January

Towing along

January was an extremely busy month. The year started off with car trouble at the Arena where Nancy and I watched Star Wars. The ANWB towed and repaired my car so I’m super grateful to them!

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We had visitors from the US – Greg, Nicole and their sons Jeremiah and Isaac – came to visit us from Montana.

They took care of Sebastian when he was an exchange student there in 2009-2010 and now came to visit us. It was nice to meet them and have them stay with us. The boys were so well behaved. Unfortunately we had many rainy days. Annet took them to the beach. Victor took them to the Military museum in Soesterberg, to the Dierentuin Amersfoort (zoo) and to Amersfoort. Greg loved kibbeling, Nicole loved the kringloop winkels (second hand stores) and they all had a good time with Sebastiaan, Irene, Annet, the kids, Jaap and us. Jaap was very sad when his pals left….

We also had the privilege of joining the Tante Mientje lunch organized by my friend Yvonne. Tante Mientje is the name of their boat, named for a favorite aunt. And I joined my friends Gail, Willianne and Anita for the Slow food film festival where we saw two excellent movies about cooks: “Fucking Perfect” about Sergio Herman and Chef. Both I highly recommend! Last but not least, my mom bought a boat! It’s a Porta boat which means you can take it with you. It folds up to the size of a surfboard and has a small electric motor. It’s a birthday gift for Nancy but I know I will have a lot of fun with it too when the weather gets better! Just towing along!

Cold

After they left I came down with an ordinary common, cold- I’m lying here on the couch with an exaggerated sensation of feeling sorry for myself. It’s definitely a cold, with all the signs of an inner ear infection, aggravated sinuses and coughing up mucus. I’ve been feeling lousy for 5 days now. Unfortunately, Victor can’t help me because he is upstairs in bed with the flu. Poor guy.

The pain in my ear was so bad these past few days that it occurred to me that maybe Van Gogh cut off his ear because of an ear infection. I guess we’ll never know. Tomorrow I can visit my GP.

Scans

This afternoon I’m getting the results of my scans from January 28th. As usual, I went into the scans with a slight apprehension. This time because I was running late. A traffic accident had blocked the highway and I had to take the scenic route, which was beautiful but busy. Next time, when I’m not driving myself, I’ll take some pictures.

I had to take off my shirt and bra but could wear a cardigan. The thing I always forget when going into the scan is to bring a cardigan with wide loose sleeves. The nurse inserted the needle into my wrist but I couldn’t pull my sleeve over it, because of the tubes sticking out.

Fortunately, I could do the CT-scan first, but had to cross the corridor half naked. This machine always makes you feel like you have to pee, because the contrast liquid they inject makes you feel warm as it passes through your arteries. It only takes 10 minutes or so. Of course, I already had to go to the bathroom because of all the fluids you have to drink 2 hours ahead of time. but had to wait till the scans were over.

A friendly doctor asked if I would volunteer as a test subject for a new type of mammogram (one that doesn’t crush your breasts between glass plates!), so I did. Traipsing over the hospital corridor half naked isn’t very good for your self-esteem but it keeps you busy. I had to lie down on a machine which looks like a self-tanner but was covered by gel. The scans were done in 60 seconds per breast and this machine is definitely much woman-friendlier. I hope they start using it soon.

Back in the MRI room I had to wait for my turn. The MRI makes a lot of noise and I was given earplugs. Maybe that’s what set off my ear infection?

After 20 minutes or so I could get down and was disconnected from the machine. The IV needle could stay in for the blood test. This time I got dressed and waited in line for my blood to be taken. I’ve been reading about start-ups that only need one drop of blood to run hundreds of tests. Here three tubes were filled to the max. I was surprise by how bright red my blood looked. Must be good then. The lady who helped me took the needle off and bound the wrist with a tape that doesn’t cling to your skin. Such a great invention!

Afterwards I felt very groggy and decided to have some lunch. I always feel exhausted after the scans, but this time I felt weak as well.

Work

The next week Victor and I followed two Liferay training courses. Liferay is a very useful portal and collaboration suite, and I plan to start using it more for my projects. Work is going well, but very busy. I find it hard to switch from one project and client to the next and am having a hard time deciding what to do. Working 5 days is proving to be too much for me, and I also want to start work on a PhD. In the meantime, I’ve found several business partners with whom I can work on new opportunities. This is good news, but also takes time and has not yet resulted in paid work.

A quick update on my proposed Ph.D. project

I went to Dr. Julia van Weert’s oration, in the Old Lutheran Church in Amsterdam. She spoke passionately about health communication with vulnerable people and launched her Amsterdam Center for Health Communication at the University of Amsterdam. Afterwards, she was very glad to see me and I promised I would contact her for an appointment.

I’ve decided to focus on the topic of empowering cancer patients and survivors through technology, which is a relatively new research topic surprisingly enough. I also look for inspiration to frontrunners like dr. Rosalind Picard, from MIT, who is an inventor and a professor in the area of affective technology (emotional technology), a subject I studied while at Stanford. Also at the Universiteit Twente, several scholars are making progress in this area.

I need to figure out my planning now. I still need to work to earn money to live. But research also takes time. Alas, the eternal (writer’s) dilemma. Any tips are much appreciated!

 

 

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