The dangers associated with surfing are well-known. Shark attacks, drowning, slaps from furious locals, bashing off reefs etc. but, whenever I paddle out, I rarely, maybe never, consider it “dangerous.” Oh sure, I’m not paddling out to Jaws, and my heart has crawled right into my throat plenty of times, but something going wrong, really wrong, never enters my mind.
Well, an eighteen-year-old young Las Vegas mn, handsome and fit, had always dreamed of surfing and finally got his opportunity on a Thanksgiving family vacation to Hawaii. He ordered up a lesson but told Las Vegas’s NBC affiliate, “Within that first or second wave, I noticed my lower back was starting to feel tense. Soon as I touched the sand, my legs pretty much just gave out.”
He tried stretching it out but when no relief came his family took him to the hospital where it was revealed he had suffered Surfer’s myelopathy, a condition that leaves little to no sensation in the lower half of the body and is so rare that there have been less than 100 documented cases in the past 20 years.
“It wasn’t a traumatic injury. I didn’t fall, I didn’t hit a rock,” he said. “It really just happened on a surfboard, standing up arching my back, and somehow ended up with me being paralyzed.”
Doctors say the condition occurs when a surfer, lying on a board, hyperextends the back while getting up thereby causing non-traumatic injury to the T10 vertebrae.
The young man is home, now, trying to get as much sensation back as he can, pushing through and rehabbing. He said there have been ups and downs, so far, and a long road ahead. A GoFund me has been set up to help with crazy costs.
But, man, Surfer’s myelopathy? What a sneaky, sneaky little jerk.