Magician Steve Wilson has injured his back while juggling a bowling ball. Now he needs back surgery to fix it. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Magician juggles back surgery cost


It seemed like a good idea at the time.

After building his body up to successfully juggle a bowling ball and two bowling pins at the same time, local magician Steve Wilson, has suffered a double cervical prolapse.

He was performing the trick at the Dunedin Fringe Festival when he felt his back go.

“I felt it go ‘clunk’ and thought ‘this is different’.”

Then his fingers started to go numb and he lost all the strength in his hand. After some phyiso, which didn’t seem to work, it was advised that he have a CT scan which revealed the extent of his injuries.

“Losing the feeling in my fingers was really scary,” Steve says. “I’ve spent literally thousands of hours working to perfect my sleight of hand skills and now I couldn’t even feel the cards in my hands.”

At the 2017 New Zealand Magic Convention, Steve was awarded “Best Manipulation”, the only Kiwi to win an award.

Steve says he wanted to do a trick that most people would see at the climax of the show, at the beginning instead.

“The weight of the bowling ball isn’t that great but coming from a height it can create some force.”

He says that he was careful to ensure his body was up to the task, first practising with medicine balls for three months before stepping up to real deal.

“I was smart about it, I built myself up very slowly to make sure it was safe. I had the muscles, just the shock absorbers blew out on me.”

Adding to Steve’s woes, ACC has decided to only fund one level of his operation because of “degeneration” on his vertebrae.

This leaves a shortfall of nearly $7000 which he is expected to pay out of pocket.
The surgery will remove the prolapsed discs and insert a plate and screws over the two affected vertebrae.

This will remove the pressure from the nerves in the neck and hopefully provide relief.

“To not be able to work and to have to go through something so traumatic is stressful enough,” Steve says. “Then to be asked to pay $7000 you don’t have for the privilege just beats you down.”

If he makes a full recovery, Steve is not sure whether the trick will remain in his routine.