Got a friend request from my favourite classmate from Nursing School and she wanted to know what I’ve been up to since we graduated in, um… 1988. Little did she know that she’d get blogged! There also might be a few of you out there that haven’t heard this story or the news of my relatively imminent departure. ]
I’m not doing too badly, all things considered, getting ready to move back to the states next month, after almost 8 years here in Amsterdam.
I gotta come back to deal with some family obligations, but maybe I can get back here in a few years, if I’m lucky… It’s a terribly cool place to live!
I escaped over here right after 9/11, I’d stopped working (I’d done trauma, psych, ER, public health, and home care) 5 years earlier when my feet got too painful to ambulate. (I’d injured them on active duty and got retired for that, you might remember…)
I was married when all this started, “was” being the operative term… It wasn’t what she’d signed up for. And I was in pretty bad shape…
They tried to fix them, but ultimately failed, so I was in a wheelchair on morphine for a LONG time… Which pretty much SUCKED!
My Army pension finally kicked in at 100% so I did a bit of traveling back here. (My 1st trip to Europe was in ‘90) Amsterdam wasn’t very accessible, (it’s a bit better now) but I wasn’t a para so I could cheat when I had to.
I was here in November 2001 and got a bit of a job offer doing admin for an event for Americans here that I’d become a regular at. They asked me if I could get a place here and I haven’t been back to Baltimore since.
Problem was, I was on steadily increasing amounts of MS Contin as the pain got worse, I was kind of isolated. Fortunately, I had a good number of friends here that didn’t give up on me.
One day, after a couple of years here, a strange man shows up at my apartment and tells me that he’s a homeopathist and that he could help me!
I slammed the door on him.
Fortunately, he came back.
Turns out that he’d been sent by a mutual friend (that remains anonymous to this day) to try to help me out. I was starting to circle the proverbial drain and this is a very small town…
So I let him treat me for about 2 years, which was quite an experience, he didn’t even charge me!
Even stranger, I got better!
I got off ALL meds, the MS withdrawal was a whole lot less miserable than what I saw patients go through (and I’d peaked at 2000mg/day!!!) and after working ER in Baltimore, that was a MAJOR fear. At the same time, the pain began to subside to where it is to this day, basically zero.
I’ve come to realize that it might not have been homeopathy itself that did the trick here, I was just ready when Ben showed up. I’d started to realize, through a very thick haze, that if I’d continued on the path I was on, I wouldn’t have been long for this world…
So I was ready to try just about anything, but I’d seemingly run out of possibilities.
Just coming off the meds was like waking up from a 13 year long nightmare, finding myself in the only place that I’d ever dreamed about living in…
Once I started feeling human again, my friends started taking me out to parties in the wheelchair. That became my PT, as well as a great treatment for a bad case of isolation.
I learned to dance in that chair the second night I went out and I got to be pretty awesome at it too! But as I got stronger, these wonderful Amsterdam girls would pull me up and dance with me til I got tired, then I’d rock the chair til I was ready to get back up again.
The sheer motivating power of sexy girls dancing to great music has really been underinvestigated…
I became a 40 year old club kid in one of the top 5 party cities in the world!
I’d call home and tell friends about what I was up to, and finally, one of them said: “Dude, why aren’t you writing this stuff down?!?
The proverbial lightbulb went off over my head, so I started a blog 5 years ago called, “Waking up in Amsterdam!” and started documenting the happy madness of my existence here. Which lead to my shooting pics at parties, first for my blog, then for the parties themselves.
I became the only American partyshot photographer (as far as anybody can tell) in the country. (770,000 views on flickr in the last 16 months) I’ve been to some of the biggest parties in the world as well as a few of the best ones!
There’s magic here, I know that intimately. I was fortunate enough to get a tremendous blast of it just when I needed it most, and then I got to share the results with a whole community of terrific people here in Amsterdam and a few here and there all over the world! (Now you’re one of them, welcome to the club! )
I found a life that was WAY beyond my wildest dreams.
I’ve more than made up for the time I lost being sick and miserable.
So now I have to leave this place and these people that I love so very much.
My brother is sick and miserable… and alone.
I can help with that last bit, we’ll have to see about the rest.
So now it’s your turn!