After a harrowing ordeal in Portugal that almost ended Josh Moniz's surf career, the affable Hawaiian is back home in the islands and making huge strides in his recovery.
Last month, Moniz wiped out at Supertubos and ended up in the hospital with severe injuries, requiring immediate neck surgery. Reo Inaba, Mason Ho and Nick Wapner, among others were there to bring him to shore and stabilize him when he went down.
Moniz spent several days in two different hospitals where he relearned to walk. He then made the long trip back to the islands alongside his mother, Tami, and girlfriend Isabella.
The WSL just spoke with Moniz and discussed the state of his recovery and what he thinks the future may hold in store. Here's what he had to say:
WSL: We heard you're making incredible progress in your recovery. How's everything going now that you're back home with the family?
Moniz: After the surgery I wasn't on my feet right away, I was still in a bit of pain, mostly from nerve damage from the fall, but now I'm completely on my own and don't really need help getting around at all. This week has been the first week where I'm 100 percent on my own again. So, it's been pretty nice.
What's the Physical Therapy process like?
I do physical therapy every day and rest on the weekends. So five days a week and that's pretty much my new little home [laughs]. So far it's been pretty light. This week I'm starting to pick it up a bit. I got cleared from my surgeon that I can start moving some weight around, nothing crazy, nothing more than 10 or 12 pounds.
I also ride the stationary bike a bit but mostly just trying to loosen up my shoulders because I got really stiff around my shoulder blades. That's where a lot of my nerve damage is coming from, so just trying to do as much as I can but not too much.
What's the timeline for the recovery looking like?
So far they haven't given me an exact time frame of when I can get back in the water. But I've been told it's anywhere from four to eight months. In my head I'm thinking eight months.
I think in the next month or so they'll be able to tell me when I can get in. With the way I've been progressing hopefully it's sooner but if not I'm okay with it.
What's keeping you most motivated and inspired through this whole process?
Just knowing I'll be able to get to 100 percent health is pretty much my biggest motivation. I think a lot of people think I'm trying to get into the water as soon as I can, which I obviously am, but I'm more so just happy to do what I've been doing. Even today just walking and being able to change [on my own] in the morning. Just doing the little stuff is my biggest motivation. Having to learn how to walk again in the hospital was the biggest shock ever.
Can you describe that process of learning how to walk again?
It didn't take as long as I thought it would, I would say this week has been the first week I've been walking around where you probably couldn't tell I'm injured and I'm walking a little more normal. It was weird, my brain just didn't know what to do. I was kind of laughing in the PT room when they were telling me what to do. So, with that start I thought this was going to be the longest recovery ever, but I feel like this month was the hardest month I got through, so everything I get to do is a perk.
The travel back to Hawaii from Portugal looked especially difficult, do you want to tell that story?
Yeah, so I spent seven days in the public hospital in Lisbon, then I got moved to a private hospital when I was getting better and was allowed to get moved where I was for two more days. Then I had to stay in Lisbon for another ten days just to rest with my mom and my girlfriend. From there I finally got cleared on the plane home.
I got pretty lucky with my route actually. Usually, even being healthy, just getting home from Portugal is three to four flights depending what route you do. I got lucky and flew straight to Newark, had an overnight layover, which was the biggest blessing ever just being able to go to a hotel room and rest.
From there I got a direct flight straight to Oahu. So it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but that was pretty much the mission to get home. Having my mom and girlfriend there made everything pretty easy to get done.
Well Josh we're so glad you're on the mend and it looks like the process is going to be better than expected. Is there anything else you wanted to share?
Thank you to everyone who helped in Portugal, someone was on the beach from the WSL no more than 20 minutes from my injury. Also thanks to Reo Inaba, Mason Ho and Nick Wapner, they were the first people to grab me and they for sure saved my life. I owe them for life and love those guys for sure.
It was overwhelming with all the support I had from all my friends from Portugal and around the world helping to make sure I was okay. So thank you all those people too.