Sickness, Salvation, and Splendor – Part 1, Just Getting There.

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Ciprofloxacin. It’s one hell of a drug.

Here I am, weeks away from my cruise and I’m riding high on my daydreams of vacation. It seemed forever ago that I had been on my last cruise on Carnival Victory. Then again, I had this cruise booked way back in late December. The day after Christmas as a matter of fact. Really, the only thing that could bring me back down to earth would be something that could put a damper on the trip itself. Then it happened.

A few weeks before the tip I started having symptoms of allergies. Initially I had thought not much of them as it was typical for me to get allergies around this time of year. The symptoms kept getting worse though and I started developing more. About two weeks prior to my cruise, I decided it was time to see a doctor and see about squashing the issue before it got worse. It was suggested that my allergies had developed into a minor sinus infection and that I would need antibiotics, decongestant, and occasional ibuprofen to get me through the remaining time. Doxycyclene was the antibiotic of choice and one I’m fairly familiar with (used before, know the side-effects). At the very end of my prescription though, I still felt the same and was taking the other medicines at the maximum recommended dosages. I went back to my doctor who thought “maybe its just the allergies themselves.” I was told to take Allegra with all the other stuff, I was also told to take Ceftin as the newer antibiotic. Well, Ceftin seemed to work, until it absolutely destroyed my digestion. Any food I had enjoyed at one point went through me like Usian Bolt on a track. This prompted a call to my doctor to request another type of antibiotic the next day. This time I was prescribed Ciprofloxacin. While it didn’t have quite the same devastating effect on my guts, it did make me feel a little unwell and kept me from eating/drinking certain things. I was also told to stay out of the sun and to try and take it easy the next few days. Well, this was well into the single digits! The pot came to a boil the Tuesday before the Thursday I was supposed to fly into San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was still very unwell and using seven different drugs to combat the illness. In a hail-mary effort, I admitted myself to an emergency room and crossed my fingers for the best. After telling the doctor my situation, he told me that more than anything, I needed Zofran and possibly Prednisone. I was given both that night, (and didn’t sleep a wink that night due to the Prednisone, a corticosteroid), and told to relax. That Wednesday I took off work, I finished packing and hoped for the best. It eventually paid-off.

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Thursday.

I slept all day Wednesday. When I woke at 4am Thursday morning, I felt much better and as ready as I could be, to get on the JetBlue flight to San Juan. I had been advised to take some Benadryl with me to take before my flight as my sinuses were still a slight issue. I was given a ride to the airport nice and early so that I could just chill before the 3.5 hour flight. As much as I love the smell of airport coffee, I couldn’t really indulge. Some of the stuff I was still taking also meant no meals within the time frame. Booooo, on both counts because I had originally intended to treat the flight attendants with chocolate in trade for free mimosas or snacks. Alas, all I could do was take the Benadryl and try to get some sleep or rest. Mercifully I had booked my favorite seat which was 1A on the Airbus A320. An “Even More Space” seat right behind the front bulkhead. I could stretch out my legs without having to recline my seat into the lap of another. Even better was this particular plane had free wifi when flying over land so I could use my iPad before slipping into a nap once over the Atlantic.

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About 5 minutes after the wifi cut-out and I put away my iPad, I get sleepy and passed out. Sleep is, to me, a form of time travel. You close your eyes at one point in time, only to wake up in the “future.” In this case, when I woke up, it was much later and on descent into San Juan.

Looking out my window, I could see Puerto Rico become bigger and bigger. The plane turned east, and we descended further. I could make out Old San Juan. Being Thursday, I knew at least one ship, especially a Carnival vessel, would be in port for the Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Sure enough, I was able to see a Conquest Class ship docked at the terminal. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of another ship approaching in the distance. I couldn’t tell too well what it was, as we were descending more rapidly and eventually the tires met the runway.

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After the relief of rubber meeting tarmac, the plane taxied to the gate, and we waited a short while for the agent to make the connection. Five minutes later, I was off the plane in Puerto Rico. I had made it! I removed my hoodie and felt refreshed by the heat in the gateway as I made my way along into the terminal. I stopped and waited as some friends, Yvette and Rick, were a few rows behind me on the same flight. I greeted them and made rather poor conversation on way to the baggage claim (I was still a little drowsy). After a few minutes, I had luggage in hand, was on a taxi, and on my way to my hotel in Old San Juan. I felt electric with anticipation of what was to come.

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