I wrote a while ago about Flea Market Guy and I going to the beach for a week. I think I mentioned my near death scuba experience and the sea urchin, but if not, it went a little something like this….
We paid a guy to take us scuba diving two days out of the week. The first day the water was really murky and we couldn’t see much. We went about 8 feet down in our scuba gear that he provided. It was fun, but like I said, murky and we didn’t see much. We made an appointment to come back a few days later when the water would be clearer. He gave us a quick tutorial on day one telling us how to clear our masks if they got foggy and how to kick our feet, etc. When we went back a few days later, I guess he just assumed we remembered everything and we got our scuba gear on and headed straight into the water. We dove about 40 feet. That was as far down as he said we were going. And he was right, the water was much clearer that day. We saw all kinds creatures and schools of fish, we saw shells, and a literal boat load of trash at the bottom of the gulf (do better, people). That part was a little disheartening.
While we were down there, my face mask got foggy. He tried to tell me how to fix it under water because, of course, I couldn’t remember the lesson from 3 days earlier so we were playing a game of under water charades. He was trying to tell me to let a little bit of water into my mask, shake my head around and then blow it out with my nose.
I didn’t understand any of that. What I did was open the bottom of my mask, let a face full of water in to almost drown me and then slightly panic when I realized I was going to die forty feet under water. Our “guide” looked mostly terrified that I was about to panic. My mermaid reflexes kicked in and I somehow managed to calmly take my breather out of my mouth, put my mask that was full of water back on my face and use my nose to blow all the water out before putting my breather back in my mouth and giving him two thumbs up that I was neither panicking or going to die.
I could actually see the relief on his face. So we started exploring again. And again, I could not recall our lesson from a few days earlier. To this day, I don’t remember if he said not to use your arms to “swim” under water. In reality, you just need to kick your fins, but I’m used to making those sweeping under water motions to move forward. At one point, I moved my arms in a sweeping motion to move forward and impaled myself on a sea urchin.
I looked down and saw about a dozen or more porcupine looking needles sticking out of my arm. I quickly pulled out what I could see and saw little ribbons of blood starting to float through the water. Cue second almost panic attack. I just kept thinking about blood and sharks. After realizing that this was exactly the way I wanted to die, I decided to say fuck it and just move on with my day. I released my hand from my bleeding arm and felt the sting of the salt water every time I moved my arm. At this point, it still hadn’t clicked in my brain that I didn’t need to move my arms at all to swim. Flea market guy reminded me of that (over and over) after we got out of the water safely.
Once we were back on shore, I looked at my arm that was red and swollen and still bleeding in places. I went straight to google to see if I was going to die. It was a split jury. I opted to not go to the hospital, but instead, go back to where we were staying and put vinegar compresses on it. It was still quite red and swollen by the time we left the beach. Over the next few months, most of the spots where I was jabbed slowly started to mostly disappear, except for one spot that would still feel like it was poking me when I would lay my arm down on the desk or if I touched it the wrong way.
I kept telling FMG that I still had a piece of sea urchin in me. He thought I was just being paranoid and having phantom pains like those people in that movie the Ruins. Over the last week, that piece of sea urchin decided it did not like living inside me any more and started pushing toward the surface of my skin. Yesterday, I finally thought maybe I could get to it. I started picking at it because I could literally feel the tip of it. I was driving when that happened. When I got home, I went straight to the bathroom to grab some tweezers and then into the office to grab FMG’s magnifying goggles that he uses for his coin collection. I called him in and asked him to pinch the skin around the red mark I had made by picking and then I jabbed those tweezers in that little hole and when I squeezed them together, they actually had a hold of something. For a minute, I thought I was crazy, but I pulled anyway. And then it happened, I pulled what looked like a two inch barb out of my arm!
In reality, it was only about 1/4 inch. I was wearing magnifying glasses, remember? But it looked way bigger as it was coming out of my arm like some awful episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
I actually thought it was pretty cool to be part sea urchin for a while. It just kind of solidified my identity as a mermaid. I was kind of sad to see it go, but I’ve saved the poker in a little keepsake box so I will always remember that time I went scuba diving and became part sea urchin!