"Is this going to be how it's going to end? After surfing and getting bitten by a rattlesnake?"
As fate would have it, I was in California’s desert interior over the weekend, far away from civilization and cell phone coverage, surrounded by various cacti, reddish boulders, cowboy death. My very best friends, the same with whom I traveled to Yemen post 9/11, Syria, played war correspondent in Lebanon etc., decided at the dawn of Covid that it would be better if we just educated our collected children together. It’s a wild experiment, now rounding year two’s bend, and part of the curriculum includes adventure like sailing to Mexico in the middle of a storm, riding the rails from Paris to Moscow, pitching trucks off cliffs, letting them free to explore this world on their own.
The only worry I usually have, at least in California, is that mean ol’ rattlesnake.
It turns out my fears are justified for a San Diego surfer, Matt Gmyr, just became bitten by one after cutting a surf session short at South Torrey Pines, because a shark was circling.
“I like to just step up onto this little section of dirt next to the curb and just check out the surf one last time and watch my buddies catch some waves,” he told San Diego’s CBS affiliate. “I felt like someone dropped a knife on my foot, like it was sharp pain and I look down and there’s a snake attached to my foot.”
The snake happened to be a diamond back and he knew he needed care, quickly, so called the paramedics. By the time they arrived, though, he was already feeling the poison.
“I was feeling the full body tingling, the lips, the face, the numbness, swelling, and it was crazy,” he said. “There’s a point when I was calling out to God saying, ‘Oh, I don’t want to die like this. Is this going to be how it’s going to end? After surfing and getting bitten by a rattlesnake?’”
He was rushed to Scripps in La Jolla where doctors discovered five bite marks on his foot and consider him lucky to be alive. He’s still in the hospital though hopes to be released Friday.
Rattlesnakes. Ugh. But what would Mick Fanning have done? Something to ponder.