My least favorite part of the 'go back to work hustle' are the physicals.
I swear that Mariners get their pee collected more than any other profession. (The only exception I can think of would be airline Pilots.)
Here's the thing. Sailors are notoriously unhealthy. Shipping companies (and the USCG) now have stringent medical criteria and require extensive medical testing.
As I lay there in my little hospital gown getting an EKG with sticky pads all over my chest, arms and legs (ahem, Sailor Gentlemen you should be happy you don't have boobies) I thought, 'maybe the maritime community is going about this all wrong'.
Since turning 18 I've had more EKGs than I can count. I mean, in twelve years I've had at least eight. I've also had copious amounts of other tests done. Blood drawn, shots given (I've received a small pox vaccination which is rare for someone my age...I've also had four rounds of Anthrax), and peed in more cups than I can count.
What's weird is that when I was able to bend over and touch my toes today the nurse seemed genuinely surprised. I mean, are mariners THAT out of shape?! Is being able to touch your toes no longer the norm?
Recently, I had a mariner who was so morbidly obese that his legs were bowed.
The increased physical standards are certainly warranted. Can you imagine having to provide emergency medical care at sea? Can you imagine being medevaced with West Africa being your nearest medical facility?
Where exactly do you think we're going wrong then, you ask? I think we need to remember how logical, how simple, and how cost effective preventative medicine truly is.
How much did my EKG cost today? I couldn't tell you. But what if I was allowed to take the money spent on my EKG and supplement my food budget or what if it went to a training program to help provide Stewards and Cooks with food science courses to promote more healthful menu options.
What if during this rotation I ate quinoa and fresh vegetables? What if for breakfast I was offered a Vegan green smoothie? What if carrots and hummus were available for a snack?
Nautie Friends, I do apologize for the rant but can I please tell you how stupid it feels to lay there getting an EKG when you know the likely hood your first shipboard meal will either be Chili Dogs or Mac & Cheese is incredibly high?!