There is a good chance that Brent and I could win an award for the most combined medical injuries as children. From broken bones and stitches to several surgeries- we both gravitate towards the label: accident-prone. It’s truly a miracle our children haven’t followed closely in our footsteps (though Miller is showing some genetic links!)
That said, you’ll understand why both of our moms were more than a little concerned at the idea of us living on a boat. In their minds, we’d be far from medical help. And, naturally, they assumed we’d need it.
Combine that with the very obvious challenge of having a kid in braces, and you’ll understand why a question I field often is:
How do you handle all of the medical stuff when you live on a boat?
I wish I could say, “I have no idea.” While I’m far from being a subject matter expert, unfortunately, we’ve had more than one medical emergency. And of course, we’ve needed to figure out how to manage routine medical appointments.
To jump in, I’ll tackle the more routine medical questions.
First, we stocked our boat from Day 1 with all the medical paraphernalia that we kept on hand in a house. We have a cabinet full of bandaids and other first aid supplies. Our boat has everything from vitamins to Motrin to allergy medicine. I have also been careful to always have Gatorade, packets of Liquid IV and chicken noodle soup.
I’m very happy to say, we haven’t needed to use many of the medical supplies…Not counting bandaids!
However, we do use some supplies for seasickness. Thankfully, none of us struggle all the time, but we’ve all had our moments during some rough weather. Ginger Chews work the best. But we also make sure to have GingerAle and Dramamine on hand.
Planning ahead with medical supplies is key, especially if you are particular about brands. Instacart made life so much easier as we traveled around the Loop. There were probably only a handful of days that we were so remote that we could not have gotten a delivery.
As far as routine appointments, we’ve kept all of our Charlotte doctors. Thankfully, we’ve been able to schedule time there regularly enough. Our orthodontist’s office is amazingly flexible with us as they understand what we’re doing. Often, we change our schedule last minute, and they’ve always accommodated.
Yes, Mary Grace has gone extra-long between a few appointments with the orthodontist. However, for the most part, she’s right on track. Same with our dentist, and other yearly appointments. Most of our doctors have applauded our efforts to give our kiddos an extraordinary experience in the midst of crazy times.
Obviously, our medical back up plan if we’re ever unable to make it to Charlotte is to use a walk-in clinic. Again, we’re incredibly thankful we’ve not needed that option.
Unfortunately though, we have experienced two medical emergencies while living on the boat.
First, Brent pretty much cut his finger off last summer. It was terrible and really scary. You can read more about the specifics in my post, The One With The Emergency Room. Since I’ve already written all about it, I won’t rehash the event here. Ultimately, Brent was able to get the help he needed relatively easy.
Two things made the situation easy for us: we were at a marina in the middle of nowhere so they left keys right in their courtesy cars. And we had friends close by to help with the kids (Thanks Chasing 90!)
In hindsight, if we hadn’t been so lucky with the car and friends we did have other options. The marina owner lived on property. There were also tons of other boaters with personal cars at the marina. The boating community is incredible and will do just about anything to help someone in need. A last resort would have been calling a non-emergency help number.
It’s comforting to know that 911 and the Coast Guard are always worst-case scenario options!
Our second medical emergency happened this summer on Hilton Head Island. This particular incident was not as clear cut (pun intended) on how to handle it. Miller ran full speed into a tree. (Yep, remember being accident prone runs in our family.) It took us about an hour to evaluate his injury.
His whole face was scratched, bruised and swelling (I’m sparing you the really gory pictures!) His arms were also badly scraped. And he was covered in dirt that turned to mud as the tears fell. Brent and I breathed a sigh of relief when we realized all of his teeth were still in place, and no bones appeared to be broken.
We stuck him in the bathtub, and worked hard to keep him calm as we tried to clean him up.
It didn’t really occur to us that he might need medical attention until he threw up. It was hard to know if it was just from being hysterical or possibly something more serious. This particular injury occurred right as the Delta variant was at its peak. Understandably, we were hesitant to take him to an ER if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.
After some debate, we decided our best option was to let a telehealth doctor direct us. She was super helpful and determined that Miller likely did suffer a slight concussion. However, enough time had passed that she did not think it was in our best interest to go to the ER. We were given instructions NOT to wake him up every 2 hours. Great news that concussion protocol has changed!
Unfortunately, the doctor pointed out that we’d likely need to seek actual treatment for the huge piece of bark stuck under his finger. She gave us some suggestions for soaking it over the weekend, but said we’d need to see a doctor if it wasn’t out by Monday.
Sure enough, Monday we ended up in Urgent Care. The doctor was quite impressed with the extent of Miller’s injury and his brave attitude. It was an ordeal removing the bark. None of the medical staff had ever seen anything like it.
Miller was incredibly relieved to have the whole incident behind him!
Our takeaways from this emergency were very similar to the last one. We had access to help and a car. We’re comforted realizing that just because we’re living on a boat, doesn’t mean we’re compromising safety. While it’s not possible to plan for every single scenario of things going wrong, the reality is that things work out when they do. And now, fingers crossed we don’t need to experiment with medical care for a while!
One thing worth mentioning, is that we currently do not have a satellite phone or handheld Epirb. These are two things we have debated, and would certainly consider more carefully if we ever plan to boat in more remote locations without others. For now, I think they are an extra, but I do know some other boaters who disagree and think they are necessary for emergencies.
As always, thanks for following along on our crazy adventures. You might also enjoy reading:
The One About Holidays on a Boat
How To Be Prepared For A Hotel Emergency
The One WIth The Carbon Monoxide Alarm
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I always think life on a boat, what a cool adventure! I didn’t even think about medical emergencies and how you would handle them.
It’s been such a cool adventure. I can be a worrier so I needed to know I could handle anything before agreeing to live on the boat. I’m not sure I’m ready for crossing an ocean or anything crazy like that!
I am so proud of you because you are able to overcome every accident that you encountered with your family.
And I agree that you must be prepared in everything most especially in terms of medical emergencies.
I am so glad both medical emergencies turned out as well as possible. It is so nice to have friends to help out when you need them. Keeping a few basic first aid supplies on hand is for sure a great idea no matter where you are.
Definitely! We learned a lot time ago that it’s always best to be over prepared with kids. There’s nothing worse than having to run out in the middle of the night for medicine, or feeling sick and not having the right food.
Thank goodness for Instacart and Telehealth eh?!
Right? The fact that so many things have needed to go remote or delivery has been super convenient for us!
It’s good to have supplies on hand wherever you live. Thanks for sharing your unique perspective.
Absolutely agree! I tell people ALL the time that we truly live very similarly on the boat as we did in a house.
We haven’t had any hospital worthy injuries yet, thankfully. But it’s always good to be prepared!
Definitely good to be prepared, especially as the mama!
so very needed to be prepared with supplies all the time.. and i am sure that clear cut incident you mention must have been an ordeal.. i recall my son had an injury with a possible concussion as well during PE a couple of years ago and it was a stress filled few hours until we knew it was all ok
That would definitely give me anxiety. It sounds like you are as prepared as possible. That is great that you can work in appointments with the orthodontist as well; I feel like I am there all the time!
You guys are living such an adventure. Medical supplies are so needed!