no diving

Ouch.
Here’s the deal y’all. It’s Wednesday night, but I wish it was still Tuesday because I have so much to get done this week. Work is really kicking my butt lately, it’s almost like they expect me to actually exert effort before they’ll write me a check. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’ve got my best people looking into it.

Nearly 100 people have looked at my latest auction on Ebay, still no bids. I did get a couple questions from people who were curious about how I actually did the mod, but that’s about it. Looks like there’s a lot of interest in the auction, so hopefully it’s buyer interest and not just looker interest. I’m imagining a last-minute bidding frenzy where the price soars into the tens of thousands of dollars. Yup, that’s what I imagine.

This weekend is Ben’s birthday. For the occasion we’re going to see a show in the city, this time it’s the Stars and Dears. The Stars were great last time we saw them with Broken Social Scene, and the Dears’ record is amazing – so I’m anticipating a decent show. The morning of the show, Anthony and I are serving as judges for an Odyssey of the Mind competition. If you’ve never heard of OM, it’s like a fun organization for brainy kids. They have competitions where kids come and compete, kind of like a big “gifted” class or something. The do thing like build cars out of macaroni and make matchstick rockets and try to safely drop eggs from heights. Anyway, we’re the “weigh-in” judges for the “Balancing Act” problem. “Balancing Act” is the OM version of the balsa-wood bridge problem that most kids do in high-school physics. I’ve even seen them do this on ESPN before.. I think. Using only balsa wood and glue the kids must create a structure that can support as much weight as possible. There are restrictions on the structure’s weight, and what types of glues can be used, etc. Should be fun, and I’m hoping for some good stories to come from it.

It was my first year at community college, so I was probably 19. We were organizing a familiar camping trip at a natural springs about an hour from where we lived. I can’t believe my memory is already this bad, but I think I went with Jeremy and maybe Joey. Whoever it was, there was three of us.

The springs had a few “primitive camping” areas that we’d been to before. For the non-campers out there, primitive camping is defined as camping with no necessities – no water, no fire ring, no RV pad or outhouse. Usually just a clearing that’s marked and some spots to setup a tent. We really enjoyed going to the springs to camp, since the campsites were so isolated from everything. You could only get to them by a 40min hike along a foot trail through the marshy forest. Once you arrived at the clearing, you were truly removed from everything. Not only that, we would usually organize trips during the week – so we’d be sure to be the only ones out there. It was a perfect camping spot, relaxed and private and in a great natural setting.

Our trips would normally last three days and two nights. Since the actual freshwater spring was only a 40min walk from the campsite, we’d trek into the actual park each morning after breakfast for a dip in the water. We’d usually hang out at the springs all day swimming and barbecuing, and then head back to camp in the early evening. Sometimes we’d stay at the campsite all day, but the springs served as our daily “showers” so we tried to make it up there in the mornings at least.

It was the last day of one of our three day trips. For some reason, we had elected to stay at the campground the whole time – and we hadn’t showered in two nights of primitive camping. I think we stayed at the campsite because we had brought along a respectable amount of alcohol, which we often did when camping. The booze tended to keep us near the tents, fire, and poker game. Anyway, we woke up on that last morning and broke camp to hike back to the car. We stowed all our gear in the car, but before leaving decided to “rinse off” in the springs. (Two nights of drinking and firewood-foraging and pooping in hand-dug holes can make a guy feel kinda ratty).

When we got to the springs it was already mid-morning and several people were swimming and sunbathing around the area. The park service had made some changes to the area around natural spring itself to make it more conducive to swimming. It had a concrete sides to the swimming area on one side, and there were places were you could easily climb in and out. They’d basically turned it into a freshwater springs swimming pool.

Even though the spring was deep in the middle, it could get rather shallow on the edges since it was basically a natural lake and could fluctuate. To warn people of this, the park had “NO DIVING” signs stenciled on the concrete wall and posted on signposts around the water. The signs even showed a crude stick-man foolishly diving head-first into the water (represented by the universal water symbol of peaked wavy lines) and hitting his head on the bottom. Lines clearly meant to indicate “pain” were shown escaping from the stick man’s head at the point of impact. I got it, diving = bad.

So maybe you can guess where I’m going here, but I’ll go ahead and fill in the blanks anyway. I’d like to preface the story by stating the fact that none of us had had anything to smoke or drink that day, and were stone-cold sober. We walked down to the water’s edge, where we all stood on the concrete wall ready to get in the water. If you believe my friends, I was actually standing on the stenciled words “NO DIVING” when I dove… but I think that part of the story was invented later for the sake of comedic irony. Either way, you already know what happens… I walked right up to the edge and dove head-first into the water.

I think I got about… uhh… up to my chest before my head hit the rock. I do know that most of my body wasn’t even underwater yet when it happened. Apparently the scene from above was pretty funny, they said I walked right down to the concrete wall, dove in, got into about my chest, and then all they saw was a cloud of dust rise from the bottom of the water as the rest of my body crumpled into the springs. What I remember goes something like this: dive off the ledge, head hits the water, head hits rock really hard and I do a little summersault underwater and bring my feet back underneath me so I’m standing. Now I’m standing in what is clearly only waist-deep water, holding my head.

At this point all I know is that I hit my head, but when I come up I realize I’m having a hard time staying on my feet. My friends are standing above me, looking down on me from the ledge, doubled over laughing. They’re laughing so hard, in fact, that they don’t hear me dizzily say “Guys, I think I’m fucked up.” When I repeat myself and this time hold out my hand to be helped back on the ledge, they grab me and hoist me up.

Suddenly everything is red. I look down at my chest and I am absolutely covered in blood. It’s in my eyes so bad I can’t see. I think as they hoisted me up, my friends realized I was indeed “fucked up.” Now I’m starting to freak out, usually the sight of my own blood makes me pass out. I know, I’m a puss – but if I could help it I would. It’s some kind of involuntary reaction that I don’t have control over. Other people’s blood, no problem. My blood? You better go fetch the smelling salts ’cause I’ll be out like a light in no time. This time though, I didn’t pass out.

I remember taking my t-shirt and pressing it to my head to try and stop the blood. Then some nice lady who noticed this dumbass kid just split his head open diving off the “no diving” sign rushed down to the water’s edge from where she and her family were having lunch. She brought some ice wrapped in one of those mini-Lays chip bags that you used to get when mom packed your lunch. What a smart idea. I remained pretty calm, and remember thinking that I just had to find somewhere to sew me up. Once we had the blood pretty much stopped, through ice and pressure, we walked to the car and headed out of the park.

We stopped at the ranger station on the way out to ask for directions to the emergency room, since we were in a town about an hour away from our home – and had no idea where anything was. He gave us some directions to the hospital, which was a 30min drive according to him, and we set off. Around the 40min mark it became apparent we’d missed whatever hospital this guy had directed us too. We pulled off the freeway and stopped at, of all places, a karate dojo to ask directions. Funny enough, they said there wasn’t a hospital on this side of town and suggested we try one of those walk-in clinic places. Whatever, it had been almost an hour since I split my head and I wanted it closed up.

We followed the sensei’s directions to the first clinic. We could see the sign from the road: “24 Hour Emergency Clinic.” Sounded perfect! Of course, they were closed. The sign on the door said, and I’m not joking, “Closed Due to Terminal Illness.” Now, what that means I have no idea. We stopped in at a gas station across the street to try and find another destination. Finally, we pulled up at another clinic – this one being open.

When I walked in, the place was absolutely packed. However, I think the fact that I was wearing a t-shirt which was completely red with blood and holding a chip bag to my busted head helped catapult me to the front of the waiting room. I was in the back in no time, where a “doctor” looked at my head. By now I had all but stopped bleeding, so he just had to clean some dirt and water-muck away before he could fix me up. I assumed I’d get some stitches and be on my way. I was wrong.

The doctor told me that my wound was a good candidate for “staples” instead of stitches. Sounded strange to me, but he assured me they worked like stitches and would be easier to apply. So, I agreed (not that I think my consent would’ve really mattered had I not). He brought over a shot with some anesthetic and what looked like an honest-to-God Office Depot-bought Swingline stapler. No joke. I expected some fancy stainless “medical” stapler, but this thing looked totally consumer-grade to me. It obviously wasn’t, but man did it look it. He told me I would feel a “pinch” when he injected my scalp. I did feel a pinch. I felt a pinch and then watched him immediately put down the syringe, pick up the stapler, and proceed to shoot several staples right into my wound. Nevermind that the anesthetic wouldn’t start to take effect for another couple of minutes, I was healed.

So, that’s how I ended up with eight staples in my head. When I went to my normal doctor several weeks later to have them removed, he said I was lucky that I didn’t break my neck and die or get paralyzed. Yeah, I guess I am lucky.

Stick around, I’ve got plenty of emergency-room stories. Like when I filleted my thumb on a genuine samurai sword or my last time ice-skating when I had to get stitches to put my bottom lip back together. w00t.


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