After years of my nutritionist, Erica urging me to start a blog, this life altering experience of hospitalization and putting my life in review and priorities, I have begun to work on one. This experience has been so beneficial for me, which I will explain in more detail , but it has to do with a chronic 7 year EBV infection, aka mononucleosis, or chronic fatigue syndrome.
The past 7 years have been challenging to my health. At the end of the year, I had a diabetes type 2 check up with my primary care provider, and I told her, I know my sugar is out of control. I know my A1c is climbing. I don’t know what is wrong with me, I just can’t stop myself out of it. Of course we needed to increase my meds. I was at my highest weight ever. This was December 22. On December 29th is when my metamorphosis like a butterfly began.
“The metamorphosis from a caterpillar into a butterfly occurs during the pupa stage. During this stage, the caterpillar's old body dies and a new body forms inside a protective shell known as a chrysalis. ... Inside the cocoon and the chrysalis, the caterpillar is transforming into a new creature.”
I truly feel that the old Natascha died like the caterpillar’s old body.
The flow of ideas, and awakening of my neurons in my brain has been miraculous. My cognition is returning to where I used to be. An ADHD type of energy and ideas and constant desire to read and learn as much as I can. Not being able to sit still for too long I truthfully have not seen this Natascha in 20 years!
I cried tears of joy today, when I realized it wasn’t the dexamethasone jacking me up! I finished them 5 days ago, they take 72 hrs to clear from your body. I heard a song on the radio that reminded me of my dear friend Tracy Strissel, and then I realized she had never met me. Everyone in Bellingham didn’t know the real Natascha. We moved here when Elena had just turned 1, in 2006. I met Tracy right away when Lukas started Pioneer meadows Montessori school. They were in the Spanish church on Washington street. Stay tuned for another blogpost about Montessori education. I also met Tiffany McGary there. Another good friend that although you don’t see each other often, life is busy with teenagers, you know they have your back, and if you need them, they are only a phone call away. Thank you ladies for always being there for us. I love you both, and am so blessed God put you and your families in our lives.
They have only met the exhausted, sleep deprived, irritable, addicted to coffee and sugar to keep going Natascha. To keep taking care of my family, get good grades in school, to be a good wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, nurse. I totaled a car in 2015. It was the day afte Elena’s 10th birthday. She was with me. We had to go grocery shopping for her party food and supplies. Kevin as every other weekday, had a schedule full of conference calls and could not drive her to the store. So, what do we mothers Do? Mind over matter right? Push though, have another coffee. Eat some cookies. A good mother always puts her childrens needs first right? At least that is what I was taught. We sacrifice our own needs and desires for them. I would die for them. I would sacrifice myself to save them. Just as Jesus did for us.
I remember praying God to get us safely home. We picked up frappes from our favorite coffee shop, Curb Shots on Portal way. More coffee and sugar! I drink a lot of these as I am always so exhausted. I was heading north bound on Portal towards Custer . It was only 5 miles to get home. The speed limit is 35 mph on Portal way. Because I was so tired, I was being extra careful and vigilant. Making sure I had lots of space between me and the car ahead of me, going less than the speed limit. I remember thinking how busy it was on Portal Way that day, which was unusual for around mid day. So, stay alert! Keep you eyes open. Only 5 more miles, we will be safely back home in 10 minutes! You can do this!
Elena was sitting next to me in the passenger seat. She was getting so tall for just having turned 10 yesterday. My family calls it the “de la Court” fast grow genes! Both my younger sister Sabrina de la Court and our dad, bless his soul, Wim Delacourt, and my son, Lukas Wolter all reached full adult height by 13-14 years of age. I was always the tallest girl and Carrie Mc Hq and I at elementary school , we’re always the only girls in the back row with the boys for class picture day. I hated that.
I was so relieved when I started high school, that first day of Grade 9 in 1985, and most of the boys I had known since kindergarten were finally taller than me!! Hallelujah! Sam Cabbani and Ramsey . We were neighbors since we were toddlers. At various times throughout high school I had crushed son both of you. Your family is amazing! We loved being back to backyard neighbors with you guys! And your family hands down makes the best Donairs! I still miss them and would give anything to have one. I left Burlington in 1998.
I thought there was a big blue jacked up pick up truck in front of me, who suddenly slammed on his brakes to make a last second right hand turn just passed El nopal restaurant, is an industrial complex. “jackass,” I muttered under by breath as I glanced to the right, wondering if I could make out his license plate.
BOOM! Next thing I know I am choking on the smoke from the air bags going off. My chest hurts. Oh my God, Elena! Are you ok? I had let her sit in the front seat. She was tall enough legally, otherwise I would have never let her. She is fine. Just scared. Oh thank you God.
It was a grey old Honda that I hit. I hadn’t even braked. I did not even see her thanks to that jerk in the blue truck. My nurse mode kicked in. Oh dear God, I hope she is ok. I was still trying to catch my breath as my chest still really hurt.
Suddenly, before I was even oriented to what happened and where we were, an off duty paramedic opened my drivers side door to check on us. I was wheezing from the smoke, (that is what 10 years of being a smoker does to you kids, asthma. DON’T SMOKE!!)
He checked my vitals, found my phone in the backseat so we could call kevin. The fire department arrived and the fire chief took care of Elena and let her sit in the truck while we waited for Kevin to arrive. I am sorry I cannot remember names. Thank you for all that you do. I have to admit blushingly, that I have always had a thing for firefighters! Big, strong, kind souls who are willing to risk their lives, to literally RUN into fire to save you. Thank you Ferndale department for all you do! My uncle was a fire chief in Zandvoort Netherlands. Sadly, he passed away much to young at 61 of stomach cancer.
Unfortunately, stomach cancer is common among firefighters. Is it the smoke, stress, chemicals or all of the above.
He was my 2nd dad. I grieved him like a father. He was my dad’s best friends since elementary school. When they were 20 ish, they saw 2 pretty blonde twin sisters walking down the street in Zandvoort, Netherlands (my 2nd home), they joked to each other, you Wim, take the taller one, I will take the shorter one! And that is exactly what happened! Jan Termaat married my mom, Elly’s twin sister Ada, and mom married dad. . I love this story. I believe it was meant to be!
Each couple had 3 children, we are all close in age. Anuschka was the first, then one year later Rocco, another year later his brother Dirk, then I came along 2 years later in 1971 in April. Ellen Termaat, my 3rd sister was born 3 months after me and then finally our baby, Sabrina arrived when Ellen and I were 3 years old. Our big happy family was complete! I love my cousins like siblings. I loved Oom Jan like a father. He practically was. He was my dads best friend who married my moms twin sister. You cannot get any closer than that.
We always had so much fun together! Which happened every couple of years as a kid. I lost count of how many times I had traveled to Zandvoort by the time I was 21, so I stopped trying too. I may have been born in Canada, but my heart and soul is in Zandvoort.
I am currently looking into how I can work a temporary assignment as a nurse in the Netherlands. I want to spend at least a month there, but more realistically I want to stay the summer. There are a few houses to rent for vacation homes on Ellen’s street, one is just about across the street from her!! How amazing that would be to live in my own house, across the street from my sister?! If only for a few months. I want my kids to come, I want them to experience how amazing this sleepy little coastal town is in the summer. Just like I spend so many summers myself.
I wish my parents had never immigrated to Canada. I know there is a reason and purpose for every decision in life, I know and trust Gods plan for me. But, I have always longed to live there. I have always missed the other half of our family. I have always been envious that they are live within a 15 minute bike ride from one another. They had the community to help raise their children. The love, help, support, neighbors, extended family, friends. I love that I could be walking on the beach, and have a complete stranger come up to me and say “Hoi! Natascha!! How are your parents and sisters?” God, how I miss that. I have always felt the longing to be a part of history and of a community. In Zandvoort, there are statues of my great grandparents from my paternal grandmother. Her parents were the fisher mongers. My parents had small replicas in Canada.
Yes, as immigrants to Canada, we had more independence there and more privacy. Our next door neighbors weren’t always watching you through the window like they do in small towns. At least I don’t think they did? Lesley Baughan Heffernan, Michelle Corbett?? Not everyone knows your business and gossips about you. I am fully aware of the frustrations of small town life, but blood is thicker than water. And especially once you have children of your own, the isolation, lack of support system and even having your best friends, your sisters and your parents , too far away from being able to drop every and help out in a hot minute, sucks. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would have wanted my parents to stay in Zandvoort. Jan was “papa” and dad was “dad” to all 6 of us. I guess with Elly Stryder-de la Courtand Ada Termaat being twins, they were both just mom. .
Jan and Ada’s oldest son, Rocco and son in law, Marc, my 3rd brother in law, both volunteer as firefighters. My dad was part of the beach rescue brigade as a teen and young man. Now, Rocco’s son, Idse Termaat is a part of that squad. Rescuers run in our family. I wanted to get out of the car so I could check on the lady I hit. I can’t believe this has happened. I have been driving for 30 YEARS! I have never even scratched or dented a car by hitting something. My Angel EMT told me she was being cared for, and not to worry. It was an accident. These things happen. He told me he saw the impact. He was at Carl’s mower. I had not even tried to stop. I didn’t see her at all. Was it the blue truck suddenly braking and turning off that prevented me from seeing the gray Honda standing still, waiting to make a left hand turn into Carl’s mower. Or did I fall asleep? Did I nod off for a split second? That is all it takes. A fraction of a second. I don’t know. And on May 7th this year around 130-2pm it will be 7 years ago. But, I am a nurse, how can I harm another human being? I need to assess her, and take care of her. It’s in my DNA. I am so ashamed, and guilty. Angel EMT dials Kevin to call him. I was surprised the phone worked through the Bluetooth speaker. The car shuts off at impact, but since the keys were still in the ignition. “Hi, Kevin, this is ______, (I wish I knew your name.) I am with your wife and daughter, they are both fine, but they have been in an accident on Portal Way in front of Carl’s Mower. My voice shakes as I hear his voice. I am ok, elena is fine. She is in the fire truck with the chief. He hangs up. I wonder how fast he gets here. I was still sitting in the drivers seat. My right arm has a huge gash on it. Blood is seeping through my shirt on my chest. Oh God. Why isn’t he letting me out of the car. Am I in worse shape than I think? I am still disoriented, still wheezing. I watch as the young girl is being helped out of her car onto a stretcher. She is putting weight on her legs. That is good. Thank you God. I don’t know how I could have lived with myself if she was badly hurt. I am a nurse. I want to help people. Not hurt them. I feel upset. How did this happen? What happened?? I was just cautiously driving, going the speed limit, keeping my distance, and then BAM. without seeing her at all. And she was sitting still to turn left. Did her signal work? It was an older car, we drove old cars for a long time too, and our VWs were notorious for electrical gremlins that would wreak havoc on the lights, turn signals, once an old Jetta would even turn off while driving!! Can you believe it? We would be driving on the trans Canada when we lived in then Vancouver area at 80 km per hr, and the engine would just stop!! We would have to quickly throw it into neutral and restart the ignition. Boy, we had some pieces of crap cars. It was that Jetta that was in the shop getting fixed. The day before we were on the radio!! At 5 pm rush hour traffic on the Alex Fraser Bridge, there is a stalled car in the left hand lane. Oh dear God. We had a 2nd old early 80’s Jetta that we were driving back from dropping off the other Jetta. Red lights start flashing. Oh crap. Why are we being pulled over I asked Kevin. He shrugs, I don’t know. I am not speeding. It was dark out, in a dark stretch of road in New Westminster. We were one bridge crossing and about 15 mins from our home in North Delta. The VW shop was in Port Moody, for those of you who know the Lower Mainland. He officer tells us he is condemning the car on the spot as the rear lights and brake lights do not work. Kevin is laughing. Now we have no working cars. I am LIVID! As we are waiting on the tow truck standing at the side if the road, I am yelling at him because we are a dual income couple. We have no children yet. He is a computer engineer who earns above average Family household. I working as a computer database programmer full time making around $14 per hr in 2000. Average wage. Higher than minimum wage, so decent. And we now have no working vehicles. They were only worth about a grand each. He is just laughing himself silly. He loves old cars. He wanted to be a mechanic. That was his passion. He loves the engineering. The next few days, we went to the VW dealership in Surrey and bought a one year old Passat. The color was called elegant green. A shimmery soft sea blue green. The interior was a cream leatherette. The first time I drove this car on the highway, and especially the twisty roads we have on the west coast, I was giddy with joy! This car handles like it is on rails. I almost feel like a sports car driver. It is exhilarating! That is when my love of Passats began.
Kevin arrived in less than 5 minutes. I don’t want to know how fast he was going, but I am relieved he is here. The BLS ambulance finally arrives for me. I finally am allowed to get out of my 2013 Black 6 speed manual turbo diesel Passat. This car handled even better than the 1999 elegant green. The turbo was amazing! The stick shift with 6 speeds was so much fun. Now , the entire front end was crumpled in, there was frappe all over the dashboard and windows, there was a huge busted up watermelon and broken eggs all over the backseat. And every single airbag had deployed. I am so sorry car. I loved you, you were my favorite, my dream car. They call BLS (Basic life support) ambulances when there is a risk of a cardiac event. I was a BLS instructor with the American Heart Association as well at that time. I teach doctors and nurses how to perform CPR and first aid emergencies. I teach classes at my kids Montessori school. I certified Lukas’s middle school kids, Cascades Montessori amiddle school in Fsirhave! That was a fun class! A group of 25-30 middle school kids, grade 7 and 8. Having fun practicing with the CPR manikins! The babies, Hkw to use an AED. I taught them how to deal with all kinds of first aid, broken bones, snake bites, dismembered fingers. Shock, strokes, heart attacks. I feel so blessed for being able to teach those kids these essential life skills. Kind of ironic now that I am in a BLS ambulance to take me to the ED to get checked out.
The joys of being in your 40’s and obese.
Life advise kids or LAK, as I will refer to it in my blogs, and mark with a Purple Heart. This signifies hero’s, and is the color of Pancreatic cancer awareness in honor of my dad. .
Please listen to this 50 year old RN who is now morbidly obese, type diabetic with sleep apnea and asthma : take care of your body manage your stress exercise stay away from processed foods Find your support system and laugh and love ALOT!
I read once we should think of our age as a level of video games. I love this idea! This is a good way to connect with our kids. I am at level 50. I have almost conquered and won against this game called Life. I AM better than you. I have been practicing longer than you have. And we all know that practice makes perfect.
So, please listen to my advice, learn from my experience. I love you and support you and want to make this crazy roller-coaster ride called life a little less scary.
I thought I was in invincible too! It will catch up to you.
I was working part time at Associates in Family Medicine. The doctor I worked for was tough and demanding, arrogant and would yell at us nurses in front of patients. But, my God he is brilliant. He is an amazing diagnostician.
I learned so much that 1.5 years I worked for him. I looked up to him. With my desire to be a family health provider as an ARNP, I admired his intelligence. He is one of those people you either love them or hate them. There is no middle ground.
I also roomed for a nurse practitioner, Grayce Hein, she worked with the doctor as a team. We had our own hall of 6 Rooms. She is amazing and so easy to work with. She introduced me to Functional Medicine, and I was hooked! It was exactly what I believed in but didn’t know there was a formal name for it! It is the perfect relationship between allopathic and naturopathic medicine. Grayce is the ARNP I want to be when I grow up! I looked up to her and wanted to learn from her. Thank you Grayce for being my inspiration.
I think it was a few days before the accident that I saw her for an appointment. To do some blood work. And I wanted a more natural treatment plan to whatever was going on. I was so tired all the time. I was in a constant brain fog. I would cry at the drop of a hat. My muscles felt weak.
My body ached, my throat always hurts, sinus pain, pressure, swollen lymph nodes in my neck and armpits. I felt like I was in a chronic sinus infection. I still do actually 7 years later.
I received the diagnosis after the accident, active Epstein Barr virus. Aka mononucleosis “Mono” or as teens like to call it, the “kissing disease”. I guess working in a busy family medical clinic exposes me to a lot. Did you know 90% of the population are carrying around EBV? In most people you recover from acute infection after a few months. But, it can lie dormant like varicella (chicken pox/shingles).
And like the Empire, can Strike Back!!
And then a small percentage, cannot get back to normal. It becomes chronic. They call this chronic fatigue syndrome. I admit just like fibromyalgia, I believed this was a made up term when doctors can’t find anything wrong with you.
I have been to see allergist/immunologist and neurologist and they could not find anything wrong with me. Only one blood test has come back abnormal all these years later. Complement system is elevated. Specifically C3. The neurologist told me she is unsure why this is abnormal and not to worry about it and to follow with my PCP.
Following in my overachiever tendencies and type A must get a perfect score, must “show them” (3 jerks in HS who were supposed to teach me and support me, to guide me in achieving my passion).
I am SMART ENOUGH, And I am one of those few people.
Before I started learning to be a nurse, I wanted to be a naturopath. I actually have wanted to be a doctor since I was a small child. And if I could become a naturopath, how cool would my initials have been!?!
Natascha de la Court, ND
But, once I had the confidence to think about going to school for medicine, I was in my 30’s and had 2 small kids. I wanted to be a mother. I love them so much, and I wouldn’t want to leave them for 10 years in the care of a nanny so I could go to medical school. We would have to move, and it would cost about half a million dollars in student debt! Oh dear Lord no.
Mr. Goodish was my grade 9 biology teacher. He was mean, rude and vulgar. He never got up front his seat at the front and would just yell at everyone by their last name. “ de la Court! Cabanni!! He picked on me and Ramsay the most. My childhood neighbor and friend since we were toddlers. His family had now moved away to a different neighborhood. A bigger house!
He was a horrible teacher, and I lost my passion for the sciences. He called me stupid and said I would never get it.
When it was an open house at school, both the Cabbani’s and my parents showed up to Mr, Goodish’s classroom. He was obviously afraid of both our father’s, and never even spoke to them. Thank you dad and Mr. Cabbani.
I love that I had a big, tall, strong, broad dark haired, bearded father. I may have complained about inheriting more of his DNA and not my petite, fine boned, 100 lbs soaking wet mom’s genes, but C’est la vie! We are strong as oxen, can take a beating and still get up and survive. I have never ever broken a bone. Unlike my mother who has broken many. Both of my kids have actually broken her bones! Lukas and she were sledding down the tiny hill in our backyard when we lived in Denver, they slid off the sled at the bottom, and she broke a rib.
When Elena was just starting to walk, mom was sitting on the floor with her, she stood up, took a few steps towards Oma, then sat down on mom’s hand, and broke her finger. Now at 50 years old, I can appreciate having very dense bone structure. Osteoporosis should not be in my future.
When I was congratulated in Anatomy & Physiology class a few times, where the most wonderful and amazing science teacher worked at Bellingham Technical college, Lowell Wester. He shook my hand to congratulate me for getting 100% on one of the hardest exams in both A&P 1 and 2. The nervous system, our brain. The vagus nerve I am studying now and am just blown away by how much it affects. (Stay tuned for a blog about our amazing Vagus nerve).
And I also got a perfect score on our exam on bones and muscles. I went on to take all my science courses with Lowell, as I still did not have the confidence that I could pass Chemistry. Chemistry scared the you know what out of me. I am a high school drop out! I never even took a chemistry class before. Ever! I was in my mid 30’s when I decided to school to be a nurse, and I still had those echos of those 3 high school men in my mind. Women should just focus on being mothers. They shouldn’t need anything else. Why am I not content on just being a mother? I am not smart enough to do this. What on earth was I thinking?
Thank you Lowell for being an amazing Science teacher. You helped to restore my passion for science. I am so grateful to have you in my corner. And to have experienced such a wonderful mentor, supporter and gifted teacher. And you remind me very much of my favorite uncle who was like my 2nd dad, Jan.
If Mr. Goodish were still alive I would have faxed or emailed him my grades in ALL my science classes! I graduated with my RN at the top of my class. I don’t know if anyone else was above me, but my GPA is 3.97.
My grade 9 science teacher, Grade 10 math teacher told me I didn't need to "worry my pretty little head off when I asked for help on a difficult equation and I was just going to get married and be bare foot and pregnant!" F@ck you 3 chauvinist jerks at MM Robinson High school in Burlington ON. And my guidance counselor, all older gentlemen from the stone ages.
They extinguished the flame of passion and thirst for knowledge about how the human body works since as early as I can remember. It was the 70’s, salesmen came to the door selling encyclopedias. I was so freaking excited when my parents bought a set!! I read them all the time. I was so happy I could learn at home and didn’t have to be at our elementary school in the library to access the information. I believe I was 7 or 8 . I always wanted to play doctor as a young child. Four years old this girl knew what her passion was, what her flow is. Learning medicine comes naturally to me. I happily read medical textbooks all the time.
My high school guidance counselor told me medicine was really hard and I really shouldn’t do that to myself. I should be a travel agent, that is a fun job for a young pretty girl. Here I was in grade 12. My 4th and last year of high school. Our lovely HS in North Burlington decided to let in a huge number of grade 12 kids from another school. I can’t recall exactly why or how many but I think it was around 500 more seniors. We were a pretty big school, I think 2000. Correct me if I am wrong my old high school friends if you remember please.
Well, they got priority on their class schedules. I could not even get the classes I needed to graduate. What on earth??? They told me I could take wood working and drafting, car mechanics. Are you freaking serious! I needed one more English, Math and Science class in order to graduate Grade 12. So, I am a little temperamental, I am a Taurus after all, and I quit school. Yes, I am a high school drop out. I only needed something like 6 credits to graduate, but I was so irritated and angry at the high school, I just wanted to put it behind me and go to college.
I was tired of wasting my time there. And being unsupported.
I was working 3 part time jobs, and I saw an ad for Sims Travel College. Earn a travel counselor diploma in only 6 months ! Wow! Maybe this what I should do. Is the Universe/God/Higher Power showing me the path?
Guess what I did? Ashamed, I hold my head down, yes. I was a travel agent for 10 years. Until the Internet took off and travel agents became dinosaurs.
Veronica Sims, was hesitant about letting me into her 6 month accelerated program. In community college the travel and tourism diploma is a 2 year program. Hers would be fasted paced and being a high school drop out and only 18, she was concerned it I could keep up.
I do not recall how I changed her mind, probably just sheer willful begging, but she did let me enroll. Of course I was the youngest in the class. It was a fast paced program and we had to memorize so much! This was before the Internet! We learned how to look up flight schedules and airfares in big books that looked like a NY city phone book! Then we had to call the airlines , hotels and cars individually. One booking for a couple or family vacation would take us ALL day holding on the phone.
It was ridiculous the amount of patience we had to have. Could you imagine if that happened today? I think everyone would have a brain aneurysm from the intolerance of waiting on hold.
Before nursing, I completed a 6 year degree program in Natural Health and Traditional Naturopathy. I went to Clayton College of Natural Health and obtained a Bachelors degree of Science in Natural Health and a Doctorate of Naturopathy. I worked hard and earned a 4.0 GPA. I loved it! Herbal medicine, energy medicine, aromatherapy, Bach flower remedies, nutrition, exercise, mind body work, kinesiology, muscle testing, iridology. I was stoked!!
Unfortunately, in WA state I could not use my ND designation as they are tightly regulated and only certain schools can license for ND here.
But if I move to Tennessee or South Carolina, you may call me Dr. Natascha.
I never really spoke about it. I then started nursing school with the plan to become a nurse practitioner and then I can be like Grayce , and be a functional medicine ARNP. I still think about pursuing ARNP, maybe once the kids move out. I wanted to take a break from writing papers, but the desire and passion is back.
When I saw a lovely counselor around the time of our car crash, she focuses on positive psychology. I highly recommend everyone only see someone who specializes in this treatment. Melanie Cool is such an amazing lady , and I highly recommend her both as a client and also as a Holistic Nurse Consultant. Which is how I can use my Clayton College degrees. The American Association of Holistic Nurses recognizes my education there. . Although I am still recovering from Covid pneumonia , today is day 38, I am back on prednisone to help with the increased wheezing and pressure in the lower bases or my lungs and over my sternum. Back to work on Monday.