German architect Marc Wübbenhorst has to drink at least 20 liters of water a day or risk dying from dehydration. The 35-year-old suffers from the rare metabolic disease Diabetes insipidus, which causes intense thirst and the frequent excretion of large amounts of diluted urine. If Wübbenhorst stops drinking water, his body starts to dry out, and he can die of thirst in a matter of hours.
Constant thirst has been a part of Marc Wübbenhorst’s life for as long as he can remember. It’s nothing like the thirst a normal person experiences, because it doesn’t go away after drinking a glass or two of water. His body can’t hold any water, as his kidneys eliminate the fluids almost as fast as he ingests them. Marc can never ignore his thirst for more than an hour, because he starts to experience severe symptoms of dehydration, like cracked lips, dizziness and confusion. These are symptoms that most adults experience after two or three days of fluids deprivation.
Although Diabetes insipidus can develop at any point in life, Wübbenhorst was born with the condition. As a child, he managed his condition relatively well, he had lots of friends and tried to live a normal life, but at one point it got too much, and he fell into a deep depression.
“I had a kind of exhaustion depression,” Marc told Neue Westfälische. “I did not want to go to kindergarten, paint anymore, or see the lantern parade.”
Each day in Marc Wübbenhorst’s life begins with a big bottle of water to fill him up, but it doesn’t last long, as he soon has to go to the bathroom. It’s even harder at night, and the 35-year-old admits that he has never slept for more than two hours at a time in his whole life. He constantly has to get up, hydrate and than go to the bathroom to excrete all the fluids. In total, he visits the toilet up to 50 times in 24 hours.
Marc has to always take into consideration his condition when planning out his work schedule and free time. Situations such as a long-haul flight could not be adequately planned for his condition, as he wouldn’t know how to manage it in an emergency.
“Some things, such as long journeys or some sports, are out of the question,” he says.
In his interview with Neue Westfälische, Marc recalled a dramatic incident where his Diabetes insipidus almost killed him. He had an unusually long day at the office, and found himself on a train travelling home at about 10:3o pm, without a bottle of water. His commute is not very long, so it’s usually no reason for concern, but that night, the train broke down, leaving him to fend without water for longer than anticipated.
By the time he got off at Jahnplatz station, in Bielefeld, he was already experiencing severe symptoms of dehydration. He was disoriented and confused, and in dire need of hydration. Luckily, a close friend happened to be there that night, and knowing about his condition, gave him some water and saved his life.
But just because life gave Marc Wübbenhorst lemons, doesn’t mean he can’t use them to make lemonade. He can’t travel long distances, but that only makes him appreciate his home city of Bielefeld even more. He has been involved in community projects for a long time, and this year he will be organizing the Sennestädter Weihnachtsmarkt fair, with the help of the Turkish community, the Baptists, Mennonites and the local refugee aid