The Emetic Chronicles: Part 1

I have written a lot of blogs for Authentic Medicine that are intense and at times, controversial. I’ve decided to add a bit of levity.

Several years ago, I was a ship physician for a major cruise line. I’m a nomadic doc and can become very unhappy when I begin to feel stagnant. I decided to apply for this particular job because I would be able to travel to and explore different countries on someone else’s dime as well as enjoy many perks. I must admit, I had some ambivalence, knowing that I am prone to motion sickness. However, the excitement of a new journey was so tantalizing that I made the choice to take the risk. My intent was to blog my experiences to my family and friends about the glorious trip. Unfortunately, that did not occur as my seasickness became the primary focus of my journey. Knowing that no one in their right mind would be interested in the frank details of my ill-fated adventure, I decided to create a spontaneous, whimsical, humorous story about my emetic saga using medical(and slang) terms to create a visual. One letter subsequently led to a series. This was the first “episode”.

Hey All,

Sorry that it’s taken me a while to get in touch, I’ve been intimately involved with Ralph for the last 24 hours. We’ll get to him later. 

It seems that there are a lot of “unusuals” occurring since my arrival. It was “unusual” that I had my first patient as soon as I arrived on the ship. The doc I was replacing had one foot outside and the other in a sprinting shoe; she left in no time flat. Of course, I had on my street clothes and no equipment­. Everything was locked up in my room which, of course, I had no access to since my key did not work. Nevertheless, the patient was tended to and I went on with my day. 

Soon after notifying Sis and Mom how beautiful the water was and how well I was doing, I was slapped into reality by the vigorous waves of the Pacific Ocean. My legs were left somewhere at the outlet of Puget Sound. Apparently, this bumpy ride was also “unusual”, as the ship’s captain also became ill. Shortly after our exit out of the Sound, I was joined by Ralph. He was the boyfriend I never wanted and wish never to see again. Despite my miserable state, I had to attend a mandatory safety meeting. I was assisted to the meeting place by leaning heavily on the ship’s entertainer and pianist, Darren, who took pity on my weaving, bobbing state and hideous appearance. I collapsed on the nearest chair, laid my head on the table and asked for a bag into which I could release my gastric contents. After the initial snickering of a few crew members about the irony of seasickness in the ship physician, someone kindly brought me an 80-gallon garbage can in which to spew. Apparently, this unnerved the safety officer who asked me to leave before I began retching, fearful it would begin a massive chain of purgatorial events from the other crew members. I gratefully left to go back to my room where again that no-good Ralph promptly joined me. Later, I performed my duties as ship physician by my sheer physical presence, ­which was all I could muster. My lead nurse, a nine year nautical nurse and an angel, handled everything and everybody. I simply signed what she brought me, my usual precautionary and meticulous behavior went AWOL, along with my legs. Her husband, the chief engineer and apparently amateur psychiatrist, stated that I should be more positive and that my seasickness was all in my head. I nearly placed what was in my head all over his shiny shoes.

Presently, I feel better now that the waters have calmed and we are nearer to the port of Juneau, Alaska. I will attempt to eat something after I complete this update. I tried room service last night and received a recording that someone would be with me shortly. Shortly became an eternity. I subsequently chewed some saltwater taffy downed with sips of water which has remained, thus far, in my stomach. Ralph is gone for now but I have an uneasy feeling that he will visit me yet again upon my return home. Until then,

Bon Voyage(but not Bon Appetit), 


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Natalie Newman MD

Dr. Natalie Newman is a residency-trained, board-certified emergency physician who has been practicing for over 20 years. She graduated from California State University in Sacramento, California with a degree in Biological Sciences. She then attended medical school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio on an Army scholarship. As a graduating senior, Dr. Newman was presented with the Marjorie M. and Henry F. Saunders award for her compassionate care of patients within the family structure. After her graduation, she was accepted into the Emergency Medicine Residency at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York. Upon her graduation, Dr. Newman entered active duty service with the U.S. Army. Her first assignment was at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During her stint in the Army, Dr. Newman was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina(formerly Yugoslavia) where she was Chief of the Emergency Department at Eagle Base in Tuzla, Bosnia. She had the honor of serving under the command of Colonel Rhonda Cornum(now a retired brigadier general), a urologist, pilot and former prisoner-of-war during the Persian Gulf War. While in Bosnia, and as the only American female physician in the Balkans at that time, Dr. Newman was assigned as the official physician for Queen Noor of Jordan during a humanitarian visit to a local hospital in Bosnia. After her return home to the U.S., she was promoted to Major and completed the rest of her Army service at Fort Bragg. Dr. Newman subsequently returned to her home state of California. She has worked in rural facilities, community hospitals and trauma centers. She has also served as a ship physician for a major cruise line and also provided physician services at the Coachella/Stagecoach Festival in Indio, California for three years. Dr. Newman participates in public speaking engagements discussing the value of education, of which she is passionate. She continues to practice clinically as a traveling physician.

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