Nomad, 68, is recovering from kidney failure WITHOUT treatment
A nomad claimed he recovered from kidney failure without any medical treatment – despite doctors giving him a 2.5% chance of survival.
New Zealand native Peter, 68, and his partner Miriam, 38, from the Netherlands, first met Ben Fogle in 2019, where they introduced the presenter to their unconventional lifestyle.
At the time, the couple, married but in an open relationship, hopped from place to place, slept in tents and talked about how they used their own urine to wash their hair.
But appearing on tonight’s Return to the Wild, the couple told Ben how they temporarily moved into a house they bought in Bulgaria for 2,500 euros (£2,190) following the changed diagnosis Peter’s life.
Peter explained how he was diagnosed with kidney failure four years ago, and told he had a 2.5% change in survival if he didn’t get a transplant and start dialysis.
At the time, the couple were on a trip to Australia – but their trip came to an abrupt end.
“I had such a bad case of dysentery, and after living in India for years, I didn’t pay attention to it, because in India you live with that kind of thing,” Peter told Ben.
“But I ended up being dehydrated and I didn’t realize it. Then I got sicker and sicker and sicker and then I started to pass out and I thought “there’s really something wrong here”.
“When the dehydration set in, the doctor tried to put in a cannula and found no veins.” Because they had all collapsed, not enough blood.
“The result was that my kidneys had collapsed. It was pretty serious,” added Peter.
“A specialist said I would have a 2.5% chance of survival, which isn’t much, if I didn’t do dialysis and a transplant,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, Miriam said she found this time very stressful.
She said: ‘I remember when Peter was in the hospital, of course I was very worried, and the only nurse sat me down and she said she asked, ‘How are you?
‘I started crying. It was such a burden emotionally.
After the terrible diagnosis, Peter had to weigh his options – aware that starting a treatment plan would hamper the couple’s nomadic lifestyle.
He said: ‘I figured if I was going to do dialysis I had to be near a hospital because you have to go there every three days. If I had a kidney transplant, I would have had to take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of my life.
“And almost every illness I would get would result in hospital treatment. The immunocompromised people are the ones who really had the worst time with Covid.
“I just couldn’t see myself living like this, I was thinking ‘if this is going to happen, I’d rather leave. I’d rather die than live like this.
“So I decided not to have this treatment and prepare for the end.
“I thought about Miriam, but I thought the kind of life I would have would probably be a semi-urban life, for the rest of my life. I would be a bigger burden for her.
Miriam recalled how she told Peter to get a transplant and even donated her own kidney, determined to do whatever it took to keep her partner alive.
But Peter ends up saying to him: “If you really love me, you have to let me go too.
Miriam said Peter’s approach also left her wondering about her own future. She remembers thinking: ‘If Peter has to die, what am I going to do the next day?
“It also made me more independent, stronger and taller.”
She finally accepted Peter’s decision not to follow the proposed treatment.
She continued: “It was very brave to say, ‘I’d rather die than go on dialysis and see what happens. And he is not dead!
In response, Ben said, “Can we just take a moment to marvel (at this).”
Instead of undergoing medical treatment, Peter said he wanted to cure his kidney problems by leading a healthier lifestyle.
“I didn’t take any medication. Neither the traditional ones nor the alternative ones,” he told Ben.
“I couldn’t see why the body couldn’t heal itself. If I did everything I could, drink water, sleep, moderate exercise, why couldn’t he heal himself? »
However, the couple moved back to New Zealand during Peter’s recovery – aware that it was no longer possible for him to live outside as he and Miriam had done.
But after finding life too restrictive and too expensive in New Zealand, they eventually returned to Bulgaria, where they bought a small house for £2,190.
There they searched the land for food and grew their own vegetables.
“It was the right decision, I’m much stronger than a year and a half ago,” said Peter.
Miriam also told Ben that Peter’s condition changed their outlook on life.
“We don’t take ourselves for granted. Things can go wrong, his kidneys can fail again. Easily. And then it’s all over,” she said.
The couple revealed that although they have a house, they have no lights and will sleep when it gets dark during the winter months.
“Winter is quite extraordinary, because you will have a meter and a half of snow and then it freezes, there is really nothing to do,” Peter told Ben.
“So we don’t have light and we just sleep when it’s dark, which is many hours in winter.” But I think it keeps us very healthy,” Miriam said.
Symptoms of kidney failure:
A number of symptoms can develop if kidney disease is not detected early or if it gets worse despite treatment.
– weight loss and lack of appetite
– swollen ankles, feet or hands – as a result of fluid retention (oedema)
– shortness of breath
– blood in your pee (urine)
– an increased need to pee – especially at night
– difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
– itchy skin
– muscle cramps
– feel sick
– erectile dysfunction in men
However, they said they use solar panels to power their home for cooking and internet.
The couple receive royalties from two books Miriam has written about her experience in the desert and use the money for necessities.
They also organize a course for people from all over the world, where they combine philosophy and outdoor skills such as fire lighting, archery and foraging.
Ben wondered if Miriam regretted the times when the couple went from place to place, but she told him she was as happy in Bulgaria as she was anywhere else.
‘I really appreciate that. I don’t think my happiness depends on my activities,” she told him.
“I’m pretty much happy anywhere, as long as the environment is beautiful and natural, and quiet, and I eat and sleep healthy.
Peter added: “You don’t want to let your lifestyle get in the way of you, so staying fluid means you can live any way you want.”
Miriam told Ben that she had no plans to have children, because Peter didn’t want them and she “would rather have Peter than children”.
But she added that she was realistic about the couple’s future.
“I don’t worry so much, he looks healthy to me, I’m realistic about it. He won’t live forever and with a bad kidney he won’t be gone for 10 years.
“So we want to use our time very wisely,” she said.
Peter also told Ben that he had to “be careful not to stretch too much” in order to take care of his health.
“Death is not the problem, getting to death is the problem,” he added.
He admitted he knew that due to the age gap between him and Miriam, their relationship didn’t have a long-term trajectory ahead of them.
“The biggest crime I can commit against myself is wasting time,” he told Ben.
“We think we live a long time, but when we look at it, compared to the world we’re in, we’re just fireflies,” he smiled.
After 12 years together, the couple said they still consider themselves an open relationship, despite being married.
But Miriam tempered the fact that she would only start another relationship if she had a strong bond with someone.
In the near future, she revealed that she plans to travel to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia with the idea of finding another small house where the couple can move into.
“Because we have this idea of, if we can find one, we can find two (houses),” she told Ben.
“Instead of constantly moving, we stay in one place for a while,” Peter said.
As a teenager, Miriam was an accomplished athlete but shunned a sporting career in favor of traveling the world and at 22, on a trip through India, she met Peter.
Meanwhile, after a doctorate in ecology, Peter had worked as a lecturer before deciding to quit his job and live his life on the road.
When Ben first met them, the couple had no permanent address, traveling from place to place with a backpack full of belongings.
As for survival, Peter was put in charge of the cooking while Miriam took on the role of forager, hunting the animals for their meat using a bow and arrow, which she admitted was fine. away from his old life.
The couple sometimes had to go to a supermarket, as Ben found out when he and Peter stopped at a convenience store in a small Bulgarian village to buy supplies not found in nature, including ice cream.
Peter and Miriam funded their lifestyle with their savings of £40,000, estimating they were spending around £3,000 a year.
Peter explained at the time: “People often ask what would happen if you ran out of money. Well, we would go get a job, simple.
When it came to washing, Miriam stuck to streams and streams revealing the very unusual shampoo she used for Ben – her own urine.
After Ben pointed out that many would be horrified by his approach, Miriam said: “For me, going to work every day, sitting in traffic, it’s uncomfortable for me.”
Ben Fogle: Return to the Wild airs tonight at 9 p.m. on Channel 5.
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