The International Writers Magazine:
Lifestyles in Amsterdam
consults with her Doctor
over a week now, my body has been covered in damnable hives and
rashes due to an allergic reaction to je ne sais pas. My skin
crawls every minute of the day; I have not slept through the whole
night in a week and a half. My body is such a horror movie; it
freaks me out to look at it. I pray daily for the power to rip
the outer layer of my skin off without repercussion. I am slowly
loosing my mind
I am tired.
It wasnt this
dire to start with. When I first saw signs, I went to the doctor the
next day. In the Netherlands, youre doctor is picked based on
I dont have a neighborhood so I used my
boyfriends. First, you have a consultation with the
doctor. I never really paid attention to that choice of word, CONSULTation;
consultants do a lot of talking. I went to see Dr. Mulder in De Pijp.
Ive been in three different doctors offices already and
the set-up is similar; a big office/desk area, something an executive
would kick back in and then, off to a corner, dimly lit, neglected,
unused, an examining table and some other doctor-y stuff.
Dr. Mulder opened the door and guided me past the examining table to
his desk. Dr. Mulder, like the rest, was missing his white coat, his
stethoscope, his tongue depressor thingy and his ear-checker with the
light doodad. I guess, here, in Amsterdam, the doctors dont accessorize.
We sat down and we talked, well I talked mostly. I gave him a quick
rundown; I awoke in the middle of the night, hot and scratchy and covered
in hives. This is where I expected him to ask me to disrobe or maybe
take my temperature
nothing. He asked a couple of questions and
concluded, youre having an allergic reaction to something.
Nooo, you dont say! For every one word he said, I said 50 million.
What do you think it could be, what should I stay away from, what
can I use to help the itching, how long will this last, where did you
get your medical degree from? To be fair, he was having trouble
with the translation thing (but that made me less confident). I felt
like I was consulting him. If he wasnt good at the talking bit,
then I wanted him to touch me damn it! Put an instrument on me, take
a reading, write some notes down! I damn near stripped for him after
mentioning the hives on my legs and getting no response. Nope, Dr. Mulder
did what they all do; he turned to his drug book and looked for a medicine
to prescribe me. Fine, doctor, if you wont help me, let the drugs
sort me out. Before leaving, I had to pay a 26 euro consult
I really think we shouldve split that.
He prescribed me Telfast, non-drowsy anti-histamine at 20 euros
for 30 pills. Let me tell you, the only fast thing Telfast
did was waste my money
I double-dosed, triple-dosed to no affect.
I was still waking up in the middle of the night and taking showers
to quiet my prickly body
thats the only time I found a little
peace, in the shower. This past Tuesday, I called Dr. Mulder absolutely
desperate; I told him that I could not go on like this, I was miserable,
he had to do something more, something else. He huffed and puffed a
bit, like I was being a pansy, but agreed to see me later that day.
He was more attentive the second time around, even though he didnt
ask me to get naked or touch me (Ive never been so rejected!).
He offered me another drug, an old fashion one that makes you
sleepy. Bring it on, Im not sleeping anyway. He also suggested
we get an allergy test done (thats more like it) and some other
blood work. I was to go to this center and get my blood taken in two
days. What!?! Whats wrong with right here right now doctor? The
center would call him in a week (murder) with the results and then hed
Why do I get the debilitating, cause unknown, illnesses? Ive got
that Labrynthitis thing that makes me dizzy and nauseated but still
functional. Id LOVE to get a broken arm or gunshot wound, thats
more concrete and puts you out of commission, none of this shit that
weighs on me psychologically without reprieve of daily life. IT IS MADDENING.
My last resort is to take my dont handle heavy machinery
drug and knock back a couple Bacardi-cokes (very popular drink here)
and have a ball!
While I may admit the US is a slightly over-medicated society
I may also understand why; the medication is soooo good, it works, it
will make you feel good. I think they give us good drugs so we
can feel better, so we dont call off work sick, so we work work
work and fuel the machine. Were also a country of candy-asses
that dont like pain and inconvenience too much, but Dutchies take
it a bit too far in the other extreme. These folks came from the strict
Calvinist religion (think Amish) that believe suffering is a healthy
component of living a just life. Can I get some middle ground here (preferably
somewhere warm)? I want to live a just and itch-free life.
I never thought I would say this, but I miss U.S health services; I
never questioned their medical aptitude. Here, I read up on yahoo health
before going for a consult. As the sun rotates and my curiosity grows
bigger, life in Dutchland starts to loose its gloss, Im starting
to connect the dots (Im not talking about the scabs on my back
either). Im starting to understand why expats complain about how
hard it is to live in the Netherlands. Complain as they do, they still
call this place home and so do I
until the doctors do me in.
So, you know about the itchy scratchy monster under my bed terrifying
me nightly? Well, my bed is my boyfriends bed so the boogeyman
is disrupting his sleep too. This damn rash is still with me but there
are some new developments. I have had pain/stiffness/swelling in some
of my joints: jaw, shoulder, wrists, knees and ankle. The pain plays
musical chairs on my body, one day my ankle, another, my right knee.
I am one broken down heifer. I called Doc Mulder to discuss further.
He had the results back from my blood tests: every thing looked normal,
so-and-so levels are normal and negative for any diseases. They did
find Im producing a high level of antibodies, which indicates
Im allergic to something. All they know is that Im NOT allergic
to house dust, pet hair, plants and other stuff like that. They canNOT
determine what Im allergic to. Dr. Mulder said I should pay close
attention to what Im eating, what Im in contact with, to
see if I can figure out what is attacking me. I broached the swelling
issue; he does NOT think this is related to the rash but he said it
was strange. He said that this can be a symptom of many different things
but not alarming at this point; see how you feel over the weekend,
if the problem persists, call on Monday for an appointment.
Ive become obsessed with Yahoo Health. Ive diagnosed myself
with rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis. My favorite
right now is lupus, an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks
its own tissue as though it was a foreign substance. In North America,
its more prevalent in Black and Asian women. Im Black and
a woman and while Im currently not in north America, I was raised
there. You do the math. Heres why I think I have lupus; because
its hard to diagnose, can take years to develop, has a wide array
of symptoms, its cause is unknown as well as its cure. One difficult
ass confused dont know where its coming from, where its
going to disease
need I say more.
I scratched the weekend away; my condition has not gotten better, in
fact, it has worsened. I now look like a comic book villain who accidentally
fell into the wrong vat of primordial ooze and came out looking FUCKED
UP!!!!! Thats me. My back looks like I was bought and sold; I
came over on the Amistad with Kunta Kinte and kept Massuhs bed
warm but got fed up and tried to gets me my freedom. I feel
like I could be carbon dated, like, you know, you can tell how many
years Ill be crazy by the number of scars on my back
I have to wear long sleeves and turtlenecks now; the rash has transformed
and taken siege over more of my body. Ive just got my period and
Ive got acne. Im in a right shite state of affairs. Monday,
I went back to Doc Mulder (do you have an XFiles moment when you see
that name?) to discuss this new joint swelling of mine. He had nothing
to say, he was admitting complete ignorance to the source of my condition.
He finally decided to refer me to a dermatologist; I could go see them
on Wednesday, when the hospital had its walk-in hours. Walk-in? Whos
walk-in in? I aint walk-in in. And, Wednesday?
Is he out of his mind? I actually said, what am I going to do
until then? He told me that appointments were booked up for months;
hed give me yet another prescription to hold me over. I kept saying,
I dont care about the itching anymore. I just want something
to make me sleep (wink wink), to make me feel good (wink wink wink
I was hoping for something like valium, he gave me Promethazine
Promethazine is yet another antihistamine Im taking for a spin;
it works a bit better but still doesnt knock me or the disease
out. Weve come to lower our expectations a bit, we dont
make a fuss when medicine doesnt medicate. No matter, well
get better the old fashion way, drink and drug
that should hold
me until Wednesday.
continues here - read on and find a cure?
© Trista Mrema April 2006
Trista Mrema discovering Arusha at election time
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