June 6, 2016

Toodles Thailand, Hello Holland!

Category: Travels

Would you believe that it has been 20 days since we left Bangkok and even longer since I last touched my laptop, let alone log into my dashboard?

20 days, folks. Twenty frigging days.That’s a total of 480 solid hours inclusive of about 15 door-to-door travel hours.

The entire gig from Bangkok to the Netherlands was a wild one. Perhaps, even a little over the top with only 3-4 hours of sleep for 2 consecutive weeks, overlapped with a total of 19 long, debilitating days as I succumbed to a nasty eye infection caused by the Adenovirus.

Being down was bad timing and I have unfortunately gotten the infection from Spud just 7 days prior to our departure.

As careful as I was while tending to Spud when she got it 2 weeks earlier before I did (something we believe she may have contacted from her cousin when we were in Singapore last April during our  last visit), I still got it. And I got it real bad!

The infection first started with my good eye and thinking that since we had exactly a week before the big move, I would recover in time with proper medication. Surely it would not go on for more than a week, right?

I was hopeful and even optimistic that the prescription given by the eye specialist in Bangkok after 3 follow-up consultations would make it all good again. Besides, I was in no pain.

I was dead wrong. It wasn’t just a bacterial infection, it was a viral infection! The eye specialist in Bangkok had prescribed me with steroid and antibiotics which did jack-shit for a viral infection. 

On Day 8 of the infection, my bad right eye got infected as well, making my 11-hour flight journey a miserable one. Not only were my eyes itching badly, they were red, swollen and watery. Worse was that my vision started to get blurry.

No sooner than hitting the soil of the Netherlands, I was quickly introduced to the Dutch healthcare system and was quickly integrated into the bureaucracy that came with it a day later.

Unlike in Thailand, one can’t just walk into the hospital to seek medical treatment pronto.

Here, an appointment with the Huisarts (General Practioner that is only restricted to the town you live in) would have to be made first and that would not be immediate.

Once the appointment is set, then it would be up to the Huisarts to make a referral to a Specialist or refer the patient to the hospital.

Unless dire, a follow-up would be required before they decide to send the patient to a specialist.  Of course, you would also have to first afspraak maken (make an appointment) with the hospital. Again, a quick appointment would not be guaranteed. 

Ideally, you would have to be locally insured first. THEN,  get registered with the Huisarts for the insurance company to settle the bill.

However,  in order for the insurance to be effected, one would need to get the mandatory residency permit first and then get registered in the city where you live.

Now this would give you a BSN (Civilian Service Number) and this would be the number you’d need to get the health insurance.  This is all compulsory before anything could take place.

In my case, however, that was yet to be done at that point in time given that we have only just arrived. I was considered as a walk-in and without the registration in place, there was no insurance coverage and we had to pay a pretty hefty amount for the consultation, referral and medication.

At that point, money didn’t matter. The discomfort I felt in both my eyes had intensified and I was lucky to have gotten a slot at the Huisarts on the day after our arrival. A milder medication was prescribed with another follow-up appointment for the afternoon the day after. 

But my condition got worse. Luckily, the follow-up appointment was brought forward and that morning visit got me a referral to a Specialist in a hospital for the afternoon on the same day.  

The waiting time to see a doctor was incredulous and when I was finally called in about an hour later, the doctor apologetically informed me that there was nothing they could do.

My condition was beyond chronic and I was quickly diagnosed with a very severe case of the pink eye disease. I was told to stop all medication and that I’ll have to ride it out.  

The doctor appeared nervous and told us that even she was scared of this highly contagious Adenovirus.

I guess, given a choice, they’d rather not see me. I was also told that there was no guarantee of a quick recovery and that it would likely take me many more weeks to heal; perhaps even months! MONTHS!!

She then told us to go do the mandatory afspraak maken and see her again in 3 weeks. 

Until then, I was left to “just ride it out” with a strong recommendation to get a lot of rest and using lots of natural tears for eyedrops which also can only be prescribed. Oh! Rest! The irony.

Did I mention that we also needed to move out of Silver Bullet’s parents’ home,  move into our own house and need to go shopping for some furniture with other necessities that go into a setting a new home?

By day 11 (the day after the consultation with the Specialist), I went blind! The virus got me in full-force: my good, seeing eye could no longer see anything and with my bad, short-sighted eye became infected, my vision went completely fuzzy. Both eyes were raging red and completely swollen.

For 4-5 consecutive nights afterwards, I was inflicted with such intense pain that no amount of painkillers and sleeping aids could help me sleep. 

My eyes felt like there were tiny pieces of broken glass in them.  I could neither open nor close my eyes for anything more than 2 seconds;  I could not sit or lie down for more than 5 minutes. 

Then, the light sensitivity effect came into play and it did not go away for almost a week.

In a country where daylight hours are longer, this was pure agony.  I wasn’t wearing sunglasses all the time because I felt the need to be cool. I was wearing it because the condition of my eyes would scare the crap out of everyone and the fact that light, ANY light bothered me. So much so that I felt like a misplaced vampire. I could not even look at the TV because the glare was piercing.

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Don’t I just look so cool like this?
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The Adeno thought it was way, way cooler!

My most favourable place as it turned out was the dark and gloomy toilet. It was the only place I could go to with eyes semi-open. I would sit there all day if I could but it was too cold and a little too small. Besides, the throne was not the best of places to sit down for long.

Apart from that, there weren’t too many places I could seek refuge from the light. I was miserable, exhausted and unhappy. If I could gorge my eyes out, I would. But that would not be the smartest thing to do.

Blinded, in extreme pain and feeling absolutely incapacitated by my inability to do anything (sleeping in peace included), Silver Bullet managed to get me another appointment with the same Specialist again several days later.

This time, she gave me a drop of analgesic in each eye to relief the pain. It lasted for not more than 15-20 minutes but it did its magic – I could finally open my eyes with no pain and my sensitivity to light improved.

She continued to express her fears about me still being contagious and raised her concerns for her inability to tell me my estimated rate of recovery.

The good news was that I had no scarring in my eyes. The bad news: She could not say if the virus would cause permanent damage to my eyesight. I’ll have to come back for a follow-up.

She then prescribed me with an eyedrop for twice a day and an eye ointment for before bedtime. That did the trick.

Within 5 minutes upon the administration of the first drop, I felt like I was in heaven. I could open my eyes and no longer felt the shrapnels of glass in my eyes. The pain got progressively manageable.

My vision has since been pretty much whacked out; I could not see or read anything if they were not 10 cm away from my eyes. Even looking at my phone was a torturous ordeal.

Thankfully, it got better in the days to come despite an awfully blurred vision and we finally were able to kick ourselves out of my in-laws home to settle into our very own place 3 nights before June hit the streets.

This eye infection has now lasted for 20 days.  I am regaining my sight back ever so slowly and it wasn’t until a week ago that I am able to see and define things that are several meters away from me.  That has been the major reason why I could not write, type or read up on anything. 

In the scheme of things, I’ve never felt so hopeless and useless. I barely could do shit myself and Silver Bullet has been the one doing the running around as well as hounding the necessary entities to get all the necessary paperwork processed. I’m not used to that.

It’s harder to deal with mishaps like this especially when everything here is new to us – the language, the process, the culture, the neighbourhood and everything else that comes with it. 

But viruses have no regard for timing. Adeno got me good. Real damn good. 

As for Spud and my niece who had the Adenovirus, they both are still now recovering from the remnants of the disease more than a month later. While the contagious window is over,  the Specialist here discovered that Spud has some superficial scarring from the virus during her recent check-up. It is yet to be determined if that is going to affect her eyesight in the long run. My niece has had a relapse. Scary shit for kids or any adults. 

This Adenovirus…man! what a stubborn, highly resistant little fuck this virus is and I can understand why the doctors seem to be so scared of it.

Thanks to us, the virus now has its footprints that began in Singapore, flown along with us to Bangkok and now in the Netherlands. Hopefully,  it stops here and I have sure been extra careful with hygiene.  Having experienced it myself, I am now really afraid of it too. 

The only prevention from contacting the Adenovirus is to make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly all the time.

Use soap, use hand sanitizer and always keep your hands clean. There is really no medication to cure it and like all the specialists and sites are saying, you’ll only ever have to ride it out and wait for the disease to run its course. Pretty much like the flu. 

This has been a bitch of a move and  I think (!) the worst is over.  

Despite all that, the first week did feel like we were on vacation. Only this time, we will be here for a long time more and I can only be thankful for all the help from Silver Bullet’s parents to have us under their roof under the circumstances.  

We have now settled into our new abode on borrowed/donated furniture, mattresses, cutlery and crockeries. We still don’t have our own bed or a wardrobe and have been living out of our suitcases since our arrival. At least the bed sheets are ours. So are the kids and the cats.

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Living temporarily on borrowed items
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Living out from the suitcases
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Keys! An excuse to be using keychains!

 

But! This is now our very own house. A real home located in a small suburb and very much away from the city of Amsterdam to call our own – no more rents to pay, only mortgages that would cost us far, far less.

It’s all a new beginning. Our new beginning.

And keys. Not key cards like we used to have in Bangkok, mind you. I’m talking about the real, metal keys in which you have to insert into a keyhole and then turn the keys about to open the blardy door. THAT has been a while! Like 11 years awhile…

…amongst other things I need to get used to!


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Comments
  1. Oh no, poor you!! Must have been so painful, I cant even imagine. So glad to read that you are eventually feeling better, and the little one too. This looks like a terrible virus, take it easy my dear and rest as much as you can ! Are the kids going to school yet? Can you spare some times just for yourself? Knowing how dynamic you are, I really feel for you. Again, take the best care of you XXX

    • It was horrible! I thought only kids and young adults would get it and I’m waaay past that stage since I;ve gotten it before when I was still in school. Who’d have thought!

      Yes, thank god the kids are finally in school. It has been taxing walking back and forth to school 7x a day as I have to pick them up for lunch at home. Been walking a whole lot! More than I ever did for a week in Bangkok. It’ll be better once we get into a routine and hopefully have some time for myself. Am soooo happy that all the sickness passed! x.

  2. Well first of all I’m glad you are back to “normal” and blogging again. Moves like this are always a nightmare I think… The dutch system sounds really similar to Australia. I had to get used to that too as in Switzerland you usually can just rock up at a specialist. But here you need to go see the GP and then he refers you to a specialist.

    Anyway, I can’t wait to hear more about the adventure Holland. Hope the weather will treat you nicely soon.

    • Almost normal would be a better description. I;m still not out of the woods yet with concerns of a relapse. Bureaucracy like that is so annoying isn;t it? Especially if you are used to something that pretty much happens with a snap of a finger. The weather here, fortunately, has been pretty nice. The sun’s partying, Sandra! 🙂 At least for now. Will definitely be updating more about Holland.

  3. I’ve been waiting for this post! But, damn, I wasn’t ready for the whole Adeno story. This will make the rest of your move to Holland seem like a piece of cake. I can’t imagine having it so bad and painful. Glad to hear you’re on the mend now. Here in Canada we have to see the general practitioner who will then make the referral to a specialist. Welcome home!

    • Thanks, Eric! Trust me, I wasn’t expecting the Adeno to strike either. The timing was impeccable to say the least. Sounds like the lines to referral is a common practice and we really have been spoilt living in Bangkok. How long will it usually take in Canada before a referral and/or appointment can be made there in Canada?

  4. I was catching up on your Blog ( I meant your old posts) then I stumbled upon this bloody horror story of Aveno virus! OMG, I wouldn’t ever want that please! 🙁
    While me & my daughter was in the Phils., my sister, and my nephew has something like that and it looked scary. I dunno if its the same. There was a time I wanted to leave immediately cuz I don’t ever want Natalie to have that kind. It sure looks nasty and painful.
    Thanks God that all went fine and only after a week of medication, their eyes cleared.
    You are one strong Mama, imagine having all that pain all through out your flights & move, glad its over now.

    Congratulations to your new home. Finally, all will be well.
    I am sure you will pick-up Dutch quite soon, just speak it, and let your husband talk with you in Dutch 🙂
    And that job, it will come, I knew you can break a leg in Holland as you were in Bangkok. Cheers to new beginnings!

    • Oh yes. That Adeno virus was nasty. Believe it or now, I’m still on medication (eye drop) because of the steroid and will have to slowly wean off. They are afraid that if I stop suddenly, it will come back with a vengeance. Probably one of the worst period of my life – moving, the virus…all crazy!
      I’m picking up Dutch bits and pieces but it’s hard to speak Dutch with my husband. It;s kind of weird – I’m the impatient one! :p
      Indeed. Cheers to new beginnings! Thank you for your lovely comment, Christina! xxx.

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