by Wicky Poarch
She won the title “Miss Sting Ray” that summer. Looking back on it now, it was well deserved. She was blond, fit, and looked smashing in a bathing suit. She taught aerobics, and yoga classes at the YMCA, so why shouldn’t she look that good, even though she was just about to turn 49, but she was shy and would never have willingly entered that contest.
Our group of eight girlfriends, all in our forties and fifties were at the beach for our annual “girls’ getaway.” Having driven four hours, eager to take in the sun and sea, we packed our snacks, sun block, towels, and books in beach bags and lugged a big EZ UP canopy down to the beach from our cabin two blocks away. (The EZ UP is a whole “nother” story.) After we had lazed and basked in the sun for too long, somebody suggested a walk. We strolled along the beach in the surf and tide pools from the long pier to the pink two-story apartments and back several times. Dee kept saying, “Slide your feet.” I thought she was playing, thinking it would be like skating on the sand. It was easier to pick my feet up, so I ignored her. Evidently, Yolanda did too. She yelped from behind me, and I turned to see her panicked dancing in the water. “IT BIT ME!” she shrieked. “Am I dying? Am I dying?”
SHARK was my first thought! There on her heel was a dime sized, bloody wound from the evil devil ray that had speared her. First, panic, remembering poor, dead Steve Irwin, then action! We spotted the Life Guard stand and yelled as we ran to it, carrying her between two of us with the rest of us following urgently behind in a tight pack. The young lifeguards were not nearly as concerned as we thought they oughta be. “Kids!” I thought with disdain. They nonchalantly told us to take her to the nearest emergency room, a Doc in a Box. Madly driving my red Jeep Cherokee with Yolanda in the front seat, and Pamela in the back navigating us to the Urgent Care, I watched suspiciously as Yolanda’s muscles reacted to the Sting Ray’s poison and jerked like she was frightened of my driving. “Humph! I’m saving your life.” I thought, but I fixed the scene in my mind to laugh about later IF she recovered.
After a solid hour of waiting, sighing, and pacing, Pam and I, without asking, closely followed Yolanda and the doctor into the treatment room, stepping all over his heels on the way in. The other five girls arrived en masse at the waiting room with foods and chocolate, sustenance for the ordeal. They were so thoughty!
In the room, while I changed the hot water in the basin where Yolanda’s foot was soaking, (the only real treatment needed) Pam emailed Yolanda’s husband, Lawrence, with updates and pictures from her phone. (I especially love the shot of me ministering to Yolanda.) The ladies took turns visiting, offering delicious tidbits, and ooohing over the wound. It was a regular revolving door in there! Four hours in Urgent Care passed quickly with all our bustling about, and Yolanda, armed with Lidocaine and some other pain medications, was finally released, having been assured that with some residual soreness and a little scar, she would fully recover. Later, I told her, “I only know of two people who were stung by sting rays, and the other one is dead. You deserve the title, ‘Miss Sting Ray!’”
She carries the title (and the scar) to this day. Don’t think we don’t all laugh and reenact that muscle jerking business, though.
So now, a few years later, we are preparing for our next beach getaway in a few weeks. All us girls are thankful that Miss Sting Ray is alive and well and will be with us for the trip. I’ll keep you posted.