On the 6th July our crew member Elke from Germany was scheduled to arrive in Bodrum to help us sail to Malta or Italy. In the week leading up to her arrival we tidied and reorganized the boat. Our spare room has turned into a storage room over the last year, so it took a bit of thinking and resorting to free the space up.
Nina and I had mum and daughters day where we went to town to browse shops and go out for ice cream, tea etc. We found a nice little shop with lots of beads to make your own bracelets and necklaces. We had a nice time and coming back home we set to make our own bracelets.
We also did a really big grocery stock up, planning for our passage and also to make the most of the reasonable grocery prices in Turkey. We had 2 jam packed shopping trolleys and took a taxi back to the dinghy. Again it took a few hours to store everything away in the bilges and storage seats and re organise things so they make sense and things are easy to find.
When Elke arrived on Sunday from Germany we had a nice evening getting to know each other and Elke brought lots of yummy treats from Germany and some things we couldn’t get here in Turkey.
On Monday we went to see the beautiful castle in Bodrum with Elke. We all enjoyed the visit. The kids loved the Peacocks and Nina found a white, pretty peacock feather.
The next day we sailed to Aquarium Bay near Bodrum and the day after Nina started having a fever. After 3 days the fever still wasn’t better, so on Friday we decided to go back to the State Hospital to get Nina checked. She had another blood and Urine test and the diagnosis was that she had a Urinary tract infection. She was given antibiotics and pain meds.
By Sunday her fever was still not down and we got really worried as she had pains all through her body, wasn’t eating and just looked really miserable. Our Turkish friend Birgul recommended another doctor from an Emergency Clinic. Tim called them and they came to our boat to assess Nina. They decided she needed to come to the clinic for further tests. We quickly packed a few things and they drove us back to the clinic.
We discussed Nina’s history of the Edema, the tick bites, the blood tests, MRI and x-rays that had already been done and all the other hospital visits. They put an IV line in and gave her pain meds and IV antibiotics and told us she needed to go to Hospital for further testing. They contacted our Health Insurance and got the ball rolling and we all got Covid tests done.
A few hours later we were transferred from the emergency clinic to the American Private Hospital in Bodrum via Ambulance. Once we arrived there a flurry of activity descended on us. A Pediatrician and Orthopedic Specialist came to see Nina, the admin staff tried to get confirmation that the Insurance would cover Nina’s case. 2 Nurses came to get a huge amount of blood again from poor Nina who by then was in real pain again and over it all. Tim went back to the boat to get clothes and a few things for me and Nina as the doctors mentioned we might even have to be transferred to a Uni clinic in Mugla or Istanbul. Once Tim came back it was clear that we stay for the night in this hospital and Nina and I were transferred to a lovely private room upstairs. Once Nina was settled, Tim went back home as Elke and Luca were on the boat by themselves. Thankfully Elke was there to look after Luca, Lucy and the boat.
The room in the hospital was great. We had our own private bathroom, Nina’s hospital bed and a couch and lounging chair where I could sleep or sit.
The next day the doctor told us they would do more tests and see what they can do for Nina in this hospital. They had consulted with specialists in the Uni clinics and all decided it was best for her to stay put. She had a Ultrasound of her organs and the Edema, an MRI of the Edema again, an x-ray to check her organs and an Ultrasound of her heart with a Cardiologist. All tests came back clear, with all organs being in perfect order. Meanwhile her fevers continued and she had good an bad times and received IV antibiotics and pain relief.
The next day the orthopaedic specialist wanted to do a puncture of Nina’s edema to exclude the inflammation coming from the swelling on her collarbone. It was simply aweful. I still have visions of the procedure and poor Nina being so brave with all those procedures and needles being poked in to her precious little body. A huge needle was inserted several times to try and draw liquid, but none came, which was good, meaning there was no infection in the edema. They also had to set a new IV line that day, so needless to say it was a rotten, aweful day and we were all exhausted and traumatised by all the experiences. She still had high fevers and pain in her body, so the doctors decided to switch her to stronger antiobiotics, which she would have to have for 10-14 days.
On Wednesday she started to feel slightly better, but the fevers were still ongoing and pain coming and going. I had to buy more Pajamas as she woke up soaked in sweat regularly. She hardly had an appetite and really only liked eating fruit. The dietician came every day to check what she would like to eat, but it was hard work to get anything in. She looked so weak, pale and unwell. By now after over a week of sleepless nights and sick with worry I was exhausted and besides myself, so Tim suggested I go home for 1 night to sleep on the boat and get some rest and he stay with Nina. The nurses come regularly all through the night to change meds, measure temperature and Nina woke up with pain or having to go the the toilet with all the IV liquids, so there was not that much sleep to be had.
On Thursday she had had a break in fevers for 10 hours, but then they started again with pain. Each time we measured the temperature I was tense. Sometimes it was down, only to go up again. On Saturday Nina and I ventured out to the hospital garden for a little walk and to have a drink at the café. She looked so fragile and unwell and nearly fainted twice. I had to take her back in the wheelchair. The next day Tim and Luca came to visit we took her to the garden in the wheelchair and lay down on the lawn under a tree. It was so nice to touch the earth after nearly 2 weeks in beds and hospital, sterility and aircon.
She’s had another MRI at some stage of her head too, as she had pain around her ears and in her cheeks. It came back all clear too as well as all the blood tests. After a week of the stronger antibiotics the inflammation markers in her blood came finally down and the fevers and pain stopped eventually. The Lyme disease blood test came back negative as well. In the end we didn’t get a diagnosis, apart from the fact that is was a bacterial infection of some sort. But we don’t know where it came from or if it might come back.
Tim and Luca came to visit us almost every day, bringing coffee for me and yummy treats for Nina and spending a bit of time with us. With Polly being at anchor, we had to split our family into hospital duty and boat duty as both needed attention.
Some of Nina’s crafts created during her hospital visit and some of my crochet:
When they discharged us after 2 weeks I was still on edge. I was so worried whatever it was might come back.
The care and staff in the hospital was outstanding. We got all the tests and procedures promptly and Nina was cared for above and beyond. Her doctor even came in on his day off with his daugther, who is the same age as Nina. Also all the support we received from afar helped so much – friends and family who sent healing and prayers and made sure we are doing o.k.
While Nina was in hospital it became clear we wouldn’t sail anywhere fast, as Nina would need time to recover from the ordeal and also to see if her health would stay stable after the treatments. So Elke, our crew returned to Germany. Our buddy boats that we planned to do the passage with had already left Turkey. It all was a huge shock to us all as we have all been so well for so many years. Nina has never had an antibiotic in her life until she cut her toe in Turkey.
All in all I can say that the 2 weeks in hospital with Nina being so unwell and not knowing what caused all of this were the 2 worse weeks of my life. There really are few things that are worse than seeing your child suffer.
Our health insurance covered Nina’s stay, however for us to have a smaller premium with our tiny budget we choose to have a higher excess. A calculated risk we took as we have all been healthy in previous years. The high excess payment left another huge dent in our already tight budget and with Covid making travel still a nightmare and Nina’s uncertain diagnosis and us not knowing if whatever it was might come back at some stage it was clear this was a cross roads for us and some big decisions had to made going forwards.
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