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Lakewood father paralyzed in body surfing accident hopes to walk again within six months


Fans of the The Dori Monson Show found themselves incredibly moved and inspired by the story of Todd Duitsman, a father who was paralyzed in a body surfing accident while on vacation in Hawaii last month.

While such an event might leave many questioning their faith, the Lakewood father’s seemed stronger than ever.

So it was no surprise to hear, when Dori called for an update, that even after over a month in a hospital bed, Todd is still focusing on the positives.

“The reason I can’t move my arms and legs is because there are too many blessings literally just surrounding me,” Todd says from his hospital bed at Harborview Medical Center.

Hearing Todd continue to talk about his blessings following an event many would call a tragedy is something that might be hard for some to swallow, says Dori.

“You know how challenging that is for people who don’t share your faith to hear that,” says Dori. “You were with family and friends one second, enjoying body boarding in paradise, and an instant later you can’t move your arms and legs, and you talk about your blessings. That’s something that people without faith have a real tough time wrapping their heads around.”

Todd can’t really explain it, but says that strong faith is just in him.

“I just know there is a better place for me in the future and whatever God gives me back right now – I believe I’m going to walk and I believe I’m a miracle – but whatever I get, I’m blessed.”

When a bad thought pops into his mind or the “Why me?” question pops up, Todd says he does his best to push out those negative thoughts.

“If I allow that stuff to go into my brain, it seeps into other areas of my body, and I don’t want it in there at all,” he says. “So I focus on every blessing and I try to smile and laugh with just about everybody I can because life is absolutely amazing and it’s so short.”

Todd had some success moving his toes when we last heard from him in mid-July, and things have improved even more since then.

“I’ve got a flipper for a right arm,” he says. “And I’ve got two index fingers that move in different directions. I don’t know why. God’s got a sense of humor. And I’ve got a thumb that’s curling, and I have feet that I can flip down and wiggle my toes. I’ve got some knee movement here and there.”

He tells Dori that each day is like a new experiment.

“Every morning I wake up and I think, ‘God, what did you give me today and what do I get to work on today over at physical therapy and occupational therapy?'” he says.

And not every day, but some days he’ll find a body part that begins to work or shows promise.

He’s definitely not taking the little things for granted anymore. One of the greatest moments for him recently was his first shower since the accident.

“It’s been 37 days since I took a shower,” he says. “[The nurse] let me sit in the shower for about 30 minutes, Dori. Honestly, when you get in the shower tonight or anybody listening gets in the shower, please just think and feel so blessed.”

He’s certainly seeing all his blessings and wants everyone else to see it, too. “Blues are so blue to me, and greens are so green, and moments with human beings, they don’t really get how important it is…do you know what I mean?”

Dori says he thinks he’s starting to understand.

“That’s why I wanted to talk to you again, Todd. There are a lot of people who have complaints about the tiniest of issues in their life and you’re a reminder of how a spirit should handle the greatest of challenges. I don’t think that I inherently know what you mean, but I’m starting to learn…from you.”

Todd reminds Dori he’s just a regular guy, but he does think he’s a miracle in God’s eyes. Doctors believe he will be able to walk again in perhaps a year to a year and a half. But of course, Todd is looking on the bright side and has a goal of more like three to six months.

You can follow Todd’s journey at his Facebook page Big Daddy’s Big Adventure.

Listen: Todd’s first interview on The Dori Monson Show

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