The story of Fred Hoogeveen
“If I hadn't been so fit, I never would have made it”
Fred Hoogeveen (72) was always a real sportsman. He lived a healthy and active life. Until an accident turned his life upside down. Now he is paralyzed from the chest down. Yet he still gets the most out of his life every day.
“I loved running, especially long distances: at 10k I just got started. My wife and I also made a lot of active trips. We have never been beach sunbathers, we were looking for adventure in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia. Thirteen years ago we went to South America for a tour of Ecuador. That trip was also completely focused on activities: we would go horseback riding, rafting and abseiling. We were real do-people.”
"I felt nothing"
On the third day of their vacation, Fred and his wife climb the volcano Cotopaxi with their tour group. They walk along the crater rim at 5300 meters altitude, in a thick layer of snow. After a hot cocoa in a mountain hut, the department by mountain bike is on the program. Fred: “Looking back, I should never have accepted that bike. The people there are much smaller and my knees hit the steering wheel. But well, you go anyway.”
Things went wrong during the descent: the front wheel doubles and Fred was launched. He lands unluckily on his back. A sharp stone shatters a vertebra in his spine, cutting nerves as well.
“It tickled a little bit, that was all. One of the other mountain bikers shook my hand and said, come on, let's move on. But I couldn't. I felt nothing. Then you know: this is completely wrong.”
It takes the ambulance an hour and a half to find Fred on the mountain. This is followed by a long drive to the capital Quito. In the medical centre they found that Fred was paralyzed from the chest down. “At first you hope that it is reversible, but that soon turned out not to be the case. I was in hospital there for a month, because I had two additional complications: first a collapsed lung, then a pulmonary embolism. When I could finally be flown back to the Netherlands, I was taken to the Sint Maartenskliniek in Nijmegen. I needed rehabilitation for more than half a year.”
Rehabilitation is a long road, but Fred won't let himself get down. He arranges the necessary adjustments in his house himself. Thanks to a lift, he can sleep upstairs and he can also do everything independently in the kitchen. Fred also picks up sports again: he makes a trip at least three times a week with a specially tailored hand bike. “Sometimes they are short trips, but 60, 70 kilometers is no problem either. Then a buddy always goes with me, because I can't get up when I have a flat tire. And I still meet the guys from my old running group every week. They walk, I cycle and then we drink coffee together.”
Because Fred wants to keep control over his health and his life, he embraces viQtor's solution with enthusiasm. “I've been wearing it for a few weeks now and I really like it. I only have 30% lung capacity left and because my diaphragm no longer contracts I can't cough. On long distances a buddy always goes with me,
If something goes wrong, I literally get out of breath.
It is clear that I will not die of old age, but probably of pneumonia. So you want to keep a close eye on those lungs.”
viQtor measures Fred's vital values 24/7. By monitoring his oxygen saturation, the medical service center can detect deterioration and intervene if necessary. In addition, viQtor's help button is also of great value to Fred: “I'm on the road a lot. Having an alarm with GPS detection outdoors is a safe feeling. If you don't pay attention, you'll get lost in no time. I've already fallen a few times with the hand bike, then you lie on the side and you can't go anywhere. If there is no buddy with me, at least I can call for help.”
It has now been thirteen years since the accident changed his life so dramatically. However, Fred himself has not changed. In fact, the accident only motivated him to live as healthy and as active as possible: “If I hadn't been so fit, I would never have made it. In the Sint-Maartenskliniek they said: a good condition is a life insurance policy. That applies to everyone, but especially to me. I'm still as sporty as I used to be. And I'm positive in life, I'm certainly not pathetic. I don't have any limitations, the only thing I can't do is walk. If you look at where I came from and what I can do now, that is madness.”