A man who often finds himself confined to bed due to medical conditions, has found a sport he can take part in and is asking for help to make his dream a reality.
Sam Bottone-Gordon, 30, got cramp while swimming ten years ago and then developed severe backache. This prompted him to go to the doctor where he discovered he had a prolapsed disc in his spine. He went on to be diagnosed with degenerative bone and disc disease of the lower spine.
Sam has undergone numerous back surgeries, including microdiscectomys - relieving pressure on a spinal nerve by removing material causing the pain - and disc fusion, and has also been diagnosed with Ehlers–Danlos Syndrome and Chiari malformation.
Ehlers–Danlos Syndrome causes joint pain, while Chiari malformation is where the brain herniates through the foramen magnum - the hole in the base of the skull where the spinal chord enters - causing him severe migraines.
Sam can spend up to two weeks at a time in bed, unable to move. He has full-time care and on a good day he walks with two crutches, but most of the time he uses a wheelchair.
He lives on a farm in Churchstow with his full-time carer Mike, surrounded by animals which he loves, but misses out on seeing a lot of the wildlife and countryside many of us take for granted.
Recently, a friend offered to take him kayaking in Aveton Gifford. Using an open top kayak and after assistance from his carers to get him on the water, Sam said “I was so happy too be out on the water with the wildlife, it made me cry.
“I floated about and watched all the lovely wildlife, ducks, swans, Canada geese, and all their babies, there were loads of trout and eels too! It was one of my life goals ticked off my final wish list! Problem is now, while I can still use my arms, I want one!”
Mike added: “He loved this, just floating around and looking at all the wildlife on the river. He is able to use his upper body quite well, so he was able to paddle a bit. We were there to look after him and to see him with a beaming smile when he came in, in fact we had great difficulty in getting him out of the canoe as he wanted to stay!”
Sam is now hoping someone can offer him a couple of kayaks or the use of them, to enable him to get out on the river when he is well enough.
Sam said: “Is there one I could borrow locally or someone that would be kind enough too donate one too me? Cheeky I know, but there is no way I could afford one as it can’t be too heavy or too wide.
“Please please can any one help?”
Mike added: “We are now looking for an open top canoe of his own so that when he feels up to it at any time we can take him to a stretch of water I give him the relaxation he so needs. Ideally we would need two canoes as he would have to have somebody with him for safety and to carry medication.
“Because of his medication, Sam can get very confused at times and does withdraw into himself and seeing on the water was an absolute delight.”
If you think you could help Sam out, contact Mike via email: [email protected] or call 07715 338583.