Attack of the Jellyfish

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I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.  The year: 1996.  I was only 10 years old and I was summering with my family at our old beach house.  That was the summer the United States hosted the Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was also the last summer I would allow myself to go deep enough in the ocean to where I could no longer touch the ocean floor.  My philosophy: if I can’t see my feet, I am in too deep.

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It was a typical day at the beach.  My mom and dad were reading.  I was building a sand castle.  And my brother was listening to his Walkman.  We were each allowed to bring a friend with us to the beach.  My friend was helping me build the sandcastle and my brother’s friend was also zombied out listening to music (the things cool middle schoolers did, yo know).  It finally got so hot that my parents wanted to get in the water to cool off, which meant I could go further out to sea than I could if I went in by myself.  I was scared of octopuses, sharks, and Predator (um, it is totally a rational fear for a 10-year-old.  He can be INVISIBLE in the water- HELLO!?)

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We swim out to the sand bar and then a little beyond.  It has to be somewhat shallow because my mom is digging for sand dollars with her toes, but it was still too deep for me to touch the bottom.  I just hung on like I was in a Baby Bjorn.  My brother and his friend swam a little further so I decided I could put my fears aside and do the same.  Little did I know it would be the biggest mistake of my life…

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Not moments later I was swimming between and around my family and friends, but not drifting to far out of their reach (you know, in case I got eaten).  I started to feel this weird tingle on my toes, feet, and legs.  You know when you wrapped string around your fingers as a child and watched your fingertips get red and tingly?  That is what it felt like.  “I must be swimming through some seaweed…?”  I did not let it phase me.  Until I started feeling it on my stomach, chest, and neck.  AN OCTOPUS?!  I’d only ever seen one in The Goonies…

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Screaming and flailing, you would think I was being murdered at sea.  Something was happening and it was not a seaweed folly.  My mom takes me by the arm and she makes a face; she knows what is happening to me.  I can tell because of how quickly she is trying to get me back to shore.  And when my body begins to ascend out of the water, I can hear my mom and dad gasping and almost screaming as my body is literally covered in…. JELLYFISH.  They are all over my body.  Now how the hell did I swim through a school of jellyfish and no one else was touched?  Just my luck… time for me to change my morning cereal…

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The combination of the sand and jellyfish stung and burned to no end.  My mom began removing the jellyfish from me but some were harder to dislodge than others.  After they were all gone, my body was covered in red bumps, scrapes, and lesions.  And all I could hear was the argument between my brother and dad because my brother wanted to pee on me.  Apparently he saw on the Discovery Channel that you are supposed to pee on jellyfish stings.  Yea, bro.  I am sure you are truly looking out for the well-being of your younger, non-annoying brother.  And that’s the only reason you want to pee on me… RUDE.

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Thankfully I was not peed on.  I was taken to the lifeguard tower and they drenched me in vinegar.  I was rushed to the ER, but by this point my eyes had swollen shut and my lips looked like Bubba Gump.  My body was itching beyond belief as I was breaking out into hives.  I found out the hard way just how allergic to jellyfish I was.  And I would spend the rest of the week and vacation in a bathtub full of baking soda.  It was like my own heaven of itching and relaxing…

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Do you have any fears of the ocean?  Anything bad ever happen to you while swimming?

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35 thoughts on “Attack of the Jellyfish

  1. I love swimming in the sea and in the ocean, but I have to be able touch the bottom and the water has to be clear. When I was little however I used to swim as far as I could. But in our Black Sea we never had issues with jelly fish or any other wild “predators” haha. Just harmless little fish.

  2. Oh my holy crud, you poor soul. :[! I was going to ask if you got peed on, but figured that I shouldn’t do that on twitter, since I think I do have a couple doctors who actually follow me on there. 😮 I’m sorry you had to go through that! :[

    • I’m glad I learned the lesson of staying out of the ocean as a child… much easier than if the memories were as vivid if it happened as an adult lol

  3. Oh my gosh. I can’t even handle the ocean. The beach, yes. But the water? Ugh. I, too, had a traumatic jellyfish experience as a child. That’s what pools are for.

    • We could create a support group lol. Pools for the win! Except I was afraid of a giant mutant alligator in the pool… and also Predator still lol

  4. I’m petrified of the ocean. I loved it when I was younger but now it scares the crap out of me. I haven’t gone in past my ankles in a long time. The worst thing for me was swimming into a bunch of fire coral when I was snorkeling in the Caribbean years ago. Terrible terrible pain. Scary ocean.

    • I felt the same way when I was younger; almost makes you wonder how much gaining knowledge as you get older creates fear that way. I DO want to snorkel and scuba dive (AT SOME POINT). As you pointed out, there are still creepy crawlies, coral, and SHARKS (I have seen too many horror movies about people being left behind. No, thanks!)

  5. I am scared of the ocean, for reals. I never learned how to swim because of this. Haha. And this post just gave me goosebumps. Lol. Scary, scary!

    • Well the thing about the ocean is since it is saltwater you can float a lot more and swim a little less (as compared to a pool, anyway). But if the current is too strong then, yeah, you’ll need to use those swimming arms!

  6. I’m all about not going deeper then I can reach with my feet! What you have described is horrifying! I can imagine the burning pain from such an amount of stings >.< Poor you!

    • It’s almost a catch 22! I want to know that I have the option to feel my feet (means there’s not monsters lurking below to pull me under too deep) but then I do not really want to walk either (stepping on crabs, jellyfish, shells…) What to do!?

  7. OMG, that’s scary.
    I’m really afraid of going to water (beach or pool) because first and foremost I don’t know how to swim. Second, I always imagine unwanted creatures would attack me. That’s so SCARY!!!

    • I definitely love the pool – laying out in the sun, drinking some beer/margaritas, reading a book, feeling the breeze…. ah… I need another vacation soon 🙂

  8. As a person who has love affairs with the ocean (hell my whole blog is about it) I am so so sorry that you had to experience this on your vacation as a kid! I could only imagine how scared you were. The ocean certainly has evolved many strange creatures with strange abilities.

    I never had a bad experience like this other than stepping on a crab. He straightened me right out, haha.

    • Crabs can be a whole new level of terrifying. I was between napping and blacking out one day at the beach and I rolled over on my stomach. When I woke up I saw this long stick thing wiggling around in the sand – turns out it was a horseshoe crab. I screamed and ran for my life…

      • Now horseshoe crabs are harmless, but I cant imagine after your experience how you felt like that. Theres a beach close to me where they mate. In the evening, they cover the beach.

        But I legit stepped on Sebastian. He pinched me.

      • They just look like the are pets to Predator or something. This guy was being cruel to one of them – swinging it around by its tail or whatever that is. People… ugh… I prefer to just run away from them.. lol.

        Poor little Sebastian… I bet he was a feisty one!

  9. So scary!! Didn’t know jelly fish could do this much. I am terrified of oceans, just the thought of it makes me feel like disappearing somewhere …maybe under my bed.

    • And the ones that got me were just your average, basic milky white looking ones. I did not even get to have a tryst with the really cool, spectacular looking jellyfish. Sigh…

    • There are pros and cons to each, for sure! Pools can be a little less scary (unless there are a lot of kids around with uncontrollable bladders, etc. Then I think I would prefer to take on the jellyfish!)

  10. Oh my god I was reading this on the bus and when the part with you COVERED in jellyfish- I outwardly cringed, I must have looked like a right weirdo. That’s a horror story if I have ever heard one! Thanks for sharing!

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