Diary October 2007


Domestic help

We’ve had our fair share of domestic helps over the years, from all walks of life. The oldies, the kids who just got out of secondary school and, of course, the huge amounts of students, who were usually bad at communication, cleaning or both. I like to have something to talk about over coffee and biscuits. I’m so fortunate to have my standard domestic helps, but their replacements leave much to be desired. We used to be eligible for a personal domestic budget, but since July 1st, we’ve had to chip in to pay our helps.

I should have known there was going to be trouble when I received a letter telling me that I’d have to start paying up to 900 euros a month for domestic help. I’m not against paying some contribution, but I have limits. Last week, we got our first bill. 400 euros a month, as much as our domestic budget used to be. In short, we were paying the full price and simultaneously had to deal with the surrounding bureaucracy. We went to look for a cheaper alternative, something undeclared. We saw an ad in our supermarket for cleaning services from a Polish lady. She started this week and she doesn’t speak a word of Dutch, just a bit of German. Her standard reply to anything we say is “OK”, which kind of reminds me of the Chinese lady who used to repeat “Yes, yes” over and over again, even though she didn’t have a clue what I was saying. The same goes for our Polish help. Roeline explained to her that she shouldn’t do any vacuuming while I’m sleeping, but that same day I was woken up by the sound of a vacuum cleaner. I tried to get her to stop, but to no avail. I was upset. Having an employee who doesn’t speak a lick of Dutch is hard. I feel for all of the old people who are in the same predicament I’m in, having to find terrible cheap alternatives to their former trusted helps.


It’s going very well. Our meetings have been jolly and productive to boot. We’ll be in at least three newspapers and thus far, the journalists have been very impressed with our work. At two o’clock on Thursday afternoon, Lieke, Monieke and I were ready for our first interview, with another one scheduled two hours later. Our answers were swift and concise. Taking a flattering picture was the most difficult task of the day. I didn’t like the way my mouth gaped in one, while Lieke wasn’t happy about her nose in another. Monieke was the only one without any hangups. I wish someone could fix my teeth in photoshop, I’m not too keen on the final picture.
Right now, our biggest concern is the Italian cuisine and its pricing. We’ve been selling wristbands for three and five euros, letting people judge for themselves how much they’ll eat that evening. It’s an honour system, something some people in the committee find preposterous. I, on the other hand, am a firm believer in the honesty of our guests.
And ticket sales? I used to be worried about showing up in front of an empty theatre, but I’m much more confident now. We’ve sold 116 out of a total 219 tickets and I personally know a lot of people who intend on booking theirs soon. Get yours now, before they’re all sold out!


The following pictures were published alongside the newspaper articles about the fundraiser. My hair is so grey in them. I went to the hairdresser’s in between shoots. I was planning on having my hair dyed, but decided against it. I was curious about how I would look with grey hair. Besides, dying hair is such a hassle. It’s not too obvious yet because my hair isn’t fully grey yet, but I’ve been getting some positive reactions to my change of style. The kids aren’t too thrilled though.



Five years ago, I listened to my first and last audiobook. It was a bit of a failure, as I’d often fall asleep while I was listening. This week, I gave it a second try. Digital Fortress is a 350-pages-long book by Dan Brown. In audio form, it’s seven hours and ten minutes. It went by in a blink and I finished it in about half a week, much faster than if I’d read it. Moreover, I didn’t fall asleep this time. I should give audiobooks another shot.


I had another 2 hours of breathing problems on Sunday, because I couldn’t dislodge the mucus from my throat. It was such an ordeal that I decided to eat through my feeding tube from now on. I had my doubts the following few days, because swearing off eating altogether is a big step. But I persevered and, that Thursday, there were five boxes in the hallway. I started that very same day, mainly because I felt a bout of strep throat coming. 1500 calories from only four glasses a day, meaning I’d spend roughly 30 minutes a day on eating as opposed to the previous three hours of hard labour. The time I used to spend carefully eating and trying not to choke, I can now spend on better things. My carers were mainly there to help me eat, which took up the bulk of their time. We’ll have to find something else to distract them with. A new routine. I haven’t stopped eating conventionally completely. I like my breakfast way too much to give it up.

In general

I can spend all day trying to distract myself with Polish cleaners, fundraisers and audiobooks, but reality is a lot more grim than that. I feel like my foundations are slowly crumbling.

  • I can barely stand on my own two feet anymore and it’s taking its toll on Hein.
  • I’ve been on nighttime life support for the past week, as it turned out that a lack of oxygen was to blame for my bad night’s rest.
  • I get my nutrition almost exclusively through a feeding tube.
  • I almost always feel too hot and the resulting panic attacks only amplify that feeling.
  • I’m afraid of being alone.
  • I’m afraid of being in my wheelchair.
  • I don’t like to be showered anymore. The shorter, the better.

Combine that with strep throat and my whole day is spent trying to clear my throat. It’s all becoming too much. I don’t have much hope for the future.