International Writers Magazine: Trista And The Treatment
consults with her Doctor
Wednesday finally came, which is more than I can say for sleep.
In the morning, I cycled my itchy butt over to Prinsegracht to
get checked out by a dermatologist. I stated my business to the
ladies at reception. 'There is no dermatologist here today,' they
responded casually. Ok, stay calm
find a happy place. 'No,
see, my doctor told me to come here on this day and I called on
Monday and they didnt say anything about no dermatologist
'Sorry, there is
no one here. It's not possible to see a dermatologist.' I almost lunged
over the counter to grab the damn lady by her lapels and shake the shit
out of her
I was that desperate. 'But you can go to the OLVG in
Oosterpark to see a doctor,' she added quickly (lucky for her).
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis was big and impressive and bore a resemblance
to healthcare services back home; it looked like it was hiding some
good ass drugs. I check in at dermatology and wait...and fucking wait,
I stopped looking at the clock at some point. At last a nurse cried
out, 'Mevrouw Mrema,' and I snapped to. She showed me to a room with
two lab-coated young ladies waiting. I checked out the badge of the
lady asking me the most questions. 'MED Student,' it read. Count to
breathe. I was hoping MED was one of those Dutch acronyms,
Most Excellent Dermatological student. The only thing I remember the
other chic saying was, 'try not to scratch.' Bitch, try not catching
the back of my hand with your face (Im a bit tense these days)!
After MED exhausted her repertoire and still didnt have a clue,
she said she would call in her supervisor. The supervisor, a proper
doctor with lab coat and many years of practice behind him.
After three visits with ole Doc Mulder sitting smacked behind his desk,
this doctor in action was a sight to see; he's the man Id been
waiting for. He took one look at my sandpaper arms and concluded I have
a severe form of eczema.
Eczema? That's it, nothing more exciting? I was thinking of some rare
bug I caught while I was in Tanzania, something you'd have to quarantine
me for, call in the CDC and order an evacuation. Atopic
dermatitis is the sexier name and it's found more in babies and children
as a rash on the scalp and neck. Ive got it all over my damn body:
neck, shoulders, chest, back, arms, belly, thighs and legs. This is
what's been keeping me up at night and looking like a feigning crackhead
by day. The doctor prescribed this super duper steroid cream to help
with the itching and another antihistamine (my fourth!) to help me sleep
at night. He also advised UVB treatment wherein my Nubian self lays
in a sun bed and catches some UV rays. Im not sure how this works
but it makes me laugh and I dont mind taking in some artificial
who knows when the real thing will show up.
They dont know what causes atopic dermatitis; it's a combination
of genetics, environment and some weirdo immune system. There is no
cure, it's one of those diseases where all you can do is treat and try
to prevent the symptoms. Faaaaabulous! I had to get one of the difficult
ones, with no beginning or end and seriously hampering my poolside bikini
I consider myself a sunny person but this shit is kicking my ass.
Im cranky and grumpy and down right unpleasant at times, which
I guess goes with my erupting skin but not with the true essence of
me-ness that exists inside. It sucks because, if I wear the proper clothing,
there's no sign of my ailment; I dont have a limp, a cast or any
blood pouring from any body part. Having 'eczema' doesnt garner
the type of sympathy Im after. Nobody can see Im not alright...unless
they catch a glimpse of me, crouching in a corner, looking like a pervert,
moaning 'ooooh' and scratching myself silly.
One Week Later
Last weekend was
a shite weekend for me; I basically had a relapse of the itchies
the yet undiscovered parts of my body. The internet told me women can
get flare-ups before/during their period and my Aunt Flo
was certainly due for a visit. I had fucking well had it, I needed something
to change. I turned, again, to my new best friend, the internet.
There is no cure for eczema, it is only tolerated by dealing with the
symptoms. The rashes and itching of eczema are symptoms of an underlying
problem (to do with immune system) and are not diseases themselves.
Symptoms are the body's natural way to let you know something's up and
to investigate further. Dealing with a symptom is like turning off a
fire alarm (I stole that one); there's still a fire blazing but at least
you dont have to hear that damn alarm anymore. Steroid creams
are used to suppress eczema itching, steroids can jack you up. The steroid
creams I used thinned my skin out making it more susceptible to bruising,
made me more irritable and aggravated and increased my appetite like
a wild fire. They eventually lost the effect of suppressing my damn
itching. After reading all this nasty mess about steroids, I stopped
using them. I had already chosen not to refill my prescription for the
anti-histamine I was on
that too focuses on symptom control. So,
what do we have left? Ah, yes, my sun bed, my UVB rays. For severe cases,
artificial light is used to shut down overactive immune cells in the
skin, again, addressing the result of an immune reaction, not the cause.
On Wednesday, I was 12 treatments into a 21-treatment program. The side
effects here are sunburn (owww!), more itching in some patients (me!),
premature ageing, and increased risk of skin cancer. None of these treatments/medicines
are guaranteed to stop the itching. You roll the dice but mostly crap
out with the debilitating effects of drugs that treat symptoms.
I searched the internet for natural ways to deal with eczema. I read
many accounts of patients who suffered their whole life with eczema,
went through all the treatments but only found relief when using homeopathic
methods. Hello, what's this? Homeopathy to traditional medicine is like
modern-day voodoo, they consider it a joke. Hey, I like jokes, jokes
make me laugh. Besides, Im at a point where I would stick a candle
up my ass, sacrifice a lamb or something to get me feeling right again.
Monday, I went to a homeopathic store that happens to be around the
corner from where Im staying. The lady there was so nice and concerned;
she asked me more questions than my doctors. She also referred me to
a homeopathic-type center that was a ten-minute walk away (I love this
neighborhood). I walked over to IMC (Integraal Medisch Centrum) to have
a kijk (look). Again, I was met with a friendly and helpful person (rare
in these parts). The receptionist dude let me know of the free consultation
hours held the very next day at 5pm; there I would be seen by an osteopath
and a mesologist. I had no idea what they did but I had visions of high
priests burning incense and shaking chicken bones over me
visions didnt bother me in the least.
From 5-6pm, every first Tuesday of the month, IMC allows patients to
sign-up on a waiting list to be examined for free. I was there at 4:54pm.
At 6pm, they saw their first patient (me!). I followed the two, a bad-hair-dyed
lady mesologist and a damn fine, handsome male osteopath, upstairs to
the office. The first thing I noticed, different than my other doctor
visits, was the examining table, it was in the middle of the room and
looked like it had actually been used recently. And wait, no desk with
computer, but a table with chairs around it
hmmm. It was wonderful.
They asked me loads of questions (based on a questionnaire Id
filled out earlier), showed shock and concern at what my previous doctors
diagnosed and collaborated thoughtfully with each other. And then, do
you know what they did? They told me to get on the examining table.
WHAT?!??!?!?!?! Me? Really? I felt I just won the Miss You Get To
Be Touched By Your Doctor pageant. I jumped on that table so damn
fast youd think it was a bed with a strapping 24 year-old Russian
lad waiting in it
they told me to take my shoes off and lay on
my back (much like what Id hope the Russian would say).
The beautiful osteopath dude sat in a chair behind my head and gently
cupped my head in his soft, wonderful fingertips. It felt so damn good,
I was surprised. I realized it had been ages since last I was touched
and I was desperate for it. I almost didnt notice the lady mesologist
and her weirdo instruments. I had to hold, in my right hand, this metal
cylinder tube with wire attached while she sort of prodded my left hand
at discreet points with another metal rod thing. When she touched each
point, I heard a 50s-esque, tune-in-Tokyo radio type sound that
was totally ridiculous. No matter, my boyfriend, the osteopath, was
now pressing down on my abdomen with his strong, capable hands. The
mesologist put the metal cylinder in my other hand and repeated while
my husband stayed focused on my abdomen
I didnt want it to
But it did. and when it did, this is the story they fed me: I had lost
a lot of weight fairly quickly, my fat tissue stored loads of toxins,
those toxins were being released at a rate my kidneys couldnt
keep up with so my immune system was dumping out through my skin. I
dont actually have eczema. Im not saying they are right,
but I believed they believed they were right. They also addressed the
interconnectedness of things; where my dermatologist disregarded the
swelling I had experienced as out of his realm, these guys offered that
it was a reaction to my immune system taking out the garbage. They also
said something about my kidney being repositioned and out of wack due
to the weight loss. They went into more detail but I cant remember
it all, I was just so pleased to be presented with an alternative. They
told me to drink a liter and a half of water per day, stay away from
chocolate (NOOOOO!!!!!) and refined sugar and come back for an osteopathic
session (with my beloved?). I thanked them profusely, like they were
the pope, and departed with a grande sourire.
I drink AT LEAST a liter and a half of water every day. I havent
eaten chocolate since. I checked on the internet about this refined
sugar thing. I was appalled. Very few things make me militant and want
to start a revolution
I like laughing, dancing and cute boys. I
had no idea about how the sugar industry had been pushing this poison
on the human race for years. Basically, refined sugar (i.e. white sugar)
is a complex carbohydrate, VOID of any nutrients, our bodies are not
adept to deal with. Its a poison our bodies have to work with
and suffer from daily. Its used as a preservative and therefore
found in just about EVERYTHING. Do a Google, find out more, but please
STAY AWAY FROM REFINED SUGARS.
In Which Trista Gets Pummelled
Oh my god I cant believe it, I think Spring is here. Amsterdam
Spring mind you. Im sitting in Vondel Park under 4 layers of clothing
and a moderately warm, bright sun (sipping on hot tea, no less). I have
to type quickly, this might not last.
Friday morning, I had my appointment with the osteopaths. To cut costs,
I agreed to be treated by students (always under the supervision of
supervisor). These students were much more impressive than that
other chic at the hospital; they looked older and they dressed nicer.
Actually, these guys dont wear those white lab coats Ive
be programmed to revere
I figure this makes them more approachable.
I was seen by this little, cute chic Sascha and a typically bald Dutch
the gorgeous osteopath from before wasnt in sight.
They went through a very thorough Q & A before they even touched
me; what diseases, injuries, accidents Ive had in my lifetime,
what ails me now, hows my mental health
I felt very important
for them to be showing such concern.
And then came time for the exam. They told me to take my clothes off
and get on the bed
not making any moves to leave the room. Im
shy and Im used to doctors pulling the curtain or giving some
sort of privacy. I stalled, taking my shoes of slowly, do you
want me to take off everything, like I was that cool with being
naked in front of them. No, I was to keep bra and panties on (phew!)
got over it, I didnt go there to be shy and stupid, I went to
Sascha instructed me to stand with my back facing her, Nils was at the
desk taking notes when she blurted something in Dutch at him. Sascha
explained our bodies have fluid and organs moving around at all times
and that by placing her hands in strategic places or shifting my body
this way or that, she could determine whether everything was flowing
in the right direction, with the correct motility and whether the organs
were in their proper places. I have to admit, it looked pretty silly,
like when the evangelists put their hands on your forehead and smack
you down with the power of the lord
but less dramatic. An impression
is in order here because it would be really easy to do
do an impression of, say, a triple bypass. None of this matters
believed they believed in what they were doing; they were consulting
and collaborating whenever they found something that struck them (Nils
had a go at me too).
After about an hour, they left me to discuss treatment with their supervisor.
They came back with the supervisor and he had a look-see too (I was
very popular). The supervisor dude had clearly just smoked a cigarette
and that didnt go well with the whole holistic thing we had going.
After final consideration, everyone agreed that my kidney needed repositioning.
I love telling everyone, I got my kidney repositioned, it
gets a big laugh. The supervisor added that something was up with my
pancreas and that I needed to eat every 2 hours (geen probleme!). I
thought Id have to come back to relocate my kidney but Sascha
said that shed be doing it right then.
The repositioning was the best bit; she was pushing down on my abdomen
area and lifting my knee and pressing here and there, I wanted to laugh.
I mean, how the hell do they teach each other this medicine? Again,
I didnt care, I spent 2 hours and 50 euro with them and felt far
better than the 2 months (and 2000 euro!) with the quacks and their
I drilled the osteopaths (psychopaths, we later dubbed them) more about
this no chocolate no sugar thing. Sascha had been off sugar
for a couple of years now and Nils was just about weaned. Damn it! I
was hoping they would tell me I was taking it too far and that I didnt
need to run scared from anything with an ose in the ingredients
(i.e. glucose). Ok, back to the reckoning
Sascha completed her work and was pleased with the immediate results
of whatever she had done; she had Nils come over for a look. He too
marveled at the difference
kidney position (I guess). I
nodded in agreement
I agreed they believed something had changed.
While she was at it, Sascha also stimulated my kidney to help it do
more work. This, she said, would probably make me more tired and possibly
itch a bit more while my kidney sorted itself out. We made another appointment
in a months time, just for a check up. I shook everyones
hand like a proud immigrant who just passed he naturalization exam.
So, how do I feel? Better but, of course, Im drinking at least
2 liters of water a day and staying completely away from sugar (except
that found in alcohol)
.that would do any body good.
In the beginning of the chocolate ban, I was plagued with nightmares
about the sweet treat. They dreams subsided and I thought I was done
with the choco-mares but last night I dreamt I ate chocolate cake and
a muffin. Anytime I see anything processed I mutter refined sugar
in my head and envision a skull and crossbones. I want to take those
green Mr. Yuck stickers from childhood and run through the supermarket
tagging products. This behavior is annoying me
I feel like a tree
hugger. Im loosing a lot of vices with this no sugar
thats why Im holding on, for dear life, to my
© Trista Mrema May 2006
Link to the IMC Homeopathic Treatment Centre here (Dutch language)
Part One of 'The Treatment'
Trista Mrema discovering Arusha at election time
Part One of 'The Treatment'
More Lifestyle Issues here
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.