Well I'm sure most of you have heard about my accident or should I say incident in the water.
Wednesday at about 3:00PM I was swimming and boogie-boarding with my mom and cousins in the Atlantic ocean in Holden Beach North Carolina. We were up to our waist/chest in water so it wasn't too deep. All of a sudden I felt something grab me and then chomp down on my left foot a 2nd time. It happened so fast!! All I thought was "What? Those were teeth! run away, get everyone away!" I just kicked at it and screamed to my mom and cousin that something bit me.
My mom thought it was a jellyfish or something, because all she saw was the bottom of my foot all bloody. I didn't know it was a shark, but I knew it wasn't a jelly fish. My mom and cousin Kelli were screaming too once they saw the blood as i was trying to run out of the water (which seemed to take forever!!:))
We got up to the beach where the sand was still wet but not in water and I laid down on a boogie board to get my foot up in the air. By that time someone had gotten a beach towel and a few people had come to see what happened and help out. One lady (Molly) was a huge help in getting everyone organized and keeping me safe. They had someone call 911 and others go get ice and clean towels. The were putting pressure on my foot through the towel.
All this time I was just laying there and all i could do was pray over and over, thanking Jesus that I was ok, I had people helping me, and that He was with me. I wasn't too panicky at that point and was "with it" and able to know what was going on. I didn't know the extent of my injuries because all I had seen was a quick glance down at the laceration on my ankle when walking in.
Eventually a volunteer fire fighter came and had gloves and gauze. They were able to stop the bleeding pretty quickly (thanks to my dehydration:) haha)) and so then Molly and others helping could then really assess my wounds and wrap them up after having gloves.
During this time the tide was starting to come in so they needed to move me further up the beach, so a bunch of men and Molly, her friend, and my aunt carried me a long ways up the beach to where the paramedics were going to be bringing a chair and stretcher. I think I said thank you to all of them helping me while I was up on the boogie board---that couldn't have been easy carrying dead weight through sand uphill!!!
Then the paramedics had a rolling chair thingy and they had to have me stand up and get in the chair. As soon as I was in the chair I told them I wasn't feeling good and was gonna pass out. Sure enough not 10 seconds later I fainted in the chair. From what they told me I went totally white and gray from the neck up and it looked pretty freaky. I woke up maybe a minute and a half later and immediately said "I feel so much better." It was like a little nap:)
They were carrying me on the chair up a short set of stairs and then down another set to get to the parking lot that the ambulance was in. I had never been in an ambulance before, nor had an IV or anything like that! It was all very surreal that this was happening.
In the ambulance they hooked me up to the heart monitoring machine, oxygen, and an IV of fluids. Then I arrived at the hospital and they were all so excited to see it.
The nurses had to wash out my cuts but I hadn't had any pain meds yet, so it hurt really bad just washing with water. I was sweating by the time they were initially done with that. Then after that they had me sit there for a while. During that time, at least 10 people came in to see my bites. I didn't care so they came in, I told the story and they looked at the wounds. Everyone was so excited to see a real shark bite. They all seemed really surprised I was so relaxed and calm about it all--That I wasn't upset.
After that they came to take x-rays for my foot and ankle. I was left alone for about 3-4 minutes after that and I just started thanking the Lord again that I could wiggle my toes and ankle some, that there were people to help me and that I was ok.
Finally the main doctor Dr. Bill Sherrod came in to start rinsing out my wounds and getting ready to stitch them up. He had me flex my foot to see how mobile I was. I could see the inside of my ankle and see the tendon itself moving!! crazy huh? It was like my left foot was detached from myself, so it was kind of cool. He thought maybe it was a little torn, but he's not an orthopedic doctor so he wanted another opinion.
Eventually he started numbing me (those shots hurt bad!!!) My mom and cousin Kelli and Aunt Pam were all at the hospital and took turns being in with me. It was nice to have others there along with me. He first stitched up the ankle wounds, then the top of my foot and then lastly the bottom. We think the shark's teeth must have drug along the bottom of my foot as I kicked away so the bite marks on the bottom were mostly punctures and then big gouges across my foot. The bottom hurt the most with the numbing shots---I had to do like labor breathing to handle it!:) haha
finally around a little before 10 it was done --Dr. Sharrod had put in 42 stitches on my foot and ankle--they were ready to put on the fiberglass cast/wrap. And finally I was able to put clothes on and try to brush some sand out of my hair:)
We stopped by McDonalds on the way home, but before we went too far I felt nauseous and had to stop on the side of the road quickly.
We got home around 11 and it felt good to sit down. People were already finding my name on websites like www.sharkattacksurvivors.com and other news stations. I was amazed that it was already that fast spread!
Turns out it was probably a 5-6 foot shark! but I never saw it which will help with not having such bad dreams i think. The shark bit me 2 times, a quick one and then the big chomp. If you look at the picture below of my whole foot/ankle after it was stitched you can see the width of his jaw. The ankle mark and the marks on top of my foot are the to sides of his mouth/teeth. He bit me from the side so his lower teeth hit my heel and bottom of my foot.
Here are some pictures---sorry if they are too gruesome.
On Thursday morning we had to go see the orthopedic surgeon to see what his opinion was about my mobility and the tendon issue. He looked at my stitches and said they looked good. He tested my sensation on the bottom of my foot and moved my toes. He had me move my ankle in all directions and move my toes as much as possible. He said I was very lucky and should have no problem recovering as long as I dont get an infection.
With 42 stitches an infection could happen, so I just have to be careful and keep it clean and dry. He didn't see any reason why I couldn't go to Mexico as planned, so that made me feel better too, because I am still excited although I know this is changing my plans some in terms of mobility. Hopefully I can be in a walking type cast in not too long and be stronger and better on crutches than I am now.
It is exhausting just going to the bathroom!:) I took my first shower Thursday night and i thought I would fall down so many times. I was really tired and my foot hurt by the time I was finished. I am already dreading taking another one!
So please keep me in your prayers--that I will be infection free, heal quickly, and that whatever happens with Mexico I will find contentment in that.
I am so overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord that no nerves or tendons were severed in that area where so many are present, that no others were hurt, and that He has protected me so greatly.
If you want you can google my name : Julia Mittelberg with July 22, or Holden BEach, NC, or Shark attack and see what comes up---it's kind of a fun game:)
Also my TV interview (where I look tired and awful---but isn't that what shark attack survivors are supposed to look like?) is on www.wwaytv3.com (search for Holden Beach)
I'll try to keep this updated as much as possible with my progress!:)