Some stingrays post no threat
I felt a pain in my right foot. It felt as if I had made contact with a piece of broken glass. I noticed a slightly bleeding wound.
Within minutes, an excruciating feeling crept up my spinal column. I knew what was responsible: the barb of a stingray.
I limped to the nearest lifeguard station, about half a mile away.
A couple of lifeguards looked at my swollen foot and one of them said, “Stingray?”
They directed me to a bench and arranged for a bucket of hot water.
After scalding my foot, it managed to reduce the pain by about 30 percent. A lifeguard, seeing the irritation on my face, added, “We can’t give you anything for legal reasons. We would be liable if we prescribed anything.”
After an hour of soaking my limb, I called my wife and asked her to pick me up.
When I got home, I put the kettle to boil and re-enacted the whole foot-in-bucket thing, and after four hours the pain subsided.
When I started sharing my experience, stories of discomfort made my reaction seem tame. The bravest person I know, a big-wave rider, got stung near his knee, “I was on the ground cradling my knee and rocking back and forth for four hours,” he told me recently, “Tears were running down my face, and the only relief I got was laughing at myself for crying.”
I remembered this other guy who used to surf Black’s in the ’80s. I forgot his name, but he got tagged by a giant ray at La Jolla Shores, which put him in a coma for three days and gave him an artificial knee for the rest of his life.