Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Game Over By Gordo Byrn

Game Over
By Gordo Byrn

Check out the photo, it’s not quite the finish that I was looking for. Here’s my story.

I was rolling along feeling pretty solid – the water was glassy and we were making great time. I was really enjoying my swim. Then I had a close encounter with a box jellyfish – it was a pretty large one and it wrapped around my entire body. Face, neck and both arms.

I knew what had happened and swam over to Bucky, my paddler escort. I applied some anti-sting right away and got back to work. However, I started to get numbness at the base of my spine. That grew until I knew that something just wasn’t right. All I wanted to do was lie down, but that’s not an option 6K into the Ultraman.

That “not right” feeling grew until my body started to shut down. Once my vision went, I called out to Bucky and climbed aboard his kayak (just about sinking to two of us!). Bucky took control, had me hold onto the back and started CRANKING to the nearest lifeguard station. Eventually, I was floating along being dragged to shore by Bucky, whimpering. I pulled myself together, shut up and took the pain (which wasn’t that bad).

One of the safety boats came over and I climbed in. The guys were really nice and I was chuckling on the inside when they asked, “So are you feeling better, yet?” I replied, “Guys, I am feeling VERY bad. Please get me a doctor as fast as you can.” They dialed 911 on their mobile and we were off. “Game over, man.”

We motored up to the boat ramp at Keauhou Bay. First, I lay down on the gravel, then on my side, then on a blanket that some very kind fisherman gave us. I was shaking pretty bad and knew that I had some form of shock rolling. The ambulance turned up and they loaded me into the back. I felt a little better in the ambulance, but noticed that I was sweating full bore. There were beads of sweat flowing off my face, arms and legs. The ambulance driver and I had a bit of a negotiation over whether I needed any medication. Eventually I relented and he started an IV – he didn’t have time to do more than that and we were at the hospital.

At the hospital, I was getting a lot of attention with three or four folks around me for the first little while. For the medically-minded, they gave me epinephrine (by inhalation), benadryl (by IV) and zantac (orally). I was sweating so much that we had to change the sheets. Sweat was running off the bed. It was a strange sensation. They asked me if I was allergic to anything and I couldn’t resist… “Just box jellyfish.”

I got my second body shave of the day – apparently shaving can remove lingering stingers. We got into a conversation on shaving and I recommended a razor to my nurse, “Venus by Gillette, it’s the best for legs”. Eventually, I felt much better, but still pretty toasty. Even typing here, seven hours post-sting, I have a good sweat rolling as my body is dealing with the toxins. The welts are a little itchy, kind of like stinging nettles, but all-in-all I’m pretty lucky.

Just before they let me leave, I was lying in the bed wondering how my reaction would have scored. Seven? Six? Nah, it wasn’t that bad, maybe just a three. Geez, I wonder what a bad reaction might be like.

When the doc returned to check on me, I asked her, “So if you had to score my reaction out of ten, with ten being ‘dead’, where you would place me?”

She mulled it over and replied, “I’d give you nine and a half. I’ll be prescribing you an epi-pen. Make sure that it’s nearby every time you swim in the ocean.”


So that’s a wrap for my Ultraman adventure! Not what I expected, but what I got.

I am doing great both mentally and physically. It was, after all, simply a race. I’ll get back out there and keep on rolling. Thanks for you support and I shall…

see you at the races,