Meet Sam and Tess, a young couple who are recently engaged. They can’t wait to get married, but Sam has a few challenges ahead of him before the big day – he needs to relearn how to walk and how to speak after a number of serious brain haemorrhages wracked his young body.
Sam’s battle with arteriovenous malformation
Sam knew something was wrong. The fit and healthy 23 year old was suffering from a violent headache that left him vomiting and shaking, so he did what most desperately sick young people would do – he called his mum. A short time later they were at the hospital, where Sam was diagnosed with a 9.5cm x 4cm arteriovenous malformation that had haemorrhaged in his brain. The cause? A tangled blood vessel and nerve growth that had unknowingly been there since birth.
Told there was nothing he could do to prevent a lifetime of potentially fatal haemorrhaging, his family contacted Dr Nazih Assaad, an amazing neurosurgeon from Sydney. Sam began treatment a few months later but the AVM haemorrhaged again, leaving him on the edge of death. After a number of surgeries, Sam started the long road to recovery – learning to stand, pull himself up in his chair, walk with help and communicate with hand signals.
An unusual bedside marriage proposal
Throughout Sam’s 10 month hospital stay his partner Tess has been by his side the entire time, joining a support network that included his mother, father and extended family. The Adelaide couple had been together for just two months when Sam was rushed to hospital after he began experiencing dizzy spells, vomiting and shaking. Almost a year on, Tess never once thought about moving on, and continues to be a vital source of daily support.
When Sam proposed he was still unable to speak, surprising his girlfriend by pulling out an amethyst ring. Tess immediately said “yes”, but with the focus still on Sam’s rehabilitation, plans for the wedding have been put on hold in order to focus on recovery first. Speaking to The Advertiser, Tess commented ’I know that Sam would really love to be able to say his vows and to walk back down the aisle, so I’d like to wait a little while to give him the opportunity”.
Sam’s ongoing recovery and the future
While Sam still faces an uphill battle with his recovery, he has made amazing progress in his rehabilitation. But there is still a lot of work to be done, and Sam needs a vehicle that can accommodate his large wheelchair. In addition to transport, alterations need to be made to his house to make it more accessible, including a new bathroom fit out and and a variety of ramps and handles need to be fitted throughout the entire home.
His partner Tess and his mother are around to help him get through the day while Sam continues his therapy. Over the long term, Sam will need to work with a variety of physiotherapists, occupational therapist and speech therapists in order to regain control of key motor and speech skills. Over time, the family hope that Sam will be able to live independently again. If you wish to help with Sam’s recovery, his fundraising page can be found at www.gofundme.com/get-sammy-on-his-feet-again