Diary April 2001


The chaotic final week of March

It all began with the NRC interview and the subsequent 50 (70 by now) emails about it, plus an additional few written replies. Many old acquaintances responded, some of them from unexpected people. I love that. Complete strangers send me words of encouragement, poems, reviews, etc. Responding to all of my mail is a lot of work. I decided to publish my March diary early, because my brother-in-law (the webmaster) is expecting a child and he probably doesn’t have time. On Tuesday, my regular help Marja was absent and Hein was home, as well as my mother and father-in-law Kees. My day was messy. To pile more on, my GP diagnosed an ingrown toenail with a lot of fibroma, which had to be removed. On Thursday we left for the hospital, where I was immediately “operated” on, which was a relief. It took 10 minutes at most and the most painful part was the anaesthesia. I won’t be able to wear a shoe for a while, making standing up difficult and using the bathroom quite the adventure. Hein stayed home for two days. He is the only one who, no matter the circumstances, knows how to support me when I stand and, more importantly, catch me when I fall. On Saturday, the bandages came off and I could finally wear my shoe again. The pain is minimal, but I’d much rather it didn’t hurt at all. From 5 o’clock until nighttime on Friday, we were fixed to our television screen, not wanting to miss anything about our Alex and Maxima (the wedding of prince Willem-Alexander and princess Maxima). On Saturday the 31st of March I celebrated my birthday, and my niece Hanna was born. That evening we had a bridge drive with 12 friends. We had a good time. Floor and her friend Maartje waitressed like professionals: “one Sisi and a red wine for table one”. We have three tables, but only played eight games to leave plenty of time for chitchat. The awards ceremony was hilarious as ever, we allowed the winners to claim old Easter junk as their prizes. On Sunday afternoon, the family and a couple of friends came over for drinks. There were fewer people than I had hoped, because I had to postpone the party at the last minute and some people couldn’t reschedule. Despite the thinner company, we still had fun. All I want now is a normal week with good weather, so I can enjoy all of my new garden stuff.

Mysterious email addresses

I receive a lot of mail from men. At least, it seems that way. After opening, all of these Jeroens, Pauls, Harrys, etc. are actually women, with different names. While I do faithfully correspond with a few men, most people who write me are female. Sometimes, a “male” email address is confusing, because the female writers don’t introduce themselves at the start of the mail, making me doubtful of the author’s gender until the end. Ladies, please get your own email addresses. It’s so easy.


By now, all of my drinks are help up for me; if possible, the cups are resting on my stomach at about the same height as my PEG. No problems so far. That is, whenever people actually hold it at a consistent height. All arms tend to fall back down, be it from exhaustion, distraction or gravity. Because of that, my straw no longer rests on the bottom of the cup, causing it to slip out of my mouth. I don’t have any power in my lips. Repeatedly, I gesture “up, up”, which isn’t always understood by my helpers. The biggest obstacle is toward the end of drinking. The cup has to be held askew to get the last drops, but my straw also has to be in the drink too. It’s a difficult game of balance for the helper, to varying degrees of success. To close it off, I burp loudly, like a baby after it had its bottle. Everyone just laughs about these “not done” burps, and so do I. Apparently, I swallow too much air when I drink nowadays.

School visit

Floor had a show at her school this week, which is not wheelchair-accessible. It posed a problem, now that I was in a heavier wheelchair. Hein worried about ways to get me into the school long beforehand, while I thought “it’ll be fine”. It’s the usual division of roles. Just to be sure, we brought my light wheelchair, but I hadn’t used it for 6 months. We arrived at the school well in advance. In my heavy wheelchair, I was carried into the school by four men. Thus, I was able to fulfill my motherly duties and able to hear Floor sing as a soloist, while royally seated at the front. Anyway, the school was very helpful. Glad to know that this can work, because Floor has another show in June. The third one in a short time. Maybe a bit overkill, but she enjoys it nonetheless.


The World Access server was down for a while, so a the end of the month I didn’t have any data about who was visiting my homepage. By now, I do. In 2001, the amount of monthly hits has doubled, from 1500 to 3000. My book and the interview helped, of course. The book is still selling well. By now, I’ve sold 250 copies. I’ve started selling them myself, mostly through others, because I’m more tempted to hand them out for free. My absolute top salesperson is my mother-in-law with almost 20 books sold, followed by my friend Tineke with 10 copies. My mother rather acted as a library, lending her copy out.


Ward has to write an essay. He’s chosen the subject ‘Tornados’. I don’t know why, but I had the feeling that Ward didn’t need any help writing it. Purposefully, he collected his stuff and went to work one and a half months beforehand. A polar opposite of Floor, who always starts way too late and whom I’ve always helped out. Because Ward wasn’t making much headway, I offered my help. To my surprise, he immediately accepted. Ward had started by writing the last chapter, which made a lot of what he’d written more relevant in other chapters. After an initial fight about the chapter arrangement, we’ve been pleasantly working on chapters every afternoon. Ward is obviously pleased and we’re writing chronologically now. We’re both satisfied with the results.

Classical Sundays

It’s been a while since our last Sunday trip. The weather is not being cooperative. Thus, we stayed at home, to the delight of the kids, who were tired of hiking and museums. On the past few Sundays, the TV was on all day, on the sports channel. Springtime cycling: the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix; the Hell of the North. It reminded me of back in the day, not going outside on Sunday, reading the newspaper in front of the TV and spending the day in a stupor. Or even before that; listening to the sports programmes on the radio. I’m getting to like this “doing nothing”, while the rain softly taps the window. I worked on a few History chapters with Floor while Ward finished his essay. Hein constructed a cabinet and put a painting up. Of course, we hunted for easter eggs too.


Floor gave me the latest Anouk CD for my birthday. I enjoy it immensely. It’s fairly aggressive music, interspersed by more soft-spoken songs. Before, I would have sang along with the music and dance. Not anymore. I listen to the music like a sack of potatoes, but in my mind, I am free and I dance and scream yell my lungs out. Included in the album was a DVD containing all of her music videos. I can play it on my computer. Hell of a girl, even she could do without those golden teeth.

Driving a car

I don’t enjoy car rides anymore. I’m sat in the back of the car in my wheelchair and bob along to every bump in the road, of which there are a lot. My head flails to and fro, like it’s not even attached to my body. There are even bumps that launch me 10 cm into the air. Those are etched into my mind, so the next time we pass it, I can give ample warnings beforehand. They are not heeded, by the way. After passing the dreaded bump, Hein parks the car and asks me what’s the matter. Tonight, we’re going to see if I can properly sit in a normal car. I can’t in our van, because the backrest of the passenger seat is too straight. It would be ideal for our trip to France. That is, if my head is up to the task. The test drive was successful. My head was fine and the suspension was good. I’ll be going to France, seated in the passenger’s seat of a normal car.


In the first weeks after the interview I had truckloads of mail to get through. I had to merely switch on the PC and correspondence flooded in. I loved it. This week marks the end of that. There are days on which I don’t receive any mail at all. I didn’t realize that publicity and the attention that comes with it could become so addicting. Luckily, I got some more mail later.

Email craze

Floor recently got her own email address at Hotmail. Immediately after school, she bolts for the computer to see if she got any mail. What makes it more fun is seeing that some of her friends are also online. Many private chats ensue. The fact that she’s just seen them at school, or that they all practically live across the street doesn’t bother her. They just chat, for hours. During all of that, the phone is unavailable. It causes some friction between mother and daughter. It does, however, have a sunny side: we send each other messages. In the emails, we talk about our gripes and make agreements on the amount of hours spent on online chatting. Corresponding with your daughter like that is fun. Floor made one condition very clear: there will be no critisism of spelling and “grammer”. Of course, I couldn’t let that one slide. Moreover, I like to write about things that aren’t said often enough in passing. Especially in my situation. I’ve started mailing Hein more too. Ward is becoming a tad envious and wants an email address too. I’ll allow it. I’m already looking forward to corresponding with my son.