Category Archives: not-so-much-fun

That Time I laughed when I shouldn’t have

For the A to Z challenge Laura of History of a Woman (check her out!!) challenged me with the letter T for That Time I laughed when I shouldn’t have. I’m running a few days late in the challenge, but trying to catch up.

Although I have the feeling I did mostly stupidness in my life, especially when I was a little younger, and I am an expert in making a big fool out of myself, I don’t think I often laughed in situations I shouldn’t have. My friends and my sister can probably come up with tons of stories where I did, but the only situation that comes to my mind is my fire episode in Poland, many years ago.

My family and I were connected to a camping group. Every now and then we spent a weekend in the caravan. Once a year there was a youth trip where kids from all different European countries came together for a short week. I joined three times, to Krakow (Poland), Venice (Italy) and Edinburgh (Scotland).

The first year, I must have been 15 years old, I thought I was an expert in camping, Like all of us. Hundreds of small tents were scattered on a big field. Most days an excursion was planned. The most memorable, horrible was the trip to Auschwitz. I’ll never forget the one way railroad into the premises.

auschwitz

That Time I laughed when I shouldn’t have (or maybe even better: That Time I thought I could do something when I couldn’t) has to do what happened one afternoon around diner time. We used to prepare our own food, a simple soup or some hotdogs, on a camping gas stove.

gas

Like I said, I thought I was the Queen of Camping, and when a gas cylinder needed to be changed, I just laughed and did it. It happened so fast. The gas ran out of the cylinder fast, someone lighting a cigarette or maybe another gas stove somewhere close by, a tent, fire, fire, fire!!! I accidentally set a tent on fire!!! I thank God with all my might that my two new friends Miranda & Shirley were not inside or I would have been a murderer. The tent, including everything inside, was gone in less than a second. Clothes, personal possessions everything was gone. They were lucky one of the girls had a beauty-case in which they stored their passports. Seriously, this is one of the worst moments of my life, especially the thought that the girls could have been inside. Changing a gas tank still gives me the creeps and I will never laugh again thinking I can just do that.

fire

 

Advertisements

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?

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…

Dr. Beat

“Doctor, I’ve got this feeling, deep inside of me, deep inside of me”. The Miami Sound Machine is stuck in my brain since a few days: “Doc doc doc doc doctor Beat, won’t you help me dr. Beat!” gloria

Since a week, maybe more, this heart of mine is dancing every now and then. After some feeling & listening by the doctor -not Beat- and some blood tests, today I’m walking around with my own little ‘walkman’.

Yay! Back to the 80s!walkman

But Seriously… Phil

They gave me a 24-hour holter to monitor my dr~dr~dr~dr~Beat! And some blood thinner to prevent blood clots in interesting places like my brain, because that is not want we want, do we?

the beat

Now this is scary! Not the tape and the walkman. The fact that something as obvious as a heart beat starts to have its own life. Hellooooooooo, I’m 39!! – and look like 26 😀 I still need to go at least 61 years!

But what can I do? Wait for the results and hope for the best. Let’s hope I won’t need the night nurse. In the meantime: Let’s dance!  In the dark! On the ceiling!

Not dancing yet???

Oh, and if you’re a fan of my heartbeat, check out how I did not have a heart attack.