Of all the things we surfers, we ocean enthusiasts, fear most, I think stingray hits are number one. Oh sure a “man-eating” Great White may take a chomp, a Killer Whale may tease before torturing. Eels, puffer fish, saltwater crocodiles, rabid seals and grumpy locals can, and often do, inflict terrible damage but the lowly stingray, hiding in the sand, waiting for his moment to throw his barb into our tender feet is both too common and too painful.
We try to tough it out when getting hit, though, don’t we. Try to keep the tears at bay and carry on like brave little soldiers but come and read the potential horrors of ignoring the terribly sting. Of not urinating upon it immediately then having your best friends urinate on it too.
But wait. Can a fairytale love story come from trauma? Let’s read the story of Sharon Glenelg, a powerful executive who was struck while “going for a little paddle” near Adelaide.
It was the first day of their visit Down Under and Sharon was determined to show the wine distributors her beautiful hometown, but in the murky water she didn’t notice a threatening tail.
I took a step and landed on a stingray, which pushed its barb into the bottom of my left foot,’ she said.
Although it was bleeding Sharon was determined to continue the trip, and simply patched up the wound.
But on the flight back to London her foot ‘blew up like a balloon’ and she was told the barb had caused extensive nerve damage. A serious infection had settled in.
‘I had 10 operations during this time and was off my feet for a total of two years. There was a permanent PICC line inserted into my arm feeding me the harshest antibiotics… they turned the whites of my eyes orange.’
She was flown back to the Royal Adelaide Hospital after three months to be treated by their new foot clinic.
On two occasions doctors talked about amputating her injured foot but they were able to save it by inserting plates and screws around her third and fourth toes.
‘I have been left with neuropathy in that foot, meaning I can’t feel anything,’ she said.
Sharon describes those two years as some of the ‘toughest’ in her life, made lighter by the fact she reconnected with an old friend – who would later become her husband and father to her children Luka, 13, and Hugo, 11.
She also decided to devote herself to things she had always wanted to do but put off when she was working so hard, namely singing lessons, knitting and mosaics.
Sharon even studied to become a marriage celebrant so she could bring joy to her friends, something that occupied her time while she wasn’t able to walk.
So there we have it. Yes the sting was painful, very damaging, but because of it love was found, children were had, singing, knitting and mosaics all practiced and friends joyously married.
Even stringray hits can be anti-depressive in the right context with or without much urinating.