June 6, 2017
After spending a week in Palermo, Cefalu (on the north coast of Sicily) and the Aeolian Islands with our good friends Bill and Paty, the last hours turned into a fairly serious drama. We are not at all accustomed to medical emergencies on Serafina, but this morning when Paty decided to go for a last swim before leaving, the totally unexpected occurred. About 50 meters from the boat, she was badly stung by a group of jellyfish. Fortunately, a neighboring boat had its dinghy in the water and quickly pulled her out and returned her to Serafina, looking like she had been tattooed by a mad sadist over about 25% of her body. The angry red welts were obviously very painful, and we began to worry that her going into shock was a real danger.
After a few minutes indecision about what to do – after all, we were at anchor in a sparsely populated bay on the relatively remote island of Vulcano – we made an emergency cell call, answered in Italian by the Carabinieri. Struggling with the Italian, having to look up the word for jellyfish (medusa), we finally got the gravity of the situation across and they promised help. Within 15 minutes an ambulance appeared on the shore, and with the help again of our very good neighbors’ dinghy, the medics and their equipment were brought on board.
Fortunately, the story has a good ending. After starting and IV, and as antihistamines supplied, again, by the good Samaritans on the other boat, began to take effect, Paty began to improve, the shaking slowed and then stopped, and within an hour the welts began to subside.
It was an unsubtle reminder that nature can be a dangerous place. Do remember to check for jellyfish when you jump in the water! We had been swimming in the same bay for two days without problems, but obviously something had changed. Bill and Paty are now on their way to continue their trip through Sicily and Italy. We will miss them, we wish them well, and this is certainly a visit none of us will forget!