How To Treat Eye Allergies In A 3 Year Old Eve on Isle Blanquilla

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Eve on Isle Blanquilla

Sailing east from the white sand beaches and clear blue waters of the Los Roques archipelago to Isle la Blanquilla, Venezuela can be like riding a bike through a tropical storm. More often than not, the wind and the current are against you to make a wet and bumpy passage. The etiology of my problems did not start with the trip, but some time later with an illness and a rude awakening.

In preparation for my trip, I anchored southwest of the Los Roques chain with a clear view of the lighthouse. This would give me a cliff-free route to the southeast, then east, only to die. Looking at the picturesque sunset before the darkness and the lighting of the lighthouse, I surprisingly found myself wishing that there was someone close to me. What a strange thought, but I knew I had the upper hand. I would have bet a few million, real Bolivars, about $2.00US, that this was the only navigation light that works consistently in all of Venezuela.

The wide surrounding beaches, coral heads and submerged reefs make the Roques a popular sunning and diving destination for mainland Venezuelans during the day. Because of its beauty and distance, it has occasionally been the backdrop for modeling agencies around the world. In my younger days, about a week ago, I would have had time for a refresher course in looking at the female anatomy. Anyway, I had to anchor, lie to myself, and think about all the beautiful women of Branquilla, knowing that it was essentially uninhabited, save for two Coast Guardsmen and a handful of hungry fishermen. The mind can play tricks on you at sea, so I periodically have a joke to catch up with.

Moving north and northeast winds would have kept me busy if the weather was a factor. It wasn’t, so I split the difference on a variable course of 90 degrees give or take a few degrees. I smiled as my ketch stretched its legs and plowed through the tiny 4 foot waves. My average lately has been about 6-10ft. The skies were sapphire blue and the cumulus clouds looked like delicately peeled cotton candy. I never wanted to see the land… until I put in the CD player “Noche de Arreboles” by Joe Arroyo and dreamed of Cartagena nights.

The lonely palm trees and the white beach on the west side of Blanquilla can be spotted over a mile out. I furled the main late as I knew the land would block my wind as I approached. To my surprise, I had to weave between a familiar sloop and an old schooner that were just on the shelf. Running further I dropped the hook in my favorite spot 200yds. west of the palm trees.

I recognized the sloop captain in Rude Rigin as an old groupie of mine. I’m out there… He followed me downwind from St. Kitts for 3 days doing a 2 in 2 off watch with his brother, constantly changing and adjusting sails just to see me better… He actually threatened to kill me on VHF and SSB radios for giving his wife the antibiotic wrong Unbeknownst to him, he continued to take it. Within three days, his Streptococcal pharyngitis improved dramatically and he was able to resolve his male needs. At this point he slid back, lowered a Kevlar wing (aged knee) on his wing-on-wing rig, stowed his lightweight racing spinnakers, and had to lower the RPM of his steaming diesel below the red line.

I woke up to the most obnoxious banging on my helmet I’ve ever heard. I thought @#%!, the Coast Guard couldn’t want beer and cigarettes this early in the morning! As I slowly rubbed my salty, burning eyes with a wet bandana I could make out the face of, you guessed it, Rude Rigin! “Mon you have to help me … me Ole woman is burn’n up. It’s like her on far, mon! “… He began to tell him a good antibiotic should take care of nicely, but he thought better. .

My beautiful island was gray and my morning was shot because of the current squall and Rude Rigin. I chased all my hatches, came out on a wet deck and stepped on lifelines, finally easing my way into Rude’s patch, or sleazy as he called it. As he rowed frantically with every hyperventilation, we slowly zigzagged toward the sloop.

On board, Minnie lay in the cockpit in obvious agony and extreme discomfort. – My beautiful girl, what happened to you? I said “I… I don’t know Doc. Help me please.” Turning around, looking for Rude to get his input, I eventually spotted a black dot far aft after the splash that he forgot to secure. I shake my head and turn my attention to Minnie. He looked slightly scalded, but all his vital signs were normal. “What were you doing when this happened?” “Nothing, I climbed on my boat and my head, face, and shoulders were on fire.” I asked, “What did you do before? Did you take any medicine or do you have any food that you are allergic to?” “No, sir, de Ole’s man and I were landed early in the morning and went to look for apples.” “There are no apples on this island, Minnie.”

The only possibility for the apples was if the American, who once built an airstrip and a small house there years ago, had brought a tree with him. However, it would need to be self-pollinating and there was very little chance of growing in this arid climate. Was Minnie slightly delirious from her suffering?

“Doc, there are apples in here just like my grandma used to make apple butter. You know… a small, green crabbyapple type.” “Have you tasted it?” “No, I tried to make me Ole man to taste them, but we didn’t have time before the squall started. I had undr de l’arbre while de Ole man took the fool. Then we returned to the boat, and I started to burn. just a little while.” “So… was your apple on the beach?” “Yes.” She pointed to the green and fluffy tree that she could only see in the rain and fog. It was much taller than the surrounding vegetation. This confirmed my suspicions instantly. I had seen this tree on a previous excursion while looking for black corals and crabs.

“Minnie, you’re lucky for me dear. Once you clean yourself up with soap and water, you’ll feel much better in 8 hours.” “Fortunately, your man Ole did not do what you suggested and eats, Manzanilla de la muerte.” “Huh…” “Yes! You guessed it.” “Little apple of death.”

Rude. You may ask?… It had been three days and there was no sign of him. Finally, on day four we heard a loud noise from the west and soon saw a tower of black smoke. The noise continued to intensify until the Coast Guard cutter arrived an hour later. All the soldiers of the narcotics task force on the bridge stretched the bow in dress uniforms commemorating their life-saving abilities. Rude was soon carried on a toss as the Venezuelan National Anthem played and soldiers saluted.

Apparently, he had recovered his raft, but lost his paddles in the excitement. As a result, he was found adrift near Isle Orchilla, a military compound, severely dehydrated and in a nearly deflated raft. Charged with spying, once he was able to take his first psychological test, all charges were dropped.

The Manchineel tree (Manzanella).

This is a beautiful tree that is usually found in tropical and subtropical, arid climates. It reminds us of “The Garden of Eden”. Beauty defies danger.

It can be found throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, Curacao and Bonaire. Curacao puts signs on them, the French Antilles paint red bands around them, but most often they are not marked.

Well known by ancient Caribbean tribes, its fruit was used to poison arrowheads and the leaves were used to contaminate the water of enemies. Early Europeans were said to have died due to the toxicity of this plant. Actually, there were no deaths reported at the time of my research.

This tree has waxy green leaves with a brown trunk and bushy branches very similar to many North American Melams. The fruit is green, sweet, if you want, and about 2cm in diameter. All parts secrete a white latex-type sap (big warning with any plant), so it is imperative that no part is touched. A surprising danger is that even standing under this tree with or without rain can cause symptoms. No part of this tree makes good firewood or firewood. Inhalation of smoke or putting it in the eyes can give rise to the same symptoms as direct contact.

While mortality does not seem to be of great concern, severe burning of the skin and internal organs, conjunctivitis (eye irritation and redness), blindness and internal bleeding can be significant results. If swallowed, there is burning of the mouth, throat and esophagus. Gastrointestinal bleeding, dysarthria and dysphagia (difficulty speaking and swallowing), and difficulty breathing are serious. There may be isolated cases where the heart rate and breathing are slowed down, this may represent an isolated phenomenon or be part of a histamine response (allergy).

The treatment is straightforward and almost too simple. Immediately wash the affected areas with soap and water and allow 8-12 hours for the symptoms to resolve if Manchineel is the definite culprit. Antihistamines (oral and topical) are used if there is no allergy to them. Flush eyes with sterile water if affected. As with any foreign substance, any signs of progression, an early anaphylactic reaction, visual difficulty, bleeding, or change in vital signs should be evaluated immediately by a qualified physician.

The author, Dr. Robin Minks is a neurologist and general practitioner, as well as a captain and world traveler. He served in the United States Navy and practiced medicine for over 27 years.

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