Guys Who Look Dead But Aren’t: Part III

You wouldn’t have thought there would be a part III did you? Me neither.

Today we headed out surfing a little earlier, and the tides were not cooperating, neither was the wind or the weather. It rained, it blew, and the waves were mostly random. I caught a few, short rides, but nothing too exciting.

Like usual, I took my time paddling in, exhausted from the session, trying to catch the leftover waves that barely form back into the beach. Nearing the shore, I move my leash from my foot to around my arm and keep paddling till I can jump off at the shore. I notice a bunch of kids flipping around and jumping into the wave’s right at the shore. This happens all the time, and as a nurse I always cringe. This time though, I notice a kid who’s jumped in and just floating in a ball at the shoreline, bobbing, around, turning, his eyes open, then closed. At first I think he’s just holding his breath, and joking around, as I’ve seen lots of kids do before.

I look again. He’s still doing it, yikes. That doesn’t look right. I drop my board just past the waves and quickly head back 10 feet to where he was. His friends are laughing and gawking and thinking he’s joking too. I ask one of them, and look her in the eye “he’s joking right?” because I didn’t actually see what he had done, she said yes, and I asked her again, “Are you sure?” and she assured me. I felt slightly stupid and over paranoid, so I turn away and go back to get my board.

Josh yells to me from the shore as he’s just paddling in and sees him still bobbing and rolling in the waves. It’s been WAY too long. Another 30 seconds at least. There’s something wrong. So I run back over and help drag him into shore. Of course, like in Part II blog, I can’t lift the guy. He’s almost as big as me. With help, we quickly drag him up the shore past the waves. Initially we think he just was knocked out. Off and on he opens his eyes. I grab his head for neck precautions and lay him supine on his back. He’s breathing now. Phew.

Now, his eyes are open and he’s speaking to us. He can’t feel his legs, or arms. Crap. He couldn’t get out of the water, because he couldn’t move. He’d done a flip and probably cranked his head and neck on the sand ledge under the shallow water. I help the lifeguards to cut off his rashie and scoop the sand away to fit the collar. From there, I could do nothing but watch as they loaded him up on a spine board and took him away.

This kid survived, but may never walk again. People just don’t get the danger of boogie boarding, body surfing, and diving into waves head first. They don’t have the experience or knowledge of C-spine injuries, and I hate that. Especially and sadly today when I had to witness my fears come true.

It sucks being a bystander when you never really know the outcome. I am hoping that’s it for off duty nursing work. I’m usually the white cloud of nothingness, not the black cloud of horrible business. Enough thank you.

Tomorrow’s our last surf day. I am hoping for the best, with waves and everything else.

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