Sunday, September 07, 2008

I Wasn't Among Them

Thrill-Seekers Head To NH Coast Despite Warnings

HAMPTON BEACH, N.H. -- Thrill-seekers are testing the waves on the New Hampshire coast as the remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna moves through New England.

However, the U.S. Coast Guard is worried that their thrills could turn into tragedy if people aren’t careful and wary of the wicked weather.

Surfers report seeing 5-foot high waves Saturday and they said that 6-to-8-foot high waves could move in soon.

Here's a little-known secret about your humble host.

I suck at surfing.

Seeing how I spent my entire life living New England, not exactly a region of the country known for it's killer waves, it should come as no surprise that I don't count surfing among my strong suits.

So, I should have known better than to venture out in the waves off the coast of Maui while vacationing there with my wife's family back in December of 2001.

"But, honey, all those little kids out there are doing it. How tough can it be? I'm gonna go grab a boogie board and give it a try."

Suffice to say I'm lucky those didn't become my famous last words of the "Dude, hold my beer!" variety.

Sure the first couple waves were fun, but when I paddled out a little further and found myself looking down from the crest of a wave onto the other surfers below, I kinda thought I might be in over my head. Literally.

I paddled toward the shore a bit and tried to catch the next wave to ride it in. Well, the next wave came in, and I caught all of it. And, by "caught all of it", I mean "got myself flipped upside-down, pile-driven into the hard sand below, and tumbled around underwater, in agonizing pain while trying to hold my breath".

Fortunately, by the time I was able figure out which way was up, I was in waist deep water and was able to stand up and limp my way toward shore.

Sure, I couldn't move my left arm, and my shoulder hurt like hell squared, but by the grace of God, it wasn't my neck that had absorbed most of the impact and I don't need a blender and a straw to eat steak today.

The resort sent a security guy down to the beach on a golf cart to haul my sorry ass up to the parking lot and my father-in-law drove me to the local emergency clinic.

Diagnosis: separated shoulder

After the x-rays, they gave me a shot of what had to be some of the most wonderful painkillers known to mankind, and I immediately went into "What pain?" mode, skippin' down the cobblestones and feeling groovy for the next couple hours or so.

They discharged me after strapping my arm in a sling and giving me a handful of "free sample" pain medication (though drastically weaker than what I was mainlining earlier), and told me to just take Advil after those ran out. Needless to say, I was feeling much less groovy by the next morning.

The upside of all this was that it happened the day before we'd be flying home, and not at the beginning of our vacation. At the airport in Maui, they were looking for folks to take a later flight out, due to the over-booked flight. We volunteered to do so, but also tried to milk my injury for all it was worth, which proved to be a good call on our part. We ended up trading our seats in coach for two up in first class.

But, back to the subject at hand.

You couldn't pay enough to go out in those waves this weekend.

I suck at surfing.