Friday, September 25, 2015

the last book I ever read (On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks, excerpt five)

from On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks:

One day in 1963, I went bodysurfing off Venice Beach; it was rather rough water and no one else was in, but I, at the height of my strength (and grandiosity), was sure I could handle it. I was thrown around a bit—this was fun—but then a huge wave came towering far above my head. When I attempted to dive under it, I got flung on my back and tumbled over and over helplessly. I did not realize how far the wave had carried me until I saw it was about to crash me on the shore. Such impacts are the commonest cause of broken necks on the Pacific coast; I had just time to stick out my right arm. The impact tore my arm back and dislocated my shoulder, but it saved my neck. With one arm disabled, I could not crawl out of the surf quickly enough to get away from the next huge breaker, which following close on the first. But at the last second, strong arms seized me and pulled me to safety. It was Chet Yorton, a very strong young bodybuilder. Once I was safely on the beach, in excruciating pain with the head of my humerus sticking out in the wrong place, Chet and some of his weight-lifting buddies grabbed me—two round the waist, two pulling the arm—until the shoulder went back into place with a squelch. Chet went on to win the Mr. Universe competition, and he was still superbly muscled at the age of seventy; I would not be here had he not pulled me out of the water in 1963. The moment the joint was back in place, the shoulder pain vanished, and I became conscious of other pains in my arms and chest. I got on my motorbike and rode to the emergency room at UCLA, where they found I had a broken arm and several broken ribs.

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