Friday, April 20, 2007

First E-mail created on March 16, 2007

March 16, 2007

Hi Everyone,

As you may or may not have heard, I suffered a serious injury on Monday, March 12 and currently have no mobility from the waist down and am hoping to begin the process of walking again in hopefully a few months, although nothing is guaranteed.

I left for Hawaii last Friday (March 9) with Ivette to join my parents for my cousin’s wedding on Saturday in Honolulu. There were other wedding festivities on Sunday as well. Ivette and I set off on our own Sunday night. On Monday morning (March 12), we decided to go surfing close to our hotel in Waikiki. It was my first time surfing while Ivette (being the cool super hip person that she is) had gone a few times before.

That is when I suffered an extremely rare and scarcely studied injury called "surfer's myelopathy". There was no "accident" in the sense of a bad fall or crash. I was simply laying on the surfboard stomach-down look up for waves, paddling and standing up on the board. My first try at catching a wave, I caught it! Somewhere in that flow of movements, I apparently cut off blood circulation by hyper-extending my spine. When I was jumping off the board at the end of the wave, I noticed a sharp pain in my lower back. I assumed this a normal pain incurred during the course of surfing. Since it was my first time surfing, I assumed the pain to be a result of muscles that I had never used before. I was wrong. I was actually very good at surfing. I caught my first four waves and stood up - in the first 20 minutes! However, I could not catch any other waves for the rest of our time in the water, a total time of about 60 to 90 minutes. Ivette and I were cut and scraped from the rocks in the water; Ivette with a cut on her foot that was almost “stitch-worthy”. I actually also had a sea urchin stuck in my foot that will supposedly dissolve into my bloodstream. We stopped by the lifeguard to whine about the pains of surfing and after his blessing, we limped back to the room. We cleaned our wounds and I could not get comfortable, sitting, lying down, standing or whatever. We went to a Mexican restaurant to catch lunch and drink margaritas to make our pains go away.

Unfortunately, my pain persisted and it was soon after that, I limped into a doctor’s office. Once he heard of my complaints, he told me to lie down immediately and they transported me to the hospital right away in an ambulance. My parents were about to board their flight back to LA when I called them. They immediately rushed to the hospital and are still here in Hawaii with me.

They took an MRI and easily diagnosed my injury. Before I went into the MRI, my leg strength had already considerably decreased and after the MRI, I had no mobility from my waist down. I could feel if someone touched my legs or vibrations were set on my leg, however, they are quite numb and I still cannot differentiate very well sharpness.

I am currently still in Hawaii and was transported today to a rehab facility (with internet!). We are in the middle of arranging for my return to the Southern California area for additional therapy. I hope that I will be back in the LA area sometime next week.

Since the majority of victims of "surfer's myelopathy" are not from Hawaii, there is very little follow-up for the other few cases that have suffered this injury. Doctors are not sure what the best treatment is nor how long recovery will take. This injury occurs approximately one to two times per year in Hawaii. I said, “Why couldn’t I have had that luck with the lottery?”

But you know what, I am very optimistic, upbeat and not really down. I am very much taking this event in stride; it could have been worse and there was nothing wrong on my part or anyone’s part – it was just God’s will, and I am ok with it. I spoke with one of the neurologists and asked that if I instead went surfing for the first time at a different time (i.e. next week) instead of Monday, would I still have suffered the same injury. He said most probably yes, because the injury is the result of the way my anatomy is set up. With that in mind, imagine if I had taken my first surfing lesson in Malibu and decided to drive home. With my decreased leg strength, I very well may have driven off a cliff.

Again, I am in good spirits, here in rehab and making VERY FUNNY jokes with the nurses (as always). Right now, my dad, mom and Ivette are here taking the best care of me. And my brothers and sisters have pulled together and have been making every attempt to ensure that I get the best treatment as possible.

I know some of you have contacted me and I am truly very sorry that I have not yet responded. Doctors and nurses have been coming in about every 5 minutes and it has been exhausting, to the point where I almost lost my voice. I want to thank each and every one of you who have told me directly or indirectly that I am in your thoughts and prayers. You are also in mine. I truly am grateful and lucky for such loving friends and family for the amount of support.

Oddly enough with an injury this rare, another student at Chaminade High School suffered this exact same injury while vacationing in Hawaii not too long ago. I will not mention his name because I did not ask his permission but please also keep him in your prayers.

It is very possible that I may have forgotten some people on this e-mail or no longer have people’s current e-mail addresses. I am sorry for those missing, but please feel free to pass this on.

I know this is a shock to everyone, but please do not be mad, sad or discouraged. If anyone should be mad, sad or discouraged, it should be me, but I am in good spirits. God has a plan for all of us and we don’t know what the next day will bring.

With TONS of love,


At April 24, 2007 at 9:48 PM , Anonymous Mickey said...

Hi Joe Piscina! I miss u! -Mickey

At April 25, 2007 at 10:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,
This is you tita beth anthony"s Mom. How are you? You are always in our prayers ,as well as your pic. is with our friends who happened to be with the prayer network throughout the world.we miss you here in L.A.Take care.

At April 26, 2007 at 1:41 AM , Blogger Krystal said...

I'm thinking of you Joe. You are in my heart and in my prayers.

At April 26, 2007 at 7:13 AM , Anonymous Familia española said...

Hola Joe, espero que puedas leer esto, porque es muy dificil localizarte.
Nos acordamos mucho de tí y necesitamos tu dirección e-mail para poder hablar contigo.
Te queremos.
Marta, Nico, Milagros, Pedro, Mar, Miguel, María, Miguelito y Juanjo

At April 26, 2007 at 7:35 AM , Blogger Brandon said...

Hey Joe,

Wanted to let you know that you're thought of often and I hope you find yourself on the way to recovery very soon.

God's speed,

At May 24, 2007 at 7:37 PM , Blogger WSCOTT said...

Hi Joe,
Glad you're doing well on your treatment. Thank you for creating this blog so that we're able to find out about your progress. The pictures are extra bonuses. Keep up the good work. Tell Ivette we thank her for taking good care of you. We miss you and come back to Atlanta soon.
Uncle John and Tita Elmi


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