My Near-Death Experience On A Surfing Trip That Changed My Life

November 4, 2018

It still gives me deep chills to recall the death-defying surfing accident that I experienced back in 2012. Just like any other surfing story, even this one includes a huge wave, an unexpected fall, and a tale to share with friends and family.

I have been an adventure-junkie all my life; from hiking and camping to surfing and waterboarding. I want to live an adrenaline-boosting life and have amazing stories for my kids and grandkids; however, this one incident changed my life forever.

“Never discourage yourself kid, you can do it”, something my father used to believe and often shared it with me. Being a lifeguard, he has seen many fantastic surfing stunts and equally drastic accidents. He once told me that he saw a man doing a superman on a mammoth wave, and that got me interested in surfing, as a full-time sport.

Due to my love of taking detours on every adventure trip, I have created a travel kit, which is suitable for all my interests. You never know what kind of a life-threatening situation you might come across on an adventure trip, and it would not harm you to keep a torch, compass, a pair of hunting and camping knives, water-resistant clothes and footwear and a couple of energy bars and water bottles. All these items have saved me from various situations, like having a face-off with a wild animal, building fire in the wilderness or hunt for food when stranded on a deserted island for a couple of days; however, it could not help me on the worst day of my life.

Blazing through the water; cutting past the tides. I was one of those surfers, who can do any stunt that has ever been invented. Being a full-time surfer for around ten years has its perks. I have had many accidents in those years, but nothing can be compared with that sunny afternoon in July of 2012.

The day started well. I had my morning tea, did some stretching before hitting the waves and everything was as usual. I picked up my light yellow surfboard with a blue line across the surface, just like a wave and ran towards the water. The place was not as crowded as it usually is, which encouraged me to paddle a little farther.

I was hitting all the right waves until I saw something moving in the water. I got scared and decided to back up a little. The day did not stay pleasant afterward. Although it was nothing more than some garbage in the water, it was distractful enough to trip me over the swell and make me fall off the board. My head struck the side of the board, and I was unconscious.

The next time I opened my eyes, I was lying in a hospital bed. When I called for someone, a nurse came and told me how I was rescued by a coast guard official, James Alice, who happened to notice someone falling from their board and not getting back up. I did not suffer from any severe injuries, other than a concussion and a light sprain in my left foot, but if only I knew how the day would turn out, I wouldn’t have left the bed that morning.

Lying in those white sheets, I imagined, “What if the officer did not see me? What if I could not wake up from those four unconscious hours? What if…?

That was the day when I decided that I must appreciate my life more and tone down on the adventures. I could not even think about going to the ocean or surfing from that point onwards. However, one day, on a family trip to the beach, my brother-in-law surprised me with a yellow surfboard with a blue line across the surface, just like a wave and it brought back so many memories. Yes, I lost my board in that dreadful year, but now, I have one just like the old days. I was lost in my thoughts, fighting my inner-self and my fears.

Until I opened my eyes and saw the blue horizon. And, I have hooked again. The bird was free from the cage, and the champ was back on his feet!

That day, I realised something about life that we should not live with the fear of dying, but live as freely as it is possible; one day, everyone will die, but that day is not today.

Facing challenges and such situations in life should not discourage you, but motivate you to improve and get better. You just have to stand firm and grab every opportunity that comes your way, just like you stand on your surfboard and surf atop waves.

Adjust your feet; eye your target, own your center of gravity, and surf away!

“But in the end, one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.” Albert Camus

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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