Tippin' the Scales


Bruised & Broken

First this is not me! But my dear Big Sis slipped while on vacation in Southern Italy, 3 weeks ago. At the time she didn’t get her foot checked at a local hospital, as any normal person [with insurance] would do, but she taped it herself and staggered on.

Before catching her plane from Naples, a week later, she phoned her GP to make an appointment for the next day, which was granted. After seeing her GP her doctor phoned the hospital for an immediate X-ray, and after the photo was taken she heard she couldn’t leave the hospital for some time. First the swelling had to come down, but until that happened she would go into plaster. Of course after a week she was bored. You’re not really sick, but you can’t go places, and if you can only in a wheelchair with your leg up.

Last weekend she could go home for one night. The hospital had arranged a special bed, a wheelchair and a commode in ther livingroom. Her youngest son has put all her favorite TV series on USB-sticks so she can watch them on her laptop when she’s back at the hospital.

By the time this post goes up, she’ll be in surgery, six metatarsals are broken, one bone is dislodged, pins and plates will be used to align them back in place. And she’ll be in plaster for the coming 6 weeks.

And all she’s worried about is… if she has to wear orthopedic shoes [clogs] like I do. Another minor point is when the surgeon told her that the rehabilitation time would be between 12 to 18 months.

Sis, remember you were there, September 24, 2001 when my first plaster went around my foot and leg, later feet and legs, I was in it for two years and my rehabilitation period will end when I die. I’m glad I’m still a phase 2 with the Charcot disease**. I don’t like my clogs, but they give me support and a chance to walk, not long distances, but I’m getting there… in the end.  

* Photo of the broken foot comes from the Internet, hope that person healed to full recovery.
** Phase 3 is wearing “Bermuda shorts” summer and winter, because your legs are amputated below the knee.
    Phase 4 is… R.I.P.


Diamond Jubilee

Our own “King and Queen” [aka my parents] celebrate their Diamond Jubilee today.

Until a few weeks ago, we kids didn’t know of this date, we always celebrated another date in August.

Here in the Netherlands you first make it legal, by marrying by law, afterwards you can choose if you want a religious marriage as well. This can be done on the same date.

My Mum hails from the south from a small town named Heerlen, and my Dad from the north another small town named Amsterdam.

A local newspaper headed a photo and article with the prompt title “North and South meet” when they got married.

The story also says my Mum made her own blouse and silk hat. And due to the timeframe they would be married in a church about a month later, which turned out 6 weeks later btw.

And look at them now, sixty years onward, four kids, two sons-in-law and three grandkids.

On June 30 we will celebrate this Jubilee, but also my Mum’s 92nd birthday of June 28. Something we thought never would happen after she stated “It is enough, I’ve had a good life, lets finish it now.” two years ago. [And then she planned her own 90th birthday from the hospital]

Ever since, they go from day-to-day, enjoying what life still has in store for them.


On the third day of Christmas…

On the third day of Christmas… we had our Family Christmas dinner. Due to my Mum’s sudden ill-health we ate it at my parents home, so cook [BiL] had to juggle with pots and pans but also with the stove and oven. When you have a 6 burner stove at home and 3 ovens, you just have to make the best of it on a four ring electric cooker with just one oven. All went well. The twelve of us enjoyed a multi-course meal between 7 and 11.30. Just before midnight everyone was on its way home, it took me under 10 minutes, but Big Sis, BiL and nephew #2 had another two hours on the road up north to Groningen. Lil Sis, BiL [cook], nephew #3 and Julius had just a travel time of 20 minutes and nephew #1 and girlfriend just under 45 minutes to IJsselstein.

For starters, my Mum’s favorite, goat cheese in puff pastry with drizzled honey over it.

Giant ravioli with lobster and crab filling

Carpaccio rolls, with white bread and cream cheese with herbs

Sliced veal tongue with tuna mayonnaise and capers

Potato, pumpkin and spinach pie & sirloin steak with sage

Salad with red onion rings, tomato and ripped mozzarella cheese

Homemade pears, stewed in port wine, made by Big Sis. [Just found out Lil' Sis made those]

Homemade tiramisu and a slice of orange peel cake, smothered in cream, als made by Big Sis.

And to finish it all off… coffee or tea with chocolates. My part of the deal, but I was restricted in what kind of chocolate pralines I could serve. No spicy fillings like pepper, chili, sea-salt, or rhubarb. So I bought a big box of almost common chocolate balls, filled with nuts, or cinnamon, cream or caramel. The tablecloth you see is not a tablecloth just a piece of fabric once bought to make an evening dress and jacket out of it. As soon as the stains are washed out of it, it can be done…

This morning I had to step on the scales at Novarum… still 700 grams less than last month, even after the meal of last night.


Family Weekend #2

At the top, near the blue lakes, Castle Twickel, and bottom right the hotel surrounded by fields for sport

I returned home a quarter past two on Sunday afternoon after an enjoyable long weekend. For my little brother and me, and of course our parents, it started on Friday, while the rest of the family arrived the next day. A Dutch proverb says: “There are work horses and show horses”

Bro and I had a late lunch on the terrace of the hotel before taking a nap, traveling even when you don’t have to do the driving can be tiresome. Later that evening we had dinner with Mum and Dad and watched some TV before turning into bed. My bro is used to go to bed early at 22.15 and since we shared the room… I tried to sleep too. We both snore, and we both are not used to have someone sleep in the next bed… so we both had a night full of small and longer naps.

The next day after breakfast my Dad and I went to the village, it seems we’re a family of “sukkels“, we all forgot a specific item we desperate needed to bring. I for one forgot to bring an extra ampoule of insulin, but called my younger Sis the evening before to bring some with her. My nephew is a diabetic too. The things my Mum and Dad forgot to bring were solved with a visit to the pharmacy, and the one my brother forgot to pack was bought the day before, but was so good stowed away in his carry-all that he couldn’t find it till Saturday evening.

After morning coffee at the hotel I jumped on the scooter to visit Castle Twickel and its gardens and nurseries. In another post I tell and show you all about it.

Around two everyone had arrived, Els [Big Sis and master tailor] and Sjef [BiL and professor, teaches at the university], my nephew Thijs [pilot in training], his brother Joost [traveler pur sang] and his girlfriend Linda [his accomplice] who met during their study “Tourism”. Marijke [Little Sis, department head at a hospital] and Rolf [BiL and chef, when he's not teaching high school kids] and my nephew Tim. Julius stayed with Rolf’s parents.

The first tennis match started on three, luckily it was indoors because at that time the rain came down by the bucket, some of us were still sitting outside but under a big parasol, forced to stay there until it was almost over. An hour later nothing reminded of the downpour, so we spend some family time together in the garden connecting our parents suite, enough drinks [wine, beer, ice-tea, sodas] and nibbles provided by the kids. [Yes, we're really Dutch, we brought it from home instead of raiding the mini bar].

Later that evening the 12 of us had dinner and a bowling match to burn off the calories. Bro and I slept better, maybe all the things that happened that day and having had no time to take a nap in between helped. Before we knew it, it was already eight in the morning, time to get up, pack the carryalls, and devour breakfast. I booked us a bus for 11.30 towards Amsterdam, and one for bro at 16.30 to bring him from Amsterdam to Ter Aar where he lives in a family replacement home with other mentally handicapped. The rest of the family still had to play another tennis match, a putting thingy on some green [4 golf enthusiasts in the family is overkill IMHO], and Mum and Dad… they stay another day to take a rest for having their kids and offspring around for 36 hours.

In all we had a good time. We’re lucky to have our ‘old folks’ still around ourselves.


Family Weekend #1

I’m off for a Family Weekend in Delden in Twente county near the German border. My younger brother and I will travel there with Valys, an interregional transport company who’ll bring us from house door to hotel door.

I’ve heard they booked tennis courts [not for me], two bowling lanes [YES, I'm in], part of a golfcourse [just bring a good book] and there’s a swimmingpool too, a small one.

It will be good to see Big Sis + BiL, and hear the stories of their Canadian / USA adventures, and my two nephews and partner. Next of course Little Sis + BiL + nephew. The main attractions are Mum, celebrating her 91st birthday again but now with the whole family, and my Dad, who’s still waiting for his Fathers Day presents. Of course we treat him year round since he’s a father year round, same goes for my mother.

Of course the Dogably Pawfect Day post for tomorrow is covered. See you all on Monday…


Change… or A Short Story Longer

My world changed overnight 10 years ago. One day I was fine and the next I had a burnout. I thought at that time it was the beginning, but it turned out certain things had started way before.

It was really overnight,  my Mum’s birthday on the 28th, for me it was a normal working day and late night shopping [9 to 9]. That evening I was the only visitor, friends and family had all been around during the day. After coffee I broke down, couldn’t take it anymore, the stress, the staff, the work, you name it all was too much for me.

The next day, Friday, I stayed home and two days later [for the first time] I called in sick at my insurers. Being self-employed you don’t do that often. I did try to get back to work the next Saturday, the most important day of the week, but turned back halfway. Days became weeks and weeks months…

September 24, a Monday, I had an appointment with my diabetes specialist, since I still didn’t feel well my Dad was with me. The specialist, who had not seen me before [that's what you get at hospitals clinics, every 6 months a new specialist and you have to tell your 'story' again and again. In the mean time I've got the same doctor for years]. Next to hearing the story she asked why I walked on slippers, something I had been doing off and on for the past 10 months since my feet sometimes wouldn’t fit in my shoes anymore. She said I should make an appointment with the Neuro Ulcer department [NuPo], but in the mean time she made the contact. I could see them the next day at ten. That evening my Big Sis came to Amsterdam from Groningen, she would accompany me the next day.

That Tuesday, many pieces fell in their places, what was ailing me, next to the burnout, had a name; CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth. My right foot looked like Emmental cheese on the X-rays, more holes than bone and it was broken in five different places. My left looked the same but was not broken… yet. Six hours later  we left the hospital, my right foot and leg in plaster and I had to come back the next week or earlier if complications would arise. I heard the breaking of my left foot a few months later, for the next two years I was weekly or every fortnight in new plaster. Being in plaster brought another thing to the surface, I couldn’t work. I couldn’t go up the stairs just to sit in the office, or going up front to serve customers while wearing a plaster boot. Also the message my NuPo specialists told me wasn’t the thing I wanted to hear, there could be a possibility I would never walk again. So self-employed in retail, which is a profession in which you stand and walk most of the time, and then a message like that… Uhmm.

My Dad started looking for buyers for the business, no-one was interested or when they were they didn’t call back. Mid November I had to make a tough decision, going on or closing down, and how to tell the staff. With pain in my heart I had to tell them I would be closing the shop by the end of February, the closing sale would start within a week. And then something happened I wasn’t expecting, one of the staff members asked if I could give him a week to see if he could turn things around. Within a week, things looked brighter, we would sell the business to him and his wife, but a slimmed down version of it. No closing sale just a normal sale which started on December 1st. In a way I gave away the business, but all creditors were paid including the Dutch IRS.

Now 10 years later I’m still in a stable phase 2, some bone has grown back but I still have to watch out that I won’t become a phase 3. It would mean wearing Bermuda shorts summer and winter because my legs have to be amputated below the knee. And phase 4… just think of six wooden planks, ‘nough said.

I’m glad to have a good income via social security and my insurance. I’m also glad to have wheels to go places, a family who did all the shopping those early months, I lost 30 kilo in those first few months. [I gained them back and more when the wheels arrived early March 2002]. I’m glad I’ve wonderful doctors in the diverse departments, people who really care about their patients. They’re there when I need them even at ungodly hours, and I’m there when they need me… for testing new products, research or being a subject while they’re teaching student doctors/nurses about CMT.

Okay, I miss something too, the contact with people, like in the old days our customers, agents, colleagues and certain friends. Friends who were in the long run not friends at all but users. Just to have something to do I started in  2003 as webmaster for “the Guild“, the Dutch Association of Tailors and Fashion schools. A year later I became the administrative secretary too. It was a way of getting back in touch with people from my line of work, fashion. And I could do most of it from home, behind the PC. Since September 2008 I only do the website and 3 times a year a flyer when there’s a convention. Also the contact with the Dutch Craft Council and our partners, FeetBag [Association of Designers and Makers of Shoes and Purses] and NHV [Dutch Hat Association] is a plus, you get to know new people in my small world. BTW, since 2001 I had/have a shoulder to cry on, not only my Big Sis, but my good friend Josh, a lay minister in Podunk, Indiana. Yes, a long distance shoulder, but a good one. [and I'm not religious, left the RC church eons ago]. I’ve come closer to my Little Sis over the past few years. With Little Bro the contact has always been good, but he has his own issues [mentally handicapped].

And then came this blog in January 2007, it had nothing to do with fashion but with losing weight. IMHO you can’t write about weight-loss every day, so other subjects slipped in, Architecture, Amsterdam, History and the Thursday Recipes. But in the mean time I got to know new blogger friends from around the world. Some I’ve met in person over the years, others are on my list to meet. People from Salem MA, Harrisburg PA, Lynbrook NY, Rehoboth DE, Phoenix AZ, just to name a few. I’m planning a vacation for 2012 in the US, but have to gain strength to do so [the wheelchair stays at home].

So this is my Short Story Longer, 10 years of being at home, but not by choice. Don’t get me wrong I have a great life, a loving family, a “lease dog” aka Julius, a small circle of friends nearby and others spread over the globe and no burnout anymore!


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