Cruising and tossing cookies
The best way to lose weight on a gourmet, calorie-packed 12-day cruise is to start throwing up before you even get on the ship. After making the long drive to Leadville and a longer drive to Denver the next morning in a blizzard (all thanks to United Express not supplying oxygen on their Denver hop), after the plane to Houston and a two-hour van ride from hell with 15 passengers squashed into a 10-passenger vehicle, I arrived at our hotel in Galveston with my back on fire and brand-new spasms in my right groin, infirmities quickly followed by puking up my night pills.The next day I kept down a tiny breakfast, but had a claw of nausea at the base of my throat, which radiated ominously. Waiting to get on the boat, my daughter Hillery and her husband Bruce had to split off into a different line, and standing there I felt the blood drain out of my head and had two simultaneous thoughts: I’m going to faint, and oh my God, I’m having a heart attack.One thing I knew was that if I said one word about the latter suspicion, the trip would be over. I also knew that if it turned out to be true, there would be no facilities on board to deal with it. On the other hand, 85 percent of suspected hearts attacks are false, pretty good odds for any gambler. Then, too, there was the matter of money, a whole lot of money, and all that time spent at the computer and dealing with plane reservations on hold to people in India, plus the very appealing prospect of almost two weeks off oxygen.Surely the warm salt air would cure a little case of indigestion and being free of my oxygen pack would cure my back.I had to stop and throw up seconds before leaving for the lifeboat drill and that evening. While Bruce and Hillery were dining on poached hummingbirds’ tongues and chateaubriand in the gala dining hall, I was in my room with cottage cheese and breadsticks, trying to make a nest for myself on a bed of sprung springs by folding the hefty bedcover into a sleeping pad.”Oh, you must have gotten a BLUE mattress,” the kids’ room attendant explained a couple of days later. The shipment of blue mattress had looked wonderful, but in a couple of months the springs popped out of them. Sure enough, investigation showed I had a dreaded blue mattress.I didn’t dare dip into my Vicodin for the back pain that night lest it increase the nausea claw, now exacerbated by the rocking of the ship. I checked the expiration date on my nitroglycerin: uh oh, 1/2005. I couldn’t read or watch TV, so just lay there trying to find a pain-free position, fantasizing about airlifts and burials at sea.The next evening I took my first ship excursion to the clinic where, for $350, anti-nausea drugs were mainlined into my bloodstream. I hobbled back to my room with Pepto Bismol, nausea pills, Gatorade and Tylenol with codeine for my back.My back didn’t get much better, despite a later excursion to the acupuncturist, but the nausea stopped, and with it the heart attack symptoms. My sweet room steward built up the bed with a folded mattress pad (the last one, small wonder) and extra blankets, the sun came out to warm my balcony and four days into the trip I began to feel somewhat human.I never did get my full appetite back but hey, I lost four pounds!Su Lum is a longtime local who will write about the good times. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused untold amounts of suffering and disruption, and we’ll probably tell those stories for the rest of our lives.