Sick, but employed.

Yesterday, just as lunch service was starting, Mark made the executive decision that I should accompany him to the hospital as we’d both not been feeling well. The result was that we were both sent home to rest and I was to go back to Medical this morning to check in (Mark didn’t have to check-in because he had today off anyway).


It turns out that Medical was being a little extra cautious as several Kiwis at Scott Base had been stricken with a horrible stomach flu and Medical was very much hoping to keep it contained, but there had already been a few cases at McMurdo. While I still felt nauseated at the idea of food, I know what stomach flu is like and was fairly certain since I wasn’t lying on my bathroom floor, curled around the toilet, I didn’t have it. But I did feel like crap so I did my best to quickly fill Shane and Ralph in on what needed to be done for the evening’s entrée and dragged myself home and to bed.

And as soon as Roger found out I had gone home sick, he demonstrated once again what a good friend he is. As another firefighter was also home sick (with strep, not the stomach flu), he and Brandon offered to prepare dinner trays for both of us and deliver them. But as an added treat, Roger also brought me popcorn and some Hershey’s kisses and real hot chocolate he’d been sent from home. Then when he saw me huddled in bed under my one quilt and US Army-issued wool blanket (just like M*A*S*H), he ran off to get a second comforter from the station laundry. While I still had no appetite, Roger had thoughtfully included a bowl of applesauce on my dinner tray and I was able to eat some of that and drink the hot chocolate and after making sure I was settled with the second comforter, he stayed to keep me company for a bit. Obviously he was upset about losing the bet, so we didn’t talk much about that, but he updated me on the latest station gossip, which was mostly about the stomach flu going around and from where it might have come. When I started to get drowsy, he refilled the bottle of water by my bed and left me to sleep.

This morning, I roused myself out of bed in time to stop by Russell’s office to let him know I was going to Medical to check in. At Medical, the doctor asked if I’d had any symptoms of the stomach flu other than a lack of appetite and I said no, so he said I could go back to work. So I did. But I apparently looked terrible because as lunchtime approached again, Shane told me I should just go home and get some more rest – they were fully staffed in the kitchen and could easily take care of dinner without me – so I did.

After a long nap this afternoon, I woke up feeling somewhat better and even a little – dare I say it? – hungry. I ventured into the galley to sniff around for something I might be able to eat, settling on some soup and toast with peanut butter. Then I went to the galley admin office to check my email and found my offer letter for next summer! So it’s official: provided I pass my physical qualifications again, I will be returning to McMurdo Station sometime around August 23rd, 2013!

Now to figure out what’s going to happen between seasons on the Ice… I started emailing our Travel Department back in early January to see what my options are for traveling a bit before going back to my Airport Of Departure (AOD) but so far I haven’t heard anything. I’m hoping to spend some time in New Zealand and Australia (places I’ve never been!) before going up to visit my parents in Viet Nam and then some friends in London have convinced me to try and stop there on my way back to San Francisco, so we’ll see if that’s possible. In theory, the Travel Department should be able to refund the return portion of the ticket directly back to SF and put that amount towards a new ticket of my choice but, as I haven’t heard from them, I’ve no idea if that will be possible. You can only imagine how frustrating it is for me to deal with such crappy customer service from a travel agent! When I ran a travel agency, my staff responded immediately to each and every request with at least an acknowledgment that the request was received. But I know I’m not the only one who has been waiting to hear from Travel and I think it used to be handled a lot better but it was one of the changes made this year when the contract switched from Raytheon to Lockheed Martin, so hopefully they’ll get it sorted for next season. In the meantime, all I can do is keep emailing them, hoping I’ll hear back soon.

For now, I’m going to go get back in bed and get some more rest so I can go back to work tomorrow – I always know I must be on the mend when I start getting bored of being home sick!


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