Mildura Weekly : Friday April 17 2015 Vol 9 No 23
14 NEWS MILDURA WEEKLY FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2015 By ALAN ERSKINE IT’S one of the great unex- plained mysteries of modern medical science, and it af- fects more people than you realise, even though statistics put diagnosed cases at fewer than eight per 100,000 head of population. The disease is called Guil- lain-Barre Syndrome, an at- tack on the central nerve sys- tem. It can have severe lasting effects, and take ages to clear the system. Lifelong Mildura musi- cian John Eames, 62, says he is one of the lucky ones - he’s back on the road to recov- ery after three months, but he knows of others who are still struggling to regain their health years down the track. Guillain-Barre Syndrome is one of those rare diseases that slips under the radar, un- til highlighted by high-pro- file cases, such as triple Haw- thorn premiership coach Alastair Clarkson, and before that, three-time Brownlow Medallist Ian Stewart, who battled the disease for two years. John Eames hopes his re- habilitation won’t take that long, and puts his ‘quick’ re- covery down to the fact that he was diagnosed almost im- mediately, and got the right treatment at the right hospi- tals. He can’t speak highly enough of Ontario Medical Clinic’s Dr Aqeel Chalabi, the staff at Mildura Base Hos- pital, and their counterparts at intensive care and neurol- ogy units at the Austin Hos- pital in Melbourne. From what John and his wife Kerrie have learned, Guillain-Barre Syndrome is triggered by acute viral or bacterial illness, leading to an attack on the nerves by the body’s own auto-immune defence system. Common symptoms are tingling of the fingers or toes, gradual onset of muscle weakness, difficulty walk- ing, moving the eyes, talk- ing, chewing or swallowing, lower back pain and loss of bladder control. The disease manifested itself very quickly for John. In early January, he noticed minor difficulty walking, then he started dropping things, and when he went to pick them up, almost fell over. By the time he got in to the doctor the following day, he couldn’t walk. “The doctor (Dr Aqeel) took one look at me, asked a few questions, and wrote a note for hospital staff to begin urgent treat- ment for Guillain- Barre Syndrome,” John said. “He hit the nail right on the head.” John was admitted to hospital for initial treatment, transferred to Melbourne’s Austin Hospital for advanced treatment, and is now back in Mildura Base Hospital as part of his rehab. “Fingers crossed, I’m well on the road to recovery,” John said. “I have to ad- mit it was pretty scary for a while. At one stage I couldn’t do anything other than talk, move my head and shrug my shoulders. Now I’m walking with the aid of a frame, and get- ting some co-ordi- nation back. “I’m certainly luckier than a lot of others. In hospital I met people who are still in a wheelchair after six months, and others who are still getting exten- sive treatment and rehabilitation two years after being di- agnosed.” John doesn’t know when he’ll be back working, or just as impor- tantly, playing his beloved guitar and singing. Music has been a big part of his life from his early teens, and he hopes it will be just as big a part in the rehab process. He has some great stories about those early years in the music industry, playing as support group to the Rhythm Rockets at the Ballerina, helping form a number of Mildura-based bands, travel- ling the length and breadth of Australia playing gigs, and finally being joined on the road by his 15-year-old son Simon. “We played a lot of pub gigs, even though he wasn’t old enough to be in licensed premises,” John said. “I told him not to tell anyone that I was his dad...just a fellow musician...we be- came known as ‘Two for the Road,’ and later, ‘Chuck and Chuck’...a legacy of the days playing with Blair Bildstien of the Brolly Brothers.” John is one of the better- known names in the Sunray- sia music industry. He’s been around since the 60s, playing the hit tunes of the day with various groups that included Magic Apple, Redeye, Sun- down Country Band and the top group Silver Dollar Band. At one stage he was combin- ing a full-time job with play- ing up to three local gigs a week, with extended breaks for jobs as far away as Tas- mania, Darwin, Cairns and Mataranka. “Those days are probably finished, but I can’t wait to get back into guitar playing again,” John said. “Some- times there are lasting effects from diseases like this, but so far I am one of the fortunate ones. “I’m just lucky to have the support of Kerrie and people like Dennis Brown from Mal- lee Timber. They have been a fantastic help. ” Scary. That’s the word a talented Mildura musician uses to describe the mystery disease that struck him down in January, causing gradual paralysis that saw him hospitalised, firstly in Mildura, and then Melbourne. He counts himself lucky to be on the road to recovery, but it’s still... The long road back to health • SLOWLY, SLOWLY: Mildura musician and part-time timber worker John Eames in the rehab ward at Mildura Base Hospital...he’s learning to walk again, literally one step at a time, and finally managing to hold a coffee cup. That’s John with wife Kerrie, who he credits as being one of the motivational forces, along with other family and friends, towards recovery. Langtree Avenue, Mildura | 03 5022 2988 | mildurabrewery.com.au Join our mailing list! - Keep up to date with the latest in events, news and brew and email your details to email@example.com Mother’s Day Special at the Mildura Brewery This is the day to spoil your Mum completely. Entrée Tomato and basil soup Spinach, pumpkin and gorgonzola lasagna Main Charcoal chicken Lamb shoulder Servered with seasonal vegetables Dessert Sunraysia citrus pudding Tiramisu Book a set three course lunch or dinner including a glass of prosecco at one of the most exciting venues in town. 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Friday April 10 2015 Vol 9 No 22
Friday April 24 2015 Vol 9 No 24