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Welcome, to our site! After living for some time in Israel and then in the UK we've now moved to Germany. We'd like to share our experiences with you. We hope you have as much fun reading as we have writing.




January 2022


All right, so no short picture-post about Japan yet…we’ve had other things on our mind lately and that’s delayed things a little. End of May we got a phone call from The Netherlands, mom Wijckmans and Menno (Aukje’s younger brother) had some unpleasant news…dad Wijckmans had been admitted to the hospital. I’m guessing that’s the kind of news that knocks the wind right out of anyone; add to that that dad Wijckmans is the kind of person who’s never ill… Luckily we’d already planned to travel to the Netherlands that weekend and after some arranging we could head there a day or so sooner.
By the end of that same week we had a reasonable idea of what had happened. Dad had been complaining for a while about shortness of breath. During their holiday in Turkey tiredness, pain in his left arm and a sore throat had been added to that. But dad wouldn’t be dad if he’d complain about those kind of little issues during the holiday… and anyway, there were explanations for all of it: the air-conditioning had caused the sore throat, a draught had caused the pain in his arm and he was tired from the heat. Oh and of course he was short of breath all the time, he wasn’t in the best physical shape…
But…even back home the complaints didn’t go away and a few days after arriving home from holiday he woke up, really feeling too short of breath. That same morning he saw his General Practitioner, who didn’t even allow him to go back home. They brought him straight to the hospital, where he underwent several tests and examinations. Eventually mom and dad were told that dad had 3 clotted arteries, a calcified heart valve and an irregular heart rhythm (due to the calcified valve). It was also confirmed, that all his complaints, painful arm, sore throat, shortness of breath, could be explained by this.
At the end of that same week dad was catheterised. This means a kind of thin tube is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin and from there pushed to the heart. This way the cardiologist can see what’s wrong and where it’s wrong.
The conclusion of the catheterisation was that dad needed a new aorta valve. And that automatically meant he’d be getting open-heart surgery. During that same procedure he’d get two bypasses, so those clotted arteries wouldn’t be an issue anymore.
I think for dad that week between the catheterisation and the surgery were the most difficult. He was being kept an eye on, had some further examinations and tests to undergo, but aside from that nothing much happened. During that week al his visitors in the hospital have probably saved him from complete boredom. The surgery itself, exactly one week after the catheterisation, went very well. De doctors allowed him to slowly wake up the same night and the next day mom was already chatting with him again. By that time he wasn’t even in Intensive Care anymore! His recuperation in the following days also went very well. After five days his heart rhythm was back to regular and the next day he was released from the hospital.
And that’s when it really started. During the following six weeks he wasn’t allowed to do much, he had to learn to get used to taking medicine, he had to go to the clinic where they’d check his blood values every few days and then learn how to check his blood values himself at home…By now those six weeks have passed, and physiotherapy starts, and he will have to go see a dietician…etc. The rehabilitation usually takes about 6 months to a year. That doesn’t mean he won’t be able to do anything during that whole time. It just means he’ll have to start rebuilding and re-learning a lot of things. A surgery like this puts quite a strain on the body, so it’s important to give yourself some time to get things back to working the way they should. And, mom and dad (and just as much family and friends) will have to learn to deal with the fact that dad’s now a heart patient. Also, dad will have to learn to listen differently to his body. His body had been trying to tell him something for a while after all, dad just didn’t recognise the signs for what they were (not too surprising if you’re never ill!). And mom will need to learn to trust dad’s ability to listen better to his own body. After all, she can only really respond to what he tells her…
What it comes down to is that we’ve all had a big scare, and every one of us will need to find a way to deal with that. We’ve been confronted with the mortality of someone who’s always seemed to indestructible. And that reminds one of his/her own mortality. But now that dad is at home and he’s bragging about not being short of breath anymore, and showing off his brand new scar to everyone around him, we’re all also very glad that he is a little bit indestructible after all…

Anyway, I think this explains why there isn’t a post about Japan yet. I (Aukje) have been in The Netherlands for a total of about 3 weeks. A week or 2 with mom, keeping her company, going to the hospital with her etc. And when dad got home I stayed for another week to help out. Now things are slowly getting back to normal. So, finally some time and quiet to work on our website! By now we’ve already updated the Gallery en added the pictures of Costa Rica. The posts I wrote about our holiday in Costa Rica have been translated to Dutch. And I’ve made a good start with the pictures of our trip to Japan, so hopefully more about that will follow soon!

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