Nine months after breaking his neck in a surfing accident in Indonesia, Darren Longbottom is finally back home with his family in Kiama.The 36-year-old still has no movement from his armpits down but says his wife, Aimee, and 23-month-old daughter, Bowie, are the reasons he will keep fighting to recover."Every day, that's the reason I get up in the morning - for Aimee and Bowie," Mr Longbottom said."That's what makes life worth getting up for. My ultimate goal would be to walk with my wife and daughter again - all the things you took for granted, that you thought you'd always do and now you can't."Although doctors have told Mr Longbottom he will never make a full recovery, he refuses to give up hope."They told me the day I arrived in Sydney - 'forget about your legs, you'll never walk again'."I go day by day but I've probably come to terms with the fact that I'll never walk. Anything that happens above this is a bonus. I'm a realist, but you always have hope."Daily exercises are helping Mr Longbottom to rebuild his strength. He has returned to doing the accounts for the surf shop he and his wife own and says a positive attitude helps him to cope."What keeps me going is that, as bad as it sounds, there's always someone in a worse situation," he said. "I think of the guys I was in rehab with who can't do the things I can."Since leaving the Moorong Spinal Unit at Ryde last month, Mr Longbottom has been making the most of his daughter, who is unfazed by the changes around her."She's unreal - nothing changes for her. She jumps on my lap, crawling over me." The couple have been overwhelmed by messages of support and the community appeal which raised more than $160,000. The money has gone towards installing disabled access and facilities at their home. "We're just us and to have support from so many people we don't even know is such a beautiful feeling," Mrs Longbottom said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.