Cooking is the pure joy of living

Now I know what is good for me

At 22 years old, Heike Sichmann received an artificial heart valve and quickly learned how to live with it. However, she only started feeling independent and free once she was able to measure her coagulation level herself.

The dough has only been in the oven for 10 minutes and already there is this wonderful nutty aroma all over the kitchen. When I bake cantuccini, I only use almonds from Pisa and an old recipe from a landlady whom I met there on a trip. Talk about Tuscany — not just beautiful scenery but also a very special cuisine. It’s rural, but with sophisticated combinations. Black rice, yellow olive oil and the earthy sweetness of chestnuts — wonderful. No question, apart from sculpting, cooking is my great passion. And I think that the two have quite a lot in common. When I work with stone, I create something lasting, and whereas good food disappears again very quickly, something is left behind as well. It is just different. It could be the memory of a lovely evening with friends or a birthday party with the family. What cooking and sculpting have in common is that I am able to relax completely. It is also a type of therapy.

“With self-testing, I got to know my body much better. Now I know quite well which foods will affect my coagulation level.”

I was only two years old when I was diagnosed with a heart defect by my doctor. I can still remember my father saying: “the heart is a muscle which can be trained.” This is what I did, until it no longer worked. When I was 22, I received an artificial heart valve, and from then on, I had to take anticoagulant medications. I was constantly worried whether the dosage was right. If it is too high, there is a risk of bleeding. If it is too low, one can develop dangerous blood clots. This often made me very insecure. Since I am able to monitor my coagulation myself, I feel much more secure. Self-testing gave me back my joie de vivre. Whenever I get the feeling that something might be affecting my coagulation, I simply test my coagulation level. All it needs is a small prick in my finger.

Talking about affecting my coagulation: with self-testing, I got to know my body much better. Now I know what affects my coagulation level.

Cooking is the pure joy of living