Monday, 19 March 2001
My headache doesn't stop.

For weeks I suffer from pain in my ear. It started on the right side, moved to left, then subsided, but last week it came back, on the right hand side, and quite severe too. Grml, why me?

For several weeks I hoped that the pain would just vanish on its own. But the pain does not subside, it even gets worse rapidly. I have trouble sleeping. My mood drops. My ear feels like it has an indoor swimming pool, one under high pressure too. A smelly substance comes down the Eustachian tube (slcent.com/eustachian.html). Nice to release the pressure a bit, but it does not really solve anything.

In the morning I wake up with a fierce headache. It's about time to take action, but how? I haven't needed a doctor yet since 1997, when I returned to the Netherlands.

Klinik, nice and easy

In Malaysia I was used to just
  1. enter any 'klinik' (mediviron.com/...), whereever I was
  2. There is always a doctor that assists you, excellent medical care in the tropics.
  3. Pay for my medicines on my way out and that's it.
Of course, here in the Netherlands is it well regulated, as complex as possible with an abundance of administration.

The assistent

The Dutchman is supposed to go and visit his family doctor, and this doctor only. Because that is where you are registered.

Should you even choose to suffer from a medical emergency far away from home will do so fully at his own risk. For a character constantly on the move, such as myself, this arrangements with their local focus are a true disaster. But well, I have a severe ear pain so I respect the silly procedures and hurry to my family doctor.

The assistant is utterly amazed to see me. I really come to see a doctor, here in this health centre (goudengids.nl/...)? She looks as if I made her an indecent proposal. I wouldn't dare, especially not with an ear that is about to explode. And no, I do not have an appointment, but want to see a doctor nevertheless.

Surprisingly there is not a single doctor available. She does not know any other doctors in Gouda. And she does not want to redirect me to a hospital. So, how about a doctor in The Hague? She reacts completely amazed.
The Hague?
Yes, it's a town between Rotterdam and Leiden, and I'm bound to go there in a moment I bark at her with great sarcasm. Grr, now that I need a doctor, she just hits my ears with bureaucratic bull shit covered with a narrow minded local sauce.. And these ears can't stand much today.

She classifies my fierce headache as non-urgent and writes and appointment in the big book for the next day. Help! O, I should have known. The Dutchman is expected to schedule his medical emergencies in advance. I'm back outside, in the cold, still with a full ear. Muy headache only got worse. It drives me mad.

So, what to do next? Go and find another doctor in Gouda, which is not my own family doctor? It won't be a success. So, off for a quest in The Hague? That sounds even worse to me. I can hope that the gear inside my skull remains intact for another day.

The Office

At the office, at my current project, I take my position behind the keyboard.
  1. I hear a strange sound.
  2. The pressure inside my skull suddenly seizes to exist.
  3. My head gets warm, sweat starts to pour down everywhere.
  4. But my hands are as cold as ice.
  5. I loose my concentration, are dizzy and feel strange.
  6. Did something inside my skull break down?
  7. Panick!

The companies first aid service

I report to the first aid department of the company and ask for a doctor. They don't have one. They offer me a chair, listen to my story and remain very calm. (I found out later that they were just having a drill and assumed I was an actor hired for their training). My head buzzes. I have trouble to maintain my balance.

Finally somebody goes and gets a car. DO I wish to see my family doctor? No, I'd rather not. Bring me to the nearest hospital please. O, how I long for a Malaysian klinik.

The hospital

The reception desk of the hospital (bronovo.ziekenhuis.nl) is the wrong place to be. I should have reported at the emergency desk, which is outside, around the corner. Sigh, of course. I stumble across the corner. And yes, here is the same question again: Are you registered here already? Grr, why doesn't all these rules and administration drive Dutch people crazy? I'll have to wait for half an hour to one hour for emergency aid. Please have a seat in waiting-room...

Finally I get to see someone has seems to have some medical knowledge. My ear is heavily infected. My sweaty head and ice cold hands remain unexplanable. I do not suffer diabetes. My blood pressure is as normal as it can be, given these circumstances.

Did I suffer any stress lately? Grr, I bite my lips to remain silent. The adrenaline almost pops out of my ears. Am I getting insane or is the rest of the world completely mad? No, I'm here at the emergency desk because all's well with me. But, should I ever develop an urgent need for stress, I'll just venture into the medical bureaucracy again. Success guaranteed.

The family doctor

The next day my family doctor comes to a surprising diagnoses: There is an infection in both my ears, a small one on the left, and a heavy one on the right. In addition my tympanum is punctured. I get a prescription and leave the consulting-room.

The drug store

And yes, I was off guard for a moment, but here it comes again: Are you registered here already? No, and I did not bring an insurance card either. I do have an infected ear, want some medicines and am willing to pay for them. Is that really so strange in this country?

Outside I drop some penicillin in my ears. Finally, finally, some alleviation at last. Fortunately, I've reached the end of this long and winding bureaucratic path. My stress level drops. The pain in my head seizes to exist.

Till next week.