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The Stinging Menace
Come on Syd, there’s a big wave coming,” I shouted to my sister.
With a puppy dog face, she replied, “But I don’t wanna go out that deep!”
“It’s only a few more feet and the water’s just up to my waist,” I persuaded.
“I really don’t wanna go; there could be sharks out there!” she cried.
I swam away with her trailing far behind, but as the tide went out, and I swam farther, the unknown dangers got worse.
August 28th, 2007, in beautiful Myrtle Beach, started out as a great day. “Bath tub” warm beach water, bleach white sand, and the wonderfully relaxing sunshine. What could go wrong? I presumed nothing.
There had been no warning about the jellyfish that existed in the dark depths of the water. We moved around freely not thinking about what could be just below our dangling feet. Considering the gorgeous weather of the day, who would even think twice about possible dangers? As I slipped off my boogie board, I felt a minor, but painful sting shoot through my right leg. I thought little of it but as I shifted my weight to get back on the board, something grabbed hold of my left leg, but this time it didn’t let go.
This unknown creature caused an excruciating pain. A shock ran through my body from head to toe. It felt as though I had extreme pins and needles in my leg. The pain was so intense; I didn’t think I would be able to move. I began to run as fast as I could with the water attempting to push me back, and the pain hammering at my leg.
“Sydney, come on!!” I cried.
“Haley, what happened?!” she screamed back at me.
“I have no clue, just move faster!” I pleaded with tears welling up in my eyes. I didn’t know exactly what had happened at the time. All I knew was that my leg was heavy with pain!
I limped up the beach as fast as my badly injured leg would allow. I continued to check for any sign of what had happened and slowly red lines appeared. The pain was still nagging at me, causing everything to turn into a blur of colors. I got to my dad with tears streaming down my face, unable to control my trembling leg. He didn’t seem to understand how much pain I was in, for he kept on chatting away on his cell phone. When I finally got him off the phone, we slowly made our way over to the lifeguard, who told us that it was a jellyfish sting, as he scraped the jelly from my leg. The pain I had endured seemed too extreme for it to be a basic jellyfish, but I believed what the lifeguard had told me.
He told me to stay in the hot tub for at least 10 minutes and the stinging feeling should quickly fade, so I listened. Two painstaking hours later, the stinging was just as bad, except now the lines were swollen like balloons. The swelling made it very difficult to walk. I noticed that the marks were symmetrical above and below the crease behind my knee, creating an odd pattern. The sting may have been slightly amusing to me, but it was most definitely not fun having people look at you as if you have two heads. That’s the reaction I was getting for a week.
A few days later, my parents met a man who worked for the hotel we staying were in. Through their conversation about my leg, we learned that it was no jellyfish sting, but was actually caused by a Japanese Man-o-war; a sometimes deadly creature. This explained why the pain had been so severe and long-lasting.
The rest of my vacation was still relatively enjoyable, even though I could barely walk up stairs. We looked up what a man-o-war is and found that it’s a cross between a jellyfish and an octopus and has numerous 5 foot tentacles. Many people said I should be proud of my rare wound, but I thought they were crazy.
Whenever I look at my everlasting scar, I realize how lucky I am. I may have had to endure extreme pain for a very long time, but that’s far from the worst that could have happened. Man-o-wars are potentially deadly animals. If it hadn’t been for my quick reaction to the initial sting, I probably would have gotten stung much worse. Additionally, I might have ended up walking out of the water with a huge jellyfish hanging from the back of my leg. I’m sure that would have gotten my dad off the phone quicker.
I’ve learned from this experience that you should always pay close attention to your surroundings. I knew that going deep into the water was a risk, but obviously that didn’t stop me. There is always the possibility that danger lurks in the most unlikely areas and I disregarded this fact. Due to my undeniable carelessness, I ended up hurt, no matter how many people say I should be proud and think of my permanent scar as a trophy.