Spider Attack

It was the first time that Doc was allowed to go out with the two squads as they set up an ambush sight. He had been refused twice before because he had lacked experience and the CO wanted to be certain he could handle the strain of being in the field.

The group of 24 men walked for nearly five-hour to get to the place that they had been assigned. Doc was glad to have the rest, but first he had to check up on the men to make certain they had been drinking enough and that their blisters were treated properly.

This took up another hour and was made even harder by the fact that both squads had spread out in an inverted “V” shape along either side of the designated trail. This was the standard tactical set-up for an ambush and it allowed for a wide coverage of the slim winding path without the possibility of cross-fire.

It was both humid and hot under the jungle canopy and Doc was happy to be able to set up a squatter’s shelter using his poncho, and laying down of a couple of hours. It would be a lengthy wait as it was not even noon time and most ambushes didn’t happen until well into the early morning hours before sunrise.

Intel had passed along information that a large enemy troop movement would be using the trail as a passage from their base camp of operations in Nicaragua to attack local villages along the border of Honduras. The two squads were given the task of ambushing the enemy, thus giving the Honduran Army enough time to warn villagers of the danger.

As the afternoon wore on, Doc moved from position to position checking on the health of each Marine. It was just after three in the afternoon when he finally got a chance to lay down and catch some shut-eye.

He smoothed out his poncho once again and removed his steel helmet. Doc propped it under his head and soon found himself sound asleep.

At some point, Doc felt a small tickle on his face. He reached up and brushed at it, hoping to make it go away.

Again he brushed his face with his hand. Still the tickle remained.

Finally after three attempts he opened his eyes.

He was met by a shape that struck terror into his heart. He felt, more than heard himself scream as he sprang to his feet in a panic.

It was large green and brown spider resting over his face. And it fell from his face, coming to rest on the Hospital Corpsman’s poncho.
As he continued to panic, Doc reached down a yanked his pistol from its holster and he fired point blank at the large insect. He popped off two or three rounds before a Marine came rushing over and hit him in the head with his rifle butt.

Doc woke up a few minutes later with a headache and a huge bump that left the right side of his head swollen. He felt dizzy as he started to sit up and could tell there was a group of men standing around him.

“What the hell were you doing?” asked the harsh voice of the Master Gunny. He was on both knees next to Doc.

Doc blinked a couple of times and toppled over on his left side from dizziness. The strike to the head had knocked him completely off balance.

“So what the hell were you thinking?” the Master Gunny growled.

Doc answered, “Big fucking spider, face, scared of spiders.”

“Asshole, you could of got us all killed,” the voice grumbled. Then he added, “Now we got to get out of here.”

Much of the walk back to the base camp for Doc was lost in a haze of pain, lack of balance and fatigue. The two squads were still out in the jungle, only now they were short two men and a Corpsman.

Along the way, Doc told the two Marines escorting him back to base what had happened. One laughed and said, “You’re a brave one, Doc Spider.”

Doc felt a slight sickness swell in is stomach as he realized that this would soon be the nickname he’d be stuck with from then on. He decided that he’d deal with it later as he just wanted to make it to sick-bay before nighttime fell.

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The Law of Gravity

Thank goodness for Hydrocodone tablets. I took one about an hour ago so that I could get past the pain in my left chest and so that I might fall asleep.

The pain is gone but I am unable to sleep and I feel as if I am floating in a bag full of popcorn. The reason I am taking this medication is the fact that I broke my ribs on my left side.

I did it while taking pictures at a beach in Northern California. I looked up as I took a step and discovered that the place where I was supposed to be stepping was more slanted than I thought.

It is really a case about the Law of Gravity when I think about it. I lost my footing on my left side which is my weak side anyway due to my broken back.

When Gravity took control I tried my best to wrestle control back from the Law by it was of no use. Before I knew it I was tumbling off the 5 or 6 foot rock onto whatever lay below.

That is one of the many thoughts that flash-raced through my head as I toppled over the edge of this rock. I wondered what in the world was I going to fall on.

My imagination ran away with me as I pictured sharp, jagged rocks or sticks waiting to impale me. While this thought shot itself through my brain, I struggled to save myself.

Instinct and years of survival training told me to toss myself on my right side and spread out to create some sort of friction. Now my brain didn’t say ‘friction’ or anything remotely intelligent as that.

No, I heard that inner-voice say something closer to, “Oh, Sh…”

To be honest, I am not sure whether I finished the thought or not, because it was within a couple of seconds that I realized that trying to keep from falling was not working and I was falling and then I was hitting the ground, hard, on my left side. The ground as it turned out was more or less rocks of various shapes and sizes.

Three of these rocks I recall very well, only after catching my wind and my son Kyle gingerly sitting me up to see if I really was alive. The first two were side-by-side and are the ones I stuffed my left foot between as I struck the ground.

They kept me from being able to gain my balance and remain on my feet. I also got myself some real good ‘raspberries’ on my ankle from these two rocks.

This third rock was the one that smashed up my ribs. I knew I was going to fall over completely so I did my best to protect my head and as much of my rib cage as possible.

Unfortunately, I found the one rock that was shaped like a rounded off cone and it slipped just passed my elbow. Had it been sharp and pointed, my nightmare thoughts of impalement would have come true!

Thankfully Kyle was there and able to do some first aid magic. If it is possible I would like to nominate him to receive his first aid merit badge since he’s with the Boy Scouts.

It took me a while to gather myself and to realize I was going to have to climb up a couple of huge rocks to get out of the situation I was in. Believe me, with my back, I am in no shape to climb up anything these days.

Yet my son gently encouraged me, knowing we had to get back to the pick-up truck. Where we were on vacation there is no Veteran’s Hospital, so I had to drive home about 400-miles to seek medical aid.

That’s how I got these great pills. I just can’t believe that I have managed to break my back and now my rib and all after retiring.

It doesn’t make sense.

Once I was able to see my doctor, her first words after viewing my x-rays were, “Mr. Darby, you have broken ribs.” I would have laughed but it hurt too much at the time.

I knew they were broken.

Actually, I was hoping they were just bruised but when we started up from an elevation near zero feet and reached about 2-thousand feet above sea level I knew I was a hurting unit. My doctor made me take the pressure wrapping off my chest saying, “We no longer do that because we don’t want to take the chance that the ribs might puncture your lung.”

I had always heard it was put on there to prevent just that and to help stabilize the chest wall. She also instructed me to cough a couple times an hour, hard to help prevent pneumonia.

I didn’t argue, I just wanted some drugs and to go home so I could go to bed.

That is another amazing thing I have discovered about broken ribs. I cannot sleep on my left or right side as I am either in a tremendous amount of pain or I can’t catch my breath.

And worse yet, I am a belly sleeper, and I am stuck sleeping on my back the entire night. And I dread the idea of having to get up to go pee once I’m tucked in.

Follow this up with the fact that my body had decided to hiccup, sneeze, cough, belch or fart for no other reason than to send me into dizzying pain; a pain that has dropped me to my knees on a number of occasions. Plus, my ribs are attached to my anus.

I have no earthly idea how this could be, but as I sit on the Master Throne to pooh-pooh, my ribs pop and grind as if they are the ones constipated from the medication I have been taking.

When I look back on the whole incident, I feel rather fortunate though. It could have been much worse than it was. I remember that I didn’t lose consciousness because as I gasped for air I did thanking God for not letting me die.

I also recall the sound of my digital camera bouncing off the rocks. I also laid there for a lengthy time wanting to make sure I hadn’t paralyzed myself somehow. Guess that’s how the Law of Gravity works.

Next time —  jus’ write me a ticket.