Our trip to hell – part 4 – From cruise ship to hospital

Now, I am not blaming either the ship or its owner, Carnival, but fact is that, while healthy at the start of our week cruising to and from the Mexican Riviera, by the end I had become ill.

When I say ‘healthy’, I mean it in the general sense, besides my constant unwanted friend: primary progressive MS (multiple sclerosis) and its resulting disability.

By the end of the week, I was definitely feeling the worse for wear. I was tired, weak, off my food, had a serious cough and a bad case of diarrhoea (British spelling). Sorry if that is too much information, but I promise not to give a graphic description.

Weakness became a real problem for me as I found myself unable to transfer between bed and wheelchair without help. In fact, without the assistance of our cabin steward and one of his colleagues, transfer would have been impossible on a number of occasions.


Carnival Miracle.

The Carnival Miracle finally docked back in San Diego, where we had started. Disembarkation went smoothly, thanks to the wheelchair assistance team.

Once on the dock, though, things did not go as well. First, it took us more than four hours to find transport that could take my wheelchair – even when folded. We tried taxis, contacted Uber, approached drivers of larger vehicles, all without success. And, all the while, it was cold and drizzling with rain.

Leave hotel In ambulance


Wheelchair equpped cab with rear lift.

Finally, we found a large cab that was equipped to carry a wheelchair, but it already had one on board. The driver, a most pleasant and helpful woman, promised to return once she had dropped off her current fare. And she did, about 30 minutes later. It turned out that her shift had ended with that passenger and she had returned to us in her own time. The trip to the hotel was not far in the vehicle, was quite quick. Surprisingly, she did not charge a fare for the journey and flatly refused to accept any tip. Amazing!

Our flight home, well the first leg, was due to take off early, which is why we had booked a hotel for one night. The morning after that night, however, I was too weak to get out of bed. An ambulance was called and soon its crew arrived and advised me to let them take me to hospital.

That’s how I ended up as a patient of UC (University of California) San Diego Health. After initial assessment in the ER (Emergency Room or Casualty in the UK), I was transferred to Intensive Care being diagnosed with sepsis and declared unfit to fly.

From ‘unfit’ to ‘fit to fly’


UC San Diego Healh.

Treatment was quick and efficient, staff were kind. On day two, I was moved from the ICU and made enough progress that, on the fifth day, doctors said I was fit to fly – although not cured totally. They provided comprehensive notes to be passed on to my doctor here in Spain.

Since coming home, I have received two visits by a doctor, been taken to hospital three times, and spent a short stay in hospital.

Today, two months after our cruise finished, my health is much improved but not yet back to normal. The diarrhoea is showing signs of clearing up, and my appetite is back to normal although Lisa is strictly controlling my diet.

Weakness is now my biggest problem, made worse by lack of exercise, weight loss as proved by baggy skin on visibly thinner legs, and loss of muscle mass.

I can now only look to the future and hope my recovery continues – to allow Lisa and I to completely get back from ‘our trip to hell’.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. More recently, he was a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.


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