After a rare surfing injury, a love of magic helped him find a new purpose

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 5:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mycah Muranaka is skilled at sleight of hand card tricks.

But a few years ago, his interest in magic took a back seat to other activities. “I was an Eagle Scout, so I did a lot of hiking and camping and stuff. And I liked to fish and go diving,” he said.

He also liked to surf on occasion.

In January 2016, the Roosevelt High School graduate took his surfboard out to a popular spot off Kakaako called Kewalos.

He had only caught a couple of waves when his back started hurting and his legs became weak. He paddled to shore.

“When I got to the shallow area I couldn’t stand up,” he said.

At the hospital, doctors said he suffered from surfer’s myelopathy, a very rare form of paralysis triggered by a non-traumatic spinal injury.

“It’s more of an issue of the blood vessel leading to the nerves got constricted,” he said.

He was told he’d suffered a stroke in his spine. It left him paralyzed from the waist down. His life came to a screeching halt.

The first few years were especially difficult.

“Sometimes, you have just the bad days and it’s hard,” he said.

He made it through with hard work to strengthen the parts of his body he could still control. And he took a renewed interest in performing magic tricks.

“That was a big thing for me,” he said.

Muranaka is now employed by the Honolulu Magic Company. Before COVID, he’d perform for kids at the Children’s Discovery Center and he’s president of Hawaii’s Society of American Magicians.

He drives a car that’s equipped with hand controls and he’s working toward a college degree in business. He plans to someday live on his own.

“Being able to drive, these kinds of things, they really just helped me to be more positive,” he said.

He hopes others facing difficulties take a page from his book and find an interest that absorbs them and gives them joy. He did and it worked like magic.

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