hotel director were at pains to try to ensure that none of the staff fell ill. That would have been disastrous.

After some detective work, talking with the other ships on the river, Jude was told one ship a few days ahead of us had half the ship down with gastro. Working backwards, she concluded that the culprit had been sausages from a butcher in Rothenburg. Not everyone was convinced, though. At least one person hadn’t been to Rothenburg. Others had doubts about the timing (food poisoning tends to hit within a few hours.) So everything related to food was a tad awkward for several days. Again, the main impact was on the crew. The staff did a wonderful job attending to the quarantined guests in their cabins, as well as handling the extra work of having to serve everything.

The good news was that Pete and I were not affected. Not by the gastro, anyway. At the same time, the usual respiratory infections were passing around. One in five seemed to have a cough or splutter, and Jude urged us to employ the antiseptic hand-wash dispensers often.

Going down

The tour for the day was a few hours in Nuremberg. We did that last time, so we stayed on board. That link also talks a bit about the canal. We were looking forward to the visit from Markus Urban, who would give a presentation on the building of the Main-Danube canal The concept of a waterway goes back as Charlemagne in the ninth century and although Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria (he built Neuschwanstein, the fairytale castle in the Alps) had a go in the nineteenth century, a real canal wasn’t possible until after WW2. The canal was finally finished in the 1990s. You’ll find info about the canal here. We bought a copy of Markus’s book, which we should have done last time we were here.

One of the things about this cruise is that because we’re going the opposite way, we arrive at places at different times. It was bright daylight when we reached the European watershed. Apparently a competition was held to design a suitable marker for this important place. I couldn’t find a reference, but I believe it. I’ve shown the marker in the photo below.

The European watershed. With its underwhelming marker.

And I thought to myself, “Not me.”

picture of Death as a skeleton with a scytheGetting older has its trials. You get sick of the endless “old fart” comics and jokes about hearing loss, memory loss, libido loss etc. You get sick of the equally endless round of emails pointing out how much better it was ‘back then’. Or the ones that ask if you remember what the relationship was between a cassette and a pencil. You get sick of being told you’re only as old as you feel. In a way, of course, that last one’s true. There was a meme going around Facebook (correctly spelled and everything) that said “Inside every old person there’s a young person wondering what the hell happened.” The brain is alive and well and firing on all cylinders but the body… the body’s suffering from shell shock. Not so very long ago I used to be able to stand with my feet together, and rest my palms on the floor in front of me. These days it’s a painful struggle to put on a pair of socks.

You’re probably wondering what caused this particular rant. Death. That’s what. I read a blog post this morning written by an online friend. She related the demise of a backyard robin at the paws of next door’s cat, then talked about three human deaths, all different, with different impacts on the living. One stood out to me – the fellow who had a massive heart attack. The doctor wouldn’t accept death and tried all manner of invasive treatments to resurrect him. In the end, his son told the doctors to let him go. And the blogger related the story of the deceased as he’d been eighteen months before, aware of his mortality, aware of the limitations caused by his condition, and resigned – even content – that death comes at the end.

An hour or two later I read an article written by Graham Richardson, well-known political commentator and a stalwart of the Hawke government. About the same age as me, he explained how he’d been diagnosed with cancer in 1999. How he should have sought treatment earlier, but being a typical bloke, didn’t. The first op kind of worked, but some of the deadly cells remained to spring up and grow again. As they do. The article (in the Weekend Australian 4th July 2015) is well worth a read, and gives an insight into chemotherapy, cancer treatment, and its effects. It now seems Richo will have to have an operation to remove his bladder, bowel, prostate, colon and rectum. He will be fitted with colostomy bags which would have to be emptied regularly. The man is already in constant pain.

And I thought to myself, “Not me.” When you get to your mid-sixties you can pretty much guarantee you will have seen death in many different guises. My mother died of bowel cancer, as did my oldest sister. Another sister wiled away the last years of her life in an old folks’ home where she needed help for just about everything. Three or four people I know died of pancreatic cancer, the one where the diagnosis is always too late. The doctors can take bits out of you to offer a semblance of being alive, but who wants to live like that?

Well, let me tell you, folks, when the seven-foot skeleton with the scythe and the brilliant blue orbs in his eye sockets comes to call, if the options are the living death of constant pain, or being eviscerated, or coughing my lungs into a handkerchief, I’ll move along, thanks.