Nathan Carroll Talks About His Torturous Year

SURFER: Where have you been?

Nathan Carroll: Part of my training routine was, uh, skateboarding. I've been skating since I was 12 years old and actually was an amateur skater and did a bunch a skate events before I got serious about surfing. In the last year and half I started skating again, and was really careful when I skated and wore pads, but they just built a new cement park by my house and I got a little too cocky one day, and did a big air and came down hard, breaking my elbow in a couple places.

What was the diagnosis?

They rushed me straight to the E.R. and the doctors told me that I need to get surgery within the next 48 hours. So I bought a ticket that night and flew to California to see Warren Kramer, and he scheduled me for surgery the next morning.

What did the surgery entail?

They put a 7-inch screw from the hardware store into my elbow. They also put several wires in there connecting all the bones together. It was very painful.

But that wasn't the end of it…

No, in June I was in a lot of pain, so I went back and the doctors found out I had a gnarly staph infection so they rushed me straight back into surgery to cut out the staph. For three weeks after that I was hooked up to an antibiotics I.V. drip. So I had a midline into my right elbow and then I had another drain tube out of my left elbow, which was the elbow that I broke. For three weeks I couldn't bend my right arm or my left arm. Couldn't even feed myself.

And then you got malaria.

Yeah, then I had a relapse of malaria on the 4th of July.

Surely it was smoother sailing after that?

No, actually it got worse. My first day back surfing, I injured myself. My first surf was in indo and straight off the boat my board hits me in my arm. I have really bad scar tissue on my elbow, so my board just split it open and I was stuck on a boat watching guys surf perfect waves every day. I came home and had another surgery on it, and got hooked up to a wound-vac, this thing that sucks the wound closed. I had three surgeries after that, trying to keep the wound closed and the skin clean.

How long have the been fit then?

I've been ok about 6 weeks, I'm running at around 80 percent fitness.

Has that time out of the water got you out of sync?

The time out the water has me out of sync with EVERYTHING. The minute I surf, the waves go flat. It starting pissing with rain in Hawaii for two weeks as soon as I got back in the water. My elbow still has a tiny little hole in it, and it squeaks when I paddle so I don't want to go in the water and get another Staph infection. Then to make it worse, I left California to go to the east coast one day before that great run of swell hit.

And now you're doing a full year on the QS this year.

Yeah, I'm doing a full year on the 'QS so I'll miss good waves all year [laughs].

How are you feeling about this year, do you think your luck is going to change?

From what I went through last year; almost dying, having malaria, being stuck in a hospital for 3 or 4 months, anything is better. As long as I'm out on the road and surfing it'll be a better year for sure.