My Healthy Wellness

Initially I was trying to write a section about my health but ran into a problem that my health goes further than purely my physical state of being. And to say “I am in great health” sounds counter-intuitive when mirrored against my physical appearance. 

Still, “I am in great health” is a fair assessment but requires me to dive deeper into a bit broader term to really assess… me… My wellbeing.

I found a University in Canada, called the WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY, who offers study material plus more on Wellness. Their material, definition, and focus is covering all my needs when telling me about… my wellbeing. And I can use it again in a couple of years and see the shifts…

You can visit their website for updates and new material here: WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY, located in Canada.

Anyway, they have defined 7 Dimensions of Wellness, which are listed below and I address each dimension as per my most objective 2023 assessment. You can argue on my objectivity and even air your opinion, but be careful what you share… 

There is however one big obvious in the room that needs to be addressed prior any dimensional sidestep, and that is your disability. I mean, you have to understand where that comes from and what you went through in order to fully address the intertwined dimensions.

Allow me some time to address your disability by going through the main chronic condition, and two more recent happenings that brought you where you are now. A chronic condition with two life-altering complications… Enjoy… somehow… Love you…

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In 2003 I got a diagnosis of probable Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, abbreviated in PPMS, and confirmed as Definitive PPMS in 2007.

MS, A neurological condition where the immune system randomly breaks down the nerve sheeting (myelin) within one’s brain. That myelin is like the insulation of any electrical wire. 

Once compromised, it has an issue containing the electrical current, which might result into local shortcuts, sparks & burns, equipment breakdown and probably disruptions of normal operations, be it temporary or rather permanent of nature. 

The multiple compromised spots or burns in one’s brain nerves, are called Sclerosis, explaining the name Multiple Sclerosis.

All that damage is happening within one’s neuromuscular system, which includes all the muscles in the body and the nerves connecting them. Every movement the body makes, needs communication between the brain and the muscles. The nervous system links thoughts and actions by sending messages (as electrical impulses) from the brain to other parts of the body.

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Nerves and muscles work together in the neuromuscular system to make one’s body move as one wants it to and manage important functions such as breathing and beating of one’s heart. And any disruption in that process, results in loss of one or multiple senses.

My kind of MS, Primary Progressive, follows a downhill path and cant be reversed or stopped in its progressive path. Like a snowball going down a snowy mountain, it accumulates more mass, accelerates in speed and doesn’t stop, till it hits the end of the slope and…well, life ends there. That sucks! 

pray, prayer, please-7870825.jpgAnd since you are reading this, can I ask you a favour please? Next time you talk to me or anyone else with a neurological condition, and you feel the need to share your caring nature, please just wish that person all the strength in dealing with the condition. Please do understand that I myself do understand what progressive means and, although hard to accept, I can’t change the ending. So I pretty much accepted my journey and will do my best in making it the best journey of my life. If you feel the urge to help me in that journey, than please don’t tell me that everything will be alright, or that it is a shame. Just give me a hug and wish me all the strength. God put me on this journey for a reason and I do not intend to turn down his gifts. Better enjoy the ride! Thank you!

neural pathway, tree, head-6365450.jpgBack in 2003 my ex and I took some time to grief, like ten minutes or so, and concluded already then that the news should not stop us from living and being a family. We did make a conscious decision to split responsibility between the both of us concerning the diagnosis. She would dive into the world of MS and how to live with it, and I would focus on getting us in a financial independent state as a family. And according to the neurologist we had about 10 years before my body would turn into a passive lump of nothingness. 

O… how desperate we were to proof him wrong! And I did try his cortisone, but that went from THE PERFECT solution to VERY BAD, within 6 weeks after intake. And when the neurologist tried to reason why his suggested change of cortisone dosage might work, we both knew that the established medical world could not do much for me, other than symptomatic treatment and run tests. That nasty experience made me decide to stay away from any medication NOT proven to actually reverse the condition. I rather experience the pains and find natural remedies, than commit my body to a life-long prescription of pharmaceutical chemical probabilities.

My ex had a very challenging path ahead. Most published medical studies were primarily focused on the symptomatic treatment of MS and not much was known about the actual cause or how to influence the development of the condition. And as PPMS only occurs in less than 10% of all MS cases, minimum budget and info was, and still is, made available on effective research on positive  treatment plans. 

But don’t tell my ex to just accept an unwanted situation and in no-time she was busy selecting the best supplements for me to swallow. And I swallowed every vitamin available in pill form and followed her every dietary suggestion. No matter how alternative that approach might be.

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In 2004 we decided to radically change our life and we sold our property in one of Pretoria’s oldest and sought- after areas, Groenkloof, to …HEYNEKE MEYER. 

Yeah, THE Heyneke Meyer… professional Rugby coach, coaching Pretoria’s Blue Bulls and later the  Springbokke’s World Cup Rugby head coach… Who doesn’t know him!

Heyneke Meyer celebrating the acquisition of 73 Wenning street,  Groenkloof, Pretoria.

Well… we didn’t know him. My ex was seriously questioning why any parent would name their son after a Dutch beer… I remember shaking his hand and answering his introduction with my name. I thought he didn’t hear me as he firmed his grip and repeated his name… resulting in me doing the same thing. After his third repeat I, somewhat annoyingly, shook my hand loose and looked him in the eyes, and said “I heard you the first time… Let’s get on with it, shall we?” 

Luckily, we had a great agent, and she brought the sale to a happy end. Thank you, Bambi… you are a true South African Springbok.

We bought a 6.4-hectare of bare land on the outskirts of Pretoria East, a rural area without any official municipal address, no dwelling on the property, nor any electricity or running water. We bought some wooden structures to live and sleep in and we moved “in” around Christmas 2004, with the whole country on Christmas leave… 

Still, we managed to get everything sorted out and, despite some major setbacks, were successful in building a new future. That period, in combination with my ex’s prescribed diet and supplements, forced me to really listen to my body and the effects of (mal-)nutrition and different lifestyles had on my MS and my quality of live. And things started to gradually change for the good.

Till 2010. That is the year that stress completely knocked out my mobility while being professionally engaged with the board of a large international company. That was scary and saw me reconsider my professional life. In short, I got medically incapacitated later that year and things started to stabilise and even improve physically, thanks to eliminating the stress factor called “work”. 

Then it was time for 2013…Something really hit me hard that year. That something was called Chronic Lyme. My ex and I had to drastically refocus our approach towards improving my health. We did just that and were able to prevent a more rapid worsening of my health.

There were some amusing experiences though… Not all was negative. Like that time that I experienced renewed sensation in my right foot. It must have been somewhere in 2007/8, when I stepped on a thorn from the sweet-thorn tree. These needles are humongous! The old settlers, or voortrekkers, used them as a needle to sow their clothing with.

It went straight through the sol of my shoe, into my foot. And I could not get it out… every attempt gave me an unvoluntary spasm and worsened the pain. Luckily one of my kids got my ex and after seeing and hearing my desperate please for help, she started to laugh… “Jan… say that again please…”, “IT HURTS… PLEASE…??”. More laughter, even while she removed the thorn… “I’m so sorry… but listen to yourself… you FEEL! HOW BEAUTIFULL!” I understood what she was saying and together we laughed a bit more. 

No pain no gain…

There are plenty more (funny) stories to remember and to document about my MS and me, but that will be for another time. All these stories do tell me how I deal with my MS and gives me a benchmark for future changes.

My ex once wrote me a short booklet about me and how I “lived” with my sickness, covering the period between the diagnosis and the first years on Plot Havelterberg.

That still is a treasured document and I read it often, reminding myself where I came from and what I have achieved in those years.

And how nice it would have been if it would have stayed with just MS to deal with. Oh no, early 2021 you got a freaky domestic accident at your home. While making the bed in the early mornings at sunrise, you slipped while getting up from your wheelchair and in stead of re-balancing on the grabrails on the wall next to the bed, your hand slipped of the rail and gravity pushed your arm through the narrow space between the wall and the rail. 

Your right arm ended up stuck between the rail and the wall, with your knees just floating above the floor and with the rail firmly pressing into your armpit… for almost 12 hours you hung there… in your underwear… with all doors wide open.. and your phone in the living room… ringing… several times that day…

Never did you experience such an amount of pain and a deep feeling of despair and helplessness. You saw your arm getting thicker and darker, with the pain concentrated under your armpit. 

On a certain moment you gave up on the attempts of freeing your arm. You asked God for help, to absorb the pain, to relieve yourself of your burdens and, if it wasn’t your time yet, to send help your way. 

And what a relieve and blessing when you heard a voice. It was the person doing some farming on your land, who got worried when your phone kept on being unanswered and dropped by to check up on you… That was in the evening of the Sunday and you only expected him only to come the next day. What a blessing… Thank you God, for the relieve and thank you Kotie, for listening…

You were brought to the ER of a hospital, where they were able to save your arm. It took a few days in ER to manage the pain before you fully comprehended the verdict… A severe Brachial Plexus Injury.

All the nerves running through your armpit, the Brachial Plexus, which are controlling all the muscles in your right arm, were severely damaged. And as the doctor later explained to you, “a full recovery might be possible but is not to be expected. But on the bright side… you are going off the ER and into a ward! YAY” Eikel!

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After spending some time on a very weird and rather temporary ward, where they mainly managed my pain with lots of pain -killers and were hyper on Covid, I was transferred to a different hospital, one mainly focused on rehabilitation. 

I spent about 4 weeks in the hospital trying to cope with my arm… trying to feel my fingers… feel anything, other than the stabbing pain under my armpit whenever a nurse tried to move me by grabbing me by my arm… They mean well, but either nobody informed them how to handle me or they simply didn’t care. 

Anyway, any attempt of rehabilitation was short lived. I decided I needed to go home, eat my own food, sleep in my own bed and get a live – in carer who understands how to take care of me and is willing to help me and learn with me. And so I did arrange just that.

For a whole three months I was at home, laying in my own bedroom, with a 24/7 carer and a daughter of a dear friend helping me out in the house.

I was useless in even helping myself, with a stiff and senseless limb and was very disappointed that my former road to recovery was stopped so abruptly.

Prior to the plexus injury I had a physio coming for house visits. Developing, and managing my program of getting me mobile, become independent of the wheelchair… again. And it was starting to work… The following video is my physio’s instruction video, showing the different steps of my road to recovery, Thanks Natalie… we did well. You did well… But you moved to the Cape… just like that… You b… better do well. 

Thank you again for your help, the fun we had and the progress we made. And I can assure you, I will complete your program successfully… one day.

Natalie Kimble Physiotherapy

Unfortunately, within 3 months I was back in the hospital, with a very bad case of Covid, resulting in me losing everything I took in, plus more… 

By the way, without arguing the facts or fiction of Covid, did your initial reaction to the name Corona was as mine? 

The Knack – My Sharona

I don’t remember much of the first weeks, other than that everybody was out there to kill me. I was delirious and paranoid, and got seriously scared of the hospital management, planning to transfer me to a ward with ONLY Covid patients… At night I heard screams of agony and certain death! So I thought…


I fully realise that I must have been a terrible patient, and I am so sorry for being such a dick to the nurses and the HODs at the Medforum Hospital in Pretoria CBD.

And also a well-meant sorry to my dear friend Lisa, for even entertaining such an impossible question in the midst of Covid… get me discharged and transferred… please? Thank you for helping me getting transferred to a different hospital.

I was transferred to the same rehab clinic who treated my plexus injury. There they did immediate blood tests and got seriously alarmed when analysis of my blood showed potassium levels of 2.1 mmol/L.

Normally, one’s blood potassium level is 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). A low potassium level (less than 2.5 mmol/L) can be life-threatening and requires urgent medical attention.

Lower than 2.0 will certainly result into a cardiac arrest. They immediately put me on a potassium drip. And they actively treated the cause of my low potassium levels and the excessive loss of it in my digestive system due to constant diarrhoea. I was completely dehydrated, and the doctors were concerned about my possibilities of recovery, as the diarrhoea was very persistent. 

So sorry to all the nurses at the Intercare Rehab Hospital, who had to clean me and the bedding over, and over again… for weeks…

But the biggest thank you goes out to Rebone Dirane, my caregiver, who ignored my constant smiles and blissfulness and insisted on getting me admitted.

Without you I would have surely died a shitty death. It reminds me of a scene in the movie, called Eric the Viking. Thank you Rebone. Love you to bits!

King Arnulf of Hy-Brasil, ignores the fact that Hy-Brasil is sinking.

Clip from the movie Erik the Viking, with Tim Robbins, Terry Jones, John Cleese and many more.

And Sherene, for making me the best and most nutritious meals ever! Every day you kept my internals at ease. Your kip-kerrie saved me from the salt-mines of the hospital kitchen…

And for Erik… you can watch the whole movie below. 

Nice to know… John Cleese was actually never casted for the role, but started spreading the word that he was part of Terry Jone’s new movie and Terry could not do anything else than accept John’s self-invite.

So worthy!


“Wellness is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It is not a passive or static state but rather a dynamic and conscious development of the whole self. Wellness is associated with intentions, choices, and actions leading toward an optimal state of well-being so that instead of surviving, you’re thriving. Wellness is commonly viewed as having seven dimensions: mental, physical, social, financial, spiritual, environmental, and vocational.

These dimensions are interdependent and influence each other. When one dimension of our well-being is out of balance, the other dimensions are affected. To strive for wellness is to take a proactive approach by learning how to be well in each dimension and taking action to build wellness-affirming habits, routines, and coping strategies.”

The following sections will address each dimension shortly and are assessed by me to give yourself a proper benchmark for later. 

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“Physical wellness includes a variety of healthy behaviours including exercise, proper nutrition, healthy sleeping, sexual health and substance use. Physical wellness involves learning about disease and harm prevention, and developing healthy habits that will enable to you to live a longer, happier life.”

Quick assessment

Despite being wheelchair bound, you are a rather active guy. Maybe not in the gym, but you use your whole body in doing what you need to do to get through the day. You choose to do most of the activities yourself and only ask for help when you yourself can’t get it done.

And be fair to yourself… you got your own physio/exercise room and 2024 is the year to continue your recovery.

You have adjusted your car to 100% manual control and enjoy being out and about. You even have taught your caregivers to control the acceleration/brake stick, all the way up to “flying”!

Your nutritional intake is well balanced, and you choose to continue the research and program your ex successfully started. You are about to start a primarily plant-based diet and you are excited to test the results.

You enjoy a good sleep. And although you don’t share your sex-life with a partner, you did learn to enjoy yourself… and you never have a headache…

And in 2018 you even managed to quit smoking… cold turkey… thanks to the most beautiful set of eyes. 

“Mental wellness includes all aspects of mental health, emotional state and well-being, as well as how they interact. In turn, your mental wellness influences how you think, feel, and behave in your daily life. Mental wellness affects each dimension in turn and includes coping with the normal difficulties of life.”

Quick assessment

You are very sane person, who deals with the everyday challenges in a quite enjoyable and sensible manner. 

You do get frustrated when things don’t go as planned, but you don’t sulk in it. You fix it or accept it… but most of the time you continue finding a solution to whatever is bothering you. 

You are stubborn… very stubborn… Something bad will not stay bad for long, and I love you for that.

Your Mental state has a very motivating influence on all other aspects of your wellbeing. You just should stop using that third-person thing… Really…

You treat others in a similar fashion as you treat yourself. You love to spread joy and happiness all around you and you still succeed to make people smile.

“Social wellness is how we interact with our community and those around us. It includes healthy relationships, consent, communication skills and support systems. It is also about building a support system of family, friends, peers, and professionals.”

Quick assessment

Socially you are apt in both your inter- as intrapersonal communications. You do not shy away from active participation in verbal communications, within both small as large groups. 

You call a spade a digger, when situation calls for it, but will keep on acknowledge the spade as a spade, nonetheless.

You are socially active and maintain an open-door policy for all.

You are very realistic about your dependency on the wheelchair, the catheter, and the nappies. All three bring with their specific social challenges. And sometimes you are not up to the task of convincing yourself to be social… and that is ok…

You are sensitive towards the wellbeing of people in your vicinity and that is beautiful.

You are blessed with beautiful siblings and have frequent contact with them… although you could put a bit more energy in the contact with your brother. Your oldest sister and her hubby, are frequent visitors and you enjoy that.  And before taking her buddy, she took all her three boys for a vacation in South Africa… that was fun! Wasn’t it Bart, Chris & Fre? (Names are not their real names… or… not in the right order… or… screw it… they are… and we had fun!) 

And what can I say about Christa? Your Lieblingsmensch has visited you when you most needed her. And that was fun! Always fun with Christa. Drück dich, du Bengel.

You live in a community where people look after you and each other. They will not leave you hanging… literarily!

You are blessed.

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“Financial wellness is how our finances contribute to our overall wellness. It is the healthy relationship between your goals and your financial obligations. When someone is struggling financially, all aspects of their wellness are affected.”

Quick assessment

Thanks to the mandatory Income Protection Policy your previous employer included in their employment package, your disability pays you well… till you reach the age of 65 and then you’re done. So, better plan your retirement well and live your life accordingly, till you stop to be…

That is so not you, is it? Nope, you will live your life in the here and now. You are valued in the here… and the now… and maybe in the later too… but how do you bank on that? You can’t predict the age on which the dear lord will take you up, neither can you plan the span of the financial bridge required to take you comfortably to that exit.

No Jan. Continue feeling well in your financial state. Stay sensitive towards your spending habits and live your life in the here and now.

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“Spiritual wellness involves our set of beliefs, principles, and values that help give direction to our lives. It is seeking meaning and purpose in our every day lives, which ultimately encourages wellness.”

Quick assessment

Your renewed belief system in God, Jesus and Love is young and still in its infancy. Yet your conviction stands strong and is ready to absorb more of the good.

You don’t preach to, nor do you exclude others from, God’s greatness. 

You don’t believe in hell, other than the numerous ones created on earth by humans.

You do see Love all around you and sometimes wonder why it is being ignored by so many.

You are grateful for how life treats you and you have always treated life with dignity and the love it deserves. 

You are at peace with yourself.

Big hug to all!

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“Vocational wellness involves preparing and using our skills and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness and a fulfilled life. Vocational wellness is about expanding knowledge and focuses on self-development and self-discovery. It is also about seeking opportunities that are personally meaningful and rewarding for you, based on your values, interests, and beliefs.”

Quick assessment

You have always possessed the ability to gain new ideas, to learn new tricks and to explore baren grounds to create valuable propositions for all to benefit from.

You have lived, and still live, a rewarding life and selflessly contribute towards the growth of others around you.

You are blessed in your vocational wellbeing. You truly are…

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“Environmental wellness is how your environment positively affects your wellness. It includes incorporating nature in your life to feel a sense of peace and wellness.

Quick assessment

You are blessed by your environment. It provides you what you need most… a constant therapy of natural peace and tranquillity.

A constant stream of wildlife visits you on your land… as if they own it… well, they do… but sill… Thank you for having me here.

There is nothing negative about your environmental state of wellness.

You will grow old here… but not too old please? We just went through that whole financial stuff and I don’t think I can afford you too old… What about 81? OK! 83… but now you are pushing it…

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Do it here.

Feel free to share…

Thank you!

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