Wednesday, January 14, 2009

As promised - Jan's mail

Hi Bron, friends and family,
I am having the fortunate opportunity to spend a few days with my good mate Dion in Melbourne. Bron, thanks for sharing your man with us and encouraging him to further his progress to walk again.
Dion arrived on Saturday afternoon and I met him at the airport. We booked into our hotel and decided to explore Melbourne at night. We found a lovely Chinese restaurant and enjoyed a good meal and caught up on each others last 8 months since we had last been together. After a few cold ones (no not coca cola but good old Aussie beers) we went back to the hotel to rest. Sunday morning I woke up quiet early and started looking around Melbourne city. I knew that Dions trip would have caught up with him and he would need a good rest. He only surfaced at 12pm and was full of energy so we decided to go to the south bank area for lunch. There seemed to be a lot going on in the city and later we drove down to the waterfront (Docklands) area. From there we drove up the coast to Brighton Beach and further north. The Melbourne coastline is in a large natural bay similar to False Bay and this reminded us a lot of Cape Town. On the way back we stopped at a small fish and chips restaurant 'FlatHead on Brighton' and we enjoyed a fresh seafood spread. On the way back to the hotel we heard on the radio how the SA cricket team ws being hit hard all around the MCG stadium whilst an Aussie rookie was doing damage. We raced back to our hotel room to catch the action. Unfortunately the SA side (beside Duminy) lost wickets quickly and admitted defeat. It was a good match to watch and Duminy gave us a little hope for a while. Thereafter, we retired to get a good nights sleep for Dions first day of therapy at the Hypermed Spinal Rehabilitation Centre.
Monday morning Dions was excited and a little nervous in the process. We found Hypermed (about 200m from the hotel) and met with Malcolm the Director (a really laid back kite surfer with a phenominal scientific brain). Dion and Malcolm discussed Dion's injury in detail and the action plan for Dion's therapy for the following 3 weeks. Dion would be going for 2 - 3 two hour sessions of Hyperbaric (compression chamber) therapy whilst breathing in concentrated oxygen. This induced oxygen under high pressure helps to regenerate nervous impulses from the brain down the spinal cord and repair spinal tissue damage. I am using layman's terms for the discussion that I overheard. In between the Hyperbaric chamber therapy, Dion will be set up on the Locomat. The Locomat is a robotic contraption that attaches to Dion's body from his waist down to his feet. Whilst Dion and the Locomat is elevated above a treadmill, Dion and the Lokomat moves his legs and simulate the walking motion correctly. This stimulates his muscle and neuron memory to walk again. Dions legs were a bit stiff yesterday when he started on the Lokomat. Unfortunately I left in the middle of his Locomat session for other meetings but Dions says that his legs loosened up towards the end and it worked really well. I did manage to get some really good photo's and video clips which Dion has started uploading on his Walk For Life website.
Last night we went out to an Indian retaurant for some good 'ass burn' curry. Our friend Craig joined us and we discussed Dion's day and the possibility of Dion joining myself and Karen on the Gold Coast for the long weekend when it is Australia Day. Dion is keen so we may look at some flights option today and book his flights. It may be a nice break for him and Karen and I would love to show Dion the Gold Coast.
This morning Dions muscles were a bit sore so we got to the Clinic early to get him on the powerplate and try and loosen up his muscles. I have been sitting on his outstreched legs to straighten them and stretch out his muscles whilst the power plate has been vibrating away. The nurse here recons that we make quiet a cute couple so you can just amagine the chirps that Dion and I had for her. At least we provided entertainment for the morning. The excersize did seem to help and Dion was more flexable when he set him up in the Hyperbaric chamber. He is now in the Hyperbaric Chamber resting for two hours watching a Jackie Chan action movie. Yesterday he was on an oxygen high when he came out of the chamber and felt really fresh and energised so I am sure that he will have a good session on the Locomat today.
I have thouroughly enjoyed my time with Dion and I will have to say my goodbyes this afternoon as I return my my gorgeous wife and beautiful children. I have snuck in a picture of Joshua riding his big bike without training wheels for the first time and Kate in one of her princess dresses. I could not resist.
Love to all
Jan and Dion in Melbourne causing havoc whilst we can!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Check out Dions blog on

Kind regards
Jan van der Kwast
Bristol Decorator Centre Burleigh Heads
Mobile: 0434 623258
Store Ph: 07 5535 0100
Store Fx: 07 5520 1745

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