Crew Stories: I never received proper treatment from the ship’s doctor

Oct 21, 2019

After a few years on the ship, you really start to wonder what is the purpose of life there? Is it really all about the money? Is it really possible that people can be treated like cheap motor parts? The answer is yes. Yes, it is, it`s like that. No matter how rich the company is or how good you are at your job, you will always be replaceable.

I`ve seen a lot, from people falling (and the security is looking at what kind of shoes they are wearing, not the injury, and unfortunately I know it from my own experience) to people dying from heart attacks caused by stress and inhuman way of living. My case is now not that bad, but at the moment it happened, it was quite dangerous.

Imagine, it`s your first contract, you have no idea where you are, how you are surviving, you barely know where is your cabin, and where you work. You have no idea what your supervisor is doing and who is above him. People passing by, but you really can`t even remember their faces (it`s a river of people!). People are talking to you and you have no idea are they your bosses, what is their position, rank, how many stripes they have (what is a stripe??)… So, all confused and nauseous from all the working hours in the previous two months, finishing the shift, it`s about 9 pm and I see my hand is getting swollen. First, the finger and then the whole hand, the swelling is spreading fast and now whole hand is red and i have no idea what is happening. Yes. This is what happened to me.

So, all confused with the current situation, I ask the supervisor is that normal? He is looking at my hand a little bit confused, realizing how dangerous it can be (and how much paperwork he has to do if this is something that happened in the working hours in the working place, as it did) and telling me to do my ILO and go to my cabin and wait to midnight and then, if it`s not getting better to call the doctor. Completely scared and mind blown with what is going on with me, I obey and do what he told me to do.

At midnight, I go to the medical center and ring the bell. By accident, there was a nurse that helped me out, took me in and called the doctor to see my hand, because it was really swollen and red and it looked very abnormal. After that, I have no idea what happened, even the day after I couldn`t remember what happened, what they gave me, what they said…it was all a blur. Since the situation wasn`t really good, the hand was normal the day after, but the finger of the left hand was still big and abnormal. We were doing Scandinavia, and I was sent outside to be checked by medical. My agent left me in the middle of nowhere, in some kind of hospital in one of the cities where no one speaks English. They told me I should pay, as far as I understood (but I wasn`t charged), so they took my home address and the bill came there. The doctor was a little bit concerned, but he said that the pain and physical abnormality will pass. Ok, I got some antibiotics, very strong, to drink as I did.

Until the end of the contract, my finger didn`t change. After 5 years my finger didn`t change, either. They all assured me that it`s all good and it will just come back to its place in time. Well, that never happened.

I never got a diagnose or proper treatment, they just said it`s going to pass. I still remember the name and the face of the supervisor that was in charge in the officer mess at that time (we called him Mourinho, because it rimed with his surname and he had the same name as the football player) and all this years working in the company I really hoped I will see him again and just show him what kind of consequences for neglecting the injury at work can be. This is not a small thing. If I just forget the pain that I`ve been through - real, physical pain, I can say that I needed years to get used and to accept the fact that my finger is going to be distorted for the rest of my life - the mental pain was much bigger, especially when I added to it the fact that not even one manager cared about this and they just let me work with infected, broken or “who knows what finger”…This is the point, I never got a diagnose, I was never treated properly and this is THE ONLY thing that stopped my finger to heal properly.

Once I asked the doctor to give me the list of the medicines that they gave me at that time and looking at it, I realized that I got only antibiotics and pain killers. And keep in mind that I got this without a diagnose, just with good hope of the doctor that goggles the illness that everything will turn out fine.

Looking from this perspective, after 5 years survived on a cruise ship, I am wondering if I made the right decision – not suing them? From here, I can also say that I would react completely different with this experience, I would never let them fool me like that and leave me literally handicapped, just because the management decided that that night a drink or two was more important than someone’s finger, hand or life.

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