SPECTACULAR MORNINGS

This was my view when I woke up yesterday morning and thought I would share it with you. The Netherlands is enjoying exceptionally lovely weather at the moment, a true Indian summer, temperatures up in the twenties (oC) everyday. Such amazing colours and I thought: Start your day in a spectacular way. It does not get much better than this!

Thank you for the enormous response to my blogs and well-being. Glad to say getting better each and every day. Making progress every day, but at the same time, taking time to allow myself to heal.

Hope to continue work next week on my latest book in progress: The Art of Confessions.

One small note, there has been a huge response to the blog which is an excerpt from my book: The Blue House. This is a book written and published by me. It is available through www.bol.com

People asked ‘is there more?’ Answer: yes, another 38 chapters.

Happy Weekend everyone!

OFFLINE FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS

Just a very brief note to let all my readers know that I am going to be offline for a couple of days. Going to hospital Monday morning (reporting at 07.00 am!!!) so a very early start to have a hip replacement operation. Counting down now, 2 days to go.

Feeling nervous? A little, this is my third operation this year and hopefully the last!

it just happens to be Full Moon on Monday 24th September. Harvest Moon. I like it when things like this happen and coincide with important moments in my life. The date is nice too, I was scheduled for 10th October, but they brought it forward to 24th September. So September is the 9th month, one of the numbers that comes up frequently for me and the 2 plus 4 make 6. 6 is an energy number. I have already explained that 2018 is an 11 year, which is a master number. So the total of everything comes to: 26 which goes down to an 8, the never ending shape of the infinite.

And I am on the list to start at 08.00 am.

Love it when everything comes together. Back soon. Hopefully next week one of my books will come online (Fireflies in the Summer and other short stories). This will be via the UHMI link. You can read the first chapter for free and then to read on, purchase the book through UHMI. You need to make your account and log in, with a personal password, but payment is very easy. The idea behind this, as my books are already for sale through www.bol.com was to offer them around the world avoiding postal and packing charges.

Back soon and thank you all very much indeed for the huge amount or reactions to the latest blogs, most appreciated.

Jill

 

Image: Private Collection (Robin Kramer). Taken in my garden on 21st September 2018. Nearly a full moon and the autumn equinox

MY HEART: PERSONAL BLOG #4 – AFTER THE ABLATION

 

Now it’s my turn to take over the healing. Everything still feels a bit stiff and sore and I feel a bit shaky, but now at home and settle myself into a routine of taking things easy for the next three weeks or so. Giving my body time to heal, allowing the veins and arteries and also my heart to get used to this new feeling. A perfect sinus rhythm just like everyone else has. Normally people never think about this, but believe me if you have had years of your heart being out of rhythm, then it feels totally different. I am not forcing anything, not rushing, just take the time and space to heal. The puncture wound has healed very well indeed, although it still feels sensitive (logical) and I pay attention to keeping it extra clean.

There is a heat wave in The Netherlands, so this means that I am literally spending my days in the garden in the shade (too hot in the sun) and either reading, writing or listening to music. I have made my own playlist, all my favorite songs and often I sit with a cup of tea listening to them. It makes me relax, music is so important in my life.

I spend quite a time making glass mosaics, a new hobby and do one of the largest I have ever done. This is a present for Lukas to say: ‘Thank you for healing my heart’. I will give it to him when I see him on the 14thAugust.

That is what I really like to do, be creative. It is relaxing. Not worrying about shopping, what meals to make, whether I have to do this or that, this time is now for me, and me alone.

I am literally giving my physical body the chance to heal, to flush out all the ‘waste’ in my cells from the sedation. I am still taking my complete package of medication and will continue to do so until the next appointment.

The weather gets hotter and hotter and we have temperatures, which we have never experienced in The Netherlands. Everything is dying in the heat, the lawn looks like the African Savannah, just brown dust, and cracks in the soil. A lot of the trees are starting to lose their leaves; it’s like autumn without any colour. Parched and very dry.

A month later after the ablation my groin is still painful and I find it increasingly difficult to walk. My dog only wants a short walk, the pavements and road are too hot for his paws, but even a short distance is too much. I have emailed with Lukas about it and he replies that he is sure it is nothing to do with blood vessels, maybe a muscular problem or joints? Eventually I make an appointment with my own local GP and get sent straight off to the local hospital for an X-ray of my pelvic area. Bad news, my hip needs replacing. Another operation this year and the third one. Unfair!

In the discussion with my GP we talk about the pros and con’s of where I should go. Should I choose for a clinic and then it could all be done in a couple of weeks or wait and go back to Catharina Hospital. It may sound strange but this hospital is my sort of safe haven. Because my entire medical records are on the computer, my own cardiologist is there and I know only too well, if I try and go to a clinic in my local area, once they hear my medical history, they will just say that I have to go to a regular hospital. So I choose for the one where they already know me.

All through the month of July it is sweltering hot, everybody is going on and on about the weather, everyone is waiting for rain.

At the beginning of August, a fantastic week away with one of my best friends. She has been through a tricky divorce and we both decided a break would do us good. A whole week, each and every day was a surprise what we were going to do and ending the week with two days in a Wellness Centre. I felt so much better after that.

Also I have a new book on the go. Suddenly got inspiration from a story someone told me about a retreat they had been on and the idea got going in my head. I have the basic story line, but then I need 8 characters to be in it. Surprisingly as it always goes, the characters just turn up by chance meetings, or stories heard from others and I am typing in the garden nearly every day in the meantime. I have a chair in the shade and a table, the dog lying by my feet and it just flows.

14th August 2018

So now, it’s the morning of the 14thAugust. A date that seemed so far away in May, but the time has literally flown by. Traffic is busy (as always) and about to leave to be on time.

I had to divert from my usual route because of a bad accident near Tilburg and it seems a much longer way around. But get there with plenty of time to spare so have renewed my hospital pass (it had expired in May) and then an ECG and a chat to Lukas’ assistant. I settle down and engross myself in a magazine with a half hour wait until my appointment.

So let’s see how my heart is doing after all that work, on such a special day and what Lukas has to say:

 “I am happy to see that you are doing well and that your heart is consistently in sinus rhythm. We can now conclude that the chances of recurrence of atrial fibrillation are very, very low. You did very well by taking it easy in the first week, as it prevents a.o. bleeding complications in the groin. I truly appreciate your kind words and will transfer them to the rest of the team that took care of you.”

After we have finished talking about my heart, the ECG is perfect, blood pressure fine and then Lukas shows me the film on the computer of the actual ablation. This is quite special, I am looking at a film of the inside of my own heart and one of the things that made me feel quite emotional, was that I could see the ‘Carpentier Ring’ around my mitral valve, the work done in 1974 in England (as I have mentioned in earlier blogs) and still working perfectly. It made us both think and we said that, the wonders of heart surgery all those years ago. Because there have been huge strides made over the years.

A quick chat about the changes to my medication. On the one hand, I think, ‘never change a winning collection’, but my heart does not really need some of the tablets anymore because it is in perfect rhythm. So some of the amounts have been halved and with a new prescription printed out, I decide it’s time to give Lukas the present I have made from him.

.

I can see by his reaction that he is really pleased and once he had unpacked it, with a bit of help from me, he said he loves it! Good. I wonder if he will actually take it home, or put it up somewhere in the hospital itself. No doubt he will say.

(The picture is in the hospital in his office, its rightful new home I feel).

We had decided beforehand because of the huge amount of reactions to our blogs that we will make a photo together (see above). After several attempts at trying to look into the lens on my Iphone, eventually the last three photos are excellent, and to my mind show a happy, smiling doctor because he knows he did a really amazing job using his talent and expertise, his team and the whole operation had worked and been a great success. And an eternally grateful and happy patient because he literally healed my heart. There are really not enough words for me (despite the fact that writing is my thing) to say how happy I am, incredibly grateful and thrilled to have a heart working normally again after such a long time. Back in rhythm with everything.

Next check up in 6 months time. Excellent date once more 14thFebruary (Valentine’s Day) so all about hearts!!

Normally at the end of the appointment, we would shake hands and say, ‘see you soon’, but this time, we gave one another a hug. Seemed the right thing to do. Probably not many patients actually do this normally, but for me it felt right. Just a few seconds of closeness, so that he had no doubt whatsoever how grateful I am and always will be. A hug represents a thousand thank-you’s.

Jill Kramer                                                             Dr.  Lukas Dekker

© August 2018                                                      © Catharina Hospital

Eindhoven, The Netherlands

 

 

Photos © Private collection: Jill Kramer & Lukas Dekker

SCAMMERS ARE SCUMBAGS

USE YOUR HEAD AND NOT YOUR HEART !!!!

Several months ago I wrote a blog about a story of a friend of mine (Flirting on the Net) which you can find in my feed.

Now I have decided to write a second piece and share something, which has happened to me personally. It is not easy to write this piece, but I feel that I have to say something, in the hope that all of you out there will read it, listen to what I am saying; there are so many victims all over the world. You may be one of them. You may read this and think: ‘this will never happen to me!’ I would agree with you, but believe me, it can. I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person, but these scammers are so clever and know exactly the right words to say, and believe me each and every one of you will fall for this. I can almost hear people saying: “Me! Never!’

So just read on please….

Over the past year or so my blogs on WordPress have been catching a huge amount of attention all over the world. Some of course are written by me about subjects, some are about my books and some have been about my personal situation. This includes the series of blogs, I wrote with my cardiologist, Dr. Lukas Dekker, about the healing of my own heart.
This one in particular and it is a series of 4, because I have published part four this morning, before continuing to write this piece.

The number of emails I received every day was just mind blowing, from all corners of the world. Some short and sweet saying things like: good writing, interesting piece etc and others were even more glowing. I try every day to respond to all comments people write on the feed. Why? Well, I think when someone compliments me on my (or our) work, then it is polite to say ‘thank you’.

One of the reactions I received was from another Doctor. An orthopaedic surgeon, working with the United States Army on a mission with the United Nations in Mogadishu, Somalia. For special reasons I am not going to mention any names and will explain why a little further on.

A huge compliment, how impressed he was about the connection between doctor and patient and this lead to an email discussion between us. Some What’s app chats, photos exchanged.

One thing leads to another and I found myself communicating on a fairly regular basis. Not about much in particular but just chitchat. And we all do that all the time these days on social media.

Then came his story. His wife had tragically died of pancreatic cancer. All far too fast, he was heart broken. It all sounded so plausible. Because he really had no will to live anymore, he signed up for a mission in Somalia. This is a serious war zone and it is tough out there believe me. His work entailed more or less, helping victims of terrorist violence. It all sounded really horrific.

He was really interested in my writing he told me, had read a lot of the blogs on the feed and please where could he purchase one of my books? The thought that this could just be ordered and posted off to some US Army base in Somalia, seemed impossible, and because of this, I sent him the entire manuscript by email in a ‘pdf file’. This did not worry me unduly because my books are published through a publisher here in The Netherlands and protected by copyright. He made me feel sorry for him and I thought, well he can certainly pass the time as far as I am concerned, when not working, reading my book. I share a lot of my work through this platform, so it is not entirely new for me.

Then the next bit of news came. He has a son, 15 years old and he had left his son in boarding school in the USA whilst he was on his mission. This was the first moment, that I had any doubt. I wondered who would leave their child back in the USA and then go on a dangerous mission, after the loss of his wife and the boy’s mother? There were really no answers, so I just left it, thinking perhaps it was a painful subject to discuss.

And so the contact continued, nothing out of the ordinary, just a couple of emails now and again and just discussing general subjects. He had my mobile phone number, and again this is on my website, so I did not think much about it and we had ‘whatsapp’ contact.

Then a disaster, his son had been involved in a ‘hit and run’ accident and was dangerously ill in hospital. This man needed to get home to his son, all sounds feasible doesn’t it? I just presumed that the US Army of course, will arrange everything and he sort of disappeared ‘off the radar’ for a while. Just assumed he was on compassionate leave and had gone home. His son had died by the way, that message I had received. It all sounded very tragic, first his wife and then his son. I truly felt really sorry for him. In such circumstances this is exactly what the US Army would do in a family crisis. Planes are flying into these zones on a daily basis.

I had a couple of photos of him. And believe me he was very very handsome, looked really nice and he had some of my photos. As I am a writer and work through a lot of social media channels, you can easily find my photos too, I often share them in my blogs, but they are all always marked with copyright! Always!

It was quiet for a while and then he came back to me, the discussions were hard sometimes and often I felt like saying things, please stop sending me messages. Things I said would often irritate him. Talking in short sentences either through Whatsapp or email is not like having a normal conversation with anyone. Believe me.

Then the compliments started to come: He thought I was pretty, had a nice smile, beautiful eyes and there is a saying in English: ‘flattery will get you everywhere’. It is true it does. Why?

Well, each and every one of us, likes to be complimented, it is good for our ego. Our own self-worth and esteem. It is a ‘feel good moment’. We do not give one another enough compliments. If you are thinking by chance, not true, just be honest and ask yourself when was the last time I really complimented someone on either their appearance, their work, their manner, the way the look after their family, children, friends. The way they are your friends, how they support you, if they are totally honest with you and so the list goes on.

But be honest, when was the last time you really did that?

This is why I am sharing this painful story about myself, as a sort of ‘wake up call’ for all of you out there. Saying even though you may be shaking your head and thinking, this will never happen to me. It will. These people know better than anyone else how to appeal to your own vulnerability.

The story continues:

Yes, of course he was in love with me, wanted to meet me, would like to start a new life with me. Wanted a second chance in life. It had all been so horrific, upsetting, traumatic so far. He has lost his first wife (first love of course), now his son. Was stuck in a dreadful place, dealing with death, trauma and heartache every single day and wanted a second chance. He even went so far to contact me saying he was now in the US back in his home in Florida. I believed it all.

The friends I told about this contact all despaired of me. I was open and honest with them, showed them his pictures and all of us agreed he was really totally lovely and that he seemed to have entered my social field in a totally legitimate way.

Within a matter of weeks, he was totally in my life and in some ways I was with him. He asked me if I was married? Yes. Children yes! Told him their ages. He asked me my age but I refused to say, making a comment along the lines: a gentleman never asks a lady her age.

He sent me romantic love songs, told me he was falling in love with me and so it went on and on.

I was well and truly hooked! And everyone would have been. Lovely romantic messages, like good morning honey, did you sleep well? Hi, love hope you have a wonderful day. On my birthday he sent me a long message along the lines of maybe this time next year we can celebrate together….. you are the most important woman in my life. Oh my goodness it makes me almost cringe typing these words. It sounded so good but it was so untrue.

At a certain moment, I began also to have doubts about his English. English is my mother tongue and even though I know that American’s can perhaps do their grammar in a different way, but it was things like: saying ‘he’s book’ instead of ‘his book’. Small tiny errors like that. I saw it and thought maybe it is because he is rushing typing like me sometimes on an Iphone.

The photos I had at that stage were the only 4. Two of him in his doctor’s tenure, maybe just out of an operating theatre. The other two of him: one in a car and the second, which was the one I actually liked the best, of him running in some park. He talked about sport, healthy life styles, eating healthy food. He had explained that because he was in a protected warzone, he could not send pictures, he could not talk via video on Whatapp, he could not record messages. He worked with a military desk top, protected of course so that the terrorists cannot locate where signals come from. The speed of the Internet too was amazing and I was so naive, thinking this was because of special satellites around a US Army base, United Nations, all heavily guarded and protected.

So stupid and so gullible. I cannot find other words to describe myself.

Then one morning out of the blue, two more photos, even more handsome, every more devastating and then the nagging questions came up in my mind. A man who looks as good as he does, why me? What does he think is so special about me? He could have his pick of thousands of women all over the world with a smile like his (perfect white teeth), lovely brown eyes, the point was he was just gorgeous and I was so flattered that he actually seemed to think I was something special too.

Suddenly and I do not know the reason why, one of my friends checked one of his photos. I had shared it with her, asking the same questions as in the paragraph above: why me?

Also my own husband, with whom I had been fairly open with about our contact as it all seemed to be so legitimate. I did not tell him about ALL the messages, but I had shown him the photos, said we were in contact, just general chatter. Which is all was.

He had also told me that he wanted to come to the country where I live, wanted to meet me.

Then I started to dig around the Internet, called in a favour from someone very high in the US and asked for help. Suddenly the rosy coloured glasses had been completely removed from my eyes. I was so shocked the more I surfed around! Yesterday was an awful day, a day when everything became apparent.

There on the Internet were thousands of photos of the same man. Hundreds of different aliases, and even more sad, hundreds of stories from his victims. People who were all saying the same thing. He was so handsome and looked so nice, they had ALL FALLEN FOR THE SAME STORY! Sometimes he was a doctor in Syria, in Mali, the Middle East. Everywhere you can imagine in the world where there is some drama going on. It is all done to make you feel sorry for them. He fell quickly in love with everyone supposedly and everyone was flattered, just like I was.

I read all the stories and some of them were really heartbreaking and this is the reason why I am sharing this with all of you. A woman in the US who had sent more than $180.000 !!!!!! Stories about needing money for sick children in Africa. Stories about him having had all his personal things stolen and being stuck somewhere. There was a long article from the NY Times on this subject. Well there were literally hundreds of stories on the sites (scam hunters to name but one). The same pattern, the same story and hundreds of women who had been taken in by it all.

He seemed also to be using the photos of a Dr (a neurosurgeon in Sao Paulo in Brazil), who can be easily found on Internet. And there in all his photos were the ones I had had too! It was a big shock believe me. Angry at first and then my own determination to write about this and share with everyone. I am not mentioning names. But believe me I have done absolutely everything I can to report this, going as high as the FBI and the CIA. You can find the necessary forms to fill in yourself on internet by just typing in the words I have used: like romantic scams, false scams with US Military, US Doctors etc etc.

These are serious forms and you have to fill them in properly. As I have travelled a lot in the past to the USA and North America, I know that these forms are similar to requesting an ESTA visa to visit the country. They are on a special site and you have to download the forms. If you fill them in, you are making a legal declaration. Do not be tempted to fill in rubbish or lies, you have to digitally sign them at the end and making a false statement is punishable by US law. Do not do this half-heartedly should you decide after reading my blog to do this.

I have given my address, phone number and details. Why? Because I know from experience that these forms are genuine, you can only download them from a proper site.

I have given my own IP address too, I have nothing to hide I have done nothing wrong, just been yet another unfortunate victim who fortunately woke up in time. I am so grateful to all my close friends and one in particular who set the ball rolling.

You will find words written about never ever sending money to anyone you do not know personally. I must say that I would never, under any circumstances have done this, but believe me I have read so many stories over the past couple of days, people saying exactly the same thing but still doing it. The trick is that you are asked to send money to Western Union and the people behind this can just go and collect. As simple as that.

I have also seen forms about requesting Military Leave in the US Army, they all look so genuine. Stories about emails received from US attorneys, who are dealing with their leave, about their so-called frozen bank accounts, about being a recipient for their funds. To be a recipient of their funds you will be asked to send details, perhaps even your own personal bank account. In everything I have read, the US Army confirm you will never be asked such questions by their personnel, soldiers or doctors alike.

Be careful if you have sent details already, they will then ask you to send a transfer fee of 1% of the total sum.

Be sensible, be aware and use your head and not your heart!!

The Dr. in Brazil has a very active profile indeed, he is all over social media, from Instagram, You Tube, Facebook: you name it he is on it. There are photos and videos. It all looks genuine, but is it? I don’t know and I will make no judgement other than to say, as you have read in my own blogs; I am a friend with my own cardiologist. I know the hours he works every day, the amount of emails and work pressure he is under. He may also be easily found on Internet, photos and his work but I would only say that he is just too busy to constantly be adding posts on social media. Doctors have a very busy life style all day every day and more important the care of their patients. That is why they have spent years and years doing their training, got their medical degree and become specialists in their field. It takes years.

Another thing I looked at yesterday was my own Instagram account. I use it as a medium to send out messages about my work, my books and sometimes just nice pictures of sunsets, flowers and such like. Sometimes of my dog, but never ever of my home. My children are also on social media, you can link them in with me easily.

And not only by the fact that we have the same surname!

In my followers I found a number of people with the same photo, different names, the same man. It is quite frightening when you think how easily they can penetrate our social media. As I said earlier we are all on social media in some form or another. Facebook has recently had a lot of negative publicity about the safety of data. Data is not safe.

Take the time to ensure you regularly changed your own passwords. Protect your own privacy. Some accounts have a two -step identification procedure. Yes, it is all time consuming but so worth it. Put your privacy setting to the highest possible, as far as Facebook is concerned. Only allow people to post on your own time line when you approve. Just take more care. We are very lax on this matter, all of us.

If you save your passwords in a so-called secure wallet. Change that password or code regularly. Experts are not advising us to do this without a good reason.

Hackers and scammers are brilliant and they get in everywhere easily and why? Because we talk too much about our personal life. We all share far too many photos. If you want to share a photo with someone, do it through the encrypted message to message in Whatsapp. Only the person you mark as the recipient can see your message and vice versa.

So I will bring this long piece to a conclusion. I want to say how sorry I am to read all these stories on the internet about the victims, maybe you are one of them, I hope maybe you will feel brave enough to share your own story on my feed. I will certainly approve anyone’s honest story and you do not have to be ashamed. Literally everyone can be taken in completely by these scammers. You are brave if you dare to share.

I could have mentioned all the names, but I have not on purpose. I have sent a message privately to the Dr. in Brazil; he does not seem to do anything about the fact that these people are constantly using his own photos. Maybe he thinks and this I can agree with on one score. By giving it attention you give it energy! Think about that. If anyone reads this who knows him personally, I hope you will pass this blog onto him to read. I have no wish to offend, or make judgement about him.

For those of you who wonder who this Dr. is, I will only say: Google a neurosurgeon in Sao Paulo Brazil and you will find him easily. He is all over social media.
Look at his photos, you are allowed to think he is totally gorgeous looking, he is!

It has and I will be totally honest, hit me hard! I have spoken about it with my own family. Luckily I have never sent money anywhere and would not. But there are people who are so desperate to find love and affection and this is exactly what scammers are looking for and then they pray on your vulnerability.

I have learned a lesson from this and I am not going to go into the victim role, but I am writing this blog in the hope that everyone who reads this on my feed will pass it around in their own social circles. There are too many victims in the world, all over the world and this has to stop. It has to stop now.

Finally, the US Government is very clear. This is a punishable offence by law. Recently three Nigerian people were arrested for doing exactly this in Texas and the prison sentence 27 years for each of them. 27 years!!!

It is food for thought isn’t it?

THIS HAS TO STOP.

If you have anyone in this situation, I will only ask be gentle with them. Let them read this blog, Talk to them, try and make them realize that it is literally a scam, try and stop them doing things they may regret. To read that someone lost $180.000 is just shocking.

Please feel free to share, the more women around the world unite (and maybe men too) this terrible harassment will maybe become less lucrative!

USE YOUR HEAD AND NOT YOUR HEART!!!!!!!

Image: Google Images

A NEW BOOK, A NEW PROJECT – THE ART OF CONFESSIONS

Coming soon!

This is a photo I took yesterday (30th August 2018) whilst working on my latest project. A new book. The title is: The Art of Confessions.

Another fictional novel with eight different characters. I am actually working with special writer’s software at the moment, so that everyone has their own story and then it will be all woven together to form my latest book. Having great fun with it, it’s totally different than other books written by me. The cover has already been designed by one of my friends – Annette Barel. She made it for me last week and the amazing thing is, that despite the fact she did not know a lot of details about the story, the entire picture has really depicted what it is all about.

Working steadily on every day. This is the actual spot I work from in my house, on my MacBook at the table in my room. So I thought I would share with you all. Still enjoying a marvelous summer here in the Netherlands as August draws to a close and September begins.

Watch this space, all will be revealed in good time. Still a lot to write and it is fun seeing how the characters interact with one another.

Hope to publish before the end of the year.

And here are Annette and I in deep discussion about the book (later that day).

PS. STOP PRESS 5th September 2018

DECIDED TO ADAPT THE TITLE TO: THE ART OF CONFESSIONS. No idea why, it just fitted in better with how the story is developing. It is interesting to actually see how the cover is changing too. It is finished and ready, but still changing. Magical as if it is alive with the story.

 

 

A Second Chance

CHAPTER ONE

Christmas in New York

It was a really cold day and as the plane taxied off toward the runway it started to snow. Kate was glad that she has decided to take her full-length coat with its real fur collar, as she was sure it would be even colder in New York at this time of the year. The engines of the plane got louder and soon the Boeing 747 (completely full) was charging down the runway ready for take off. After a steep climb up and through the clouds. Kate hoped there would be some blue skies and some sun on the long flight into JFK.

It was quite some time since she had been to New York. Three years to be exact. In the past she had been many times, but more often on business trips rather than for pleasure. Her dear friend Beth had asked her to think about having a holiday and spending Christmas with her. Christmas in New York! She was looking forward to it so much. Christmas trees, lights and the buzz of a city that never sleeps.

She settled herself down into her seat on the plane, glad she had got a bit more leg room in the comfort class. Business Class was so totally over the top expensive these days, luxurious, but to be honest she would rather spend the money shopping in New York than actually paying a fortune for a plane seat! The stewardesses were rushing back and fro as the ‘seat beat’ sign had been extinguished and people began to move about.

Kate got out her Ipad and went to her e-books. It was the only way to survive a long flight she thought to get engrossed into a book because the flight was quite boring after take off.

There was a good film on offer, but for the time being she was happy to read the book, the latest from Dan Brown, an author who she loved and again about his character Robert Langton, so she knew it would be an exciting book from start to finish.

Some of the places mentioned in just the first chapter were familiar to her. Montserrat just outside Barcelona was a place she had visited several times.

She was glad that the seat next to her was filled by a small child, who had fallen asleep within minutes of the plane being up in the air and she was not squeezed in by an older larger person. Flying time to New York was nearly 9 hours and she would be there around lunch time local time. 6 of the hours being the time difference at this time of year.

Within minutes she was totally engrossed in her book, the plane flew across the north of England and Ireland and then all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to John F Kennedy International Airport.

Her mind wandered off her book and she closed her eyes. Having had such an early start to the airport, it was not surprising that she drifted off into a sleep, filled with mixed dreams about the past year, what had happened and it could be concluded that 2017 had been an eventful one for sure.

She was woken by the stewardess asking her if she would like a drink and something to eat, the majority of passengers were already eating those typical plane meals. She accepted gratefully. The air in planes is so dry it made you thirsty.

After she had finished some food and had a warm drink, Kate began to feel drowsy and settled down with the very inadequate cushion on planes and closed her eyes. It had been such a busy build up to Christmas this year. A couple of years ago she had started a little company called the Baking for Beauty.

She and her friend Thea, whom she had known for almost 20 years, suddenly had had the idea that they would make things for beauty based on the idea of bakery. Soaps were shaped like slices of cakes, ‘bombs’ for in the bath were shaped like donuts and so the ideas had flowed. There were body scrubs, body and hand lotions, hair masks and lip balsams. In the summer they started making products, all of which were purely natural and included no artificial ingredients and special boxes for Christmas and birthdays. After a lot of publicity on social media, things had taken off big time and the orders were piling in. It was a really busy time for them both (not to mention all their staff now) and that is why Kate had decided she needed a complete break and had chosen to go to New York for Christmas. She and Thea had been making, stirring, filling and boxing for weeks on end. Every single muscle in her entire body ached from the physical effort, but this year had been a record one for sales, their biggest ever.

She was grateful to the huge amount of helpers they had had, it was a full on job with little time to relax until all the parcels had been despatched and knowing that there would be a lull in orders during the week between Christmas and New Year, she had made a snap decision to accept Beth’s invitation and actually go off on a trip somewhere completely different and away from the endless invitations to spend the days with the same people year in, year out. She was thankful that after her divorce the majority of her friends had remained loyal, but she still felt a bit of a loose end on her own during the Festive Season.

It was not long before Kate had drifted off into quite a deep sleep despite the plane noise and the huge amount of people on board as the plane was completely full not a single empty seat. In her dreams she was thinking of New York, of all the times she had been before and being a real romantic, wondering if she just might meet someone really special on this trip?

When Beth mentioned the idea of New York, she had just happened to see a picture of Central Park in the snow, it looked so pristine and white and so lovely, her mind was made up instantly.

In her dreams she was already there and having a totally romantic and wonderful time, and it was announcement on the tannoy that the plane was preparing its descent into John F Kennedy airport, which woke her up in a start.

After taxi-ing to the terminal and disembarking Kate joined the long queue through the passport and customs section. They were thorough and strict here and even though she already had her ESTA visa in place she still knew there would be fingerprinting and eye photo’s to be made. Since the terrorist attacks in the USA, it was a nightmare these days and people who came into the country were screened literally from head to toe.

She collected her luggage and went out into the cold sunny day to join yet another queue for taxi’s or limo’s into the city centre. Beth lived in a beautiful top storey loft apartment in the Meat Packer’s District in Lower Manhatten.

Eventually she ended up sharing a taxi with a man who was obviously either coming home for Christmas or doing a last minute business trip. As they both got into the taxi at the same time, and he asked: ‘share’, she had only nodded. He looked tired (well who would not after a long transatlantic flight), sad eyes but the most amazing colour blue and a boyish appearance. She didn’t really want to make conversation or share a taxi, but it was inevitable really having to with someone when plane loads of people arrived at JFK at the same time, the number of taxi’s and limo’s were limited too. So she just stared out of the window and made no conversation. Neither did he.

The car sped through the motorway lanes towards Manhattan Island and her first glimpse of the Hudson River and the bridges crossing the water and the sky scrapers made her feel excited. She was really looking forward to being back again and also meeting up with her friend Beth, who she had not seen since her last visit.

The taxi dropped him off first in Upper Manhattan, at the top of 7th Avenue to be exact. She knew it well, it lead immediately down to Times Square, past Carnegie Hall. She carried on then on her own to where she would be staying.

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HEART FOLLOWERS

There has been such a huge response to the blogs written by me and my cardiologist, Dr. Lukas Dekker, Catharina Hospital, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

I now want to write a short piece about his own forum www.hartvolgers.org (hartvolgers means in Dutch:  Heart Followers).

This site/forum was the initiative of my cardiologist and now patients can ask questions to the doctors themselves and exchange stories with other patients.

As everyone knows the heart is the most mystical and complex organ/muscle in the body and there are many many topics ranging from a slow heart beat, a fast heart beat, fibrillation, problems with the valves, congenital defects etc.It is a vast subject and doctors have to study for many years to reach the level of knowledge that Lukas has achieved.

I promised him that I would add this into my own WordPress feed, so that any of you reading this would be able to register and join the forum.

You need to go to:

www.hartvolgers.org

Register yourself with your name and email. Once this is done, you can log in and  ask a question which will be answered by one of the expert cardiologists on the forum. Expect to get an answer directly from Lukas himself when it concerns electrophysiology; (arrthymmia)  it’s his field. He can literally repair a heart with rhythm problems.

I hope all of you who have given such a response to our blogs, and who have problems and or questions concerning your own heart will now feel free to join the forum.

Again we are very grateful for the enormous response. We will be doing a part 4 when I go back to see Lukas on the 14th August.

Thank you everyone,

Jill & Lukas

 

Image Copyright Hartvolgers.org

TURN BACK TIME

A short story by Jill Kramer 2018 ©

Part One

Avebury, England 2027

It was one of those perfect summer days, bright blues skies, fluffy white clouds like cotton wool balls and hardly any wind. Lily parked her car in the car park and walked over to the entrance of the famous stone circle in Avebury. This was the first trip she had planned on her own since her husband passed away. After months of feeling sad and being at home, the idea of making a trip down memory lane, in the UK, had suddenly grabbed her imagination and here she was. Having done the driving herself, been through the Channel Tunnel and the drive down to Avebury, which she had done many times in the past.

It was more of a sentimental journey as opposed to a sensible one. She did not want to be sensible; she just wanted to feel what it was like to come back to her roots. Lily had been born and raised in the UK but left in her early twenties and moved to France to work. There she had met her husband and had a lovely happy life with him and their children, but now she was on her own, it seemed right to come back to England, albeit for a holiday.

THE PERFUMED GARDEN

A short story for summer Jill Kramer 2018 ©

As she left the motorway having driven down from Amsterdam in her new car, onto the island, suddenly everywhere seemed familiar. Having had a few busy days since she arrived at Schiphol Airport she was now on the way to a house that had been her home for many years.

The island looked the same, even though it was 7 years since she had left. The same road, only two lanes had never been widened despite the accidents that regularly used to occur there. At the next traffic lights she turned off right onto the sub-road, which lead to the village. Passing the windmill, which looks exactly as it did all those years ago. It looked tinier than she remembered and then on through the tiny hamlet. Certainly there were new houses, the old supermarket had been converted into a house and some of the small cottages joined to one another to make larger homes. As she approached the harbour gates and saw the view across the water, which had been put there in 1953 after the worst flooding ever in that region, she turned off and took the small road that lead to her house along the shores of the lake. Well they called it a lake but it was really the sea, especially now as the sluices to the open sea were regularly open and for the first time in more than 70-odd years, there were tides once more.

REACTIONS TO MY HEART BLOGS – A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE WRITTEN!

Today, the 3rd July 2018 and a very hot summer’s day, I have worked my way through more than 400 reactions (just from the last couple of days) from you all to my blog. In total there have literally been thousands! The personal blog about my heart, which I wrote with my cardiologist, Dr. Lukas Dekker, seems to have gone viral! On his behalf too, I am extremely pleased and would take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for your feedback and comments. Most appreciated. I have tried to reply to each and every one, sorry if any have been missed. The subject matter has definitely touched everyone’s heart!

A lot of you have asked, if there is more? Yes, parts two and three which are on the feed as well. So hopefully you can go and read them too.

Glad to say that all is well, my heart still in a perfect sinus rhythm and when I go back for my check up on 14th August I will see if we are going to write another blog. I remember that Lukas once remarked to me that once operations have taken place, he does not hear much more from patients, because in the main they are cured. That was the reason why we decided to do these blogs together and also produce them in Dutch, as we are both based in The Netherlands and onto the platform www.hartvolgers.org. which he started a few years back.

Hartvolgers (Heart Followers) is a platform where people can ask questions and advice from cardiologist about their hearts. It was his idea and it had been and still is a huge success. Often people feel intimated about asking their doctors or overwhelmed by the subject matter and it is wonderful that you can subscribe as ask what you want and get a reply even if you have another cardiologist. A lot of them are all on site, so you will get a reply for sure.

In the meantime, I am writing this little message to say a huge thank you for all your positive remarks and feedbacks and also for subscribing to my feed. Some of you are also receiving notifications when new blogs appear and this morning I have had a new idea so there will be something appearing in the next few days. A simple remark from a friend has also given me an idea for a new book. That is the way is happens with writing.

Again many many thanks for all your reactions.