Apr 04 2008
We were supposed to be on our way to Amelia Island to celebrate our 10th anniversary in a wonderful seaside lodge. Instead, I found myself firmly planted on the sofa in boxer shorts massaging a three-day-old beard and gathering up the strength to go…um…pee. How is it major injuries always hit right before momentous occasions?
I guess an explanation is in order. But first, some much needed thanks. To the outstanding paramedics who tended this wounded surfer on the beach last Thursday night; to the doctors and nurses in Flagler Hospital’s ER who laughed at my jokes while putting over 100 stitches in my thigh; and to our good friends Len and Kristy Weeks who happened to be there on the beach in my time of need and helped not only me, but also my wife and daughter as I stained the beach red.
“It’s pretty bad isn’t it?” I asked Len as he kneeled by my wounded leg. His answer I’ll never forget: “You know, Brian. I don’t really do that well with blood, so I’m trying not to look down there right now.”
Told me what I needed to know, and you guys were great. To all of you, I can’t thank you enough. You don’t know how much it means.
And a huge thanks to my traumatized wife who easily could have drawn up divorce papers right there, but played it cool, stuck by my side and never once said, “See, I told you surfing would kill you one day!”
Gather up enough information yet? Need more? Let’s just say that while surfing on a day that I had given blood, I took a tumble and my thigh tangled with one of the fins beneath my board. It didn’t just slash me like most fin injuries, but instead punched a hole in my wetsuit and punctured my thigh.
So strong was the impact that it snapped the fin in half, and I came up wondering why my leg felt like it had been smacked with a sledgehammer. I got an idea of the damage when I noticed what looked like a bullet hole in my suit with a dark substance bubbling up out of it. All around me the ocean turned red, and I took this as a sign it was time to head in.
From then on, it’s kind of a blur. I remember reminding myself that passing out in the ocean is usually a bad career move, especially if you can hear sharks opening up boxes of Ritz crackers. I don’t know how long it took me to get to shore, but I dragged myself onto the beach, collapsed on my back and put my troubles into the hands of others.
Many came to my aid, and it’s a magnificent feeling knowing that people are there for you, especially when you’re so vulnerable and weak.
I’m told I should heal well, and that if you’re going to suffer a wound like this, I picked a good spot — a big, meaty thigh that will certainly mend. Next week they’ll start the task of removing all those stitches, and hopefully soon after that, I’ll be walking again. For now, it’s all about staving off infection, spending copious amounts of time staring at the television with my foot in the air, trying to ignore the 4-inch-long trail of stitches that form a ‘T’ on my thigh, and trying not to let my back side grow permanently into the couch.
Will I surf again? No answer there yet. First I will need to heal and then reconcile some differences with my board. The two of us aren’t speaking right now. My wife will be another story. It’s not easy to watch your husband laid-out on the beach with blood spilling from his wetsuit. That’s not an image you wash easily from your mind, and I’m not the only one who experienced trauma that night.
So far, I haven’t heard her fire up the chain saw in the backyard yet, so there’s hope. Right now, I’ll just take it one step a time which takes a whole lot longer with crutches and when the bathroom is way over there.