It was supposed to be the dream family vacation to Hawai’i. I had enough frequent flier miles to get the six of us to the islands and got up at 4am on the specific day to make sure we had the flights we wanted. I spent a lot of time acquiring lodging on three different islands and arranging transportation and the connecting flights for our ten day odyssey.
The first stop was a beautiful little beach front cottage on the north shore of the island of Oahu. We arrived after dark on the first day and the constant roar of the ocean could be heard behind the cottage.
The next morning the kids were ecstatic to discover the miles of fine sand beach and the roaring surf. We discovered that we were about 200 yards south of the famed Banzai Pipeline where there was a surfing championship scheduled for the next few days.
Our first activity was to acquire a couple of boogie boards about 4 feet long which the kids used to surf back to the beach from a safe distance. Being the adventurous type, I decided to try my hand on the boogie board and proceeded out into the surf.
Between our cottage and the Pipeline area was a line of volcanic rock that was placed out into the ocean as a surf break and also delineated the private beach area from the public area to the north. Also of note was the little patch of rock about 30 yards from the surf break. As I left the shore I struck out further south of these potential obstacles.
Being the naive Midwesterner, I decided to go a little further than the kids had ventured and before I realized it, I was out close to the area where the surfers congregated and much to my consternation was moving with the current north towards the surf break. One of the surfers asked if I needed help and I politely declined figuring I could fight my way back in.
As I was trying to work my way back, I was caught by a larger than expected wave and began my quick journey back to the beach. I wondrously managed to survive the first wave and found myself pushed onto the small rock feature I described earlier. Before I could get my wits and launch off the rock, a second wave pounded me into the rocks and then tossed me back into the shallow water leading to the beach. I struggled to bring myself back to the sand and discovered a long skin wound from the middle of my calf to just below my left knee. As I tried to stand, I found my left leg could not support me and my two sons helped me back to the cottage.
As I lay on the couch in pain, I saw the first dark bruises begin to appear around my knee. Upon seeing this, my dear wife called the local hospital and was told to bring me in for an examination the next morning.
Here I was, less than 24 hours into the vacation of our lives and found myself wracked with pain and confined to the couch. Needless to say, it was a downer for the entire clan.
The next morning, the doctor immediately ordered X-rays of my knee and was soon showing me images of the damage. I had the top third of my tibia broken off and separated from the rest of the bone with a fair amount of crushed bone fragments along the top and front of the break. He told me that this was a serious break and would need surgery to repair the damage. He added to the dismal news by telling me that the crushed fragments would likely lead to a life of pain and early arthritis in that joint.
We worked out a change in our return reservations for me and my oldest son who volunteered to accompany back home. I will not get into the details but, for those of you who have made the 8+ hour flight back from the islands should try it with a 40 pound temporary leg cast crammed under a coach seat. I didn’t think my sanity would survive the trip but somehow, we managed to make it back home.
As I pondered my fate, my first call was to my home teacher, Gordon, who came over and gave me a priesthood blessing. His words gave me some comfort at the time and I carried a prayer in my heart that I would be able to work through this and that my family would be protected in my absence.
My son drove me to my appointment with my orthopedist the next day and I entered the clinic with some level of dread. I have never had surgery before and didn’t want to start now. With a new set of X-rays came heartening news. The doctor said the bones had come back together in good fashion and that I would need only to wear a cast for 5 weeks. He did caution me that, due to the injury, my left knee would be susceptible to pain and potential complications. I gladly accepted my fate.
Back at work, on crutches, I put the following caption on the whiteboard in my office: My family went to Hawai’i and all I got was this X-ray…
So, why share this with you now nearly 15 years after the event? I learned some things from this event and was prompted to share them with you.
First, I was an idiot for putting myself in harm’s way by going too far out into the ocean ill prepared for the elements. I was even a larger idiot for turning away help from someone who could see the danger I was in when I could not. How many times does our pride lead us to incur more pain than is necessary? I can say to this day that if I had simply said “Yes, I need some help. I don’t know how to get back to shore,” I would be much better off. I have carried with me to this day the clear understanding that we are not a lesser person if we accept help from others. Especially those who have a better view of the difficulties we may be in.
Second, the reason this event was brought to mind as I was going down the stairs in my home is the memory of the doctor’s warning of my possible problems in the future. Yes, I do have a bad knee, but it is not the knee I injured in Hawai’i. After all these years, my knee that sustained a significant injury, the knee that appeared in need of surgery, the knee that had been crushed is, today, my good knee.
I attribute my good fortune to the priesthood blessing I received that evening over a decade ago. A blessing of faith given to me that not only restored my knee to working condition but, somehow, elevated its performance above the other knee these years later.
I have been blessed with several miracles in my life that help me to remember on whom I rely for my very breath and well being.
I believe we are presented opportunities to learn lessons in this life. These opportunities are often repeated until we learn the intended lesson.This is one lesson I hope never to repeat.
What think ye?