donderdag 21 maart 2013

Baby Elijah & Saar

Elijah 1 :)
                                      Family happiness

Exhausted Saar, 17 March 2013, birthday party for baby Elijah, turning 1....

My dear Lord, it's so unfair!

Now Saar is back home from the nightly rush into the Bonn hospital, and was she able to live with her family again and be part of Elijah turning 1.

But now what? How will it end? Nobody knows... she's off the anti-biotics, what's next? The Lyme bacterias take over??? Goosebumps when I think of the outcome! Dear Saar, having to go through all this suffering! Lyme sucks big time!

I'd like to go to her again, comfort her, and be there with my camera. 
Please, can you help us?

We're also creating a book series where we're going to use a lot of Saar's own pictures, like in this post.

Photography is therapy, and YOU CAN help us:

If you'd like to support Saar and her family, please donate via Paypal

*** God bless you all ***

or IBAN: NL41ABNA0607286849 + BIC: ABNANL2A if you want to pay via online banking.

17 maart 2013, Saar suffers, you can see it in her eyes, happy birthday Elijah or not...

donderdag 14 maart 2013

Laughter and Tears

Kary McElroy &Melanie Rijkers
Tomorrow morning I leave for San Francisco again. After a wonderful and inspiring talk with artist Lenneke te Kiefte and her beautiful sayings as 'I am slow art' I leave for an event on Monday, in sunny California. I am 'Fast Art' LOL, always on the move. Hopefully Lenneke and me can create some more beautiful things in the future! I just love her Weefs!

Will be in SF only for a few days, and fly back Monday night via New York. Still: I love it! Kary invited me to come and stay at her house, so we can work on our project Spiritus. We want to document life's stories, told by the elders of our society. I worked with elderly people before, Pluspunt film & photo project, where grandparents told their stories to their grandchildren.

We hope to be interviewing inspiring elders this weekend! And hopefully we can use our footage and photos to fund a project via Kickstarter, as we really'd like to make a film, and a book.

Before I've documented the house of Tantetje, where my book is a portrait of Tantejte (Auntie) even though she's not in one of my pictures! The house = Tantetje's portrait.
Tantetje's kitchen
The snow is blowing around my Dutch office at the moment, hopefully I'll be back safe 'n sound next Wednesday! My job to document another EyeFor Travel event's on Monday, just love to work for them, as the lectures are always interesting.

I'll be using Instagram too, and will share event photos on the spot via social media. Why do DSLR cameras don't have wifi or apps!!! Nikon, Canon, come on, please make a 'slow' version of the D700/800 with wifi & apps, so I can work with better quality Instagram event photos, as my commissioner really loves these too.

iPhonography is fast and simple, love it!

Ans people like Saar too, for her her iPhone and Whatsapp is the only way to communicate with the outside the world. Her boy Elijah will turn one this weekend!! I will stay in touch by Whatsapp, even with a strange time difference we keep apping, right Saar?? When I was in Bali and she lay awake at night we apped too :) Love it!

Saar keeps photographing herself, and we want to make a set of books, as her story, there's the word again, STORY, is so worthwhile sharing.

I am not a storyteller myself, but the English word documentator is.. me! (in Dutch this word doesn't exist)

It fits ZIENer en ImageFinder :)

Saar in Bonn
Saar. She keeps taking a lot of photos, as she now knows it helps her. Like I suggested Marije to do so too, Saar and/or her caretakers will take photos of everything.
Saar is home again, after half a night in Bonn's intensive care. She feels she doens't belong there, and was also shocked by the way the hospital was starting their own medical plan, instead of sticking to the one the German Lyme specialist has created. She apped me 'Mel, I will go home now, just signed the release form that it's my own responsibility to leave the hospital.' Wow. Heavy stuff


E.g. she's allergic to the glue of the heartmonitor sticky-thingies, and still they put them on her...
Annoying!!! After more than one near-death experience and numerous epileptic seizures she's done.  Saar's tired of it all.

She only wants to be home with her kids, and stated: 'I've been saying goodbye for a while now, from now on the only thing I want is to enjoy (the rest of my life).' RESPECT to this little brave lady.

I've said my goodbyes to her too, and now I am not so sad anymore. Like when she was rushed to Bonn, I kept apping her her photos, so she at least could have a look.

Laugther and Tears are woven in Life.

Dear reader, please enjoy every day, as life is short!

woensdag 13 maart 2013

Saar & me 2

Last week I finally had the chance to go to Saar again. Sarhea's mom drove to the German clinic together with Saar's son Elijah. If the photos are too small, you can click on one and browse through bigger sized photos.

The German clinic is specialised in Lyme disease, the docters live near the clinic and walk in and out all day. Patients rent an appartment, quite big, so you don't sleep in a ward. The weather was perfect, sunny, 19 degrees Celcius. Nutella had opened the balcony door and we were happy to be there, all together enjoying the day.
Ofcourse Saar now wanted to go outside, on the small balcony. Yes, a quick smoke too. And Nutella, strong, strong Nutella, she lifts Saar from bed to bed, to toilet, to balcony. Wow. Respect to this brave little lady!

Elijah wants the oxygen tube
Sweet baby, but exhausting too...
Saar has a hospital bed, but also likes to sleep in the big bed, together with Nutella. Cuddling and hugging, Saar needs it a lot. It must be so frustrating for her, to be in bed for over 2,5 months. She's such a vivid and alive person normally...

'I'm sitting on the balcony for the very first time Mel!' she says cheerfully. It's a beautiful day. We're alle enjoying it. 'I am having a good day' she says, knowing we're coming gives her energy. Later she'll be exhausted.
This is what we can do, for her. This is what WE can give her, and that's so very special.

Horror-hour starts...
There's the Doctor...everyone has to leave the room. 'I don't want them (her closest family like mom and son) to see me like this.' Saar tried to explain, the antibiotics are the worst. She needs 3 different morfines to fight the pain. The ab (antibiotics) drip into her vains and reach the bad cells right away.

Her inflammated brainstem, all the vains in her whole body, everything experiences pain. It's the fight of
Neuro Borreliose Lyme with ab. Holey Jesus, she's in severe pain...

I am speechless, but I keep watching her, with my camera. In the arms of Nutella she screams in pain, cramping and stretching all over. 'Mel, this is true hell, 10 times worse then when delivering a baby' (her son will be 1 year old next weekend).


I need to stay, she wants me to. I don't want to leave her anyway, not like this. I want to hold her, caress her, comfort her, try to take the pain away. She has to go through this very day, for months... how many more??


Untill that annoying bacteria is gone, gone from her body.
Only then Saar can be free, and happy again.

Saar cramps, having severe pains...
My God, powerless we are. How small I felt, witnessing all this happening to this little strong girl.
 RESPECT in big letters.

'Mel, sometimes I stop breathing, I do 'uh, uh, uh' and then my breathing stops'... excuse me?? She told me this as if it's not very important. Now she lays there, drugged by morfine, shouting in pain. The drip has to GO, GO, GO! But it can't and Nutella sings Saar her song.
So happy with smartphones, this way Saar can listen to her favorite music while in pain, let music comfort her. Tella has tears in her eyes.

Is the damn drip finally empty?? No, it's not...

I hide behind the pole with the drips, capturing Saar's face, screaming with pain. Got it, so beautiful, so ugly. I don't want this! (for her) I do want to document it! (for her) And then I feel I am done. Saar keeps wriggling in and out of Nutella's arms, I want to sit with her on the bed and put down my camera.


Nutella tries to tell me to take a pillow when holding Saar, and after a while I get it, your own body cramps too, when holding Saar firmly, avoiding her to pull out the drip. NO, Saar has 100 times more pain than me, I stay put. Nutella sees Saar is okay in my arms and goes outside to have a quick smoke to release her tension.

21 Years old. And Saar's biggest support in the daily horror-hour, as I call it from now.

Go girl, I am here, Saar's in good hands.

Then Tella also takes a few pics of me and Saar....


Again she plays Saar's favorite songs and then Saar says 'Tella, take a walk when it's done!' When the medicine's finally in, she can go out for a while, leaving Saar in my arms. And I caress her like a baby.

We sit there, Saar half sleeping, while it's getting dark outside.

She has to go through this every day.

All these pains because of an infection by such a small bug!

The bite wasn't recognized as being a tick bite. 'You're pregnant' (and experiencing pregnancy itches, this was the 'reason' for the rash). Ladies, be careful when you're pregnant, take extra care!! Saar now has Neuro Borreliose phase 3. Most damaging, most painfull phase there is...

Her German Doctor says to be patient. But geeee, how long can she sope??

Now and then Saar indeed stops breathing. I can hear her breath and then the uh, uh, uh and it stops. I rub her firmly, come on Saar, breath. And she does. She keeps doing this. Did she tell me coz she knew this would happen? So I wouldn't be scared?
Nutella asks are you going to be ok when I'm out. Yes, do go walk for a bit,Tella is taking care of Saar 24/7. Sometimes Saar wakes up, looks at me with her big space-eyes. Tiny black pupils 'I see 6 eyes Mel, one on your forehead, two on your cheeks and one on the chin' she says.

Poor Saar.

Pierewiet (her diseased bird) is there, an owl sits on her bed and a giraffe is there as well. She sees the whole zoo appear, so it seems. And still she asks 'Mel are you comphy? If you need another pillow you must say so.' So, so very ill, and still taking care of others.

Now it's a week later.
Saar's just been transported to the hospital in Bonn.

I don't think she'll make it this way.

God, how I hope I am wrong.
But she's a wreck, finished with all the pain, done.


Tick bite causing Lyme
Saar sent this photo to me a few times. The red dot in the top photo was the tick bite.
She has this red rash for half a year and NOBODY thinks of LYME. WTF?!?

Now she's phase 3. Not good. We don't know if she will survive this, and when she does, how. She apps, 'Mel, I don't care how I survive, I just want to survive. I want to go home and enjoy my kids. Even if it takes a wheelchair for me to take them to school.'

My dear sweet Saar, mother of two beautiful kids, wife of a beautiful man and daughter of a lovely mother. We all love you. And miss you already.

vrijdag 8 maart 2013

Saar 5

exhausted after anti-biotics horror-hour
Due to recent donations, yesterday I was able to visit Saar in German clinic, where she's treated for Neuro Borrelioses Lyme. Her brainstem is inflammated and it will take a long time before she will be cured, IF she can be cured.

So far things are going so-so, as the Doctor said, It can go both ways... :( and this makes me sad. She can either come out this half-ok (she'll never be able to walk more than a few steps due to her EDS) but most likely she'll end up in a wheelchair with more complications than ever before.

So why am I putting so much energy in this beautiful young mother?? People ask me; Why do you ask for money, so you can document her physical and emotional pains? Well, because I LOVE HER and she wants me to. She is so pure and fine, and all her family and friends too.

They are 3 hours away from her, so I was very happy Saar's mom gave me a ride and we could visit her with her baby Elijah.

Elijah's turning 1 next weekend, and Saar won't be home...

But it's very impressive to see all the people who care for her, physicly and mentally, the doctors, family and friends, dear Nutella, Saar's powerwoman, dragging her through all misery when she e.g. gets her iv with the anti-biotics and Saar's daily hour of pure horror starts. Witnessing this was overwhelming, made my heart ache and OMG Nutella is great, way to go supergirl!!!! ♥ RESPECT.

So much happened yesterday. I really need to let it settle and when I am done with post production I'll write down my story. Dear Saar, I love you!!  xOxOx

Before the anti-biotics all was 'fine'
Thank you all so much for your support and making it possible for me to go to Saar!!!! 

Hopefully she can go home soon and have her treatment there instead of 3 hours aways from her kids and husband. Ofcourse I'll follow this process too, so please don't stop donating, as Saar won't be cured in the nearby future. Maybe she'll never walk again...

If you'd like to support Saar and her family, so I can work with her... please donate via Paypal

*** God bless you ***

maandag 4 maart 2013

Working Girl!

Opening of Miss Selfridge, 1993-1994, The Working Girls
The first events I covered as photographer were the opening days op the new Miss Selfridge stores in the Netherlands. I was working as a sales woman in the Breda store, parttime, as I was studying at the Academy of Arts to become a professional photographer, when they asked me to cover the events.

I was paid the high amount (NOT ;) of 150 guilders, approx. $ 70,- which at that time seemed an awful lot of money. But do consider this; I had to buy film, process it and order prints I don't think I made real money. But it was fun! Big fun! (and big hair LOL ;)

The drag-queen group The Working Girls always performed at the openings and is alive and kicking still! I love 'em! When dropping these Polaroids at their fanpage I read a note saying '20 years in the business, congrats!' which made me realise I am an event photographer for 20 years as well!!
Hooray! And still going strong!

To celebrate this fantastic fact we dropped down the price of a full day package, including all files HR from $ 1500,- to $ 500,- when booking your date before 1 Ausgust 2013. Package includes: 5-6 hours of photography between 9AM-7PM including all files send via Wetransfer.

This is a fab occasion to book a professional photographer to your wedding, event or other happy (or sad) day. It's indeed possible to book a wedding date 7 September 2013 and pay $ 500,- as long as it's booked and pre-paid before 1 August 2013. Check for dates and possibilities via or like us on Facebook or Twitter and send a pb.

San Francisco Music Tech Summit, oktober 2012

Chek out more of my recent work on Google+.

zondag 3 maart 2013

Saar 4

my dear Sarhea.

She's in bed for 2,5 months now... In her last update on Facebook she talked about all the things she could do, 2,5 months ago. "I could still walk (a few steps, but I could), I could sit up, play my keyboard and sing (one chorusline, but I could) and now... I hardly can do ANYTHING anymore"

She feels abandoned, is in pain and she misses her kids. They've transfered her to the German clinic now, but not before opererating on her in a German hospital to get her a PEG tube, connected to her stomage.

PEG tube - right after surgery
Waking up afterwards


Whatsapping Saar, as this is the only thing she can do still
She misses her kids...
She doesn't want to be alone in this pain
One night in her new house (18 February 2013)
Being in the clinic in Germany is getting to her, as she feels so alone. Even when someone is with her, she has to cope with her pains and worrying herself. She doesn't see the kids very often (Rheinbach is a long way from home) and her husband has to work, as he already missed a lot of appointments. (he's a young dentist)

The (non-medical) people looking after her already feel locked up after one day, imagine how you feel being in bed for 2,5 months?!? Saar wasn't very mobile before due to her EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), but at least she could get out of the house, use her mobility scooter to drop her daughter of at school etc.
She hardly sees the sun at the moment, or can breath fresh air. She just... lies in her bed. And feels the pain's this Lyme disease is causing her. Neuro Borreliose, causing an inflammated brainstem, paralising her, and making her weaker than ever before...

When food reaches her stomage it hurts...

Oh, how I wish I could make the pain go away, Lyme go away and make her feel better. Actually...I can. She would like me to come over to her in Germany, to do another day of shooting, to document her life being this ill.

YOU can help!

If you'd like to support Saar and her family, so I can work with her... please donate via Paypal 

God bless you