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It is a beautiful almost summer day here in Australia. Despite having some of the coldest temps on record since 1900 it has still been endless sunshine and more than bearable temperatures.
I do my usual weekend routine and head up to the coast for a surf.
If I don’t, I get fucking cranky.
While the surf was not perfect a few rideable waves were pushing through the slush. Perched at Alexandria Headland I got changed and paddled out.
The surf was going great. A few right-handers to ease any stress and just enjoy my scheduled alone time.
To date, I have never really had any serious injuries surfing. 15 years and the worst I have ever come off is a few slices on the feet from rocks or fins but only a handful of times. I was stung by a weaver fish once on my foot and had to place said stung foot in a bowl of hot/freshly boiled water.
That was agony.
Today, however, I was feeling lucky. Never in my mind does it ever strike me that I may just have a severe accident. An accident in the water, how is that possible I hear you ask?
I’ve heard horror stories of people diving headfirst into shallow water only to hit their heads and do permanent damage to their necks.
The most common injury is from surfboards themselves, and now I am a part of that statistic.
Usually, surfers cause injury to others by not knowing how to be safe with their surfboards.
Except for this time, there was no one else surfing with me.
As I went to take what should have been a clean left, I took off late and was thrown by the sheer face of the wave. For what felt like an eternity, I drifted through the air in slow motion and could see the rail (side) of my board bouncing off the surface of the water.
I tried to put out my hands, but it was too late, my jaw took the full brunt force of face meets surfboard.
In an instant, I knew my jaw was split. As the bottom of my jaw slammed into the top, one thought entered my mind “Don’t fucking pass out!”.
“Don’t fucking pass out!” I kept repeating in my head as I scrambled through the directionless ocean to find the surface.
I grabbed my board and quickly climbed on just in case I did pass out, with sheer luck passing out on your board must somewhat increase your chances of not drowning.
I start to paddle in through more shock than anything else when I realise my mouth is full of sand.
It's not sand.
It's broken fucking teeth.
Now I really panic as I catch a wave to shore not knowing the true extent of the damage I have inflicted upon myself.
When I reach the shore I look down and notice I am covered neck down in blood. The public also noticed, and I felt exactly how I would imagine the public would react to the world's first zombie, unsure if they should try and help or stay far away.
They chose to stay away.
I walk to the car and grab a towel to clean myself off. Blood soaked.
I sit inside and pull out the mirror to see what damage has been done.
One slice across the bottom of the chin? Check.
3 teeth now shattered, sensitive and making my mouth feel like an entrapment of bent razors? Check
I have really fucked up this one.
I make the hour-and-a-half drive back home to visit the local hospital. Luckily, I was seen within the hour and skipped stitches because they used my beard hair as an effective cross stitch to help set the glue and hold my skin together.
As for the teeth, an emergency dentist appointment was scheduled for the next day.
$700 later, I have somewhat a normal-looking set of teeth.
When you look at the overall experience of $30 petrol to travel and $700 to fix my teeth. This is a costly fucking surf. That’s almost the price of 2 waves at Kelly Slaters Surf Ranch (the average cost to use the park is $10,000 apparently).
So, the message (if any) of this article should be this:
Don’t always assume you’re safe.
Know how to bail.
Surf with others for safety.
Set aside $700+ for dental repairs because you love surfing oh so much.
Fuck you surfing.