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Intimacy with a man going through a health crisis by Sherri Rosen

His name is Henk. He is 59 years old. He lives in Holland and is dealing with a health crisis, and he is my friend. I would describe him with a Yiddish expression as a “mensch”, someone who is really nice.

I went to visit him in Amsterdam, Holland a week after New Years. We had met on the internet over 10 years ago, and this was the first time we were to meet in person.
He has been suffering from kidney disease for over a year, and has to go to dialysis 3 times a week. Before I came over he asked me if I would like to go with him. It’s a 4 hour process. I thought about it and said I would go. He goes from 3 pm until 7pm.

I went with him on the first day I arrived in Amsterdam. A taxi service arranges with him when to bring him to the dialysis clinic and when he needs to go home
When you walk into the Dutch Dialysis Center you see blood everywhere. Not in a violent or messy sense, but people attached to machines where you see their blood traveling through tubes to be cleansed and help them stay alive. They are each in private cubicles separated by curtains.

Beforehand Henk asked me if I wanted to watch a DVD during the long process with him, so we chose to watch “Dr. Zhivago”.
I told Henk that I just did not want to see the needle injected in him and taken out. I asked him if it was painful when they put the needle in and take it out
and he said yes. They keep using the same vein to make it healthy and strong to undergo such weekly treatments.
It seemed like such a natural occurrence for me to be there with him, and he was so very appreciative of my support. He even asked me what food he should buy for me ahead of time so I could eat while there. The center gives each patient supper if they are there in the early evening consisting of protein, starch, a vegetable, yogurt for dessert and juice.

I kept nodding off because I was so tired from the 7 1/2 flight. My friend kept thanking me for coming. He was surprised that I would actually come and I was surprised that it seemed the most natural thing to do.

I’ve never had such an appreciation for blood. All these lives that were being saved and seeing my friend so well taken care of by the nurses. The people see one another every week so a community is formed with one another saying hello, sometimes joking with nurses or sometimes feeling very depressed and not wanting to talk. My friend told me many feel hopeless, but Henk has this wonderful youthful spirit full of hope. He also told me he is not afraid to die.

I had another male friend who had to go thru dialysis many years ago before he got his transplant, but would never allow his wife and 2 children or anyone of his family or friends to see him while he was hooked up to the dialysis machine.

The dialysis machines make these funny sounding noises if everything is okay and another sound if a patient’s machine needs regulating. The nurses are very aware of what is going on and are constantly checking the patients. There is also another sound when the patient’s 4 hour treatment is up. My friend would look at his machine and occasionally he would have to make adjustments. Before the doctor knew what my friend was suffering from he almost died. Could not walk and had to depend upon his friends and his brother to keep him alive. Such a challenge for a very independent man who was never in any kind of long term relationship. He said that ” I would now like to come home to someone to share my life with.”

When his doctor says he is ready for a kidney transplant his name goes on a list or Henk’s brother may donate his kidney if he is in good health at the time. My friend said “I would do the same for my brother.” His younger brother was so scared of losing him,because the rest of the family is deceased and they love one another.

While there, Henk would check his cellphone, watch the film,look at me and smile and continuously say “thank you for coming with me.” I would also witness his energy become more vibrant as his blood was being purified. So much so that after the taxi dropped us off to go home we went to a local cafe for a coffee and dessert, and the next 2 days we toured all through Amsterdam.

How many men do I know that would allow me to see them in this most vulnerable state? Not many, but when they do I feel their courage and strength and it’s not only healing for them but for me as well.

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Creator of this blog.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 16th, 2014 at 5:55 am and is filed under Industry News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Intimacy with a man going through a health crisis by Sherri Rosen”

  1. Christine Says:

    I have only met Henk a few times as he is my father’s cousin and we are in Canada but the last time I met him I remember him to be a very strong,very charismatic person. Most of our family is like that. I just want to put out there that he is in my prayers. We are family even though we are not close. I want to thank you for being so supportive of a man you just met in person that couldn’t have been easy but I totally agree it’s the only thing to do 🙂 Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Rixt Says:

    What a beautiful blog you postend about this wonderful person. We know Henk as a positive, funny, social and VERY intelligent person. He is one of the few people who is without any “package” – no nonse WYSIWYG. Thanks for sharing your story with us and your time with Henk.

  3. Henk Says:

    I think it is important that people are aware of the many possibilities for help for people with kidney diseases. I am stricken with an auto-immune disease
    which has caused my kidneys to fail and it was triggered by the use of ibuprofen. I want to warn people about the use of ibuprofen. Because I did not know I had this rare disease, now one knew I had it and no one knew what my reaction to the use of ibuprofen was.

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