Wednesday, May 06, 2015

puerile purell

There is nothing more inconvenient than an old traveler with a head cold.  I think it was Robert Preston who said something similar.

Two days ago, I developed a slight cough.  By yesterday, it was a racking dry cough with a headache, muscle pain, fever, and, that old stand-by, post-nasal drip.

Fortunately, I did not have vomiting or diarrhea.  That would have undoubtedly meant that I had been touched by the dreaded norovirus -- and I would have been quarantined to my cabin by the ship doctor for at least three days.

Ship crews (and their passengers) live in fear of norovirus.  It is incredibly easy to contract, and, thus, easy to spread.  You have undoubtedly read news stories about ships that simply stop cruising (temporarily) to divest themselves of the virus.

The cruise line has taken a number of steps to prevent outbreaks.  When we board, we are required to sign a statement that we have not recently exhibited norovirus symptoms.  A large portion of the ship's crew spend their days spraying and wiping handrails, door handles, and elevator buttons.

And then there are the omnipresent Purell dispensers -- what a Mexican friend calls Canadian hand lotion.  A crew member stands in front of each dining venue squirting Purell into diners' palms.  It is about as annoying as those guerrilla cologne sprayers in Nordstrom.

I am not fond of Purell.  After a week of being regularly doused in it, my hands look as if I have spent a lifetime milking cows.

What irritated me most was that we are supposed to be fighting the spread of a virus -- not bacteria.  I thought the use of Purell was essentially futile.  The equivalent of the performance art TSA provides us in security lines.

It turns out I was wrong.  But not by much.

The most effective way to fight the norovirus is, just as your mother told you for years, hand washing.  That process gets rid of the microscopic bits of fecal matter where the virus resides.

Purell has the same mechanism.  But its effectiveness quotient is in the single digits.  Leaving it more in the TSA category of entertainment and faux security.

I have run down this Purrell bunny path because I have skipped a majority of the proffered disinfectant squirts.  I was starting to think I may have opened myself up to my cold by avoiding the lotion.

Probably not.  If I have a cold, I most likely contracted it through someone else who was coughing as I am now.  Aerosolized virus are a great transmission method.

Last night my cough was so bad, I finally surrendered and bought a bottle of Nyquil at the ship store.  My doctor has advised me not to use Nyquil in conjunction with my blood pressure medicine.  But I had to do something.

Nyquil's greatest attribute (and perhaps the only one) is its ability to knock me out.  At $17.99, it was expensive, and most of my symptoms persisted today.  But they are starting to improve.

I am now waiting at the door of the theater to watch the cast put on a show that will rebuild my spirit. Science cannot answer all questions.

Note -- I have been expecting this.  We received notice two days ago that the ship would periodically lose internet, and, when we can connect, the connection will be extremely slow.  That day has arrived.  These two minor photographs took two hours to upload.  It may get too slow for text.  At least, you know the Chinese have not locked me up.

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