I never in my life thought that I would be writing this to anyone, ever–

Madi got bitten by a shark!

I am not even kidding.

SHE IS OK, got 16 stitches.

Yesterday was our first day here at Cherry Grove, and in the afternoon Russ had both girls at the beach and I was up in the condo making chicken and dumplings. The girls were body surfing and Madi said she felt something close in and clamp down on her leg and foot. She kicked at it, but didn’t make contact with anything– she thought it was “a giant crab”, and headed out of the water. She yelled out to Charlotte that she had been bitten by a crab and Char joined her. As they exited the water, she saw the wound– about 2 and 1/2 inches long, quite deep and gaping and bleeding profusely. Char took one look and said, “That’s a shark bite” and according to Madi, then lectured her all the way up the beach as to why it couldn’t possible be anything else because a crab wouldn’t leave teeth marks and they would hang on and not let go, etc. Madi said later, “She watches WAY too much Animal Planet!” Russ took one look, applied pressure with a towel, calmly called me and  said that I needed to come down to the beach, Madi had apparently gotten bit by a shark and we needed to get her to the emergency room. By the time I RAN down there, the Beach Patrol was on the scene and they confirmed it. Said that in five years it was the first one they had ever seen. They dressed the wound, got us directions to the closest emergency room and carried Madi to the car. (By the way, she had already taken a picture of it with her phone and was text-messaging friends before I even got there! Also asked her dad to get her make-up bag for her… Ah, to be 15 again!)

The Beach Patrol guys were AMAZED at how calm and rational Madi was, said they had never seen anything like it. She was shaking and a little shocky, but dry-eyed and talking– even joking a little. At the emergency room, they took her in immediately and also said it was the first shark bite THEY had ever seen, too! The doctor and I talked about getting a plastic surgery or vascular surgery consult– I  knew that any decision I made now could affect the way the scar healed, etc.– but after several phone calls we decided that neither was necessary, and that the most important thing was to thoroughly clean the “contaminated wound” and get it closed up. Which we did, but of course we were there for 5 hours! Madi again, was just unbelievable. The emergency room doctor just kept repeating that she was the bravest 15 year old he’d ever treated. Finally they gave her some Versed, and then had to numb the area for cleaning which consisted of sticking needles directly into the wound, and I almost passed out. The deepest gash apparently had some nerve issues going on, because it really wasn’t causing much pain, though it was the scariest looking. The teeth marks and small gash on her toe hurt worse, and when they had to stick a needle into THAT area, Madi finally cried and bit on the blanket they gave her. By the time they were irrigating and cleaning it out– which honestly, was the absolute WORST to watch– she couldn’t feel anything. They used a stiff brush and literally raked through the open wound again and again– it was nauseating, but necessary. The doctor said that there would not be permanent nerve damage, and that as scary as it was, this could have been so very much worse. He finally stitched her up, dressed it, gave her pain medication and serious antibiotics and sent us home at 11:00 pm.

Madi made it through the night, but threw up her pain medicine this morning and returned to sleep until around noon. She is up now, trying to eat something, hobbling around on crutches and said that the pain is manageable. After she has something in her tummy we’ll try the pain medicine again. They think it may have been a sandbar shark, or possibly a blacktip or bonnethead. Russ went out this morning before she woke up and bought her a sharktooth necklace, giant shark beach towel and a small rubber one– I wrote this message on its stomach: “Dear Madi, I am really sorry. Love, The Shark   P.S. Nice legs!”  Yes, we are a warped, twisted family.

Madi wants to stay here and not go home– yesterday was the FIRST DAY of our stay here– though I left that up to her. The reality of what happened, and what could have happened is really starting to sink in, so we are all kind of sober and subdued today, but oh-so-very GRATEFUL and THANKFUL to God for protecting her.

I will post some photos later, since she had me photo-document the entire adventure– she kept saying, “This should totally go on your blog!” So, here it is!

Seriously, do you even believe this?????

This is an internet photo of a South Carolina sandbar shark:

nc sandbar shark

17 Responses

  1. jensings

    So you’ll be shopping for a nice full-body suit of chain mail? Geez louise, Tori! That is incredibly frightening. Keep us posted on how she’s doing.

  2. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Scary! When you think of what could have happened! Thank the Lord Madi wasn’t hurt any worse than she was, which was bad enough. Maybe you could get her some Finegan (perscription) to take a half hour before the pain medicine and that would work. Send Russ to WalMart’s to pick up Checkers, Manopoly, and Scrabble. How about that Car? Your very own resident marine biologist! Okay, load up the family and I’ll have a pot of something going in no time flat. Sounds like a plan!

  3. LindaB


    But thank God she’s alive, you had Char there to verify that it was indeed a shark, you all remained calm, her cell phone battery was charged up, and Madi was not a day without her make-up! God is good!

    Come to Michigan next time—-we have beautiful lakes and beaches without big fish that will chew your leg off and kill ya! Mackinaw Island and the Grand Hotel is incredible, I’m tellin’ ya!!

  4. LindaB

    I want to read her essay this fall when school resumes entitled, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation”!

  5. themema

    I’d invite you here, but coming to Virginia Beach would be no guarantee that there would be no sharks. I think with her pictures, there is a children’s book developing here. Will Madi be the next in the family to be published. Well, heck! Tell her to write it up and send it to Gloria and Bill for publication.

  6. themema

    How about that Car? C a r

    Ok, Barb, I now realize that you meant Char! C h a r

    I thought at first you might be talking about the drive to the ER.
    l o l.

  7. Barbara M. Lloyd

    What did I write? I meant Char for Charlotte. You just never know what will happen when my fingers hit the keys….especially when I am excited. I think I;ve had ten phone calls since I read about Madi’s bout with that shark….and everyone had to listen to me tell them about the horrible shark before I hardly let them say a word. Madi was getting sympathy from old ladies all over Aiken this afternoon.

  8. camommy2kj

    OH MY GOODNESS! I almost passed out when I read the last post, seriously. I am SO glad she’s ok!!! Praying the rest of your vacation is OH SO uneventful!

  9. belinda

    You know, on our refrigerator I have this message board that I write notes on. At the top it says “Pray for Taffs to have a safe vacation”. We have been praying for you guys! We are so glad that everyone is okay and you are correct, it could have been so much worse. I don’t think I would have been as calm as Madi or Charlotte or Russ or you. (So how fast did you get down to the beach? I bet you were flying and your heart had to be pounding). You guys hang in there and let us know how Madi is. Keep those cell phones charged and handy at all times. What did we do before we had them?

    I am with Linda – I want to read Madi’s full essay.

  10. Bruce Sulfridge

    Russ, Tori & Girls…

    WOW! What a way to start the summer. May Madi’s healing be quick.

    This is weird. I tried to contact you guys via email about a month ago. The only address I could locate at the time was Tori’s AOL address. Didn’t hear back from you, but I know how you old jet-setters are. Then today, my mother, Jackie, called me and asked me if I would try to find a way to contact Tori. I didn’t even know that she knew you all! It’s a small world…and there are sharks in it! Or so I found out when this turned up in my “research” for mother.

    Anyway, I’m not going to eat up anymore space here. May you all be richly blessed. I can fill you in on the details if/when you get a chance to drop me line. You can probly get my email from your registration data, but I’ll save you the time:

    Peace & Blessings

  11. rcbeth

    So totally unbelievable! And what a trooper Miss Madi was, looked like she was totally enjoying herself! I’m thankful she wasn’t hurt any worse. My guess she’s hoping there will be a little scar when it’s all healed so she’ll always have proof she survived a shark attack!

    Now to hear the details on the next event on your vacation!

  12. drsalin

    Tori, This is your husband’s FAVORITE chiropractor! Just talked with you in Gatlinburg…judging your sense of humor by your previous blog entries, thought you would like this (a friend sent it to me after I emailed her the Gaither story. Glad Maddie is okay!!!!!!! Praise God!

    How to survive a shark attack

    1: Don’t swim in the ocean.
    Ninety-nine percent of all shark attacks take place in exceptionally large bodies of water also known as oceans. The way to determine if you are currently in an ocean is to taste the water, which should be salty.

    2: Listen out for the music.
    In the event that you are foolish enough to swim in an ocean, listen carefully for the music, as demonstrated in the marvelous documentary film Jaws. All shark attacks are preceded by the “daah-da, daah-da” chords, which will gradually become more rapid as the shark gets closer. This is due to the Doppler Effect.

    3: Swim with fat people.
    Try to surround yourself with more appetizing companions. If you know them well, you might even try to switch their suntan lotion with A-1 Steak Sauce. This will definitely improve your odds.

    4: Don’t go into the water without a knife.
    This is not to defend yourself but to stab the person (a.k.a the decoy) closest to you in the case of a shark attack. Once you are sure the “decoy” is bleeding profusely…..swim for your freakin life.

    5: Don’t panic.
    In the event that a shark actually bites you, try to remain calm. This really won’t help you survive, but everyone else on the beach will appreciate you not shrieking madly, as this is quite unsettling

  13. drsalin

    Sorry Tori… email is if you wish to say Hi or need me to fly out for an adjustment– HA HA! “Doc”

  14. tori

    HA!! LOVE THAT!!!
    Russ is still ‘well-adjusted’ so far– or at least his neck is… Thank you so much!

  15. » My Blogoversary!!!! | babybloomr

    […] and tangents. You have celebrated my children with me, the joys of ordinary life and the miracle of a near-miss. You have all been a part of my life this last year, and I kinda feel like I’ve been a small […]

  16. DonnaMariePatterson

    Oh my gosh, what a surprise! I sure didn’t expect to read that Madi got bitten by a shark! And I can laugh by butt off because it’s been so long and she is fine (right?). My favorite part was ‘Russ went out this morning before she woke up and bought her a sharktooth necklace, giant shark beach towel and a small rubber one– I wrote this message on its stomach: “Dear Madi, I am really sorry. Love, The Shark P.S. Nice legs’ Ya’ll are hilarious! I love whimsical families! The list the chiropractor added made me *snort* some more.

    Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, you don’t have a older single twisted brother, do you? Or maybe the chiropractor is available????? :^)

  17. tori

    Isn’t that CRAZY?! Yes, she is totally fine, and much to her chagrin, her scar is fading… It will always be there, but it will be a much fainter version!

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