Give me anything besides a catheter to pass.*


I’ve spent the past three months reading about every medical procedure with a chance of appearing at sea. From treatment of shock, to reducing broken bones, to injections and IVs. I sit, reading, and intermittently wondering what my face must look like to anyone watching, as my eyes widen inexplicably in terror, or I start rubbing my lower lip like mad. I slip from intense interest, eyebrows furrowed, to concealed panic, my page-turning finger rapidly scratching the paper.

The likelihood of us needing to perform any of these procedures is actually relatively slim. It’s fully possible that we’ll all end up back home after cruising without ever having had any issues. We just talked to some cruisers who sailed for years without a problem. However unlikely, though, we can’t afford to be unprepared. And so I read, and cringe, and read.

By now I can handle most of these books’ contents, even as my face rotates through its standard fascination, confusion, horror, cycle. Most things seem doable. Either the immediacy of the moment will force us into action, or we’ll have plenty of time to consider options and mentally prepare for the procedure.

One type of procedure, however, seems somewhat less doable. As much as I think about it, visualize it, or reread the technique, I can’t handle the idea of passing any kind of catheter. Without going into detail, I can safely say that all of these procedures sound gross, surreal, awkward, and uncomfortable for everyone involved. Maybe the best way to fill in the gaps without grossing anyone out is to simply mention where these mystical tubes are supposed to go. And so, a short list:

1. Nostril to stomach
2. Nostril to nasal cavity
3. Urethra to bladder

I mean, nostril to nasal cavity? What are we doing here? Mummifying someone? That’s not really my thing. And that’s for a nosebleed? You’ve got to be joking. Or maybe just crazy? Yeah, maybe you just don’t know what you’re talking about. So long, Advanced First Aid at Sea! I’m reading another book. Yeah, this is better, just cauterize the wound, I can do that. No big–Oh Jesus it’s in here too! And in more depth! Next page! Oh no!! Pictures!

Dear God, give me anything besides a catheter to pass.

*Also please no amputations.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Give me anything besides a catheter to pass.*

  1. Jens says:

    Hey, what are you doing for your training? Are you taking any formal courses? I just finished my EMT-Basic certification – it was a mostly online course. I spent two months reading and doing worksheets and tests, then a week in class, then a week on an ambulance – and I can tell you, all the reading and studying did nothing for me compared to the two weeks of actual hands-on work. I would highly recommend doing a formal course that gets you some hands-on time. Some of the stuff you’re learning, catheters and IVs, that’s paramedic-level stuff, and it is hard – you need real-world practice for that.

  2. Jay says:

    “You can make it happen” I have complete and full confidence that “if and or when” the time comes…you will be “the” man of action. You may not have ever seen a certain uncle emergency change a trach, flip open a crash kit and “bag” a young man with Oxygen flowing or push a feeding tube up a nostril…only to have it come out the mouth on an occasion… but I can tell you…when the time comes… and knowing how… you will stand and deliver… fear is a great motivator- knowledge is a great antidote to fear… alcohol is a great antiseptic…

  3. Lisa Kleeman says:

    Oh do I have a Catheter story involving my father , better known as “Pop Pop”.
    The job ( a home procedure)was SUPPOSED to be Rob or Jays but fell to me when Jays so called reality kicked in. Ran like little girls those two did….
    No need to say it was aweful for both me and Dad! We did laugh about it later though.

  4. Jim Kleeman says:

    You need a copy of “A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine” by Eric A Weiss, MD. ISBN 0-9659768-0-7. Pocket sized, inexpensive, and priceless.

Leave a Reply to Jay Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *