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Surfing Soapbox: Back from the injury brink

Good day, Laguna. It’s good to be back after I missed writing my column for the first time in a decade or more. Although it was said that I was “under the weather,” I appreciate all of your e-mails asking me where I was and not how I was.

The truth is I was injured surfing Dec. 14. My karma, I think. Normally for the last few years I have really tried my best to not surf after rain. It’s been my one-person protest of how polluted the oceans are after rain. However, on this day the waves were just too good. And I paid the price. Just like a scene out of “Caddy Shack.”

Having the time of my life surfing by my parent’s house, I came screaming down the face of a wave when out of nowhere this rock just stood up out of the water. If I’m not mistaken it was smiling at me. In not such a swift moment I tried to jump over it, only to jump right into it shin first, wham, at the moment of impact with my whole leg flexed. I knew I was headed to the emergency room.

Once on the beach I looked down at my shin where my 4-millimeter wetsuit looked to have been cleanly sliced through with a razor blade, all the way down to my shinbone, which wasn’t smiling at me. I rolled up my wetsuit over the wound to apply pressure and limped to the bottom of the stairs before taking a few short minutes to capture my composure. I lay on my back in my full wetsuit and thought of the scene in “Caddy Shack” where the old guy is having the game of his life before lifting his club in celebration and being struck by lightning.


I laughed out loud until it hurt too much, then limped up the stairs and the hill and drove myself to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach, and was wheeled in, in a wet and sandy wetsuit that had to be cut off, and then they stitched me up.

Ironically, the real pain happened two mornings later when I awoke at 4 a.m. in the most unbearable pain ever. My cut was now infected. Worse, I know there are going to be a lot of angry kids, after their mothers read this and tell them not to go surfing after the rain. Sorry, but it’s probably not worth it.

It was first thought that it was MRSA, but then the infection came back as “unknown.” The last 10 days have been rough, but I can’t tell you how thankful I am that it wasn’t worse and my infection has made a turn for the better. The best Christmas gift of all will be spending it with my family and friends, healthy and well.

Well, that and making it to the Sandpiper on Sunday night for the “Return of the El Caminos,” another special Laguna gathering of family and friends celebrating the life and times of Laguna’s musical genius Joey Petrovich, who sadly passed away on this date in 2003. Petrovich was a friend to many, and this will be an evening certainly to remember as many of Laguna greatest musicians will be paying tribute to a truly dear friend.


I hope to see you all there.

Merry Christmas, Laguna.


JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. His websites include AlohaSchoolofSurfing and ECOWarrior He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha