It’s interesting how my stories keep having different twists… I had been fairly stressed out about Lotje her bi-annual check. A mechanic friend of mine had had a look at her. Even though I thought the smoking was a lot less, during the test, there was blackness everywhere… I was feeling really worried about having to get that problem fixed and the time and money that would consume. There were some other cracks in lights and mirrors that needed to be replaced. But with some amazing help, those turned out to be easy fixes. As I was staying in Scherpenzeel, I brought her to another garage for the official check. Miraculously enough, they tweaked her a bit and she got through! Easy peasy, good to go for another 2 years!! I felt so relieved. But the same day I received a phonecall that slightly dampened my mood.
As Lotje needed to have her mandatory “health’ check, I had figured I could do with one too. My lifestyle has changed quite a bit, spending quite some time outdoors and eating a bit more meat and fish (I am not and have never been a vegetarian, in case you were wondering). Last time I had my vitamin levels checked (B12 and D), they were a bit low, so I was taking supplements. Lately, I’ve been doubting the whole idea of taking supplements, since that indicates that my diet isn’t appropriate for me. On the other hand, I’ve also seen that lacking certain vitamins can turn into quite a health and emotional issue, so better have it tested! My doctor wanted to do some extra checks for my blood and kidneyfunction, since I’ve had some less optimal values in the past.
To my surprise, my vitamin D was low, I was short on iron and my kidney values were a bit off. That did explain in part why I had been feeling less energetic. Not loudly singing along during my drive back to the Netherlands and just a general tiredness (can’t blame it all on learning a new language ;)) Charlie always tells me I need to eat more greens… I’m starting to think that he might have a point…
My GP gave me vitamin D supplements and iron pills, to help improve those blood values. The follow-up bloodtest showed that the kidneyvalues were just within normal range again. But he decided that for my age and posture, they should be lower and referred me to a specialist.
When I was 14 or so I had had an episode of having (a fair amount of) blood in my pee. No pain, no fever, nothing that indicated there was a problem, besides the blood. Same thing happened 4 years ago. Both times I ended up in hospital research, peeing in bottles (even collecting urine in a big jar for 24 hours while I was in highschool… not cool :’)), having blood drawn, an X-ray, an echo, a scope to check my bladder, but there was nothing to be found.
This time, I was sent to a Nefrologist (a kidneydoctor) who told me he wanted to do the whole blood, urine, echo routine again. It felt a bit like a deja-vu, where a specialist would enthusiastically tell me they would figure it out, but coming up empty handed. Especially since I didn’t even have any visible symptoms. It just felt like a massive hassle and a bit of waste of my time. Having said that, health is priority, so on I went. Fortunately, my physical general examination showed that I was in good health.
As I received the news of having to go to a specialist for further examination, I figured the Eastern approach was also something I wanted to try. Charlie was all for it, so through a friend I ended up at a Chinese medical center in Rotterdam. I had never experienced acupuncture, since I don’t really like needles, but I found it surprisingly relaxing. Amazingly, the day after my first acupuncture experience I felt so much more energized! After the second visit he asked me to come back once more and then we’d be done. So, I guess Eastern medicine wise, my health is also pretty good.
BUT, and that’s quite a big but, the blood and urine test were less positive. It turns out my kidneys are not filtering properly. They’re leaking some blood and proteins. This might be due to an autoimmune condition, which is not really treatable. They’ll need to do a biopsy to confirm it, which will be done in October, but all the signs are pointing to this. One thing is for sure, I can now call myself a kidneypatient. It’s strange, while having worked in hospitals for most of my career, it still feels really weird to enter one as a patient, especially feeling the way I do.
On one hand it does feel good to know that there actually is something going on, with having blood in my urine. It just really sucks that there’s not much I can do about it. The only thing I can try to do, if it is this condition, is keep my immune system at ease, so it doesn’t harm my kidneys any further. It can also stay stable for years, so let’s wish for the best!
The frustrating thing for me also was that during the period of seeing doctors and having tests done in different places, it was also the time that Charlie came over for 5 days. It was wonderful to see him again, but hospital visits were not my wish for our time together. Especially, since we were in my sister’s cabin near the woods, relaxing, being together, but also sharing some intense conversations about what we feel for and need from each other. Some emotional days, with everything that was going on.
We were also invited for dinner at my parents’. That was a lovely evening spent together, sitting on the terrace enjoying the sun. For me, it was beautiful to see how my parents were doing their best with English and Charlie with Dutch. We ended up watching the summary of the champions league soccer match of Ajax vs Real Madrid. My dad being the Ajax supporter and Charlie the former Real Madrid supporter, who was now kind of excited to see them lose. Me, I felt like a kid again, watching soccer on Sunday evening :’).
Charlie and me had one more day together, in Rotterdam. I had my first visit with the nefrologist and we were staying the night at my neighbours. Even though we were tired of a busy day, it was really nice to stay with them. I felt sad having to say goodbye again to Charlie. Our time together felt too short and busy and I didn’t know yet, when and where would meet again. Hopefully end of July in the Pyrenees somewhere.
But with having shared my goodbye-for-now hugs and kisses with Charlie, it turned into time for the festivals! I went to pick up Mirte and together we drove to the Living Village festival. It felt so good to leave city life behind and be able to live and sleep in my van in peace. We had a borrowed partytent, that we set up as our little massage temple at the festival. The first day, after we had given our first sessions, a stormy wind appeared out of nowhere. Our tent was nearly blown over, but thankfully our festival neighbours helped us to lower the tent to prevent it from collapsing. We needed to attach some extra ropes to secure it better, since every now and then the wind would pop up again. Mirte felt more confident than me about the tent, but we were back in business. During the rest of the festival, we kept our tent in the low position. Instead of a temple, we now had more of a cave. But it was very cosy indeed :).
Our massage treatments were very popular. That really taught us to say no, to also have a little bit of time left to enjoy the festival ourselves. The treatments we gave were donation based, which resulted in some very diverse payments. On one hand it was beautiful that in this way it is affordable for everyone, one the other hand I sometimes did feel quite undervalued. Very interesting process indeed.
In the end, we did have a lovely time, with lovely people. We, at least, made more money than we had to pay for being there. But making a living at festivals with these types of massages is going to be a challenge.
After Living Village we had 3 days back in ‘reality’. Where I had my hospital visits, seeing my parents and bringing them to the airport and seeing some friends, before heading off to France for the Nibana festival. More on that incredible festival in my next story!
This month, so full of contrasts, got me thinking about my life and how I’m living it. Is this really how I want to be doing it? Those moments of reflection, when something big happens and brings about substantial change. I’ve always thought that even though I feel that I’m taking good care of my body on many levels, I still have no idea what’s actually going on inside. With all my knowledge, it still remains a massive mystery. I now feel even more grateful for how everything functions and the life I’m able to live. At the same time, I also feel a bit defeated, angry and sad that something is irreparably wrong in my system. It feels unfair, although it also feels that, that is life (and death). And whatever happens, will just happen, whether I like it or not.
The life I’m living now, with all the adventures, insecurities, love, challenges and wonder, is a life that is perfectly imperfect.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. <3