1/8/21 – Hawaii Day 2: Stung by a Jellyfish
I awoke refreshed from a great night’s sleep and headed straight for the beach as soon as the sun rose behind Diamond Head. The water was a perfect temperature, just slightly cooler than the air. I noticed a “beware of jellyfish” sign on the beach. As I waded into the waist-high water I strolled past one. He was a transparent white color and looked harmless enough. I had my swim goggles so I could watch out for him and his kind as I swam parallel to the concrete barricade placed between the ocean and the beach to provide a magnificent endless pool, in reverse, for swimmers.
The rowdy ocean sprayed over the barricade from the other side. I would swim twenty feet or so from the barricade to miss being splashed. Down from the pier to the end of the bar and back was ¼ mile, I would later learn from another swimmer. I alternated from freestyle to back stroke as I did at the gym back home before it was closed for COVID. 100 strokes crawling face down then flipping over for 100 backstrokes.
It was going swimmingly well, as they say, until I felt a stinging sensation on the inside of my right arm. It was uncomfortable but I kept swimming until I finished my half-mile swim goal. As I waded back to the beach a young jogger passed by. She noticed me examining my inner arm and guessed, “Jellyfish?” I told her I was pretty sure that was the case. “Put vinegar on it,” she advised. As the jogger continued on a man joined in to also offer some advice. He told me he had been stung in the face a few days before. He recommended swimming in a tightly fitting long sleeve shirt, as he did. For the treatment of the sting, he also suggested vinegar or urine to relieve the sting. I wondered if this might be the origin of the expression “piss and vinegar.”
When I got back to the room the whole inside of my arm was red and stinging. I had no vinegar on hand but I was full of the other. I peed into a shallow bowl and poured it over half of my arm, from the elbow down. I wanted to test the treatment to see if it worked. Sure enough, as the urine evaporated from my forearm, I experienced a pleasant cooling sensation, so I poured the rest of the bowl over the rest of my affected arm. It worked! I looked forward to my next swim. I would gradually build back up to a mile a day, where I left off before COVID way back in March. That was 10 months ago but it seems like 10 years.
Early in the morning I would have the whole ocean to myself. It’s the most perfect, ideal place I’ve ever swum: no chlorine and no flip turns! I surmised I must have blindly swum into that jellyfish as I was doing the backstroke. I never saw the menacing coelenterate. Tomorrow I would wear a long sleeve shirt like the man suggested. I came here mainly to ride my solar powered electric bike, but I wasn’t about to allow my blissful early morning swims to be spoiled by a spineless invertebrate.