Freelance Book Designer

We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave?

Summer in a global warming Sydney is a funny thing. One minute it’s a mild 27ºc (80ºf), then the mercury jumps to a scorching 38ºc (100ºf) for days on end, which then scares itself into dipping the other way and becoming 24ºc (75ºf) and overcast. I prescribe some valium and a good lie down for Sydney’s confused weather.

When we moved out to the suburbs I didn’t even contemplate the fact we would be missing out of north-westerly winds that would cool us down and protect us from the full force of the day’s heat, as it did in our last location in the heart of Sydney’s inner-west. So we suffer, not as horridly as people further out, but I suffer in the knowledge that even two suburbs over it is cooler.

Having been promised a day when I got to pick the activity (thanks to my generous nature in allowing my shiny new husband consecutive days of fishing, on top of his approaching annual fishing trip to Perth) and last being Sunday one of those afore mentioned scorchers, I chose the beach. So did the rest of Sydney.

I am not a fan of sand or waves. The first always ends up in uncomfortable places and the second more often than not acts like a school bully, dunking you in the wash again and agin. So our beach of choice is Clovelly, which is more like a large ocean pool, with long and narrow enclosure that is set between two rocky ridges. You must navigate your way down slippery metal stairs and across the submerged rocks in order to gain access to the water, but once you have bravely lurched into the ocean you can be rewarded with a calming body of water with small gentle non-breaking waves. On this such day, I thought to bring my Hawaiian-purchased inflatable doughnut and I spent my time sitting in it being serenely rocked by the waves and chauffeured by a non-doughnut equipped Bob. It was blissful.

Exiting the water is harder than entering, as you need to scramble back over the submerged rocks, grasp on to metal rails and ungracefully remove yourself. On Sunday, as I did this, I scrapped my toe on what I assumed was an annoyingly sharp rock and thought nothing more of it until we were drying ourselves and preparing to leave. The big toe on my right foot began to sting mightily and when I inspected it I found 6 black spikes peppered in my flesh.

Complaining of the pain for the journey home, like the sook that I am, Bob and I operated on my poor toe, extracting 4 of the 6 spikes. But not without a large amount of carving and generally making a mess of my toe. The spikes were hard and black with a purple-ish tinge and we surmised that they came from sea urchin. When I could take no more pain from our surgery, I was left with 2 spikes deeply embedded and a plan to use drawing ointment to remove them.

A terrible iPhone photo of my toe 1 day after the 4 spikes were removed

As the days went on, my body being the traitor that it is, caused me to suffer a full spasm of my neck and shoulder muscles and was in a substantial amount of pain through that. So I decided I could take no more self inflicted pain, and as the drawing ointment had only brought the last two pieces of debris only slightly closer to the surface to then be walked back inwards by me, it was time to seek professional help.

After very stingy local anaesthetic and a whole lot of blissfully numbed cutting (by a professional Doctor) the extraction was complete and the last two pieces were removed. Hallelujah. But I wasn’t done – oh no – I was required to get a Tetanus shot for my troubles.

Tetanus is my most feared injection as my only memory of it is rolling on the ground as a child of 10, holding my arm and bemoaning the agony.

And here I am 20 years later, contemplating the same indignity. The pain in my arm has blossomed in the past 2 days, feeling like a dangerous bruise that aches my muscles and leaves me unable to sleep on that side of my body. But the most irritating aspect is that there is no visible bruise, I have no war wound in which to garner sympathy. I am quite disappointed, I will have to make do with the band-aid on my toe.