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Living the Dream
Wayne, the pups and I have been making our way up Turkey’s Aegean coast aboard MÖBIUS ever since we departed our winter berth in Finike on May 17th.
That first night with just the two of us aboard, anchored in a cove in Kekova, we admitted to each other that it was going to take us some time to shift back into what we call the cruising life. For more than four years, we have both been in boat building mode - completing the boat was the singular purpose of our lives. While there were still many jobs left to do on board, it was time to kick back and relax and enjoy the fruits of all that time and work. What had once been only a dream was now our home.
People who sail full time refer to themselves as cruisers, and when they use the phrase “Living the Dream,” it is often with a tone that is dripping with sarcasm. We know the reality is not a life of piña coladas on the afterdeck.
Of course, the people living the 9-5 working life, struggling to make ends meet imagine that full-time cruising is like being on vacation 24/7. And many of those dreamers who finally get to that point of launching into the cruising life are crushed to discover that the cruising life is often seasickness, terror in bad weather, spending the majority of your time working to fix a broken boat, and definitely not constant cocktails on the after deck. Cruising is not having access to next day shipping and the bounty of the availability of almost everything in the world, not seeing your grandchildren graduate from kindergarten, and sometimes, it’s not knowing if you can find a doctor you trust.
Before we left Finike, I had started having pain in my left knee, but I’d had this pain off and on for six or seven years, and it usually went away on its own over time. The knee had been improving, so I didn’t go see a doctor while we were in Finike. But as you can see in the video above, there are lots of steps on the boat and running around on deck when we go into a marina was not good for me.
Several days later, we decided to go into the marina at Kaş. They directed us to dock on the seawall among the big boys, and what with hauling in on the foredeck lines, then running aft to try to throw our nearly one inch (24mm) dock lines to the marina staff, I really messed up my knee. I was in so much pain, I was crying.
Of course, the next day was Thursday, and it was the week of the Turkish holiday - the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day. Wayne got us a taxi and we went to the Kaş Public Hospital, only to learn the orthopedic doctor wouldn’t be in until Monday. Turks do take their holidays very seriously.
Back on the boat, I contacted our friend Ali, the translator at the hospital in Kumluca where we had gone to have our annual physical exams a month earlier. He told us the ortho doctor could see us the next day. So, we rented a car and I hobbled my way off the boat. Wayne drove us the 2.5 hours to the hospital. But once we arrived and the doctor examined me, we all learned that their MRI machine was not working. They said I would have to come back on Monday for the MRI.
I didn’t feel confident the machine would be working any time soon, so I suggested we press on to Fethiye where there were several hospitals. The weather wasn’t great on that 40+ nautical mile trip, but we got to experience how much our boat rolls and pitches in sloppy seas. Thank goodness neither of us gets seasick, but our canine crew wasn’t feeling as good about the situation.
We anchored out in the bay in Fethiye ready to enjoy a quiet peaceful night, but there was some sort of sporting event and cars were driving around honking their horns on shore until well after midnight.
Of course, one of the things that is still not working properly on the boat, is our tender launching system. So our only way of getting me to shore the next morning was our inflatable kayak.
It’s bad enough trying to get into the thing when all my limbs are in proper working order, but with my bum knee, let’s just say I got to use some of my sailor’s language. Wayne paddled me to shore, found a spot where I could climb up the seawall, and I hobbled to the hospital while he rowed back to the boat. I was able to walk in that day and get an MRI, but the appointment for the doctor to interpret it was the next morning. That afternoon the wind had come up, so I walked down the seawall to try to find a spot where it would be downwind for Wayne to paddle with me in the kayak.
I texted Wayne and told him where I was as I stood waving my arms over my head like a crazy woman. My white knight paddled in and found me and then paddled me all the way back.
The next morning Wayne paddled me in again as my appointment was at 8:15, and I directed him to settle in for Turkish breakfast at a waterfront restaurant. I met with the doctor who showed me on a screen the big tear in my meniscus, and he recommended two weeks of prep and then surgery.
Over breakfast, we both agreed that it wouldn’t really work for me to climb into that kayak post surgery. We needed to find a place where we could get into a marina for my recuperation. And so, after the lovely night at the anchorage close to Göcek, we pushed on to Marmaris.
There is a Setur Marina in Marmaris, and we had already paid for an annual contract with Setur that was good until mid July, and we can stay in other Setur Marinas for “free” for 30 days as long as our contract remains in effect. Marmaris is really a small town, but it is very big in boating.
There were several hospitals in town, and I chose the best private hospital the next morning and took a cab with my CD of my MRI. I got right in to see the ortho doctor, and I showed him the meds I was taking from the Kumluca doc and the MRI from the Fethiye doc. He looked over his glasses and asked, “What hospital are you going to next?” Okay, fair question. But then he took me into an examining room and brought out an enormous needle and without any local anesthesia he stuck it into my knee and withdrew a full fat vial of greenish yellow liquid. He held it up for me to look at and said, “See what is in your knee?”
I admit I sat in the lobby and had a bit a a cry before calling the friendly cab driver who had promised to come pick me up when I was done. The doctor had prescribed new meds for me, and the cab driver stopped and helped me into a pharmacy on my way back to the boat.
Wayne, my brilliant husband listened to my tale of woe and came up with a suggestion I hadn’t even considered. Antalya. We had a favorite hospital in Antalya where we had both been treated with great care. I made an online appointment with an ortho doc for Monday morning, booked myself onto a bus from Marmaris to Antalya (6 hours), and booked myself into a hotel for Sunday night.
Monday morning, I was there for my 9:15 appointment at the Akdeniz Health Foundation Life Hospital. I met with the doctor and he spoke quite good English. He listened to me, and when I told him about my lifestyle and how I needed to get my mobility back as soon as possible, he said he would do the surgery. When, I asked? How about tomorrow? I was escorted off to the financials desk and after much consultation, for me, as a Turkish resident, it would cost $1200. I handed over my credit card, and by 1:00, I was in a hospital bed with an IV port in my arm. I was hustled off for chest X-ray and they drew many vials of blood, did an EKG, and I was served dinner in bed. The doctor visited me that evening and told me I would need to fast all day, and my surgery would be at 3:00 p.m. In the end they did a local spinal block so I got to watch on the screen as the arthroscopic surgery took place cleaning out all the debris in my knee. They kept me a second night, and I was cut loose by noon. The only thing that wasn’t quite up to par was the hospital version of a Turkish breakfast.
All those tests, two nights in the hospital, two incisions and arthroscopic surgery. All for that price. Amazing, eh?
I am now at day 8 post surgery and things are going extremely well. I haven’t been off the boat in that whole time because I am trying to be the model patient. I’m not going to do anything to stress this healing process.
Being quarantined to the boat has given me lots of time to think about where we are in life, what we are doing and what the future holds for us - and to realize how many bloody steps there are on this boat!
Yes, it is difficult sometimes being a stranger in a strange land all the time. Yes, our boat will require strength and agility and there will be more times ahead when tears will be shed. I do miss our children and our grandchildren. Is this still really what I want to do? Am I living my dream? Is it all worth it?
It didn’t take me all the long to come up with the answer.
Once again one of my Seychelle Sullivan ebooks is set to free in the US Amazon store from now until the end of day on June 9th. If you’ve already got it let your friends know. Click here to find the ebook on Amazon.