Masters Swimmers and their free time.
~By Diane Bixler, Dynoswimmer
James and I had company over, Bill and Maria, for some wine and cheese. James, of course, opted to “kick it up a notch” with a martini. We were enjoying the beautiful night on our porch, listening to the typical Florida sounds of crickets, owls, and whippoorwills. I don’t really remember who asked about the property behind ours, but James is always willing to trek through the woods, so we each grabbed a bike light, James & Bill taking along machetes, and off we went for a hike. Why machetes? Well, James maintains the trails, so any time he’s out there, he hacks a little (I think it’s more of a macho thing). Although most critters of the night will scamper away at the sound of others, there are wild boar, which can be aggressive. So off we went, lights and machetes, for a hike through the woods.
We started out, James taking out smaller branches as we moved. It’s about a mile of a trail, but opens up toward the end, getting swampy if it’s rained too much. We talked as we walked, and several times we heard something scurry off into the woods, but never got a look at whatever was out there with us. We came to the end of our trail, by the canal, and turned to head back.
The trail now was quite open, with very little trees directly around us, just an open grassy area. We’d spread out a little, Bill & Maria leading the way. They were heading a little to the right of where we needed to be to get back. James was behind me, heading more to the left. As we entered the woods area again, I stopped to see where we all were. James had turned off his light and was making “spooky” noises. I could hear Bill & Maria laughing up ahead. I turned off my own light, deciding to really get them all. I stepped off the trail to the left, stood perfectly still between two trees, and waited. James would be coming up and probably wouldn’t see me. I could get behind him and scare them all pretty good. I was trying to stifle a laugh at the thought when “WHACK”! I grabbed my nose and cried out. I remember asking James, “What’d you do? Break my nose?” He turned on his light and simply replied, “Yeah, I think I did.” That is about all he remembers. Shock and alcohol make for a lousy memory.
Bill & Maria came back down the trail to us. Maria started talking a mile a minute, and all I could catch were words like “stitches…” “blood…” “emergency room…” At this point I was starting to put things together and realize I’d actually been hit with the machete. Bill wasted no time, grabbing me and starting to run. Finally, he put me down and let me walk the last bit to the house. I had taken off my sweater and was trying to use it to catch all the blood. I stood around watching them a moment, moving around the house, and said, trying to help, “I just need someone to take me to the emergency room.” No one really made any move in an outdoor direction. I thought maybe if I actually got into the car someone would volunteer to drive. I walked into the garage and got into the passenger side of my car. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to see it, but I had to look. I took a deep breath and pulled down the mirrored visor. There was a huge gash across my nose, from the top left down, just ending over my lip. It was quite wide and I could see some white under all the blood. I put the visor back and relocated my hand to hold up my nose – I suddenly became scared it was going to fall off!
I looked over to the driver’s seat. No one was there yet and the garage door was still down. I walked back inside and Bill plopped a towel with ice over my nose. “I just need someone to take me to the emergency room.” I said again. “We’re working on that” was the general answer. I just didn’t get it. Finally, Maria grabbed my hand and off the two of us went, leaving the guys behind to figure out the rest.
When we got to the emergency room, they we’re pretty quick to get me into the back. Maria was kind enough to go with me – I have no idea how she handled the look of my face. They asked questions, and I answered. The doctor took a look at my face and listened to my story. He didn’t seem impressed. He explained he had another patient and that he’d be back soon, but I was going to need stitches (go figure). Maria and I talked, both more out of nervousness than anything. We couldn’t figure out where the guys were, and we were starting to get worried. James finally showed up with leathers & his motorcycle helmet. I didn’t think I could ride the motorcycle home, and he smiled, for the first time. Apparently, he couldn’t find my car keys. I explained they were (logically) in my lunch box inside the cabinet next to the stove. And why hadn’t he thought to look there… He left again (no kiss goodbye?) to get the car and returned at the same time as when the sheriff showed up. I think it was about this time Bill and Maria decided they’d had enough and went home.
Standard operating procedure (in case this ever happens to anyone else) requires the perpetrator to be arrested for a “cooling off” period. Like any domestic abuser will be calmer AFTER they have spent the night in jail. But anyway, they listened to my story, then listened to James, and very thankfully, did not arrest him. Sometimes it pays to know people…
Eleven stitches later (3 internal and 8 external), we went home. It was about 2 in the morning, and James pretty much passed out. I, however, sat up thinking of all the “what ifs…” What if it was a little higher, and I’d lost my eye(s)… What if it was a little lower, around the mouth… Or what if it were even lower, say the neck area… I didn’t sleep that night.
I was admitted into a study for facial lacerations, scarring, and healing. They have taken before, during, and (eventually will take) after photos. From a distance, it looks like I got too much sun. Up close, you can see the line, but the dots from the stitches are disappearing pretty fast. I’m still “grounded” by the doctors due to how deep the cut went. No physical activity for another 4 weeks or so. No sun, stay out of the heat, and whatever I do, don’t sweat. Sounds easy enough, but we’re approaching summer in Florida.
Overall, it looks pretty good, and I consider myself pretty lucky. James is recovering. He’s felt pretty bad about it, and for the first week, couldn’t look at me without painfully looking away. I used to tease him that he needed new stories – I had heard them all. They ended differently, but usually started the same. He’d get together with the guys and someone would say, “this one night, we were out drinking…” Well, he finally has a new story. I never thought it would end with “I hit my girlfriend in the face with a machete.”
Editors Note: We're grateful that Diane can smilingly tell the tale...
Diane, you looked great the other night. You are making an AMAZING recovery. Whatever they gave you in the study really worked. Hope to see swimming again soon. At least you got a great story out of it!
Diane, you are definitly making progress. First time I have seen the "before" picture. And great story! But, I am beginning to cringe when you ask "Are you sitting down??!!" Take care and enjoy, you will be back swimming before you know it.
Next time ~ YOU carry the machete! You are amazing!
That is why I always have a no machete
rule when drinking beer. Especially, with
guys....because you can be sure before the
night is out someone is going to lose a
Get well soon.
All the best,
Since Diane did not have you arrested I think now would be a good time to ask her to merry you.
Not sure I follow the logic on that one. Let's think about this:
1. Being slashed in the face by a machete
2. Not pressing charges
3. A good reason to get married.
Sorry, I think we're missing part of the equation.
I have GOT to party more with you guys.
Deadly weapons and alcohol just don't mix!!!
Diane, you are making an immaculate recovery. You can barely tell that just 2 weeks ago you almost lost your nose! You're very fortunate to have found this study. You can ride this one for years!
We miss you at swim practice.
Dean, the missing part of the equation isn't mentionable on this post...
I'm doing great, all things considering. I appreciate the well wishes.
Dad, I'm sorry I keep starting conversations with, "are you sitting down?" I'll try to be more careful.
I can't WAIT until I can do ANYTHING again. I am not the "couch potato" type and all this time on my hands is making me crazy.
Best of luck to all swimming across Tampa Bay next week. I'm SOOOOOOO envious - I was really looking forward to it. I miss all of you guys.
We've got to plan our next ride to European Village again. That was a blast. Thanks all!