Ben’s Blog

5 January 2014

After a great New Year’s Eve, I wandered down to the HKFC to catch as much of the heralded New Years youth rugby tournament, which was one of the year’s pinnacle rugby events as a youth growing up in Hong Kong. There was som great rugby on display and it was good to see the future of HK rugby is in good stead.

With the Christmas and New Years rush subsiding, my last few weeks at home was slightly slower paced (bar a few nights) but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.

I did manage to get down to a Club game at long last and watched the boys put on a good show, coming out on top against HK Scottish. It was great to get back into the mix once again and see the lads going well.

It was finally time to say ‘sayonara’ to Hong Kong and I jet settled back to Sydney to get stuck into an intense rehab programme before uni starts in March.

Upon my arrival in Sydney, I was met by my ever reliable godfather, Andy, who picked myself and Dad from the airport. We then had a lovely day in Manly in the glorious sunshine, setting the tone for the rest of the month. With a solid group of mates in Sydney, I managed to catch up with everyone. Very good to be back in Sydney.

The month finished with Ben Wallis’ 21st on Australia Day. A cracking day/night, with he most spectacular of set ups. A big thanks to the Wallis’ for their hospitality- proving that Hong Kongers know how to do it right (yes, they lived in the mighty Kong for a while and Ben was in fact born there).

December 2013

Now finally settled back into Hong Kong life, people started trickling in with northern hemisphere uni holidays rolling in. With the whole clan back home, carnage ensued, with some incredible nights and times spent with the people who mean the most to me.

Tash came into town just before Christmas and it was great having the family in one place again. As is the Kende tradition, we had a lovely night of singing carols at the yacht club, followed by a movie at home. Christmas was spent at the Dorfman’s, with the Keller’s making an appearance. We had a brilliant and arguably the best, Christmas Day. I’d like to extend a massive thank you to the Dorfman’s for their impeccable hospitality and for putting on such a lovely afternoon.

Boxing Day saw the second annual Kende Boxing Day soirée on our roof. With the BBQ going, copious banter and plenty of sauce on offer, it was a brilliant day. However, it all came to a halt for me at the end of the night, with a mild flu (which I had been battling with for the last week or so) rearing its ugly head.

Before we knew it, New Years was upon us. After lots of deliberation, the majority decided on having pre drinks at Dan Wilson’s new roof, then onto Tamarind for the fireworks and countdown. It ended up being a superb night (maybe not as epic as last years) and bumped into a lot of old friends that I hadn’t seen in a while.

November 2013

With the end of the academic year upon is, November was a fairly quiet month, with the focus well and truly placed on assignments and exams. Nonetheless, I managed to get through the work.

With uni out of the way, it was time for some well earned holiday time and a long awaited trip back home. With only a handful of people in Hong Kong, it was fairly quiet, allowing me to take it easy before the proverbial storm hit. Regardless, Dan Russell, Jordan, Lloyd and myself made our own fun with the help of a certain Peter Troy. Sarina made a short but sweet visit home and it was great to have a good old fashioned catch up with her.

Finally, the Rula Bula quiz night on the 27th was a lovely little night and I’d like to say thank you very much to everyone who came along and the good people at Rula Bula for their overwhelming generosity.


October 2013

The month kicked off with Jack Rayment’s 21st on the first weekend. We loaded the ‘red rocket’ (the van) with a bunch of lads (and Jessie) and drove for 6 hours to Tamworth for the festivities. The night was immensely enjoyable and it was great meeting the Rayment clan for the first time. A big thank you to the Rayment’s for their hospitality- a great family.

October was a big month at college with many key events taking place including the mighty Chopper Crawl and the Formal. The Chopper Crawl was a brilliant but equally as tiring day spent in the glorious Sydney sunshine, visiting a solid 46 pubs/bars. The formal was just as large and enjoyable as the year before.

September 2013

With university well under way, September was spent enjoying the many wonderful nicks and backs that Sydney has to offer.

21st season was also upon us and I enjoyed a great night at Joofa’s at the Northbridge Golf Club. Sammy’s 21st was up next and it meant making my first appearance at a ‘country 21st’. The venue was Albury and so I had to make my first road trip and spend one of my only ever nights outside of my room in HK or Sydney. Emma and I made the trip up, which all went to plan and I had a fantastic night celebrating Sammy’s 21 great years. Emma and I also made a pretty dodgy speech but I think (or at least hope) it was well received.
Upon returning to Sydney that afternoon, Emma dropped me off at the Enmore Theatre to watch one of my favourite bands, the Foals, with Bolster and Schibeci- brilliant evening.

August 2013 

My sister, Isabella, and my Mum took me back to Sydney for my second term of my second year of uni. I want to show my sister Sydney uni and college life. She had a pretty good time  with my John’s mates and looked around the campuses of three universities. She also got her Learner’s and starting to learn to drive – she thinks she’ll be a good driver one day, except that she took off when my mother had one foot out of the car and cleaned up someone’s rear view mirror.

July 2013 

Although most people had gone home from college my Dad and I stayed on to watch  the Lion’s tour together. The atmosphere was electric, like the Rugby Sevens on steroids. But Australia was smashed by a much better side. An unfortunate result but the experience was memorable. Afterwards we went out with some of the guys visiting from Hong Kong who now live in Sydney. At the end of a great week together we flew to Hong Kong.

Nothing beats seeing old mates and Hong Kong was awesome, except that it rained every single day and we only had one opportunity to sit on my roof.

July 17 we celebrated my 21st at the Yacht Club. Being so hot, the dress code was bow ties and boardies. It was an awesome night with speeches by Dan Wilson and Dad, and some of the guys taking a swim, then we kicked on in Wanchai

June 2013 

The start of June saw exams and it was quite a boring month, with my head down on my birthday. I took exams in finance and marketing, staying up all night to study – it wasn’t fun.

Afterwards it was good to chill with my mates and schlep around. I was quite pleased with my four distinction results. Aunt Chrissie had a family dinner for my birthday and my Dad flew down to Sydney to take me back to Hong Kong for the winter break.

May 2013

May was a month of assignments and projects. The end of the month signified the return of  the college bar, the Dale, which had been closed for most of the year due to the student unrest. It was good to have it back.

April 2013

Anzac day is one of the biggest holidays in Oz so my mates and I spent the day at Paddington Bowls.

With the Murphy’s I watched the Waratahs play against the Chiefs, a great rugby match, where I caught up with my old coach Higgi, from the Hong Kong Academy.

Had a lot of nights out.  We drew in the  cricket  against St Andrews and had a victory dinner afterwards

March 2013

I spent a pretty quiet Easter in college, alleviated by family visits to the Bovards and Collins. I guess it was a good time to study and prepare for my mid term exams as many people went home

February 2013

My dad and I spent the month at Project Walk where I am getting stronger by the day especially in my core.  While it was a serious therapy trip I was able to go to UCLA twice to watch my school mates in matches, once to watch Hunter play rugby and another to watch Calle play.

Our old family friend Annie spent a lot of time with us, and my mum and sisters came over for Chinese New Year so we were together as a family again.  The girls loved Los Angeles and San Diego – my mum took them to Burbank to see the Jay Leno show which they really enjoyed.

January 2013

We saw the New Year in with the Ryds at Solas – a fantastic evening!

There seems to be a lot going on in Kunming China where the old military hospital, centre for spinal cord injury in China, has converted to a private hospital. My parents took me there to show the doctors my MRI’s . They want to do a big surgery on my spinal cord, a dethering,  and have some of the most experienced spinal surgeons in the world.  Right now I just want to study and am watching that space.

They have also just completed the second stage of the largest clinical trials in the world there using cord blood and lithium (the only global trials on chronic spinal patients) and are preparing for the 3rd set of trials

I flew out to Carlsbad, Project Walk, in the middle of the month for the kind of intensive therapy that I can’t get at home

December 2012

My Dad came down to Sydney to pick me and take me back to Hong Kong for Christmas and my sister Tash came down from London to spend Christmas together with Bella and my parents and dog.  Family friends the Lals visited us from India and the Codruns spent Christmas with us, making it a slightly more Jewish Christmas this year!  Once again all my school mates gathered from around the world to be back with their families.  My mum took me to therapy during the day, then my friends got together in the evening. Boxing day everyone came over for beers and a barbie on the roof.

November 2012

While I was taking my exams this month they had a Foundation Black and White Ball at the Football Club in Hong Kong.  I would have liked to have been there.  The guest speaker was Rob Wainright and apparently it was a fantastic evening.

October  2012

Between the pressure of study we had our college formal, the biggest event of the year with a different theme each time, organized by the students.  There were bumper cars out back and the them ewas Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In college tradition I took a mate (last year I took Emma and then I found out the old tradition is take a mate – the college was originally only for men and there are many old traditions that linger on) The next day we have a Recovery Day which is a day sitting in the sun out the back of the college.

September 2012

This month we had a Kegs and Eggs party in the Lemon Grove, our college field out the back – we had drinks in the sun and  relaxed all day. It is good to be back at college with my mates. When we are not studying we are either watching rugby or having fun.

August 2012

The first week in Sydney and college is silly season and is just like orientation week.

I settled back into my therapy program at Walk On and full time study and there is little spare time.

July 2012

Hannah my carer, and I flew out to Hong Kong for a month of holiday. It was great to see all my mates  who came in at different times from their universities in Australia, England and America. We had some good times on my roof and good catching up and Hong Kong was buzzing.

At the end of the month Tash came down from London and the family went to Koh Samui, Thailand. This was really a first for us after two years of taking holidays in Australia where everything is safe and accessible. Thailand is not accessible at all, but my family decided to take the plunge.  Our friend Tony Malins had a wooden ramp built for us not only into his villa but also to a normal van – so they tied my chair in. We took our hoist with us on the plane and my family hoisted me into the pool every day where I relaxed for hours.  I think it’s good for people in chairs to know that there are out of the box ways to take holidays in inaccessible places

June 2012

This month has been all exams and study but it went well and I think I did ok

Emma had a birthday party and I watched lots of rugby

Therapy as usual and we went to the Long Lunch for the Matt Laffan St John’s Scholarship – this lunch raises funds for disabled students at St John’s College, a law student there years ago who had MS.  Being quite short, they used to put him in the lazy butler miniature lift to go up to the dining room. When he died in his 40’s from his condition his friends and family got together to make the college friendly for disabled students and each year they have the long lunch

May 2012

St John’s is coming second in the inter college Rawson cup and I have watched rugby, netball, singing and cricket.

My cousin Phil Sloggett created an animated logo for the new website and it looks amazing. He is an IT animated artist and a talented guy.

This month my Dad came down  for 2 weeks and swapped with my Mom, who went back to Hong Kong to see my two sisters – Bella was taking exams and Tash came down with her job for a week to Hong Kong.

Our family friends, the Wilsons, gave me a hand crank so I can hand cycle on my wheelchair – it is awesome and I can’t wait to have a crack at if after the pressure of essay deadlines has lifted.

This month has been all assignments and essay writing which have been all-consuming.

April 2012

I fell hard into April…. when I swan dived out of my chair and split my forehead open and my new friends took me to the emergency at 4am. I called my mom and told her not to come to the hospital. Five days later I got the shakes and had to be admitted to hospital with an infection of the eye – I stayed there four days  and was not really not impressed, vowing this would be the last time I fall out of my chair of my own accord.

My Dad and my sister, Bella, flew down to Queensland and the four of us had a great family holiday with our friends, the Murphy’s. Andy came too and we had a great week.  Andy’s nephew Alex took us flying in a Cessna on the windiest day of the year and it was brilliant. We also went boating on a pontoon and tried  and failed miserable to fish.  Uncle John and Aunt Lesley came up from Brisbane for the day.

Mid term exams kept me busy this month.

March 2012

Orientation week was one of the best weeks of my life thus far. Constant changes and 5am starts were a mere set back to the enjoyment that I had in an action packed week of pool parties, harbour cruises, and party after party.

The College has been great and incredibly accommodating. They have made changes to my room so I can be almost completely independent and  I have met some great people.  Andy organized a Kia Carnivale with the fund raising which he has dubbed the ‘red rocket’ and it has its own spot in the basement car park.  My mom is living upstairs in the college while we work out therapy and care – she likes her room and she loves the college too.

I am doing therapy four times at least week and  14 hours of lectures and tutorials. I am really busy all the time.

February 2012:
Therapy as usual but this month I added massage to my regime as my shoulders were starting to get incredibly tight and sore. Saw a massage therapy 1-2 times a week. Also, I started hydrotherapy at the kowloon hospital.

This month was about preparing for uni at the end of the month. It was my last month of freedom before I was back to school do I made the most of it, relaxing as much as I could when not training.

Caught the super bowl at the hong kong brew house with Zaki and Jeff. Was a great game and glad I made the effort to get up early to catch it.

Did my usual appearances at the rugby, with club pulling out some good results. With the tremendous support of island school and those involved in the Ben kende foundation, I made a presentation at the first quarter final of the year for the winner of the ball design contest, which went very smoothly.

It was now time to jet off to Sydney to start uni. Greeted by my mum (who flew down earlier to get everything set up), my aunt chrissy, and tony who all helped me move into st johns college- my home for the next 3 years- hopefully! It was an unsteady first few days with things not going to plan (hoists breaking down, phones not working, etc). However, things worked themselves out and orientation was fast approaching.

January 2012:
January was a slightly quieter month as everyone slowly trickles out of hong kong. However, the occasional big nights and trips to DB.

Connor arrived and we got cracking on therapy again after a week off for Xmas and NYE. He is a great trainer and we made the best of what we had including a new standing frame that we had ordered. Back to 3-4 days of PW therapy with FES cycling, general FES and standing in the standing chair on the other days.

Had some catheter issues, landing me in hospital a few times, which seemed to be resolved by our great urologist, Dr Ngan.

The month was definitely a quieter one with Sarina, Sammy, Zaki and Jeff being the main people left in town. Still managed to keep ourselves busy, doing trips to Lantau and catching plenty of movies.

December 2011:
Usual routine as past month in terms of therapy but managed to get hold of some new equipment including some new Bioness hand stimulators. Met a PW trainer, Connor, who is doing a semester abroad in HK for university, which is very exciting as he has agreed to train me back home. Ordered some great new wheels for my manual chair called e-motion wheels that are motorised. Also ordered a new standing chair. A big thank you to everyone for their contributions, which allowed me to purchase the new equipment and chairs.

Sarina and Karin visited for a week. Haven’t seen Sarina since before I left to bangkok on that faithful tour. Was really great having the girls there, they are two of my closest friends too. Spent a lot of nights chilling on the patio, by a log fire- very cosy! Caught another chargers game, went to sea world, had a meal at hooters, experienced Costco. Was a good week.

Was a quiet last few weeks in contrast without visitors but mum and I tried to do as much as we could with the rest of our time. We drove to LA a few more times and did the usual trips to San Diego. Checked out the safari park, which was great, and spent time with Connor.

Before we knew it, the trip was over, hopped on a plan back to the 852 for Christmas in HK. Big first night back home with everyone. Next day was slow but managed to get some rest. Had a lovely Christmas with the whole family home for the first time in a few months. Had the usual Christmas lunch at ours and the lals came over from India, good to see them, it has been a while since I had caught up with sid.

A few more big nights and next thing we knew,new years was upon us. Spent NYE at a place in lkf with all my closest friends, which was great.

November 2011:
Eric, one of the founders of PW comes over and sets up FES cycle so now fully set up for a big few months of exercise. Therapy continues, play around with doing Saturday sessions in the gym, doing 5 days a week but get too warn out and body isn’t recovering well enough so it’s back to 4 days a week with FES cycling on the off days. Started acupuncture 5 days a week and started seeing Bill Tussey, a great Physio that helped me out with transfer training. Also started a bit of hydrotherapy at a great little pool with a treadmill in it.

Have some issues with finding accessible taxis for a reasonable price, surprising how lacking in accessible taxis southern california is. Manage to find a woman, Delores (a bit loopy but a good person), who drives an accessible taxi who took us around the local area and into San Diego. Absolutely beautiful area and very relaxed- San Diego being a really chilled out city- home of the great Ron Burgundy. Finally rent our own van, which gives us a much needed degree of freedom. Allowed us to visit Ryan and Claire in San Diego.

First few weeks, mum and I felt fairly lonely, ended up just sussing things out and catching a lot of movies. Got quite close to some a fellow PW client who is a Palestinian guy called munib, his mum Mona and his cousin ra’fat. Mum spent a lot of time with Mona and I chilled with munib and ra’fat as they lived a few doors down. Munib was only 5 months post injury and he acquired his injury by being shot in the back by an Israeli soldier at a Palestinian protest on the boarder between Israel and Palestine- an interesting story to say the least.

Spent a lot of my time on our patio, enjoying the incredible Cali weather, often setting up the FES cycle out there. Drove up to LA a few times to meet up with different people including Cheryl, the Robertson’s, Jono, Nick Schmitt, Ben RM, and others. Some interesting late night drives with mum driving the wrong way down streets and going through some very ghetto areas.

Dad flew over for a bit of a trip and relieved mum of a lot of duties and allowed her to go on a trip to check out some of the rehabilitation centres around the states. Was good having dad around and when he was there we managed to catch the Americas cup sailing in San Diego.

Hunter visited for a week and we managed to get a fair bit done with him there. Went to the zoo, a chargers NFL game, thanksgiving dinner, Chris tucker stand up comedy, and ate at a Mexican restaurant that hunters family friend owns. Was really great having hunter over, he is definitely one of my closest friends.

Great month, settled into the Cali way of life.

October 2011:
Business as usual in hong kong, therapy with Jennifer at least 4 times a week with FES cycling and standing in the standing wheelchair on the off days. Managed to get down to training a few nights and see the boys. Also managed to catch a few of the regular season games, great to be amongst it again. Not many school mates left in hong kong but enough to keep me busy- Sammy and Calle being the main culprits.

A big effort from mum and dad in or gazing a trip to sunny southern California to spend a few months at project walk in Carlsbad. Everything falls into place and fly out on the 24th. Enjoyed my last few weeks at home but very keen to see what project walk has to offer.

Flight goes well except being boarded with the other passengers, which was fairly embarrassing. Landed feeling very jetlagged and arrived at cottage row, our humble abode for the next few months. First few days are pretty slow but we are forced to get all the basics sorted (food, phones, etc). Carers alexa and Sheila are very nice, capable individuals- interesting seeing the differences in care, they’re very hands on and like things to get done asap, just how I like it.

Start therapy at PW (including acupuncture), very impressive place. Massive new facility and trainers all seem very competent. Great atmosphere there too, everyone is really positive, enthusiastic and friendly- in keeping with the rest of California. Lead trainer travis (large, ginger, ex-American football player) seems like a good guy and very competent. Really like how they almost treat the clients as athletes rather than patients, a refreshing difference in philosophy.

A big month but finally made it to california!