Bienvenido a Miami

The adventures of Carol Brown, representing Norwegian Cruise Line on a 6-month mission on the open sea to train the crew, explore new ports, seek new friends and experiences, and to boldly go where she has not gone before.

Miami, Florida

So much has happened since my last posting in April 2012.

I resigned from the cruise ship in May 2012 for a number of reasons including that I had been ill almost since joining the ship and I was bored. I function at a very high level and I found that I wasn’t spending as much time in the Learning Centre doing training as I wanted. I was spending more time in reception lines and on gangway duty than I was in the classroom. Additionally, there was a bit of an issue and I felt my resignation was the right thing to do to protect a fellow crew member’s job. That’s all I can say about that…for now.

Jose left ship shortly after I did in June. He had been injured on the job and was in a lot of pain. The pain in his neck, left shoulder, arm and hands were often unbearable for him. The ship’s doctor had sent him shore side in Belize and Rome to see doctors who took x-rays, MRI and other scans and the recommendation was for him to take pain medication for weeks on end as there was no surgical option to fix the problems they found with his neck and shoulder. He continued to work even though he was in pain. The ship decided to send him home on medical leave. Once I heard that, I knew that I would have to go to Nicaragua to be with him through this process so I got on a plane and spent eight hours waiting for him in the airport in Managua. That was June 13, 2012.

In Managua, Nicaragua, Jose was sent to see a battery of doctors including neurologists, neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons. On company orders, I was not permitted to attend these appointments with him so he went alone. He was subjected to more MRIs, x-rays, CT scans, nerve conduction tests, blood tests and physiotherapy. Despite the evidence presented from his visits in Belize and Rome, the doctors in Nicaragua would only say, “There is nothing wrong with you.” They would medicate him for pain especially during his visits to the hospital emergency department yet we would hear that same refrain.

During this time, Norwegian Cruise Line played a very hands-off role. We would send emails and make phone calls asking to speak to someone in Miami but often no response. The company representative in Nicaragua was incompetent and rude and treated Jose as if he were an animal. Jose would get very rude with the company representatives in Miami when he was able to make contact and it was often the only way we would get any action. We hired a Miami based lawyer who gave us advice and who would become our sole contact with the company but sadly, he is proving very ineffective.

Jose demanded to be sent to Miami so that he could be seen by better doctors and to have access to his lawyer. The company brought him to Miami in November. I arrived in Miami on January 4, 2013. We had tried to get a visitor’s visa for Jose to come see me in Canada but it was denied because he is in the US for medical investigation. I was almost denied entry into the US because the customs inspector got the feeling that I was planning to stay in the US. I reassured her that I would never switch living in Canada for living in the US. My husband (we got married in a simple ceremony in Nicaragua on July 28th) spent both Christmas and New Year in a hotel by himself without a friend or any family. His lawyer, who promised me he would “treat Jose like my own son” didn’t even call him through the holidays to wish him happy holidays. I’d love to fire him but he’d still get paid more money than he deserves.

Jose has been on medical since June 2012 and has not received a dime from the company since early October 2012. That would be fine except that he has a family, including 4 children to support. Sure they feed him while he sits in a hotel in Miami but the menu is limited, the food is not very good and his meal allowance is only $35US per day which includes 15% gratuity and taxes. So we eat one meal, usually dinner, each day because that is all the $35 will cover. Thankfully the groceries we buy sustain us for breakfast and lunch daily. Some of the hotel staff are quite rude and treat him as if he is squatting. They are nice enough to his Canadian wife however.

Since my arrival, Jose has been to see the same medical professionals as the ones he saw in Nicaragua. This time, I am welcome to attend with him. Those professionals have done the same tests that they did in Managua and all they have found is a small compressed disc in his neck, a touch of bursitis in his left shoulder and a small carpal tunnel tear in his left hand. Still no explanation as to his pain and the weakness he feels in his left arm. He has more doctors to see and occupational therapy to do so it looks as if we’ll be in Miami for at least another five weeks.

The voyage continues…

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