The clock was about to strike midnight and the pain simply didn’t decrease. I lay helpless on the small twin bed inside our cruise cabin, with Dina sitting on hers just across from me. She looked patiently at me and sometimes at my knee, which was propped with pillows to ease the pain. After almost two full days of shooting weddings and putting extra pressure on my knee, it was hurting badly. Sleep escaped me and I could think of nothing else, but the shocking pain in my knee. Ice . . . that would really help . . . and maybe bringing some pain medications to the cruise! Without many options as to where to get ice I dialed the number for medical staff on the cruise. “There will be someone at the office, and in about ten minutes you can pick up the ice,” was the answer I got . . . except there was one minor thing . . . the office was on one of the lowest decks of the ship. I hung up and looked at Dina . . . she knew that it would have to be her going to search for the ice. Trying to remember the specific location the nurse described to me, I retold to Dina as carefully as I could . . . down a deck, make a left, walk several feet, then make a right. Sounded simple enough to both of us. I lay there in pain watching the low ceiling, wishing for the coolness of the ice, and that our cell phones would work on the ship.
Twenty minutes past. Thirty. Where could she be? Forty five. My heart started beating faster. Fifty five. I hopped to the door on one foot and opened it to the dead silence which lay just behind it. I cared little about ice and pain at this moment, all I could think of was Dina and how in the world am I going to find her on this huge cruise ship. After standing in vain in the hallway, I hopped back to the bed and lay there twice as helpless as before. 1 a.m. After examining the ceiling for the thousandth time and praying that I would see Dina tonight, I heard footsteps in the hallway and a brisk opening of the door. Ah Dina, and who cares about the ice! Trying to catch her breath from running up and down decks, she headed to the bed and after sitting down told the story. ” I don’t know what they meant, but I looked through every deck and there is no medical center on this ship.” She went down all the way to the bottom deck and even to the hold of the ship, where the cargo is kept, the hallways are barely lit and it’s cold and frightening . . . and there was no ice pack waiting for me anywhere. My heart sunk after hearing the story and imaging my sister in the dark hallways of the ship, but she was now here with me and her presence was better than any coolness of ice. Maybe land vacations are not a such a bad idea after all.
The past weekend (I’m writing a little later after the fact) has kind of been like that long night on a cruise ship, except this time it was my sister Dina in pain and I was the “nurse.” What I thought would be a simple teeth surgery, has nocked out all the strength out of Dina and added a ton of unbearable pain and many sleepless nights. I truly wish I could have done something heroic like run to the basement and find some ice for her, but instead she asked for the small things. The ice pack that’s in our freezer. Something to drink. An extra blanket. Lights off. For me to sit there with her. Then one morning she asked . . . well for something that wasn’t found in out kitchen . . . and I gladly got it for her, as if I was the medicine in the hold of the ship.