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oceansandseas

Doctor on Queen Mary would not treat me

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This happened a few months ago. At the time I did nothing, but keep wondering what I maybe should have done, or who I should have talked to about this, and that is why I am asking the people on Cruise Critic. I did not want to complain too much in case they kicked me off the ship. I would like to know what others would have done if it had happened to them. Who would they have talked to. This will be long as I want to explain everything in detail.
 
However the "Coles Notes" is -
Double crossing from NY to SOU on Queen Mary 2 and then Caribbean
Got a bad cough 2 or 3 days out
Went to medical center and told Doctor that I thought I had bronchitis and needed an antibiotic
He said he could not treat me for a cough until I had it for 19 days
Coughed through the cruise but did not want to go back to him
By the time I flew home I was very weak
Went to my own Doctor and he said I had bronchitis and maybe even pneumonia, but to diagnose pneumonia I would have to get an x-ray. We could wait awhile and see if my health improved with the antibiotic.
I was sick and very weak for the month of December. 
My husband does not want to take me on another cruise in case I get sick again. 
 
Detailed of what happened. DH and I boarded Queen Mary 2 in Brooklyn on November 11, 2018 to cross to Southampton and then back to New York. We were also staying on for the 13 day Caribbean cruise which ended in New York on December 8, 2018. We are Diamond with Cunard and have just as many days aboard other cruise ships.
 
Two or three days out I started coughing.   The cough really got bad. On Saturday, November 17. 2018, I thought maybe I should see the Doctor.  Went to the Medical Center and talked to the nurse.  I told her I was taking Robitussin. I had the day and the night type which I had brought with me. She asked if it was helping.  I said that I did not know as I was still coughing a lot all day and all night. Some of the coughing spells were bad. She said that the only thing she could do for me was give me a cough medicine like the Robitussin that I was taking.
 
So the next week passed and I was still coughing.  Sometimes I would vomit a bit because of the coughing spells I was having. On 2 occasions I had to excuse myself from the dinner table. Robitussin all gone.  Not sure if it was helping or not. I therefore went to the Medical Center on the afternoon of November 24, 2018.  Walked to the counter.  A man was sitting at the desk, a man was standing behind and the nurse I had talked to a week ago was sitting at the far desk. I said that I would like to see the doctor. The man standing asked what was it about.  I mentioned that I had been there last week and talked with the nurse.  She remembered me.  He asked me how long I had the cough and I said "a few days after we left New York, so that was about November 13th or 14th". He was the Doctor. He said that he could not treat a cough until I had it for 19 days.   I then told him that I thought I had bronchitis. I do not remember his exact words, but he said to come back when I had the cough for 19 days.
 
(I have had bronchitis on a cruise ship or just after getting off, and antibiotics cures it in a week or so. Actually I have some form of cold or cough, it seems on every cruise we take.) I will not mention the one where I had Noro.
 
I told him that I was sick and he repeated that I should come back when I had the cough for 19 days. I explained that I was on the next cruise and by 19 days it would be nearly time to come home.
 
I should maybe explain that I a 74 year old female with white hair who is Canadian. Not slim, not thin, not fat and not chubby, just average.   I am short at 5 foot, 1 inch.
 
We continued our cruise.  I coughed all of the time.  When the 19 days came around, I decided not to go to the doctor. I would wait until we were home. I had low energy during the cruise.
 
We reached New York on December 8th and flew home that day. Short flight.  After we collected our luggage, I hardly had the energy to roll it. (Very unusual) I made it through the immigration hall but after that DH had to leap frog his and my luggage.  Shortly after we were at daughter's home.  I just sat on the chesterfield the rest of the day, going in and out of sleep. We were going to stay at our daughter's home for a week to do Christmas shopping, however the way I felt, we drove home on Sunday, December 9th. 
 
I was able to see my doctor on Monday, December 10th.  He listened to me breath and said it was Bronchitis. Possible that I had pneumonia. To  diagnose it as pneumonia, I would have to have x-rays taken. He gave me antibiotics and I was to check with him if I got worse or in 10 days to see how I was improving. After 10 days I was feeling a bit better so doctor just said to rest as much as I could and call him if I was not improving.
 
Therefore I was sick all of December. Was not able to decorate or do some of the things I usually do at Christmas. Many of the days were spent napping in my favourite chair.  I was able to make the family turkey dinner on Christmas Day, but then spent a lot of January with low energy.
 
So that is what happened.  My husband does not want me to suffer being sick again. I do love to cruise, but might not take anymore cruises. We have nothing booked and every time I think of booking something, remember the last one, and husband reminds me how sick I was after. What should I have done?

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It seems very odd, the 19 day thing... Never heard of anything like that before... 

 

Sorry to hear of your experience. 

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That 19 days really sounds odd if not bizarre. I started coughing recently on Celebrity - I had a post-nasal drip and knew that things were going right to my chest and trouble was afoot-I transferred to QM2 for my crossing home and continued coughing .The minute i got home I went to my GP who listed to my chest and prescribed Prednisone-not anti-biotics. He said i had a small chest infection but did not want me to in ant-bios. I’m fine now-I’m 76-. Your experience sounds bizarre and frankly rather irresponsible and offensive-I’d contact Cunard and relate the whole story. I do not think anyone in physical distress should be told to endure for over 2 weeks.😖

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57 minutes ago, oceansandseas said:

He asked me how long I had the cough and I said "a few days after we left New York, so that was about November 13th or 14th". He was the Doctor. He said that he could not treat a cough until I had it for 19 days.   I then told him that I thought I had bronchitis. I do not remember his exact words, but he said to come back when I had the cough for 19 days.

 

When I went to Guest Relations on Celebrity Silhouette to ask for a doctor at 8pm or so, for what eventually appeared to be a minor problem, there was a doctor and a nurse, both having probably having other plans to spend their evening. "That's what we are here for, no need to apologize". After an hour or two, an IV, blood tests, 8 different medications, I was charged $660 where I expected an extra zero. So it surprises me that you got sent away with a "19 day story", as if that's a professional standard. I'm not a doctor but I do believe they should have done more.

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I could see the medical department being unwilling to prescribe an antibiotic for what could have been a viral issue.

 

DW spent some time in medical on our June westbound TA. They were helpful and professional (and the bill was around $660 for a similar course of treatment to what ABC received).

Edited by Underwatr

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7 hours ago, oceansandseas said:
 
 
This happened a few months ago. At the time I did nothing, but keep wondering what I maybe should have done, or who I should have talked to about this, and that is why I am asking the people on Cruise Critic. I did not want to complain too much in case they kicked me off the ship. I would like to know what others would have done if it had happened to them. Who would they have talked to. This will be long as I want to explain everything in detail.
 
However the "Coles Notes" is -
Double crossing from NY to SOU on Queen Mary 2 and then Caribbean
Got a bad cough 2 or 3 days out
Went to medical center and told Doctor that I thought I had bronchitis and needed an antibiotic
He said he could not treat me for a cough until I had it for 19 days
Coughed through the cruise but did not want to go back to him
By the time I flew home I was very weak
Went to my own Doctor and he said I had bronchitis and maybe even pneumonia, but to diagnose pneumonia I would have to get an x-ray. We could wait awhile and see if my health improved with the antibiotic.
I was sick and very weak for the month of December. 
My husband does not want to take me on another cruise in case I get sick again. 
 
Detailed of what happened. DH and I boarded Queen Mary 2 in Brooklyn on November 11, 2018 to cross to Southampton and then back to New York. We were also staying on for the 13 day Caribbean cruise which ended in New York on December 8, 2018. We are Diamond with Cunard and have just as many days aboard other cruise ships.
 
Two or three days out I started coughing.   The cough really got bad. On Saturday, November 17. 2018, I thought maybe I should see the Doctor.  Went to the Medical Center and talked to the nurse.  I told her I was taking Robitussin. I had the day and the night type which I had brought with me. She asked if it was helping.  I said that I did not know as I was still coughing a lot all day and all night. Some of the coughing spells were bad. She said that the only thing she could do for me was give me a cough medicine like the Robitussin that I was taking.
 
So the next week passed and I was still coughing.  Sometimes I would vomit a bit because of the coughing spells I was having. On 2 occasions I had to excuse myself from the dinner table. Robitussin all gone.  Not sure if it was helping or not. I therefore went to the Medical Center on the afternoon of November 24, 2018.  Walked to the counter.  A man was sitting at the desk, a man was standing behind and the nurse I had talked to a week ago was sitting at the far desk. I said that I would like to see the doctor. The man standing asked what was it about.  I mentioned that I had been there last week and talked with the nurse.  She remembered me.  He asked me how long I had the cough and I said "a few days after we left New York, so that was about November 13th or 14th". He was the Doctor. He said that he could not treat a cough until I had it for 19 days.   I then told him that I thought I had bronchitis. I do not remember his exact words, but he said to come back when I had the cough for 19 days.
 
(I have had bronchitis on a cruise ship or just after getting off, and antibiotics cures it in a week or so. Actually I have some form of cold or cough, it seems on every cruise we take.) I will not mention the one where I had Noro.
 
I told him that I was sick and he repeated that I should come back when I had the cough for 19 days. I explained that I was on the next cruise and by 19 days it would be nearly time to come home.
 
I should maybe explain that I a 74 year old female with white hair who is Canadian. Not slim, not thin, not fat and not chubby, just average.   I am short at 5 foot, 1 inch.
 
We continued our cruise.  I coughed all of the time.  When the 19 days came around, I decided not to go to the doctor. I would wait until we were home. I had low energy during the cruise.
 
We reached New York on December 8th and flew home that day. Short flight.  After we collected our luggage, I hardly had the energy to roll it. (Very unusual) I made it through the immigration hall but after that DH had to leap frog his and my luggage.  Shortly after we were at daughter's home.  I just sat on the chesterfield the rest of the day, going in and out of sleep. We were going to stay at our daughter's home for a week to do Christmas shopping, however the way I felt, we drove home on Sunday, December 9th. 
 
I was able to see my doctor on Monday, December 10th.  He listened to me breath and said it was Bronchitis. Possible that I had pneumonia. To  diagnose it as pneumonia, I would have to have x-rays taken. He gave me antibiotics and I was to check with him if I got worse or in 10 days to see how I was improving. After 10 days I was feeling a bit better so doctor just said to rest as much as I could and call him if I was not improving.
 
Therefore I was sick all of December. Was not able to decorate or do some of the things I usually do at Christmas. Many of the days were spent napping in my favourite chair.  I was able to make the family turkey dinner on Christmas Day, but then spent a lot of January with low energy.
 
So that is what happened.  My husband does not want me to suffer being sick again. I do love to cruise, but might not take anymore cruises. We have nothing booked and every time I think of booking something, remember the last one, and husband reminds me how sick I was after. What should I have done?

 

I too usually get ill in the winter when we travel.  I call it “hotelitis”. When we went on a QM2 Caribbean cruise from NYC, I got a sore throat the day before in NYC.  We bought a cheap humidifier that I put next to the bed so I could breathe in the moist air.  I was fine in the morning and carried the humidifier on board.  My doctor said to always get a balcony so that we can get fresh air.  So I didn’t need the humidifier on the ship.  I always carry a 10-day supply of an antibiotic in the winter.  It must be from the dry heat.  I too became ill in an inside stateroom on a QEII transatlantic crossing, so I took my meds.  A friend told me that docs will sprinkle water on the carpet, and put filled glasses of water around in the room, so I have also done that.  And running the shower with the door open will put moisture into the air.  I would suggest carrying antibiotics with you and take a compact humidifier!

 

You mentioned maybe getting a x-ray.  Have you had a CT scan? Since you have had bouts of bronchitis, you might have developed COPD which causes chronic coughing.  Just a thought.

Edited by dtwtraveler
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Sorry to hear about this.  Telling you to wait 19 days is quite simply bizarre and I would have thought extremely unprofessional.  Once, a couple of weeks before we were due to board the QM2 I developed a persistent cough.  I went to the pharmacist who did say that provided it got no worse I should just let it run its course.  Apparently it was 'doing the rounds' and most people recovered after about 3 weeks.  When I told him I was going on a cruise in under 2 weeks he did send me to the doctor who prescribed some low dose antibiotics.

This, of course, doesn't help or excuse what happened to you.  I suggest a strongly worded letter to Cunard and see what they have to say for themselves.  

Please let us know if you get a response.

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What concerns me is seeing that it happened 9 months ago why have you left it this long and now for some strange reasoning asking people on cruisecritic for advice. If you thought you had a legitimate complaint you should have contacted your TA or Cunard when you arrived home and not left it this long.

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I have asthma, and when I travel I always bring a course of antibiotics and prednisone just in case I get really sick. I have been seeing the same doctor for years, so he understands that I may need to self medicate on vacation. He makes sure I have plenty of what I may need, and reminds me to call him should I get badly ill. Perhaps doing this would allow you to travel easier.

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2 hours ago, majortom10 said:

What concerns me is seeing that it happened 9 months ago why have you left it this long and now for some strange reasoning asking people on cruisecritic for advice. If you thought you had a legitimate complaint you should have contacted your TA or Cunard when you arrived home and not left it this long.

 19 days thing is questionable ?

But why now bring this up ?

Your TA and Cunard would be of no help now .

 

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2 hours ago, Stella1250 said:

I have asthma, and when I travel I always bring a course of antibiotics and prednisone just in case I get really sick. I have been seeing the same doctor for years, so he understands that I may need to self medicate on vacation. He makes sure I have plenty of what I may need, and reminds me to call him should I get badly ill. Perhaps doing this would allow you to travel easier.

We experienced the same dilemma in the past on another line with improper medical care.

 

On the cruise, my DW experienced an injury on land and try to self-treat it on board for a day. The next day we went to the Medical Center and saw the Doctor/Nurse on duty. They offered very little care but we were at the tail end of the cruise and be home soon. The injury was not improving and was going to address it once off the ship.

 

After disembarking and settling in at home, we went to one of our physicians to seek treatment. Upon examination, she was directed to go directly to the emergency room at the hospital for a case of cellulitis. She was admitted for three days of IV Antibiotic treatment, which improved the injury rapidly and was what the injury needed on the onset (Antibiotics).

 

After settling in at home for a day or two, we contacted the Lines Corporate Offices to lodge a formal complaint on the care we received on the ship during the cruise. We were directed to their Risk Management Department. After many calls and suppling documentation from the doctor and medical center that treated my DW, she received Judaification for the care and cost of the medical treatment she received. Also ensured that the situation was going to be addressed on board the ship.

 

BTW… we too both take certain medication on board and on land based vacations in case of sickness or injuries. Our physicians are happy to write us prescriptions for medications to be filled and take on trip in case they are needed. Some ships do not stock certain meds to handle all cases.

 

Good luck and don’t leave this incident prevent sailing in the future. This incident happened quite a time ago and we have sailed many, many times since then and enjoyed the trips….   

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12 hours ago, Underwatr said:

I could see the medical department being unwilling to prescribe an antibiotic for what could have been a viral issue.

 

 

If the doctor doesn't know if it's viral or bacterial, he/she doesn't know if the antibiotic will work.  I can see the doctor recommending waiting a few days before throwing antibiotics at an unknown illness. The two most common illnesses that "go around" a ship are noro and the "cruise cough," both of which are viral and not helped by antibiotics. I've had Noro once (QEII) and the "Cunard cough" twice (QM2 and QE). Nothing to do but take care of yourself, rest, and ride it out. Perhaps the doctor's 19 day advice was meant to say that the illness had to run its course, but 19 days does seem a long time to wait before a return visit if you don't improve. 
 

For years, people would go to doctors and say "I have a cold, I want an antibiotic," and doctors would prescribe. Overprescription of antibiotics is how we got the antibiotic-resistant diseases we hear about now. No responsible doctor is going to hand over antibiotics simply because a patient thinks he/she needs them. I also question the practice of traveling with antibiotics. They aren't one size fits all, and even with a broad-spectrum antibiotic it may not work on whatever you might happen to come down with while you travel.

 

IF you have a chronic condition, that's a different situation. Your regular doctor knows your medical history (which a ship's doctor does not) and is in a position to give you "just in case" meds. 

 

Before I get off my soapbox, I want to  clarify one more thing. Dry air on a plane or ship does NOT give you a cold/cough. It makes your respiratory system more vulnerable to viruses in the air. This is why adding moisture to the air you breathe helps. Simplest way to do this is to buy saline nasal spray. Ever since I've started using it on a plane I have not come down with a cold after a flight. On the ship or in a hotel, stand in the shower with your face in the water and breathe in the steam.

 

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Coming up to flu season in the northern hemisphere, maybe all should have flu and pneumonia vaccination? 

 

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