The failed openwater swim that landed me in the hospital

My plan was simple: Go for a short openwater swim.

Since I rarely get openwater swims in while at home in Paris, I planned to make the most of my beach time in Tampa.  I had a few different openwater swim tracking devices with me, but the primary one I was testing was the Polar V800.

Of course, the V800 doesn’t actually track openwater (or indoor) swims.  But since I know that many of you will still be curious how it works anyway, I figured I’d do a 15-30 minute swim along the beach for demonstration purposes as part of my in-depth review.

It was to be the last item of the day before heading off to run some errands.  While I had a typical ‘swimmers’ swimsuit in my bag, I was too lazy to go change into it.  And since I didn’t much care about the pace for this swim, I skipped it and just kept on more beach-appropriate apparel.  So I grabbed my swim goggles, swim cap, three watches, and a small camera and headed on out.  I waded out until the water was roughly waist deep – perhaps 25-35 yards off-shore at most.  It’s pretty shallow in these parts.  From there I snapped a couple of quick product pics:

P1150350

I then put away my camera and prepared to start the swim.  I decided to go just a touch bit deeper into the murky water so I wouldn’t be scrapping the bottom with my stroke. Roughly chest-deep was plenty.

It was as I walked forward that I stepped in what felt like soft seaweed.  I instantly thought it was strange to have such seaweed when all I had seen and felt until this point was super-fine grained sand.

My thought was immediately interrupted however by a jabbing pain into my foot.

At first, I figured that perhaps I was bitten by a crab or the like.  But this seemed to hurt a lot more than a crab would.  Then, about 10-15 seconds from the initial pain, the entire foot started throbbing.  Also sorta odd for a simple crab bite.

I then pulled up my foot to take a look, and noticed some sort of mark, kinda like if someone jabbed you with a pencil.  I deduced that it wasn’t a shark bite.  But otherwise it didn’t really make sense to me.

I figured the pain would go away in another minute or so, and I’d be good to continue.  Except, it didn’t.

The Girl had been watching from shore as she was going to walk along the beach roughly with me as I swam.  She was getting a bit concerned at why I was apparently hobbling around.

I went ahead and walked on up to shore to get a better look at things with the foot.  At this point my foot was on fire, and I just kinda wanted to sit down somewhere.  So we went up to our beach chairs – where I curiously watched the blood stream out of my foot and turn the sand red.

While sitting there the pain continued to increase and slowly seep up my leg.  Further, I was getting a little bit lightheaded.  I decided I’d go rinse things off inside and I’d be all good.

Instead, I made it about 15 yards before collapsing to the ground just in front of the showers.  Swim bag and all right where I fell.

IMG_6573

At this point things got pretty fuzzy.  I don’t believe I lost consciousness entirely – but everything was like a whiteout and totally blurry.  Within what felt like a couple of seconds a small crowd had gathered as I lie mostly unresponsive facing the sky. I was alternating between being shaking with being cold and sweating hot.  Not to mention wanting to both throw-up and not-throw-up.  That of course is in addition to the radiating pain from my foot and up my leg.

Said crowd had all sorts of suggestions:  They suggested that perhaps I was drunk (I’d only had water).  Perhaps I had heat stroke (I was under an umbrella for only about 90 minutes).  Perhaps I needed food (the hotel buffet had served me well, along with recent cookies).  Perhaps I was stung by a jellyfish (ok, somewhat viable).  They again suggested I was drunk (at this point, I wish).  I wasn’t really able to explain well that those were all non-accurate spectator suggestions.

I think all that came out was roughly mmmmmahsdfndfdmmsdf.  Roughly.

Thankfully, with The Girl nearby, she was able to explain the brief dip in the water and the random foot bite situation.  The hotel thus immediately called 911, they were apparently not in favor of random people collapsed on their beach step below the tiki bar.

Within what felt like only a couple minutes there were both firefighters and ambulance staff on hand.  They soon had me hooked up to all sorts of stuff.  Their primary concern was my trouble breathing, along with extremely low blood pressure.  My primary concern was the random peanut gallery participant who was insistent a round of hotel meat tenderizer to my foot was my solution.  Along with another that suggested peeing on it was the way to go.

Thankfully, the firefighters had other plans – which involved needles, oxygen, and really damn hot water.  Actually, not thankfully on that hot water piece.  The first bucket given to them by the hotel was scalding hot.  Soon they were able to taper it down a bit though.  Apply that to the foot helped to slow the movement of the pain up my leg.

IMG_6575

The hot water acts as a way to break down the toxins injected from the barb of a sting ray.  While pee might have technically been a valid suggestion elsewhere, the real reason to use urine is the heat (warmth).  It has nothing to do with the content of urine.  I learned during the ambulance ride that for unhappy sea animal bites you’ll use hot water to neutralize the toxin, versus for land animals you’ll use cold water.  This is because the toxins break up in opposite climates to what they normally live in. Here’s more on the fun, if you’re bored. Tip: I don’t recommend doing a Google Image search for ‘Stingray barbs’.  You’ll likely lose your lunch.

Oh, and yes, as noted above, I was then sent to the hospital via ambulance.  And no, the ride was definitely not free.

IMG_6578-2

They had pretty much got me awake and stabilized at this point, but the foot still hurt like a @#$@#.  One Twitter follower noted the below:

I don’t know what giving birth feels like, but hopefully for The Girl’s sake the above is true (far down the road).

The reason for the hospital was primarily to see if the stingray barb was still in my foot.  To do that, there was an x-ray machine involved.  They also spent more time slowly dissipating the pain via more extremely hot water.  Note, I was still sitting around in my bathing suit this entire time.  And, since I had collapsed onto the sand, I brought lots of that with me onto the stretcher and subsequently into the room.  I was like my own private beach party in ER room #6 at the hospital.  A party that towards the end did include some funny responses from my personal peanut gallery (you):

About 4 hours or so after I began this whole mess, things were feeling pretty good again.  The x-ray’s had come back negative for barb leftovers, but they noted they can’t be 100% certain the machine would see everything.  I was still a bit sore, as if you had a nasty splinter, but otherwise feeling fine.  They also gave me an antibiotic, because the risk of infection from the Gulf water.

From there we got a taxi-ride back to the hotel.  Ironically, the very first thing the taxi driver said as we stepped into the car and gave him our destination was (jokingly): “You didn’t get hit by a stingray, did ya?”

Uhh…check.

He was blown away that I actually did.  The next thing he noted was: “You didn’t do the stingray shuffle?”

Uhh….No.

As with every other person that we met that day during our predicament (including every hospital, firefighter, and EMT members).  Everyone asked.

I’d like to point out it wasn’t really on the brochure.  The hotel upon check-in didn’t exactly say: “Here’s your hot DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies, your room is on the 5th floor and, oh by the way, don’t forget to do the stingray shuffle!”

Nonetheless, noted for future use.

Thankfully, the entire experience (while very painful) is fairly short.  Though, the bill…not so much:

IMG_6561

I was up the next morning though, albeit still a bit sore in the foot, but out in the water – knocking out that planned openwater swim.  Gotta get back on the stingray saddle eventually, right?

(Side note: The Girl and I have an agreed upon bilateral policy to take pictures for potential later use in such situations.  I did make them black and white however, since with color they looked pretty sketchy as you can very clearly see I’m blue in the face.)

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168 Comments

  1. Johnny g

    Doesnt sound like much fun. Get better and glad you are ok.

    Reply
  2. OK, I couldn't help googling Stingray barb...I'm surprised you had the guts to go back in the water! So glad you are alright.

    Reply
  3. Manson

    Ray vs Ray
    Glad you are OK!
    Take Care!

    Reply
  4. Rossco

    Reading this reminded me about the FAQ on the Ironman Cairns (Australia) website, I had a laugh at the time.. very matter of fact tone in the FAQ. This is it Verbatim between ---
    ---
    Is there any dangerous flora or fauna in Cairns?
    You should be mindful that waters in Far North Queensland can be home to the following marine life:

    Crocodiles
    Sharks
    Stone Fish
    Oysters and barnacles on the rocks
    Stingrays in the shallow waters - shuffle your feet rather than lifting them out of the water and putting them back down
    Stingers
    Box Jelly Fish
    ---
    So they have dutifully included the shuffle instructions.

    Continue to get well!!

    Reply
  5. Reading this meant you were ok, but still, a certain bad feeling was building up through the end.., so glad that you are well now.

    Besides, I am still waiting for that V800 full review as well as the other products which you are so godd at reviewung ;-)

    Good recovery!

    Reply
  6. Hans

    I see some reviews of vibram 5 fingers or similar footwear coming up :)

    glad you are ok :)

    Reply
    • Paul S replied

      Do they make them with Kevlar? Vibram Gatorskins?

      Reply
  7. Mario Henrique

    So you already left us without a Easter Giveaway and almost left us with no DCRainmaker awesomeness at all?

    Reply
  8. Stung!

    Glad you're ok!

    We have quite a few Sting Rays in San Diego. I'm not sure what attracts the rays but they tend to come in packs; during peak times lifeguards will be carting away 6-8 people per hour (despite very prominent shuffle signs). It usually makes the local paper when this happens.

    I know several people who have been stung, but none seem to have been quite as bad as yours.

    Reply
  9. Elle

    You might consider asking the hotel to pay the hospital bill. Particularly if you were on the hotel's beach and the hotel did not warn you about the risk of sting rays. Feel better.

    Reply
    • Bravo4699 replied

      are you serious????

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'll give credit to the hotel in being overly friendly (in all aspects of our stay, including the incident).

      It was actually somewhat funny in fact, in that when the hotel staff rushed out to find me there, they asked The Girl our last name (as I lie sprawled on the ground per above pic). When she responded, he said "Oh, you know you have a package at the front desk". They were fairly impressive with remembering names...even before the incident.

      Reply
  10. speggio

    The first thing I ve done is to image google "‘Stingray barbs"...............

    I am glad you are well now

    Reply
  11. hollyoak

    Wow, scary, amazing recovery though, no issues walking or running?

    Reply
  12. Alberto Stochino

    Oh Ray... so glad you're fine.

    Reply
  13. keep well Ray! :)

    Reply
  14. Pierre

    Take care and you ll be fine soon :)

    I m happy i m french, when i see such bill.

    Reply
  15. I suppose there were too many "Rays" in the water at the same time ;-)

    Glad that you are well again!

    Reply
  16. Torstein

    Scary stuff, glad you're okay :)
    By the way, did the V800 record heartrate during the ordeal?

    Reply
    • Kevin replied

      Yeah, we're going to need that HRV file from the watch.

      Reply
  17. mucher

    Ugh... hope you fell better now - that's one nasty barb!

    Reply
  18. Koen

    Wow I can't possibly imagine how shitty you've must have felt. All the best to you Ray!

    Reply
  19. jolaca

    Glad you are fine now!! No comment about the bill! :-((

    Reply
  20. David Manley

    Ray 1 Ray 0

    Get well soon Ray. Could have been much worse (although admittedly it could have been a lot better too)

    Reply
  21. Vj

    Lucky man! Steve Irwin didn't have the same luck!

    Reply
  22. Frank

    Hope you are doing better Ray! you are sorta risking your life for your reader :(

    $2200 is a lot, at least in France it would have been free!

    Reply
    • Eli replied

      Free medical care in the US? haha...

      Although in some areas the fire dept (they run the ambulances) only charges the insurance and never charges the patient.

      Reply
    • Victor replied

      In France, as in the EU, is not free. You have already paid with your taxes. The difference is how your government spends your taxes. From an European living in the US.

      Reply
    • Matt replied

      Nothing is free.

      Reply
  23. Jeff

    Hi Ray,

    If you live in Paris and want to swim open water, I suggest you to go to Torcy (around 30km east Paris). There's a lake open for triathletes on Saturday morning from May to September. Likelihood to be stung by a stingray is in the region of 10e-50 (you can never exclude the scenario of a drunk truck driver transporting stingrays to an aquarium and crashing into the lake but quite unlikely ;-)
    You're supposed to pay a membership (around 15 euros / year) through your tri club but there's no control at the entrance. While swimming you're supposed to wear a hat with a special logo on it. I have several of these hats, I'll be happy to offer you one if you're interested.
    Wish you a good recovery!
    Jeff

    Reply
  24. Ilia

    You are lucky you can now joke about it -- great story -- great you're ok!!

    Reply
  25. Meik

    Hey Ray,

    wish you all the best and hope you'll never again have such experience. Thanks for your blog!!!

    Reply
  26. Kevin Tan

    Do take care and have a speedy recovery.

    Reply
  27. Andre

    Good to hear you are recovering well. hopefully youre covered by Insurance for that bill ?

    Reply
  28. Sorry to hear about the sting -- sounds like a worse version of our weaver fish stings... get well soon!

    Jules @ CornwallRunningNews

    Reply
  29. Maxbre

    Glad you are Ok, bill apart!
    Take care
    Ciao!

    Reply
  30. Hu3ain

    I'm grateful that you are well enough to swim again and post about the incident. I promise that i wont be disappointed if a few days pass without you posting on your blog as long as you never miss doing the stingray shuffle.

    Reply
  31. Stipek

    Get well soon! Thanks for risking life and limb just to give us a good review of the V800!

    Reply
  32. Hope you had some kind of insurance - i have it always when travelling across the world (you are nevertheless now resident in Europe not in the US)...

    for example Coris (there are other) would most probably cover that as you were just doing normal tourist activities... extended insurance for a marathon in the US (5 days of travelling + competition) costs from 25 EUR upwards...

    Reply
    • hollyoak replied

      Wouldn't Visa cover this if the plane tickets were purchased with a Visa Gold (or above) card?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      In theory, according to the high level benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa card, it would (the card I used for the flight portion). Though, finding any detail about said benefit is slim. At the moment, I'll go the insurance coverage re-reimbursement route once I figure it out.

      And then failing that, the CC insurance route.

      Reply
  33. drakesky

    Ouch, that sounds painful! Get well soon :)

    Reply
  34. gingerneil

    Ouch... and yes, I did google it! :)
    Glad to hear you straight back in the water - top effort.

    Reply
  35. If you look only at the pictures, you can even play it backwards: you've got a bill of 2.000 dollar (2.000?! Did you ask for the royal-deluxe-treatment?), so you had to be taken to hospital, they hooked you up on a lot of machines and afterwards, you went for a relaxing swim. ^^

    Reply
  36. rabbit

    Good recovery, get well soon!!!

    Reply
  37. Ola

    Not nice. :-(
    Glad you're better though, and I'll cross my fingers hoping you'll avoid such situations in the future.

    Reply
  38. Rodrigo Valle

    Hi Ray,
    Very sorry to hear about your stingray encounter, hope you get better and back on training soon.
    You are a great read and inspiration, so we all wish you well.

    By the way, if you are considering beach and sunny destinations, consider coming to Portugal. :)
    Great beaches, food and wine is good and cheap, and the hospitals are.... free.
    As in, if you need a 5-minute stitch on a cut or 10-hour brain surgery, both are free.

    Cheers!
    Rodrigo Valle

    Reply
    • Rodrigo Valle replied

      Oh yeah, I forgot. As an European Union citizen, you get a pan-European public heath care card, which gives you nearly free access to hospitals and health-care all over Europe.
      Very convenient, no need for private insurance.

      Rodrigo

      Reply
    • empewu replied

      You don't need to be citizen - you need to work in any EU countries to be covered by health insurance in all EU countries.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct. In theory, this will all be covered by someone. For reasons I'm not quite clear on, I don't yet have the physical card that 'proves' my French health insurance.

      No matter, the additional layer of company health insurance I'm provided will indeed cover reimbursement of it from my credit card. At least I got some airlines miles out of it...

      Reply
    • John Crosby replied

      @empewu This isn't correct. You don't need to work in the EU or have a work permit to get health coverage. In the UK (still part of the EU the last time I looked) anyone physically present in the country will get free treatment from A&E all the way to GP care. Any tourist or migrant gets the same treatment as the tax paying locals. We thus have a new problem called health tourism. Fly to London, go shopping get some free healthcare. People even fly in specifically to give birth!

      Reply
    • John Crosby replied

      Glad Ray is well after the Florida sting. Would a full wet suit have prevented the sting?

      I wonder what would have happened if the person stung couldn't afford to pay $2,500 on their credit card. Would they just leave you to die on the beachfront?

      Portugal is a fabulous location. Good to have that peace of mind that you are in a socially civilised country (Canada, Portugal or UK) where healthcare isn't rationed according to ability to pay. Having lived in UK, France and US it's still shocking for me to see private businesses running ambulance/paramedic services, purely for profit, and the economic waste of multiple firms turning up to the same incident.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The problem was really that I've moved overseas and thus let my US health insurance lapse (most US wouldn't, since there are a variety of ways that most US folks get health insurance).

      In either case, emergency medicine is given - regardless of whether or not you pay. It's posted in every medical facility & room in the US (as required by law).

      Given my wife and her family is from Canada, I understand well their system. It's easy to assume that one or the other is better. But there's a lot of cases where one system or the other is less ideal.

      And as someone else above pointed out: Health care isn't free in any country - ultimately you pay for it, either directly or indirectly (taxes).

      Reply
    • John Crosby replied

      Good points Ray. I agree care and coverage varies. For example your chances of surviving cancer in UK are statistically very poor compared to France or US.

      We all accept healthcare isn't a free resource. The difference in the UK and other socialised systems is it is free at the point of use. That's the critical differentiating point. So for the user it does feel and appear to be free.

      I had a minor car accident in UK, was treated overnight superbly and actually felt embarrassed they wouldn't let me pay for the excellent care. I would have gladly paid. It's truly an amazing system.

      Regarding US A&E. You were billed. Did they do an affordability assessment on the spot? How do they know someone is poor enough to get free treatment?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      You pay and/or provide insurance details upon exiting the hospital.

      Reply
  39. glad you're well and like other commentators i'm quite happy to be french when i see your bill... as a french doctor involved in prehospital care and ressucitation teams i'm sure you would not be charge this way in Paris (ok no stingray in PAris...)

    take care and all the rest needed.

    nfkb

    PS there are some scientific studies saying that triathlete are less prone to experience heavy pain than other people, maybe things could be worth if you were a mere recreationnal swimmer ;)

    Reply
  40. J.Griffin

    Man, so sorry to hear about your most unfortunate experience. No doubt a hard lesson learned.

    Reply
  41. Andrea

    Hey, Ray,

    Am glad you're okay. Funny, this past week I've been meaning to send you and The Girl gift cards for a RoadID as a thank you for all you've done for us (I've never noticed you or The Girl wearing one in any of your shots). Unless you already carry one, in which case I'd be more than happy for you to pass on the gift cards in a raffle to DCRainmaker readers.

    The ID would've been a huge help had The Girl not been there with you to give pertinent information. I just recently came across RoadID myself and am planning to go get one.

    Just hit me up via email if you want to sort out the gift card details :) (I'm assuming you can access my email address info from your end?)

    Reply
  42. Gigi

    You were extremely unlucky. I lived in Miami Beach for 20 years, stingrays in shallow water. I had no idea. Glad you are over the worst. Those trips to the ER are insane money wise.

    Reply
  43. Ouch! Glad you are ok.

    Reply
  44. Lior

    Sorry about your bad experience, glad you are okay now.

    Reply
  45. Jason Becher

    Glad to hear your doing well, I had to be pulled from the water after a jellyfish sting years ago and what stuck with me most was the feeling of helplessness more than the pain

    Reply
  46. Ben M

    Yikes! Glad you're ok! First thing I did after reading this was google image search stingray barbs hah

    Reply
  47. Bob

    Glad you are okay, Ray. Sorry to hear that you had this interruption to your vacation.

    Reply
  48. Glad you are okay Ray!

    Reply
  49. Mark

    $2,200 for an ambulance ride? I guess they must have charged you for all the fancy equipment time too. Either that, or Florida lets them charge more. Could be mileage too

    2 weeks ago, I was hit by a car on a run (just wrist strains, nothing icing didn't help). Ambulance bill for that was $1,800. 2 miles ride, a pair of ice packs, and 2 EMT's time. In Massachusetts.

    Reply
    • Manos replied

      Ok there something really wrong with this !!! 1800 dollars for wrist strains!!!!!! OMG

      Reply
  50. I am glad you are getting better Ray.

    Reply
  51. Don in Baltimore

    Glad you are ok Ray! No rays here in the Chesapeake...

    I wonder what the EMTs thought - why is this guy wearing 3 watches???

    Reply
  52. Harry

    Scary, but I'm very relieved that you're ok. Please take care, and consider sticking to safer pursuits, like swimming with sharks. ;-)

    Reply
  53. Mario Lira Junior

    Man, talk about being an unlucky Ray to find a Ray with the foot... we do have them around here, but they are wise enough to keep out of our way...
    By the way, congratulations on a very speedy recovery...

    Reply
  54. Matt

    Glad you're ok

    Reply
  55. Toby

    I saw some of your twitter post and hoped that you were OK, glad to see that you weren't injured too bad, get well soon

    Reply
  56. Bryan

    Glad you are ok, my heart was racing the entire read! Recover fast!

    Reply
  57. Drew

    The more important question...did you post it to Strava?

    Glad you're ok. Hope it doesn't sideline you for too long.

    Reply
  58. Rodrigo Meira

    Wow Ray .. Hope you're better ... it was quite a scare I bet ..but .. glad to know you're ok ......

    Reply
  59. Funny sh*t Ray, thanks for sharing... yet another reason why I never get in water where I can't see my feet. Glad all is well... say, did you ever get the review completed for the V800? :)

    Reply
  60. Joshua McLaughlin

    Glad you are on the mend and this write up didn't disappoint. Props to the Girl for taking the pics.

    I was thinking that your bill wasn't too bad compared to some charges I had recently. All I had was two steroid injections in my big toe with 4 X-rays. With the Dr for less than 5 minutes each time and total bill came to $1300 after insurance picked up their end.

    Reply
  61. Dave Gilson

    Personally, I got stung by a yellow jacket this weekend, so I know exactly what you had to deal with Ray.

    With overstated & obnoxious intent,
    Dave

    Reply
  62. Donna

    Living quite close to where you were, I immediately knew you got stung by a stingray. Glad you are okay. My sister-in-law was visiting a refused 'to go swimming' because of the 'animals'. She did 'walk in the water' to take a picture of a bird and promptly got stung by a stingray! Just because you can see your feet does not exept you from doing the stingray shuffle.
    Let's see the color pictures of you! We can take it!

    Reply
  63. Ahhh I googled a picture of the barb and that is SCARY. I'm glad you're okay and I hope you have a speedy recovery!

    Reply
  64. Lisa R

    Wow Ray, usually you help me spend money. This "review" mights help me save money (and what sounds like a lot of pain). I'm going to be in the Tampa area for a wedding this week and coach has some open water swims scheduled for me. I'll be staying near St Pete Beach and I knew nothing about the stingray shuffle! Glad you are ok and thanks!

    Reply
    • Donna replied

      They flick sand on their backs to blend in with the sand. Just because you can see the bottom doesn't mean you're not going to step on a stingray! Glue your feet to the bottom and shuffel

      When you are about to put your feet back down, swish your feet above the sand to disturb the sand, and alert the stingrays you are about to put your feet down. They don't want to hurt you, they just don't like getting stepped on.

      Have a good swim, and welcome to Florida LOL!

      Reply
  65. William P

    Glad you are OK.
    $2,258.52 for ED admission and x-rays?? Might be worthy of another post dedicated to the (rising) cost of healthcare in the US.

    Reply
  66. Bill

    Are you sure the ray wasn't a Samsung employee?
    Get well soon.

    Reply
  67. Nemo Brauch

    Glad you are OK, and thanks for the lesson. My folks live in the Tampa area and I've never thought about stingrays while swimming there. Kudos also to The Girl for keeping her cool and getting you help while documenting the whole thing!

    Reply
  68. Randy

    Ouch, ouch, ouch.....glad you're ok.
    My wife was stung on the foot by a stingray in Mexico. Yes, we do the shuffle every time now!

    For her, on the pain scale it was a toss up between the stingray and kidney stones. Childbirth was much further down on the list.

    Reply
  69. Magnus

    Ouch! I appreciate your sacrifice in doing these product reviews.

    Reply
  70. Daryl

    Wow! Glad you are OK. Thanks for writing up this adventure, too, as it made a pretty interesting read.

    Reply
  71. Rhett

    I grew up three blocks from the beach, and the summer that "Jaws" came out I got slashed on the ankle by a stingray. As I hobbled back to shore in about knee deep water I lifted up my leg to reveal my bleeding foot as I called out "SOMETHING *BIT* ME!".

    The comical mass exodus from the water did make me feel a little better... :)

    Reply
  72. Eli

    Any heart rate data so we can see how long it took the toxin to have an effect?

    BTW the temp required to denature the protein in stingray venom is higher then your body temp so urine won't help. Guess you're up to date with your tetanus shot now

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No HR data. I hadn't yet started the swim, and thus hadn't yet started the timer unfortunately. Also removed the strap while heading back to the beach (people would look at you weird otherwise).

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      I'm sure being looked at weird from having too many devices on you is something you worry about every day....

      Might have helped keep them from thinking you were drunk and just a crazy athlete ;)

      Reply
  73. Richard Kaufmann

    From WebMD: link to webmd.com.

    I grew up (and still live) on Southern California beaches, and we all have that instinctual shuffle when we enter the water. Stingrays and sea urchins are the most passive things in the ocean (hey, you stepped on *them*!), and yet seem to do the most damage.

    I feel for you. I hope you're already all the way back from this.

    Reply
  74. Scott McMillen

    That sucks. Glad you are okay.

    Reply
  75. wkochi

    who'd knew? speedy recovery Ray.

    i suppose getting back into the water will be a little cautious next time. be well.

    Reply
  76. Jason

    Yikes! Hope you're recovering well!!

    Reply
  77. Alice

    Thank heavens (and The Girl, of course) you're ok! I've lived in the Canaries for 10 years, right on the beach with plenty of rays around, but this is the first time I hear of "the shuffle".

    Reply
  78. Herman

    Stingray Maker! (sorry) Hope you get well soon.
    My first reaction was: glad I am living in North-Western Europe, which is mostly Scary Animal (TM) free. Then I remembered we have weevers here. At least I know now how to treat a sting if it occurs.

    Reply
  79. vitek

    nice story, glad you are better.

    Reply
  80. Yikes, I guess I won't be getting the Polar V800, that's a terrible reaction.

    Glad to hear all turned out ok - scary stuff.

    Reply
  81. Alex

    Damn Ray! Hope you're back on the mend soon!

    Reply
  82. Colleen Duffy

    What a terrible thing to happen. I can't help but notice the on your front page the juxtaposition of the pictures of you and The Girl both laying on the ground.

    Reply
  83. Ravi Kant Yadav

    I am sorry that your experience in my city wasn't that great. Take Care Ray.

    Reply
  84. Dr. D

    Ray - get well and thanks for sharing your experience. I suspect there is a learning piece in here for some of us.

    Reply
  85. Long Run Nick

    The only Stingray I want to step on is the accelerator of the 2015 Corvette! Hope your recovery is quick. All the best.

    Reply
  86. Patrick

    I am so happy to read that you are doing well.
    I am a regular visitor of your website and was shocked to read this.
    Hope you recover soon (also from seeing the hospital invoice).

    Patrick

    Reply
  87. Patrick Myers

    Feel better, Ray. Glad it wasn't something more serious and good to see you now know about the "stingray shuffle" (it was one of the first things I was taught when I tried to pick up surfing).

    Reply
  88. Thanks all for the well wishes! Despite the immense pain immediately after (Friday), things are mostly back to normal now (Monday). A small mark still on my foot, and a little bit of pain if I apply enough pressure to the spot, but otherwise fine.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts!

    Reply
    • Ped replied

      Saw your tweet from Largo, FL? My in-laws live in Largo and we have a little vacation home in IRB (not far from your picture), home of @Clever_Training. Coincidence?

      Reply
  89. CJ

    I do not work for or am in any way affiliated with them, but I have had a really positive experience with World Nomads Travel Insurance. In my case it was replacing a race wheel that was mangled by TSA. With as much as you travel it may be prudent to have supplemental insurance.

    Reply
  90. Wayne V

    Ray, I am sure we included a transmitter, your V800 does heart rate while swimming. You could have saved the EMT's a few seconds by looking at your Polar. All kidding aside, glad your OK and thanks for testing the V800 again

    Reply
  91. Stefan

    I can't speak for all of your readers, but I would imagine we could all pitch in some cash if you have reimbursement trouble. Don't be shy.

    Reply
  92. Helen

    I wonder if you had an allergic reaction to the stingray. I read that for most people, only hot water is needed for treatment, but some people have allergic reaction from the venom. Very low blood pressure and difficulty breathing may indicate anaphylactic reaction. Do you know if the medics had to give you an epinephrine shot to help you breathe? If they did, next time you go see your doctor, you get to tell him to add stingray venom to your list of allergies.

    Reply
    • Eli replied

      That can also be a non allergic reaction. The venom is not just pain

      Reply
  93. Brett

    Look forward to the Polar V800 testing.

    Next time, watch out for them rays, Ray!

    Glad your feeling better.

    Reply
  94. Remco Verdoold

    Sorry, but this makes me again feel rather happy living in Europe which is not home of many dangerous (toxic) animals.
    I wish you good luck in getting well and hope not much mechanical damage is done to your leg!

    Reply
  95. bromasi

    I quit going into the ocean after a couple scares while skin diving I'll just leave it to the fish.

    Reply
  96. cjm

    Glad to hear that you are on the mend, although the down side is that you are going to have to put up with lot of "ray vs ray" puns. Your title gave me a fright, shark bite sprang to mind.

    Reply
  97. Doug

    Glad you're alright and recovering, I pray there are no lingering affects. It's funny how something so simple can turn quickly into a drama. Good for you that the girl was there as it doesn't sound like anyone else around you at the time would have been much help!

    Reply
  98. earl

    Glad you're ok Ray.

    Reply
  99. Semi Ennafaa

    Glad to hear that you are ok. Ive learned my lesson with stonefish which venom (I belive much more agressive than stingray) is painfull beyond belief . Actually its that painfull that many people beg their friend to cut their legs just to get rid of that pain. It was brutal and help was 3hours boat ride from islands so that were three longest hours in my life. Basic help is same as for stingray venom - hotest water possible for few hours and getting antivenom in hospital. Ive spent 2 days on intensive care. Within 5 days was back in ocean :) but since than I never walk in ocean barefoot rather swim over everything. Good thing is that most venomous animals in ocean wont attack you unless you step on them so you just have to be very carefull where you step.

    Reply
  100. Steve T

    Talk about taking one for the Team.
    So glad you made it through it.

    You are one tough Dude!

    Reply
  101. Marco

    Glad to hear you are recovering ok, scary business.

    Reply
  102. Chris

    Glad you're ok and thanks for the detailed description of the sting and subsequent effects. Once I was swimming in Costa Rica and got some jellyfish stings that drew blood. It's kind of scary when you don't know what got you. To echo a previous commenter, I would love to see HR data on a scorpion sting!

    Reply
  103. MikeB

    Glad you are okay!

    Reply
  104. My husband and I cannot believe you already had an agreement with your wife in place to photograph you in case of emergency!! How did that even occur to you set up?!?!

    Glad you are feeling better. Scary stuff. Rest up!

    Reply
  105. CHrisG

    Glad things are OK - wonder if this will be one of the most 'commented' posts (excluding the give aways - afraid to say medical drama isn't as exciting as free stuff!!)

    Reply
  106. Glad you're okay! I live in the sting ray capitol of the world -Seal Beach. And I've been advised to keep meat tenderizer in my swim bag by experienced swimmers. There must be something to it. I seem to recall something about breaking down the proteins of the toxin. But worth researching for an exact explanation.

    Reply
    • Lew replied

      Meat tenderizer as actually a recommended treatment for jellyfish stings (other than box jellies). Unseasoned is preferred, as the seasonings can cause irritation. The tenderizer is thought to denature the venom proteins.

      Probably better to stick with white vinegar though.

      link to vims.edu
      link to healthline.com

      Reply
  107. DavidM

    Glad to read you are doing well, that is a very scary pic.

    Reply
  108. Eric

    Glad to know you are ok

    Reply
  109. morey000

    Damn. Life is precious.

    welcome back among the living.

    Reply
  110. giorgitd

    Whoa! Best wishes for an uncomplicated, complete recovery.

    Reply
  111. Paying that much for hot water ? Hope that you had some travel insurance mate :D

    Reply
  112. James

    Get well soon Ray

    Reply
  113. Hope you're ok!

    Reply
  114. Rob

    Bet the insurance cover contains a clause:
    Excluded: Stingray stings except where the stingray shuffle was employed.

    Reply
  115. Blake Helms

    Sorry that happened to you and glad to hear you're doing ok!

    Reply
  116. Manos

    Rest a little Ray and get well soon!!!

    Reply
  117. Eli

    For your next florida trip: link to floridahealth.gov

    Reply
  118. carndegos

    My best wishes and soon recovery Ray.

    Reply
  119. Ricky

    I love it how you went straight back in the day after... Typical runner's mentality...

    Reply
  120. dave

    Sorry to hear about your Sting Ray - Glad to hear your OK

    Reply
  121. RJB

    Ray:
    Glad you're feeling better. Heal well my friend!!

    Reply
  122. AdamAnt

    Glad your okay that could have gotten nasty. Stay safe mate.

    Reply
  123. Paul

    Pleased you aren't dead.

    Reply
  124. Jorgen

    You will not let blood and tears stop you from writhing these execlent reviews are you? That's way I like this site, good writhing, and thorough testing, noting is stopping you. Good to hear that everything is well with you now. Youre Lady friend must have been pretty shaken when it all went down.
    I am so looking forward to the Polar v800 review, it will be exstra precious now.

    Reply
  125. Dominic

    Glad you are okay!

    Reply
  126. Peter

    Glad you are ok...

    In some ways you are lucky... Not sure you heard about Steve Irwin (The crocodile hunter) he died from a stingray... But he was barbed in the chest.

    Reply
  127. Ray Maker

    Ray, Road ID is a great thing to wear I always where mine when I cycle. After my crash two years ago I would never leave home without it.... Love Dad Please do it!

    Reply
  128. Haroldo

    Glad you're ok.
    Pretty funny way of telling a not so funny event.

    Reply
  129. Cass

    Glad your OK... love the dedication!

    Reply
  130. Dan

    In Germany (and probably France) you can buy travel health insurance (Auslandsreisekrankenversicherung) for travel outside of Europe (In Europe the normal heath insurance covers you, formerly you needed something called Form 111, I don't know if that still exists).

    The travel health insurance is extremely good value (~$10 per year). Only $100 deductible and valid for trips up to 30 days or so. Definitely worth to have. Even includes medical emergency evacuation.
    I think it is so cheap because Europeans tend to travel much more, so the cost gets spread out.
    I never found similar insurance in the U.S.

    Please wear HRM and instrumentation next time for more detailed results :-).
    Good to hear you are ok.

    Reply
  131. doron leibovitz

    hope you fell better now

    doron

    Reply
  132. Yann

    I'm very surprised about the cost!!!
    I work as a firefighter in France and this kind of situation is completely taken care of for free!
    How does the system work for you? Does some health insurance cover up the payment?
    To me, it is actually kind of frightening since everybody can be into that kind of situation and not be able to pay the bill!
    Hope you are getting on well, fortunately for you US paramedics seem up to their reputation and handled the situation quite effectively!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      In the US, that'd typically be covered by insurance (to varying degrees, but the majority of it would be). The tricky part was that since I live in France now, my US insurance is now gone. Thus, I didn't really have anything to give them.

      In theory, my employer was/is supposed to provide me with some sort of card to cover this situation - but that seems to be lost in process somewhere.

      Ultimately I'm not worried about it. I know that it'll get covered and paid for by someone here on the France side (likely the additional coverage my employer pays for). Just a paperwork thing now, that's all.

      Reply
  133. Barry D

    Was just telling someone the other day that I would prefer swimming in ocean/saltwater than lakes. Maybe I need to rethink that.

    Glad to hear you got out in time and hope you are doing well now.

    Reply
  134. OMG, Ray! A lesson in why it's important to not swim alone. Glad it wasn't worse even though I would say this is worse enough. Ow.

    Reply
  135. Glad you are ok! I live in Tampa so we're well aware of this risk in the water. Scary though!

    Reply
  136. Arnaud

    Ray, Sorry to hear about your stingray incident but glad tread that you are doing better.

    Reply
  137. Gary L

    just read this now...sorry about your stingray incident...I'm an ER doc in S FL and see these types of cases now and then...i'm just glad you didn't get hit in the chest or face by a stingray...seen those cases in the ER too!
    glad you have healed

    Reply
  138. Glad you are ok. Please take care.

    Reply
  139. Boaz

    You Rays really need to find a way to get along, man. :)

    Glad to hear you're OK!

    Yes, I know.. but better late than never..

    Reply
  140. Manfred

    Crazy US medical system. In Paris or rest of whole Europe this would be free (if you have an insurance which is 99,9% true)

    Reply

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