Mark 'Mono' Stewart, of Byron Bay.
Mark 'Mono' Stewart, of Byron Bay. AccesSurf

'I couldn't feel my arms': Surfer's horror at championships

MARK "Mono" Stewart had dreamed of taking home gold at the the 2018 Stance ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship at Huntington Beach in California.

And it was looking promising until the quarter final.

"I had a problem," he said.

"My arms gave way on me. No feeling and couldn't feel them. I passed out on the beach."

Stewart said the lifeguards and paramedics were "amazing" - he was taken to the ambulance where he had an ECG (electrocardiogram) and everything "seemed okay".

He asked to be released so he could surf in the semi final and, even though they "weren't happy", he surfed and he won.

After the semi, Stewart went back to hospital for more tests.

Heart problems were ruled out but doctors raised concerns about a nerve or spinal issue, and suggested he may have surfer's myelopathy, a rare condition that is caused by hyperextension of the spine.

Doctors wanted to do an MRI and blood tests, but Stewart refused.

He had a final to surf.

"I ditched the gown and signed myself out so I could surf final the next day," he said.

"Doctors and (my wife) Deb weren't happy! I promised I will get it done as soon as I get home in two days.

"Feeling like crap, but putting on a brave face for the ISA (International Surfing Association), I surfed the final.

"Started good and led for majority but couldn't find a backup wave in inconsistent conditions."

Stewart said he was "pretty pissed off with myself" because he hadn't lost a heat all contest.

"Anyway, sh-t happens and silver it is. Next year I'll be back, hungrier than ever.

"Just need to sort this health issue."



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