Early December, a super duper sunny day, Bournemouth, and some good swell coming in. So, let’s rip! While getting changed I was faced with the choice of two wetsuits: the Rip Curl Flash Bomb, which is supreme insulation come the winter months, or, my O’Neill Synergy, a thinner suit but still absolutely fine for the conditions of that day. So, which one do I wear that day?
The sensible Michelle would save the benefits of the Flash Bomb for the coldest months of January and February. It was still early December after all, and it was looking to be the warmest December on record. So was there really any need for the Flash Bomb yet? Was it really necessary? Not really. Yet, I went for the maximum comfort option, of course, being the light weight that I am!
Well, strangely so, it just so happened that this choice turned out to be one of the most sensible choices I have made to date!
I was on my way outback and a wave was just about to break on me so I jumped, my board at my side. The power of the wave was immense and took me out, and the board right out of my hand. Then, I felt this big wrench to my leg and suit, and I knew instantly it was bad.
Hobbling out of the water, I was followed by my friend Zoe who then checked my leg over, I couldn’t bear to look at it myself. Even though she gave me the coolest and calmest response, I could tell she was hiding some horrors from me. She is a good friend and I know her well. Back at the van, her little boy Leo was there wearing his lifeguard hoody. Bless him. I said: ‘Leo you may need to be chief lifeguard now!’
Zoe called an ambulance but the signal wasn’t amazing and I could hear her struggling to get our location across to them. I could feel the initial drums of panic start up in my belly and I tried my hardest to keep them at bay. Right now, all I needed to do was stay in control and not go into shock. So I pulled out my Wave Project Hoody to keep warm. Despite there being bits of my flesh on the van floor, gross! We all remained so calm throughout it all.
A passer-by, who turned out to be an A and E nurse, noticed our situation and came over to help. Thank you. She looked at my leg and said I may need to stay overnight in hospital as it was quite deep and may need washing out. I also needed to get the wetsuit off otherwise it was going to have be cut. Getting it off wasn’t easy because it was thick and tight. They even managed to get my 7mm Flash Bomb Boots off, which even I struggle with at the best of times. The nurse then started to dress my wound until A and E turned up.
I got ten lovely stitches in my leg. The doctor said I was really lucky as it was right near my artery and if it went any deeper I would have hit it. I am now on the mend and looking forward to surfing again. A little nervous but have lots of support and a 40th birthday holiday booked up in my favourite surf location: Surfers Point Barbados, (Zeds Surfing Adventures) for this April.
I was so lucky. I think that if I decided to go with the thinner suit that day this all could have been very different. Luckily though, the odds just seemed to be in my favour that day, thankfully. This experience serves as a reminder to me not to underestimate the strength and unpredictability of the ocean. Never turn your back on the Ocean.