John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Monday 20 February 2017

[Sunday 19 February 2017]

Mekong Cruise, Vietnam
RV La Marguerite, Vietnam

The Daily Cruiser

During the night, I found that I had diarrhoea, and had to go to sit on the loo repeatedly. Janet recalls needing the toilet herself ca.4am and finding me sitting there. We’d planned to get up at 7.30am, because the first excursion would commence at 8.30am. But when that time came, Janet suggested that I give it a miss, and she decided to do the same; she didn’t want, say, to join P and Y ashore and worry about me still aboard. She finally got up at 9.30am, too late to go for breakfast. My gut was too “parlous” and the need for a nearby toilet so urgent that I stayed where I was too. Tomorrow was disembarkation day, so Janet decided to pack as much as she could, finishing by ca.11am. “I… went to the Saigon Lounge for a lime and soda,” Janet wrote, “then a big ‘decaff’. I saw Y and P when they returned from that morning’s tour and updated them, then returned to our cabin. It was just after 12 and I was hungry. [John] was not much improved despite taking a day’s dose of ‘Big D’ tablets,[i] so I went to the shop to see if there was anything there. I went to the shop to see if there was anything there. There wasn’t, so I went to reception and was given two lots of medication: four tablets and two powders, and two sachets of ‘dehydration’ powder. It was around 12.30pm by then. I’d spoke to Jason[ii] who was marvellous and suggested all sorts of stuff, which I declined at that point. [John] took two tablets, one powder, and one ‘dehydration’ powder, got into bed, and I went for lunch. In there Jason again offered help, then so did ‘our’ lovely waiter,[iii] which I declined again on [John’s] behalf. I joined Y and P, and had my usual lunch: much better. I returned to the cabin at ca.1.30pm. [John] was no better, and asked me to find out when he could take the second lot of medication. I searched out Jason, and he said not until six hours after the first lot, and that [John] should eat something to aid recovery. So he arranged for something, and about 10 minutes after I’d returned to the cabin ‘our’ waiter arrived with a small bunch of those bananas (tiny and thin-skinned and unlike any I’d had anywhere else), a packet of crackers, and some ginger tea. Everyone was simply marvellous. Very impressive. They couldn’t do enough for us.[iv] Wonderful people. He ate and drank, shaved, and returned to bed. It was after 2pm by then. I grabbed my stuff then went up to the sun-deck and updated Y and P, who’d also opted out of the afternoon’s excursion to Cai Be. Then I had 10 minutes on the exercise bike — I discovered that I was hyperventilating with stress — before going to the Saigon Lounge for a lime and soda, then a big ‘decaff’. I… updated this [journal entry]. At 3.15pm I returned to the cabin as I was just too tired to read. I set the alarm clock and lay on the bed for a couple of hours, but couldn’t sleep.… [John] was no better. At ca.5pm I had a shower and a change of clothes. At ca.6.30pm I set off for the Saigon Lounge.… I was looking at the dinner menu, when Jason appeared and asked how [John] was. I updated him, and along with Dary ‘our’ waiter (we’d no idea he was the manager of the restaurant!), we organised food to be delivered later to [John], so that he could take the second lot of medication not on an empty stomach. I went up to the Saigon Lounge.… I was just in time for the Disembarkation Briefing by ‘Stephen Hawking’ and we were dismayed to be told that cases had to be outside our room by 6.30am, and we had to check out at 7.45am. I returned to the cabin and [John] was having some food.” I had a dressed salad, some soup which I had despite a hint of a disagreeable smell or taste (I realised later that it was fish), and I ate a bit of the rare-to-medium beef steak that had also been brought. I’d have eaten more of this, had it not been for a mouthful of something else from the plate, which made me start to retch, and left me feeling nauseous. (I also had some soda water to drink.) Then I managed to take the rest of the medications without bringing them back up again, and returned to bed. “I went for dinner,” Janet wrote. “I was very hungry. Enjoyed the meal.… I realised I’d have to get the second case packed, strapped, and both of them padlocked for the morning, so I was back in the cabin before 8pm.[v] I did all I could, then got into bed just after 10pm. [John was still] the same; I prayed he’d be OK.”
[i] When I started with the symptoms of diarrhoea I took a couple of 2mg Loperamide Hydrochloride capsules, following the instructions on the packet: “After the first loose stool (bowel motion) take 2 capsules with water. After each loose stool, take 1 capsule.… Do not take more than 8 capsules in any 24 hours.” According to Janet’s journal I’d now taken the full permitted dose.
[ii] Jason Locsin, “Hotel Manager”
[iii] Dary Tep, actually “maître d’”, according to The Daily Cruiser for 14 February 2017; but as far as we were concerned, he was the very efficient and agreeably cheeky waiter who served us at our table.
[iv] They couldn’t do enough for us — i.e. they wanted to do more.
[v] 8pm — conjectural emendation: the Ms. has “6pm”; but according to The Daily Cruiser, the “Farewell Gala Dinner” was not till “7.30pm”.

[Tuesday 21 February 2017]

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