Mycah's Medical Fund

My name is Shauna Alip.  I'm Mycah's aunty.  Approximately eight weeks ago, I took two of my nieces and my nephew, Mycah, surfing.  They all were beginners but had gotten in the water several times before.  Mycah, 19 years old,  had not been surfing in about a year.  

We all agreed to meet Saturday afternoon, January 2, 2016.   My boyfriend at the time and I met the trio at the beach.  We paddled out to a spot called Marineland, at Kewalo Beach Park.  The waves were really small, the conditions were perfect, the sun was shining.

Derek and I took turns working with each of them.  Every so often I would do a temperature check.  Asking how each was doing.  Mycah said his back hurt.  I asked if he was o.k.?  He said, yeah.   I'm not sure if I asked him, if he wanted to go in?  I told him to get off of his board and to let his body hang in the water, to relieve the pressure on his back.  

After about an hour I asked Mycah if he wanted to go in?  He said, yes. Derek helped him catch a wave in.  When they got to shore, Mycah said his back really hurt.  He relayed to Derek,  he was going to stay in the water for a little while. I followed shortly behind with my nieces.   Mycah said he's legs felt funny and weak.  He couldn't stand.   I stayed in the water with him for a few minutes.  When he repeated that he couldn't stand, I called Derek.  Within a minute or so, Derek was back in the water with me.   Within another minute we decided to call 911.  We lifted Mycah out onto a rock.  I asked him to wiggle his toes.  He was able to.  I thought that was a good sign, little did I know.  Derek stayed with him, while I dialed 911.   Things took a turn for the worst.  Mycah had intense pins and needles in his legs. The slightest touch to his legs shot pain through his body.  

Mycah was rushed to Queen's Medical Center.  I rode in the ambulance with him.   It was there that the gravity of the situation, hit me like a ton of bricks.   I was not prepared for the Doctor’s diagnosis, he made no attempt to sugar coat the reality.  He said Mycah had Surfer's Myelopathy.   A rare  paralysis/paraplegia.  A spinal cord injury caused by hyperextension.   In the cases that he’s witnessed, those surfers have not recovered.  Mycah, might never walk again.  I have been surfing for years, and never before had I heard of such a condition.   Later, I would learn that this condition has only recently been diagnosed/documented, within the last 10 years or so.  Surfer's Myelopathy usually affects first time surfers.   And every so often, it appears in the news.  Of the known, documented, cases; some people make a full recovery, others partial recovery and some no recovery.  There are too many unknown factors to determine the outcome.  Only time will tell.

The Doctor did an MRI to determine the severity of the damage to his spine.  The results were not in Mycah's favor.   The Doctor said it was as though Mycah had a stroke to his spine.  His spinal cord was pinched cutting off blood flow to the lower half of his body.   

Early the next morning, Mycah was transferred to Kaiser Permanente Hospital.  He spent the next couple of days on his back with severe pain.  At this point the prognosis did not look good.  He was on pain medication, receiving intravenous fluids and he could not feel or move his legs.

When this incident first occurred, a close friend of my fiancé, Dave, strongly suggested we start a gofundme account.  At the time, everything was too fresh.  The reality and the pain too deep.  Dave had also suggested we share this with a news station to get the word out . Many others, that I know  who surf, had never heard of the condition either.  Heighten the awareness of surfer's myelopathy.

Slowly the Doctor's inclined Mycah’s bed.   Each day he was inclined a little higher for a longer time period.  They also started physical and occupational therapy.  By the end of the week he was able to sit up with assistance.  He had also been weaned off of pain medication.   

The following week Mycah was transferred to Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific.   He remained there for a month.  He spent his 20th birthday there.  At the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific they taught Mycah how to get around in a wheelchair,  how to transfer in and out of a car, and how to get in and out of a shower, the simple everyday actions most people take for granted.  At rehab, he continued to receive physical and occupational therapy.    

There are two types of sensation that the medical field looks for when working with patients: sensory and muscle movement. Mycah has very little sensation in his legs and no muscle movement.  Therefore,  physical therapy would only work on strengthening his upper body.      

This was/is a huge disappointment to Mycah as well as my family.  We feel that working with the lower body will help make connections to the upper body, too.  It will keep up his muscle mass and discourage atrophy.  The nerves need to reconnect.  We, the family, especially his father, work(ed) his lower body daily.

After a month Mycah was approved to go home.  My sister, Kim,  Mycah's mom, has had to take off from work to care for him.   She drives him to his daily appointments.   She and her husband, Kyle,  have been researching and doing everything and anything to assist Mycah’s recovery.   Mycah is the oldest and has three younger siblings.

Mycah does have medical insurance but now, the bills are adding up.   This is where the money raised from, gofundme, will go.   A ramp had to be built to allow Mycah to access the house.  Kyle and Kim are looking into redoing one of the bathrooms to allow easier access to the shower, toilet and sink.  His wheelchair alone is approximately $10,000.00, of that his insurance will cover 80%, that leaves about $2000 out of pocket.  Almost everyday Mycah continues to have  physical therapy, occupational therapy, and/or a Dr. app't.  Each of these appointments are $15.00.  He is also receiving acupuncture 3 times a week, each session is $55.00, not covered by insurance.   His parents have also found someone who does, Healing Touch, which will be another added expense.  Kyle and Kim are also looking into, Project Walk.  A program that focuses on working with the whole body, upper body as well as lower body.  One of their locations is in California. Project Walk costs a $100.00 an hour.  It's recommended that the patient visit the center 3-4 days a week, a couple of hours a day, for at least a month.  They will need to fly to California. They will also need room and board.   All of this will be out of pocket expenses.   A month at project walk will cost approximately $5,000.  Mycah will also be visiting a chiropractor.

About a week ago, one of  Mycah's Doctors put him in touch with an older gentleman who visited Project Walk three times, and had nothing but good things to say about the facility.   This gentleman also referred Mycah to a physical therapist.  This individual visits the patient's house and utilizes the same exercises as project walk.  His fee is, $85 an hour, not covered by insurance.    

As of 2/24/2016, Mycah's future may have just taken a turn for the better.  This was Mycah's first visit by this physical therapist,  he not only worked Mycah's upper body, but worked his lower body too.  Mycah was barely able to move his knees.  Although it was ever soooooo slight, it was something.  Up to this point, no one from the medical field had worked with his lower body.   My sister relayed, this was the first time Mycah had really smiled in a really, really, really  long time.  Our family is hopeful.  

All donations will be greatly appreciated and go to all of Mycah's medical expenses and recovery efforts.


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Organizer and beneficiary

Shauna Alip 
Honolulu, HI
Kimberly Muranaka 

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