Category Archives: confusion

3 days and 500$ to go for the Goldenrock Leatherbacks!

As you might have read in my post On our way to St. Croix, swimmers take your mark! we are preparing for the annual swim competition in St. Croix. “We” are the board members and parents of the Goldenrock Leatherbacks in St. Eustatius and especially the swimmers Matthew (16), Mel (10), Marshel (10), Jason (10), D’Seante (10) and my daughter Makeda (8). I’m the coach of this crazy bunch.

Last year in St. Maarten we looked like this:

IMG_8342

This year in our brand new uniform we look like this:

IMG_0339

Because of some organizational issues (let me not get into detail with that because it will take a week), we all of a sudden have to travel on Thursday instead of Friday, and we have to come back on Monday instead of Sunday. This is going to be a looong weekend. No problem, because we love long weekend on new islands, BUT….

* We have to pay for 2 more nights hotel, transportation and food

* We leave THIS Thursday, June 12!!! That is three more days to go to get the funds together for these extra costs. We already harassed all our friends and family members, so things are really getting tight.

If you would like to help us out and give a little donation, please contact me on vfraukje@gmail.com and we can do this via Paypal. I wanted to add a Donation button, but apparently I do not have the right account type 😦

Also if you don’t like to donate, all crossed fingers, toes, prayers, positive vibes etc are more then welcome!!!

GOOOOOO LEATHERBACKS!!

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Xenophobia

For the April A to Z challenge Uncle Spike challenged me with the letter X for Xenophobia.

X

Xenophobia is the irrational or unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange (Wikipedia). 

xenophobia

Personally, xenophobia is something strange to me. Since long I have less fear talking to a complete stranger in a foreign country than to an unknown not-so-strange person in my own surroundings. Maybe because a complete stranger, to whom I obviously am a complete stranger, expects me to act strange or different. In that case I basically do not have to have any hesitation or uncertainty in being myself. Whatever I do, they expect me to be or act strange anyway. While a not-so-stranger expects me to act not so strange, or even normal. Do you feel the pressure?

Similarly, a strange place, somewhere I’ve never been before, tends to frighten me less than the thought of being stuck forever in the same very well-known place.

But probably I’m just strange. Maybe you can call it Xenophilia?

😀

Xenophily or xenophilia means an affection for unknown/foreign objects or people (Wikipedia).

On a less personal note, I think Xenophobia is a really scary thing that might cause violence and hate, so please take a moment to read this poem by Rudyard Kipling (Debits and Credits):

All good people agree,

And all good people say,

All nice people, like Us, are We

And everyone else is They:

But if you cross over the sea,

Instead of over the way,

You may end by (think of it!) looking on We

As only a sort of They!

Freedom: from Marcus Garvey to Jack Sparrow, from Chocolate Milk to Narnia and back

My mom challenged me with the letter F in this A to Z challenge. The F for Freedom.

F

My mom knows me well. She knows I must have many ideas and thoughts on the concept Freedom. She kind of unleashed a stream of thoughts that is so big and thick it can hardly put into words in a single post. I decided to make a picture collage (+ one  commercial from the 80’s) of what Freedom means to me. Disclaimer: it’s just a glimpse of my mind. And my mind only. Freedom of Thought. Freedom of Expression.

 

Inline image 3

 

Inline image 1 Inline image 2

Inline image 4

relaxation

What does Freedom mean to you?

Emergency on planet E

All I have to do is write a post, it’s easy

Blog about something concerning letter E

Can’t be that complicated, don’t you think

Desire, Computers, Boven, Adventure, I did it without a blink

Freedom, Sister, even Xenophobia coming your way

Gimme Good Advice already being prepared for Monday

Having fun with this challenge from A to Z

I can’t think of anything with letter E

Just that my brain is so full with… stuff

Kicking around in my head and playing tough

Last week my relationship came to an end

Me, myself and I can’t afford the rent

New house was quickly found, even though it’s a mess

Oh thank you Lord, I know I’m blessed

Planning the future is what I try to do

Questioning myself, I feel like a fool

Running around restlessly up and down

Should I get out of this orange town

Time is ticking , I want to do so much

Urgently I need a to get away

Vacation Costa Rica is booked as off today

Waterfalls and rainforests are calling my name

Xenophobia or Xenophilia, it’s all the same

You see, things are happening but not with an E

Zorry, I’m so terrible zorree!

C for Computers are very smart

C

 

I was so silly to challenge my readers to give me a letter-assignment for the A to Z challenge, and my very own 8-year old daughter Makeda challenged me with this terrible “C for Computers are very smart”.

ninja girl

So. Dear Makeda,

Yes, computers are very smart indeed. Many times I’m convinced that computers are much much smarter then me. They can calculate 563.009.827.881 devided by 739 in less than a second. They can tell me that I spelled ‘devided’ wrong, it must be divided with 2 i’s. They can show you movies of Geronimo Stilton in Romanian and Russian, they can even speak, fly airplanes, walk your dog and unscrupulously drive you insane.

I heard the term Artificial Intelligence for the first time when I was in secondary school trying to decide what to study. While I was thinking about studying languages or even about becoming a veterinarian, some of my friends were talking about studying Artificial Intelligence. In normal language that means that they wanted to study how you can make computers smart. Supersmart. So smart that they would “think” like a human. To me, that sounded like a pact with Skinny Green People With Oblong Heads And Long Fingers.

alien  alien  alien  alien  alien  alien

It kind of scared me.

Now I’m a little bit older (but not Really Old) I realize that computers can’t really think like humans, but that humans can program computers in such a way that it looks like computers think by themselves. I can’t really explain it, because I ended up studying Italian language, but it has everything to do with complicated mathematics. I also learned, from a Really Old and intelligent guy named Socrates, that the more you learn, the more you know how much you don’t know. So what it all boils down to:

  1. Computers are programmed very smartly, so it looks like they’re very smart.
  2. Computers have nothing to do with Skinny Green People With Oblong Heads And Long Fingers.
  3. Computer programmers learned more about computers than me, which also means they know more how much they don’t know about computers. Right?

Dear Makeda, I hope you learned something from my post, even though it’s not about computers. If you really want to know more about the smartness of computers, you’ll have to look it up on the computer. It’s out of my league, dushi*.

Note for the Artificial Intelligence students: I would like to save the sense of smell on my computer (mango, cinnamon, woodfire). Could you speed up that process please? Thanx.

* dushi = sweetheart/sweet (papiamentu)

The Experiment

Today my mom and I started an interesting experiment. She posted a letter in Leiden (the Netherlands) to me in St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean or better Caribbean Netherlands) with only my first name

Fraukje

and the name of the island

St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean.

No last name, no street address, no nothing.

letter

The situation is a little confusing if you’re not Dutch, but St. Eustatius is a 21 km2 small island in the Caribbean, situated between Saba and St. Kitts & Nevis, around 50 km from St. Maarten. But it’s a “public entity” within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, just like Saba (an even smaller island) and Bonaire. Confused? Check Now let’s get this straightened out to get even more confused…

To receive mail on this island is not always easy. Since many computersystems don’t know St. Eustatius, but only

Bonaire St. Eustatius Saba

(as if the 3 islands are 1), or

the Netherlands Antilles

which seized to exist on 10-10-’10, St. Eustatius is hard to reach. To make things worse, the capital of St. Eustatius is

Oranjestad

exactly like the capital of Aruba! So never, and I repeat NEVER write

Oranjestad

on a letter if you want it to reach

Oranjestad, St. Eustatius.

It will without a doubt end up in Aruba, which is a long swim.

But, although I do not have a lot of faith in the Dutch Post, I do have a blind faith in the Statian post office. Once a letter reaches the right island, the employees of the Statian post office can find anyone of the 4.000 inhabitants anywhere, either at work or at home. I’m pretty sure they can even track me down in the swimming pool or in the crater of the Quill.

Usually the mail, if it arrives, takes around 3 weeks. So sit back, relax, take a drink and check back in a few weeks to find out if my moms letter made it to the addressee:

Fraukje, St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean.

waiting

 

Not a heart attack, part 3

So, Doctor B. wanted me to see a cardiologist “urgently” and made it happen by sending me to St. Maarten with a box of medical supplies.

Statia-Airport

Only while boarding the plane to St. Maarten I had the time to check my ticket. I found out that my flight back to Statia was scheduled for the next day and it looked like a hotel reservation was made for me at Paradise Inn. At least, that’s what I assumed:

Paradise Inn

After some more calls home and cancelling swimming practice (I coach the Goldenrock Leatherbacks) I made it safely to St. Maarten and the St. Maarten Medical Center. For some strange reason my heart was beating pretty normal now, unlike the last few weeks.

The box and me were welcomed with open arms by cardiologist Haan and we could go straight into the doctor’s office. I never had such a preferential treatment since I was 8 months pregnant. Was I carrying Pandora’s box?

Haan questioned me, examined the paperwork and holter results and explained to me that it didn’t look like an AV block to him. In the 24 hour monitoring period it showed only once that the electrical impulses in the heart didn’t go through properly. That can happen to anyone. Also the fact that I did not collapse regularly was a good sign. I agreed with him on that. But… then what was wrong with me?!

It did show irregularities (arrhythmia), so he did some more tests. An ECG with brand new Statia electrodes. An echo with more Statia electrodes. I never liked to watch this on TV, I’m always afraid of a sudden flatline. Now of course I had to watch it; it’s almost as weird as an echo when you’re pregnant. Every time I felt my heart dance, the echo danced with me. It looked something like this:

boom beat

Next was a stress test: running on a treadmill. As a runner, that shouldn’t be too complicated under normal circumstances. But what was normal these days? I didn’t run since I first started to feel my dancing beats. But surprise surprise, the test went very well, I scored above average for a female of my age and length. Barefoot, in my work pants and a naked upper body except for the famous electrodes and a fishing net for some “support”. Thank God I only have size B.

Conclusion: premature ventricular contraction (PVC), also known as ventricular extrasystole. Simply put, my heart makes extra beats. Every now and then there is a beat that comes too quick, when my heart is not filled with blood as yet after the first contraction. This is some lousy beat that I don’t feel (it feels as if my heart is skipping a beat…), then there is a relatively long pause (still skipping that beat…) and then …***BOOM!!*** an insanely loud beat.

BOOM

The symptoms: irregular heartbeat (check!), shortness of breath (check!), dizziness (not really), feeling your heart beat (check!!), feeling of forceful beats (check!!!), anxiety (check!!!). It all came together.

According to Haan, this is nothing to worry about. It’s completely harmless and (in my case) no treatment is necessary. Beta-blockers may take away the scary feeling, but it doesn’t do much more than making me feel out of breath and in bad physical shape. So thank you, but no, thank you.

The good thing is: it becomes less when you exercise! When you’re doing sports, your heart rate goes up and there’s literally no time for extra beats. Ha!

So what could have caused this?? It can just appear out of the blue  and **yay!!** it can also disappear out of the blue! It can be stress-related (some of you probably start to wonder now if the word stress even is the Caribbean English dictionary), it can have something to do with adrenaline access (mwwah), thyroid problems (nope), heart attack (thank God, no), coffee (yes please), alcohol (who, me?), smoking (no), drugs (should I really stay off heroin?) and after some Googling I learned it can also have something to do with E-numbers in the food. A friend of mine from Curaçao had the same problem and in his case it has to do with chocolate (noooooooo!!!!!)!

choco

So my personal remedy is: stay away from coffee & stress, take it easy on the alcohol and eat natural food. I’ll experiment with the chocolate 😀 Make friends with freaky beats and last but not least breathing techniques when freaky beats occur. Breath in… breath out… Relax!

relaxation

After my encounter with the cardiologist, I was released back into the wild with the official notice that I had no serious heart problem. Pffff!!!

brief cardioloog

For the 99,9999% of the world population that doesn’t understand Dutch: zonder onderliggende cardiale problematiek means without any cardiac problems 😀

Since I couldn’t change my ticket, I had to stay the night in the Paradise Inn in St. Maarten. But that’s another story…

And the miraculous thing is: after seeing the cardiologist, who assured me I wasn’t going to die any minute (at least not of a heart attack) I feel so much better. I still have “the beats” sometimes, but they are under control. I know what they are and I will get to know them and slowly defeat them.They don’t freak me out. Freaky beats are friends!

Not a heart attack, part 2

So, Doctor B. wanted me to see a cardiologist “urgently”.

drop dead

The downside of living on a 21 km2 island is: there’s no cardiologist.

As a matter of fact, there are hardly any specialists on the island. That’s why a good percentage of Statia’s population is always off-island. For many medical problems you can go to St. Maarten. For more complicated issues it’s Colombia, sometimes Guadeloupe. Sounds nice, huh? Free trip to some other hot place in the Caribbean.

paradise

But not so funny after the first week, when you have your family, friends, pets etc. at home. And even less funny after two to three months sitting in your hotel room waiting for the hospital to give you a call. Because that’s how long it often takes in Colombia. Talk about efficiency. Luckily for me I didn’t have to go there.

bored-girl-outline-graphic

Once a  month a cardiologist from Aruba comes to Statia. For me that meant waiting 2 more weeks. Or I could fly to St. Maarten to see a cardiologist in 2 weeks minus 3 days. Because before that day, no cardiologist was available on St. Maarten either; on St. Maarten there are cardiologists from the Netherlands that fly in for some weeks, but there is not always one there. I realized my type of “urgent” was not the urgent type of urgent.

I agreed with dr. B. that I would take it easy for now, write down exactly what I felt when, and that I would report back to him in 5 days time. In the meantime my heartbeat wasn’t doing anything like normal. Especially in rest, after some activity or before going to sleep, it would beat like crazy. I thought I could have a heart attack any minute. That thought, of course, only makes things worse. What if I just drop dead? What about Makeda? She’s only 8 years old. There’s still so much to do! There’s still so many dreams to live! I prayed to God to please give me some more time. I always thought I’d become 100 years old 😀

Dr. B. told me to call him back on Monday. I called from 9:00 to 4:30 without getting through to him. Great. I wanted to tell him I really wished to see the cardiologist on the 21st on St. Maarten, instead of waiting for the Aruban cardiologist that came on the 24th. One day with scary beats seemed like a week to me. Tuesday morning I went straight to the hospital after dropping Makeda at school. I could see dr. B. right away. The day before he really didn’t have time to call me back.

He agreed that it would be better for me to see the cardiologist in St. Maarten the same week. The good news: the Dutch cardiologist arrived on St. Maarten already. The bad news: St. Maarten hospital ran out of electrodes. REALLY???

electrodesDr. B. had me waiting in the hall for only an hour when he asked me what I was thinking all along. If I could go to St. Maarten today and bring a box of electrodes. Sure! No problem! That was 10:30.

Medical record and letter were printed out, box with electrodes was packed, nurse came in to tell me my flight was at 11:30. What?! Left a message with my boyfriend’s boss, called my superhero friends to take care of Makeda after school, called the teacher and asked her to explain Makeda in a gentle way that I had to go to St. Maarten today, kickstarted my scooter, drove home with the box of electrodes between my knees, packed a bag (Dr. B. couldn’t tell me if I was coming back today), drove with a box of electrodes between my knees and a backpack to the SVK office to pick up my ticket and arrived at the airport at 11:15 for the 11:30 flight. Again, only on Statia!

Statia-Airport

To be continued…

Not a heart attack, part 1

Almost a week without a post. I was busy. Busy worrying. About my heart. And visiting the doctor and the cardiologist. But I’m still alive, and kicking again.

Five or six weeks ago I noticed that my heart was making strange, deep beats that I never felt before that I had felt before on occasion but now became more and more. Not just one or two, but a lot, and getting more and more intense.

BOOM

Especially in the evening before going to bed and during work. It started to worry me. At first I thought it had something to do with this never-ending cold, I was coughing my lungs out. But even when the giant cold passed, the palpitations (I know doctor-lingo now) persisted. One day at work it was so bad, I excused myself and went straight to the hospital. “The hospital” sounds worse than it is. Since there is no other/normal doctor’s post on the island, “the hospital” is the place to be for every minor itch or bump. The nurse almost scheduled me for the next week, but I think I looked pretty stressed out when I told her I wanted to see him “Now!” I was in the doctor’s office half an hour later.

Babboon

Dr. B., whose real name always reminds me of a giant ape (I’m sorry doctor B!!) listened to my heart, did an ECG and decided to give me cardio aspirin, a blood test and a 24-hour holter in the next few days, to monitor my heart rhythm for a longer period of time. There was irregular beating. I knew that. (See my previous post Dr. Beat)

the beat

The timing of the 24-hour holter was just perfect. Monday at 9:00 was the first possibility for a holter. Tuesday at 9:10 I had to fly to St. Maarten for an exam. Tuesday morning I checked in at the airport at 8:00, waited at the hospital till the holter was removed at 8:50 and arrived at the airport again at 8:55 for the 9:10 flight. Only on Statia it’s possible to check in on the airport, saying “Hey, I’ll be right back, I just have to run to the hospital to have this thing removed. Don’t leave without me.” There’s a lot of pro’s living on a 21 km2 island.

StatiaThe blood was good. The holter showed The computer that analyzes the holter showed an AV block, type 2. An atrioventriculair block, as I learned, is some kind of block in the electrical impulses in the heart. That means the heart sometimes (depending on which type) doesn’t give the impulse to contract properly. Luckily the heart has some kind of escape-mechanism, that “almost always” works. Yay! But Dr. B. of course isn’t a cardiologist, so he wanted me to see a cardiologist “urgently”. I asked Dr. B. what he thought was the solution to the problem. I wish I never asked. “Type 1: don’t do anything. Type 3: pacemaker. Type 2:???” Great.

drop dead

To be continued…

Makeda just told me I did not only feel like a dead bird, I also acted like a dead bird. Honesty…