Corky Carroll

Pain haunts old surfers, on sea and land

This morning I was out surfing and, more or less, I was not having the best of days. Last night I had a bad cramp in my back and today it is really sore. The soreness was taking its toll on the quality of my surf session.

Even when I am feeling the best that I ever do anymore I have a hard time with my back. I hurt it about eight years ago surfing on Kauai and it seems to never NOT hurt anymore. It was a herniated L-5 disk. It makes it hard for me to get from laying down to standing up when I surf.

On good days it is not real bad but I still struggle a bit with it. On bad days I do a lot of face plants trying to get up and it is not only really embarrassing but also extremely frustrating. Not good. Once I get to my feet I am fine, though. It might take me a couple of extra seconds to get my feet organized, which sort of eliminates me from surfing spots like the Pipeline anymore, but after that I can still surf fairly well for a geezer.

Today was a bad day, and on a couple of waves I never even got up at all. When I got out of the water I was sitting in a little restaurant, that is on the beach at the spot where I was surfing, having a coffee and chit chatting with a few pals. I think we were comparing aches, pains and surfing injuries. When you get older things like that tend to dominate the conversation more and more.

The young dudes are talking about parties, hot chicks and getting big air while the older dudes are discussing hip transplants, swollen prostrates and heart medicine. And trust me folks, I would much rather be in the talk about the parties, babes and big air than the other one. But the only big air I ever get anymore is the kind that makes my wife hold her nose and smack me on the head. It's pretty sad really.

Anyway, there was this young girl sitting there who was learning to surf. She was telling us how much she loved surfing but how hard it is learning how. One comment she made that really struck a chord with me was that she spends a third of the time frustrated, a third pissed off and the other third yelling "Wahooooooo!"

Geeze, I can relate to that. It's kind of the same thing when you are on the downside of the learning curve. No matter what all of you that are in your 20s and 30s think right now, there will come a time when your surfing skills start to diminish and you will not be able to pull off the moves that you can now.

I kind of figure that I can still pull off a good move or two once in awhile and even every now and then hold it together for one whole wave. But more and more there are silly spastic looking mistakes and moments that you just hope your pals do not see. I have always said, and right here a few times I think, that the only thing golden about the golden years is your teeth. That is if you still have your own.

We were looking at a newspaper the other day and there was a personals ad that some older lady had put in there. It read something like "87 years young, voluptuous and sexy lady with own teeth looking for a long term relationship. Only good looking professional men need apply with photo please."

Wow, I thought, how wonderfully optimistic that woman is. Made me think of the little while lie that I keep telling myself. "I will lose a ton of weight and get in good shape and be able to surf really good again when that happens." I am sure that could be at least a little true if I ever really would follow through and make it happen.

Less weight would for sure ease the back pain. But years go by and I stay the same weight, which is way too much. There is something to be said for being comfortable, but still it would be nice to be able to stand up at the take off point on a wave more times than not. 

Originally posted December 5th, 2008 at the OC Register