We got back from Zeeland in mid-August, in the nip of time, just before temperatures soared. Hein, the kids and Lieke (my sister-in-law) took 5 days of sailing lessons. The first time they went on the Veere lake, they got caught in a thunderstorm. Luckily, they were quickly dragged to the shore. The following days were more fair and I was able to watch everything from the veranda, including their graduation from sailing school. Lakeside holidays are special; there’s a lot to do and to see, and by nightfall the still lake and the town of Veere behind it make for an extremely tranquil view. And the kids went water skiing, rode the banana (a six-man inflatable vessel in the shape of a banana, pulled by a motorboat at incredible speeds. I’d never heard of it but apparently every self-respecting lake has one) and played table tennis.
The cottage was spacious and wheelchair-accessible. The veranda was roofed and had a nice grassy view. The kids camped out, 100 metres away. That was good for my morning rest. Much less of a full house. I’m usually up early, sitting at the dinner table, washed and ironed as Lieke likes to call it. Lieke and my mother-in-law took the van on an extra trip to Leiden and back so I could be as comfortable as possible; desk chair, shower seat, patient lift.
Of course, we visited some towns as well: Goes, Willemstad, Vlissingen, Middelburg and, of course, Veere. And while my role was that of a spectator, I’d call it a successful holiday. All of this, no more than two hours away.
Two months ago we stressed out a bit because of a leak in my feeding tube. Hein phoned everyone he could and eventually, Professor Mathuus was able to give us an answer: Hein would be able to fix it himself. Screw off the cap, snip off the tube at the leak and reattach the cap, simple as that. This holiday it happened again. In the middle of the night, I felt water (well, actually it was stomach acid) leaking out of it, accompanied by a lot of bubbling. The rest of my night was filled with fearful dreams of another PEG operation. We knew how to deal with it this time, so the next morning we snipped another length of tube off. But the next day it was leaking again, then again, and even a third time. Turns out that the innermost part of the tube was being eaten away. Again, Professor Mathuus (a most gracious professor who always returns my calls) knew what to do. When a PEG-tube is down to 10 centimetres, a thinner tube is attached below the older, wider tube. Nothing internal. You can imagine my relief. It’s almost 10 cm already!
By now, we’ve visited a doctor, more for additional comfort than anything else. Besides the thinner tube method, I could also choose to have a new PEG installed. The hole is already there, after all. With an inflatable balloon, the PEG is kept in place. The only downside is having to poop out the old cap later. With lighter hearts, we went home; at least I wouldn’t need another tube down my throat.
On August 20th, Floor turned 14. Her girlfriends had organised a surprise party. At 12 AM they would be at our door, completely unannounced. Equipped with sleeping bags, of course, to spend the rest of the night chitchatting and keeping us awake. We were aware of the plan. Floor was supposed to already be in bed, but at 12 she was already demanding her birthday presents. At 00:05, there were 5 girls on our doorstep with confetti cannons and serpentine streamers, some of which are still floating around, one week later. It was a successful ambush, it took Floor completely by surprise. The next day at 12 o’clock the girls left, to be back at 6:30 for a rainy barbecue. Floor didn’t want a birthday cake this year.
During the last week of summer break, the kids went to camp. Floor to La Roche in Belgium and Ward to Heerde in the Veluwe. They left on Saturday in the streaming rain. It’s so quiet at home without the kids. We had a little holiday of our own. Lots of evening activities and on Tuesday afternoon we went to the botanical gardens, to an exposition about carnivorous plants. We’ve already got one ourselves. Fascinating, but plants with the prefix of “flesh-eating” are a whole lot more terrifying than the average geranium. We’ve put it next to the fruit bowl so the plant can eat all of those pesky fruit flies (I’ve actually seen him eating one before). On Wednesday, after my homeopathy appointment, we went to look at gardens in Nunspeet. They did not live up to my expectations. We spent the evening in our friends’ torchlit garden, lovely. Despite my non-communication I felt like I was part of the conversation. Thursday- and Friday evening were spent on the beach. And during the weekend, Hein biked the Amstel Gold Race, 150 kilometres. He deserved a weekend without having to worry about me. Lieke took care of me that weekend. I slept in my chair in the living room, with Lieke next to me on a stretcher. My neck hurt somewhat, but I felt fine the next day. And the kids? When they returned they were dirty, tired, hoarse but they had a great time.