When Joyous Occasions Turn Sour: How I Coped

Written by John Willey
Written by John Willey

I have a wife and two kids. I have a blog called "Daddy's in Charge?" where I come to the realization that my two boys have way more power than I do.

Boy sitting on a dock

What was supposed to be a joyous occasion became anything but that. A performance of Hercules was kicking off our four day Disney cruise to the Bahamas when all of a sudden our hearts sank. A family getaway years in the making, and our trip was being cut short only two hours out to sea.

I can still hear the panicked screams of my wife as my son was sitting on my lap not breathing and turning blue. As we raced out of the theater not knowing what was going on my only thought was that my son was going to die. We laid his convulsing body down on the floor outside of the theater and were promptly met by the boat's paramedics. Every parents worst nightmare was happening, only mine was on a boat headed to the Bahamas.

Eventually my son stopped seizing and, while completely groggy, became somewhat responsive. While hooked up to an IV in the ship's medical center, his little body began to breathe again and the color returned to his face. While all of that was a good sign, we were left wondering what the hell just happened. One minute he's a happy little child filled with life, the next he's seemingly dying right before our eyes.

Thankfully that didn't happen.

Our son had shown signs of a cold before we left on our trip, but nothing too much out of the ordinary. Certainly it wasn't something so serious that it was going to cause us to cancel our trip. We treated him with the usual assortment of fever reducers like we have in the past and thought that it would be a great idea to let him go swim in the pool to help keep his body temperature down. Looking back that was probably a huge mistake.

The ship's medical staff took a chest x-ray where it was determined that my son had a febrile seizure brought on by pneumonia. PNEUMONIA?! What kind of parents would take their child on a cruise to the Bahamas with pneumonia? What kinds of parents would let their child swim in a cold pool with pneumonia? Parents that had no idea what febrile seizures were and quite possibly the worst parents on the planet. If only we knew.

The doctor decided that they didn't have the ability to treat my son on board the boat and that the only option we had was to evacuate the ship and get to a hospital. Two hours out to sea and we somehow had to get back to the mainland. We had two options... we could either have a helicopter come and pick us up, or the Captain could turn the boat around and head back to port. I don't completely remember how the decision was made, but I do remember having a conversation about travel insurance. After much discussion it was decided that they were turning the boat around and getting us back to shore.

We were met at the docks by an ambulance who took us all to the local hospital where more tests were run. They concluded as the ship's doctor did that my son did have a seizure brought on by a spike in body temperature. While the doctors convinced us that these kinds of seizures are pretty benign and that there is no lasting effects on the child's brain, when you see something like this for the first time you don't know what to think. Nobody wants to see their child suffering, especially trapped on a boat out in the Atlantic Ocean.

While everything turned out OK for us, our trip was ruined. Our son got the medical help that he needed which is the most important thing, but our dream cruise ended up heading to the Bahamas without us. I can't help but think what would have happened to us if the timing was any different. What if we were four hours out to sea? What if we were already in the Bahamas and they couldn't care for him. What if this was something that was more severe and we had to get evacuated by helicopter? What if this happened before the trip and we had to cancel it altogether.

You just never know.

That's why when we go on vacation now we always get some level of travel insurance, especially when we go overseas. Depending on the type of insurance, you can cover anything from lost luggage, to being evacuated back to the United States in case of a medical emergency. And since something like that can cost upwards of $50,000, while it may seem extreme and unnecessary, you can have the peace of mind knowing that your trip won't be completely ruined because of a huge out-of-pocket payment. Our costs in the cruise ships medical center were not covered by our own health insurance. Had we had the proper level of travel insurance they would have been.

It's important to talk with your Trusted Choice® Independent Agent to find out what kind of coverage you might need whether you are traveling to the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, or if you are going on a cruise with your family to the Bahamas. Anything can happen at any time.

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