I was out Saturday fishing the Long Point area and planning to spend the night. Fishing was pretty good in the morning. I took a break from the midday heat and headed out again in late afternoon. I wasn’t having any further luck with artificials, so I cast netted some small baitfish. I had one terrific long run on the bait that threatened to spool me, but it broke off and I recovered most of my 30lb braid. Other than that, I was getting small catfish on the baited pole.
One of those cats was my undoing. Near sunset I was removing a hook from a catfish held firmly in my right hand. The hook came out with a snap and the catfish barb went deep into my ring finger through the callous worn by my wedding ring. I freaked out. The serrated barb was stuck fast and deep. After a couple of tries, I ripped it out. Blood was flying all over the front of the boat. I wrapped the wound in a dirty rag, pulled anchor with one hand, and fired up the motor to return to the ramp. While under way, I called Linda and asked her for research on dangers of catfish barbs, and the nearest ER. I started getting quite woozy and became concerned that I might lose consciousness. But I made it back to the campground in about 15 minutes, and staggered over to the adjacent campsite to ask for help.
Turns out that neighbor Ron is a Vero Beach firefighter, he concurred that I would need stitches, and he offered to drive me to the hospital in Sebastian, about 18 miles away by roadway. Here’s an irony; my location when the accident happened was no further than a half mile from that same hospital. I could have anchored, waded to shore and walked to the ER in less than 15 minutes.
When I did arrive about an hour after the 7:30pm accident, they cleaned my hand, cut my ring off, and discovered the barb had fully pierced my finger. I certainly did more damage pulling it out than it did going in. Wish I had not panicked. Xrays showed that “self-administered foreign object removal” was completely successful, as the pretty young ER doctor phrased it. She declined to stitch the wounds up citing the danger of infection. They bandaged me, put a splint on the finger, dosed me with tetanus and antibiotics and discharged me. Ron was waiting with a cheeseburger for me. What a guy. I have his wife’s business card, so I will send him a thank you note with a medical update.
After a somewhat fitful and sweaty night sleeping in the car, I got up Sunday about 7am, made a pot of coffee and hung out enjoying the beautiful morning (and updated facebook via my phone.) Ron had left for an early morning shift, so I waited for his teenage son to arise to help me load up my boat. At 9am Anthony was up, and he brought my boat around to the ramp and did the (literally) heavy lifting of getting the boat back on the trailer and unloaded.
I was home by noon, filled my scripts, and I’ll see my doctor for a followup on Tuesday.