Posted by: rachelanne229 | December 13, 2010

don’t do drugs, kids

an hour before i boarded the Delaware II, i slapped on a scopolamine patch behind my ear to ward off motion sickness.  i get motion sick just walking to my car, so i figured it was an important precaution if i didn’t want to make fast enemies with anyone who may come into my general vicinity.  the first two nites were good.  “wow, this is a piece of cake; i have conquered the motion sickness sissy within!” i exclaimed, as i lay in my bunk and drifted to sleep.  the patch was making my mouth so dry, i had to chug water like i was hydrating for a marathon, but i was just thrilled to be keeping it down.  especially since we were eating so well on this cruise.  the cook, a guy of only 25-30, was from maine, and man, could he make a good meal!  meatloaf, ravioli, pork, you name it– i ate it.  we did our science, and i consumed a lot of food, and all was well.

then wednesday nite hit.  my sense of nausea security was shaken as the captain issued orders to stand-by, which apparently means: grab hold of the closest pole or bar or sturdy crew member and cling on for dear life.  chairs flipped over backwards, tea cups slid off tables, people were slammed into each other in awkward positions.  the damn scopolamine was no match for the sea on this nite.  i raced from the galley, up the stairs, across the hall, down the stairs, across another hall, and finally into my stateroom!  the boat careened on its side and my belongings flew off my bunk and onto the floor.  the lockers were clanging and i clunked sideways into a metal bunk, and then front ways into the sink, and then stumbled back-first into the bathroom.  there was no way that sesame pasta was staying in place for longer than 7 more seconds.

i limped out of the bathroom with my head lolling to the side after an hour or so.  i went back to the galley to visit my fellow mainer, who was also a medic on the boat.  i pleaded with him to give me drugs to take me out of my misery.  dramamine preferably, but i guess i could accept vicodin or meth if that was all he had.  as i expected, this responsible soul would give me no drugs, so i stumbled back to my stateroom, peeled off my ear patch, and stuck on a new one on the other side.  after another trip to the bathroom that left me laying limply on the floor with my cheek perilously close to the toilet scrubber, i gathered myself up, brushed my teeth as best i could without driving my toothbrush through my throat in the midst of the bucking of the boat, and fell into bed.

i lay on my back, only to realize that i was bouncing up and down so much that my body was coming up off the bed.  i pushed my hands against the upper bunk to hold myself down and swore like a pirate in the hopes that the waves would sense my rage and calm the eff down.  the waves did not care, and so i rolled into fetal position and swore i would never let them put me in a place called the “anti-gravity room” again.  torture!  cruelty!  i would rather have a finger nail ripped out!

i caught my ipod in a mid-air bounce and put in my headphones.  a little josh groban would make me feel better!  i lamely whispered along to “february song” and then switched into incubus mode with “love hurts.”  i very much adore this song, and have a playlist with “love hurts” repeated 7 times because it is just so good.  after singing along for a few minutes, i slid into that limbo phase between wakefulness and sleep.

i began seeing wispy shapes made of smoke in my bed.  people, there were people in my bed, floating above my body!  there were people i’ve never met, but know by sight from daily mile, there were family members, there were people i went to elementary school with and played with on the swings, there was the first boy i kissed on the bus, a small group of kids that i just KNEW would be my own someday.  i was absolutely convinced that these wispy little smoke children were the future fruits of my womb.

then the smoke people faded away and a little blondie of a girl was standing next to my bunk.  i knew i was still awake, but she was just as real as could be.  this kid had tight curls and a pink ribbon, with a pink dress to match.  the little sweetie could only be 4 or 5, and she held out her arm to me.  she asked me to take her hand, and who was i to resist?  i remember smiling at her and thinking how soft her miniature fingers felt.  then BAM, her curls receded into a thick-skinned forehead and her baby grin turned into an evil scowl, and before i could do anything, the devil himself was pulling me out of bed.

if ever i have had a “what the mother-bleeping, holy shit” moment, this was it.  i bolted up in the bunk and  let out one of those breathy screams that happens when you are freakin’ terrified, but think you may have to scream again very shortly, so you don’t give it all you’ve got.  the devil vanished as quickly as he had come and i realized i had to get to sleep or i would be plagued with these insanity-laced hallucinations all nite.  later i would find out from the lead scientist that many people get “devil hallucinations” while on the patch, but the devil usually tries to lead them off the boat…  what?!  *gulp*

the next morning i awoke, feeling queasy, but happy that i had survived the nite without another visit from you-know-who.  i looked at my watch, only to realize that i couldn’t see the hands.  i thought i was just tired and bleary-eyed from the nite before, so i grabbed my phone to check the time.  nope, couldn’t see.  i revved up my computer and could hardly read the screen.  now i was starting to panic.  “dear heavenly Father, did the devil come back in the nite and possess me long enough to steal my vision?!  am i going blind?!  i am a graduate student– i need to be able to READ!  i will never eat a dozen cupcakes at a time again if you please make it stop looking like i have four hands!”

yet again, i fumblingly raced to the galley to visit the maine medic, who was preparing a delicious-smelling lunch, i might add.  the kind soul assured me not to worry because blurred vision and loss of focus were common side effects of the scopolamine patch.  “what is this malevolent super-drug?!” i cried.  i ripped the patch off with fury and dramatically threw it in the trash.  well, i tried, but it stuck on my finger and the boat bounced sideways so my entire arm got swallowed in the industrial-sized trash can filled with food waste from the trip.  i didn’t care though, because i was finally free of the ear patch’s death grip.  the only physical remnant of the scopolamine was a red circle on my neck behind my ear.  Maine Medic thought  it looked like a hickey, and i was glad my mom wasn’t there so i didn’t have to quickly shout, “it’s a burn from my straightener, i swear!”

my vision fully returned later that nite, and i was sick until the end of the trip, but i was content.  i happily chatted with the crew members about country music and deer meat and sons of anarchy.  i happily washed shrimp and jellyfish and worms out of nets and into sieves.  i happily recorded data from the water column meters and talked with the other grad student about running marathons.  life was good outside the grasp of that sticky little ear patch.

lessons: 1) stick to dramamine for your motion-sickness prevention needs. 2) do not hold the hands of strangers, even if they belong to little blond girls, and especially if you are laying in bed.



  1. What the fudge???? This story is almost too crazy to be true…I can’t believe you have had a hallucinatory visit from both your future children and el diablo disguised as a girl with ringlets! Why do they give this drug to people exactly? Is it somehow supposed to be better than dramamine or something? I’m glad you’re back on land Rachel, where you can more easily avoid the Smoke People…and Lucifer of course.

    • they give it to you because it’s non-drowsy. at least there’s that! hahah jeeez…

  2. Yikes, Rachel, stop in for a complementary exorcism the next time you drive through!! So glad you’re not hanging out with Davey Jones. Maybe stick on dry land for a bit.

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