Thursday, November 27, 2014

November 13-19, 2014 Florida Vacation

St Augustine, Diving, Hospital

Nothing like taking a vacation when you are on a permanent vacation. 
Our boat insurance says we can’t go south of 30 degree latitude North until November 1, which is about the northern border of Florida. We really thought we would have our boat in Florida after that date.  Dave had a yearly exam scheduled in St Augustine on November 14 at the VA clinic.  So we drove to Florida. 

Dave’s appointment went well.  He likes his new Dr.  This was the general exam, so now he will be appointed for various things.  We hope to be back in St Augustine with our boat and not have to drive there for future appointments.

After his appointment on Friday, we drove on to Jupiter where we met my sister, Bev, and Cheryl Ulmer on Saturday.  I met Cheryl in Rapid City through the Chamber of Commerce in 1987 and we have been friends ever since.  When Bev moved to Rapid City, she also became friends with Cheryl.  She is a scuba diver and used to be an instructor.  She encouraged both of us to become divers.  We have had several dive trips together over the years.

Saturday: great seafood dinner at Food Shack.  Their local fresh fish are prepared in unique ways and served over a salad, which was also unique to each dish.  Wonderful.  Early to bed because we were diving on Sunday morning.

Sunday:  Bev, Cheryl and I went to Jupiter Dive Center at 8:00am.  We lined up everything we needed and were on the boat by 9:00.  It was about 75-80 degrees and a little windy.  We had 2 short dives.  Their reef was deep, so both dives were fairly deep.  Cheryl’s computer registered 94 feet and 74 feet for the deepest areas.  Usually our second dive is 40-60 feet deep.  Since they were so deep, it limits the time you can spend below water.  We saw large angle fish, 2 really large groupers-probably15 feet long, 2 large turtles about 4-6 ft diameter, a 6 ft green moray eel, and lots of schools of fish besides the reef itself. 

Bev gets motion sickness.  She took Dramamine, but didn’t keep it down.  She was sick before, between and after the dives, but felt great during the dives.  By the time we got back to the dive shop, she couldn’t walk off the boat and felt really out of it.  So we had them call an ambulance to evaluate her.  They decided she was dehydrated, but didn’t have decompression illness (DCI or the bends).  So they took her to a local hospital.  Cheryl and I followed and sat with her in the emergency room.  We were there about 2:00 and waited, and waited, and waited.  They were giving her fluids, but not much other attention.  About 5:00, they wanted a urine sample.  When she tried to get up, she nearly passed out.  That finally got a doctor’s attention.  They did a couple CT scans and found nitrogen bubbles near her liver.  So she did have DCI.  So they had to transfer her to a different hospital with a hyperbaric chamber in West Palm Beach. 

Cheryl and I followed her there and waited again in the emergency room.  A doctor did a neurological assessment right away.  They had to get her records from the first hospital and call in a pulmonary doctor.  Then they had to call in the hyperbaric nurse on call.  So it was about 12;30 am before she actually entered the chamber.  We waited about 30 minutes to be sure she was feeling better.  This would take about 6 hours, so we called it a night.  Our hotel was about 30 minutes away.  So it was about 2:00am by the time we hit the bed.  We had already cancelled our dive trip for Monday. 

Monday and Tuesday, Bev had to go into the hyperbaric chamber twice for about 2 hours each time.  So between times, we sat with her, visited and watched TV.  She was improving with each treatment.  Cheryl and I found a couple great restaurants for early dinner each day.  Wonderful seafood-red snapper, mahi mahi, salmon, to name a few.  And they were coconut, or pecan, or macadamia nut encrusted or grilled.  Every meal was fantastic. 

Wednesday: Bev was feeling and acting like her old self.  The pulmonary doctor said she would know when she wasn’t seeing any more improvement with the 2 hours treatments and she could basically decide when she was ready to leave.  She had one treatment on Wed before we returned.  A PA stopped by to check on her, but didn’t say much.  About 3:00, we knew they would be coming to get her for her second treatment and she was ready to leave the hospital.  So we talked to her nurse.  She said her doctor was through with the rounds and she’d get her dismissal tomorrow.  We said “oh no, she’s leaving today.”  I guess the PA was the one she should have talked to.  We thought it was the pulmonary doctor.  So the nurse made some phone calls and arranged for her to leave by about 5:00pm.  We celebrated at a great Italian restaurant.  We all ordered the special-lobster ravioli with a walnut cream sauce with shrimp and crab on top.  DELICIOUS!  We ordered spaghetti for Dave, to go. 

All this time, Dave had been staying at the hotel and studying for his Captain’s license.  He had been planning to do this over the past year, but things get in the way.  This is a study course with books and an online tutorial.  You have to get 90% on each of 4 tests online.  Then you have to schedule a final exam at a testing center, like a coast guard station or an actual sailing school.  So he hopes to take that test with in a few months.  Previously he obtained a license to be able to charter boats (credit card captain).  This will be an actual Coast Guard Captain's license.  This will allow him to be hired as a captain, our insurance should go down, and he has gained overall knowledge about boating.  Now we'll see if I can do it, too, because Dave said "it's only for boys". 

view of the ICW from our room

view of the Jupiter Inlet lighthouse from our restaurant

On break from hospital duty

Breaking Bev out of the "big house"

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