Saturday, August 29, 2009

under the sea...

The other day my husband came home from his summer Life guarding job at our city beach. It had mostly been an uneventful summer, which is good if your a lifeguard, no rescues, safe beach!
This day he told me a man had been "hit".
My heart sank. I asked "how bad?" "Pretty bad, through the ankle, just like you. He needed an i.v. for pain on the beach" . Oh dear.

Can you guess what we were talking about? It's the Stingray. A cousin to the shark, very beautiful to look at and even good to eat in some parts of the world. But you never want to come in contact with it and it's razor sharp barbs. In the above photo you can see how the stingray settles itself down to rest and feed on the ocean bottom. Sometimes they are covered entirely. So even if you were looking you might miss one and step on it. Which is what happened to the man the other day...and a few years ago, me...

map of stingray territory, they prefer warmer water
It is not my intention to scare anyone, I only want to share with you what I know. It's a simple and easy thing to protect yourself at the beach, there's something you can do, it's called the stingray shuffle. Have you heard of this? You simply shuffle your feet on the ocean floor (or stamp them). The idea is to give warning to the unsuspecting stingray, he'll leave after feeling the vibration announcing your arrival. He really doesn't want to sting (stab), it's only his defense mechanism at work.

In 1999, my husband, then boyfriend, and I went for a paddle, here in the seaside town where we live. After kayaking north for about a mile we decided to beach our boats to have a swim and a rest in the warm sand. I was first to the beach and so I was the first back out in the ocean for a dip.
It happened so fast and with so much force at first I thought a shark had got me. I was in waist deep water and blood was already rising to the surface. I looked towards shore and saw Chuck lying there in the sand. I tried to call him. Like in a bad dream, my voice wouldn't work. I was sure by then if I didn't leave the water immediately, I would be eaten. With a throbbing ankle and in slow motion I finally made it to the shore, fear my only motivator. Chuck took one look at me and said "Stingray" and then he said "We've got to get back". He looked at the boat and said "Can you paddle?"
At this point the poison had worked its way up to the top of my thigh. Blood had completely saturated a beach towel we'd wrapped around the injury. I was NOT going back in the water, therefore, I would NOT be paddling. Chuck had no patience for me since we were trapped and there was no other way out. He insisted I get back in the water, by now the waves were coming up and I prayed I wouldn't tip over as I pushed through them, by now in shock. As soon as I got past the break line I waited for Chuck to catch up to me. He tied our boats together and paddled us into the wind, towards home.

Chuck carried me into the E.R., I remember the nurses saying I looked like a mermaid. That would have been great in another situation, but I don't think my new boyfriend was impressed, I've never been in so much pain in my entire life. And I've had babies. With no medication, one even born at home. It was unbelievable. We spent hours at the emergency room, my leg first sunk in a big bucket of scalding water. The heat deactivates the venom. I wanted it hotter. Later, I would have 2nd degree burns on part of my leg, but that was nothing for the pain of the stingray poison. I was hit so hard that the barb went in one side of my ankle and nearly exited the other side. It was complete agony when they had to clean the wound to remove any lurking barbs that may have broken off. That's when we discovered how deep it went.
"The stingray's spine, or barb, can be ominously fashioned with serrated edges and a sharp point. The underside may produce venom, which can be fatal to humans, and which can remain deadly even after the stingray's death. In Greek mythology, Odysseus, the great king of Ithaca, was killed when his son Telegonus, struck him using a spear tipped with the spine of a stingray."

It was a long recovery. Infection set in. I guess this is common when unknown bacteria enters our bodies. Weeks of crutches, limping, pain... I remembered from my childhood, (when I first learned the shuffle) my Dad had told us about the dangers of a stingray encounter. He used to spend alot of time in Baja, Mexico, with his diving buddies. He told us it was the only time he'd ever seen a grown man cry. They had no cure then, the poor guy could only ease his pain with whisky or tequila.

Finally I had to have surgery. That was a bit of a problem right there since no one knew just what to do, some didn't even know what a stingray was! If I didn't have permanent damage (nerves and such, the ankle is a complicated place) this would be a fun story to tell. Well, it's still fun and maybe the reason it happened to me is so I could tell everyone Shuffle your feet! It took me a long time before I would go in the water again. I shuffle without fail nowadays.

"Clyde Stewart, 72, said he didn’t know what hit him when he was fishing for bait near Balgal Beach, AU on Tuesday afternoon.
A stingray came out of nowhere and skewered him just below the knee. He looked down all he could see was blood pouring out of his overalls. The barb tore through Stewart’s heavy-duty industrial overalls, hitting the bone. Ew.
He was taken to Townsville Hospital for surgery. Stewart said the pain was so excruciating that doctors could have just cut his leg off and he wouldn’t have cared."

Here is part of my collection, I have stuffed stingrays, wooden stingrays, stingray bookmarks, stingray cards, even a stingray charm. I am sorry I stepped on that stingray that day, I must have landed on him pretty hard for him to have got me so good. I used to worry if I hurt him. Do you think he tells his side of the story? The day he was stepped on by a mermaid? ;)

♥ lori
p.s. don't forget to shuffle your feet...
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p.p.s. This morning I came across an article in Audubon magazine, I had to add:
" The cow-nosed ray is armed with a venomous tail spike, as Captain John Smith learned in 1608 when he stabbed one with his sword near the Rappahannock River (Massachusetts). The ray stabbed back with a very palpable hit to Smith's shoulder, causing such intense pain that his crew dug a grave for him. By evening, however, Smith had improved enough to eat the ray for his supper. The scene of this duel is still known as Stingray Point."

Friday, August 21, 2009

these days...

hello? hello! it's awfully good to be back here :) I've missed everyone of you very much. And thank you for missing me too. I looked at almost every favorite blog last night when I couldn't sleep and found it so comforting to see that life/blogging goes on, even when you feel you've dropped off the face of the earth. Um, well, perhaps that's a bit too dramatic, here, how's this : life is like a jackrabbit and I am a snail( a snail still trying to recover from a mystery ailment)...yes, still... but life goes on... laptop was returned to me in perfect working order. Thank you computer repair guys ♥ There was only one problem that I could see. The hard drive was cleared and I hadn't exactly saved everything properly, my beloved laptop was a stranger!....

... my middle son, who is the computer genius, is gone, moved out, two hours away. So after a few tearful phone calls (and lots of over the phone eye rolls) I am back on track. Sort of. I have most of my photos so I think I am lucky. Do you want to know what made me sad? All my awards are gone! I had them in a "feel good folder" on my desktop where I could look at them when I wanted. Now, i've learned about a portable device that you plug into your computer and it saves everything, no magic involved. oh well, next time... :(

...So...would you like to know what i've been doing these last few weeks besides languishing on the couch? and missing my computer? I did write a few letters, wrote recipes to index cards, took short walks on the beach, but mostly I read...

First, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, which took place in South Carolina during the 60's. I now know why this book makes so many top ten lists. So so lovely.

Then I went to Africa with Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott. This is a book about growing up in Botswana. I didn't want it to end. And no, not just because I wanted to stay in Africa. :) A fabulously entertaining read.

Next was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon'. You'll be introduced to Barcelona with spectacularly told storytelling. As I arm chair traveled (when choosing these books it wasn't intentional) I found these old pics to go with the books( i like the photos better than my reviews!) except I've not been to Barcelona, but Portugal is close enough heh?

And now to Mexico with a reread of Stones for Ibarra and Consider This, Senora both by Harriet Doerr. Her gorgeously sparse prose is an absolute favorite. Plus if you love Mexico, you'll love these books. Did you know she wrote Stones at almost 70 years of age? Incredible.

...and last Pieces of White Shell ~ A Journey to Navajoland and Finding Beauty in a Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams. Pieces of White Shell is called an introduction to Navajo culture by a storyteller. TTW has a reverence for the natural world that is easy to appreciate. I'm only half way through Beauty so I won't say too much. (but I like it)... that's it. Oh and visits to the Acupuncture clinic, taking the special herbs they've made for me. Any day, I think, and this pathogen will tire of me, I know this way of healing can take time. I'm getting okay with it now, I think i've learned to accept the flow of these days.

I'll "Sea" you all soon,

♥ with love, lori

Sunday, August 2, 2009

laptops have feelings too

My laptop is sick now :(
conversations with the computer technician decided that it must be sent away for a check~up. doesn't seem fair, it's barely one. is that old in computer years? so they sent me a box that i'm to package it up in and ship it off for at least three weeks. the box came two days ago and i've done my best to ignore it. but, i know that's only prolonging the obvious, she is not working properly. oh it's not really got a virus, it's a hardware issue.

So, it's not all sadness, we have a desktop here that belonged to the kids. i can still go on line. But it makes a pesky noise kind of like an airplane landing in the living room, so i'll have to read really fast (the loudness makes me very nervous!), and i'm pretty sure i won't be posting (unless i find earplugs and a lot of patience). It's going to be back to journaling, with books, pens, colored pencils and watercolors... and hand written letters... :) Well, maybe this won't be so bad after all, maybe this is an opportunity in disguise... :)

♥ lori