sábado, dezembro 24, 2005


Último drope de Foo em foto do Mike Peralta

Dia 23 de Dezembro de 1994, Mark Foo paga o preço final pela emoção definitiva- como ele mesmo previu.

Na sessão de perguntas e respostas do saite Surfline um leitor curioso e atento indaga:

'I was reading Warshaw's Maverick's and it suddenly occurred to me what might've happened to Mark Foo. Something jumped out at me based on personal experience. This thing happened to me twice in my surfing life: in North Africa in 1971 and at Pavones, CR in 1998. Both times I had minor wipeouts that could've resulted in drowning. (Not that Foo's wipeout was "minor," but bear with me.) Both times I fell off and hit the water fairly flat, a semi belly flop, but with some movement across the water also. Both times I was in such pain that had I not been in shallow enough water to stand up in, I might've drowned.

What happens is that when you hit just so, the water "grabs" your skin and pulls two ribs apart very briefly and just a little, then they come back together. (It has a name I've forgotten, a something syndrome.) I can't describe how excruciating the pain is. You are immediately breathless and all but incapacitated.

What rang a bell in reading Warshaw's account was that Foo's fists were clenched when they found him. It occurred to me that in a hold down, at the point of unconsciousness the surfer would be scratching for the surface, or trying to free himself from his leash; in both cases his hands would open, not clenched. Also, I've read that you tend to relax as the blackness and inevitability of what's coming sets in. But had he been in the kind of pain associated with what happened to me those two times, it would have accounted for his fists being clenched. Although the 1971 incident is hazy in my memory, the one at Pavones is still clear -- my fists were clenched for like an hour after the wipeout.

I looked at the sequential shots of Foo's wipeout -- and yes, he hit the water in precisely the manner I describe. And a wetsuit is no help in preventing this injury; the water would grab the suit, which would grab your skin. No question, Foo would've drowned had this happened. Guy like Foo, something like this must've occurred. He shouldn't've drowned on that
asked by Allen

Maverick's regular and respected MD Mark "Doc" Renneker responds:

Swell.com asked me to reply to your letter, in which you raise the possibility of Mark Foo, on his final ride, having wiped out and suffered a chest wall injury causing extraordinary pain. And that his clenched fists as Matt Warshaw described them in his book, Maverick's, would be consistent with this having happened. I don't think so.

To begin with, in his death repose, Mark Foo did not have clenched fists. Matt Warshaw did not see his body (double-checked this with him this week). He was basing his comment on a photo he remembered seeing at Surfer, a photo that more than likely I had taken. I had examined (and photographed parts of) the body when it was still in the back of the boat that had found it, after the resuscitation attempts, and before it was taken away by the coroner. I was trying to deduce what had killed him, and the coroner was interested in my examination since I am a physician who understands surfing, and Maverick's, and because of my experience in surf medicine. Mark Foo's fists were not clenched.

I double-checked this by going back and examining the photos I'd shot. His hands were actually in a relaxed state, partially open, as if cupped to hold water. His knuckles and tendons appeared normal to me for any person who is thin and is a swimmer or surfer. A resuscitation attempt had already taken place (including attempting to start IV's), so that if his fists had been clenched, a resuscitator may have grabbed onto the hands and pulled them straight out (to gain better access to the veins), so the hands would have been opened.

In my hospital work, I see a lot of dead bodies, and have a pretty good sense of whether their last moments were agonizing. I did not see this in Mark Foo's body. His body, and, in particular his facial expression, was one of equipoise -- not life-rattling pain, as you suggest.

Finally, the syndrome you describe is not one that I am familiar with, and, again, one of my areas of professional interest is water sports injuries. Not in surfers, divers, or water-skiers am I aware of such a condition, other than the garden-variety chest (thoracic) wall injuries such as a rib or cartilage separation (and these can separate or sub-luxate and then re-establish in a moment). Yes, those can be extremely painful, but not, I would say, instantly debilitating, as you suggest, and certainly not in big surf, where surfers with major injuries often are able to override astronomical pain to rescue themselves (often they are so charged with adrenaline, they don't discover the extent of their injuries until later).

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