The Wednesday HodgePodge (June 22, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge once again. Here are Joyce’s questions for this week.

1. Something you learned from your father?
Well, I shared about this on Sunday already: my father mainly taught me academic skills. He also was the one who taught me the limited personal hygiene skills I did learn as a child. There’s a story he used to tell me about having to teach some personal care to my mother when she moved in with him at age 22. In this sense, I shouldn’t really feel embarrassed at the fact that my husband had to teach me to use shower gel when I was in my mid-twenties.

2. Do you like onions? Raw or cooked? How about onion rings? What’s something you love to eat that calls for onions?
Onions, mmm, love ’em! Raw is nice, cooked even better. I love onion rings too! A recipe I love and used to cook when I still cooked independently which calls for lots of onions (and garlic!), is macaroni with mushrooms, bell peppers, onions of course and I’d use a mushroom soup that you’d need to add water to in order to turn it into a soup as the sauce. Sadly, that brand of soup eventually added ham to its mushroom soup, which I don’t care for. When I cooked for just myself, I’d also add chicken, but when I’d cook with my husband, we’d skip that as he was a vegetarian back then.

3. It’s officially summer (in the Northern hemisphere)…your favorite and least favorite things about the season?
My favorite thing is, of course, my birthday at the end of June (in five days’ time!). Other than that, I love the longer daylight. My least favorite thing are mosquitoes and other summertime bugs such as the oak processionary.

4. When you think about the summers of your childhood what are two or three things that come to mind?
Vacationing at Vlieland, one of the Wadden Islands. For the first several years that we went there, I loved it. I remember building treehouses with my holiday friends one year when I was eight. The next year, we didn’t return. And not for another several years. When we returned to Vlieland again the summer I was twelve, I didn’t like it nearly as much, because I’d by then lost most of my vision. Besides, kids my age no longer wanted to build treehouses.

5. A hot mess, the heat of the moment, beat the heat, if you can’t stand the heat, catch heat, in a dead heat…choose a ‘hot ‘phrase and tell us how it applies to your life right now.
A hot mess… that’s my country at this point!
Today, two protests took place in the Netherlands: one by farmers against the government’s nitrogen crisis-related policies (or plans, really, as no real policies have yet been implemented), which will likely cause some farmers to need to stop business; the other by Extinction Rebellion, a group of climate activists, also against the government but with the opposite aim. The farmers caused huge traffic jams on various highways because they were coming to the protest in their farming vehicles. The climate activists gained unlawful entrance to the Tax Service main office in The Hague. The police claimed to be powerless against the farmers, but arrested 22 climate activists.

Thankfully, neither protest is impacting me personally, but all the bad news does worry me.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I was going to ramble on above about the rapid rise in COVID cases here, but I guess that needs its own heading. Last night I had a slight headache and, since that was how my COVID started last February, I worried that I was going to get it again exactly four months after I’d initially contracted the virus. That in turn would mean canceling my husband’s visit today, my birthday celebrations this weekend and my nurse practitioner’s appt on Monday, which, though Monday is my birthday, I decided to go on with after all. Thankfully, I have absolutely no symptoms indicative of the virus now. Please pray I won’t get sick anytime soon.

Right to Health

In his daily prompt yesterday, Scott Andrew Bailey asks us about the “right to health”. I purposefully put that between quote marks, as obviously no-one has a right to health. We all get sick and die eventually. Okay, that was my autistic brain’s literal thinking acting up again. What Scott means is the right to medical care.

Scott asks whether medical care is something the government should provide for the people or whether it’s best left to the private sector. Are there drawbacks to your choice?

The answer to that last question is, of course, yes. Any system has its drawbacks. My answer to the first question, on the other hand, is: I’d like it to be a little of both. For my Dutch readers, the answer can be short: I like my own system best, despite its drawbacks, such as the mandatory copay and the diagnosis-treatment combinations which dictate that you’ll get care based on a diagnosis, not your needs. Those were a particularly problematic thing in mental health. I believe they’ve been altered to something else this year, but I don’t know whether it’s better or worse.

For my international readers, here is a little explanation of how the Dutch system works and why it has the best of private and public healthcare combined. Basically, what is called basic health insurance is more or less public, even though it is covered through the same insurers that will cover your additional insurance should you get it and the insurance companies are private. The government decides which care is covered under basic insurance and insurers must accept every Dutch resident for this package, regardless of health status. The basic package covers visits to your GP, hospital care, most medications, specialist mental health services (ie. services for people with more severe mental health problems), etc. Things that are not covered include physical therapy, dentistry for adults over 22 I believe, contraception (even though Christian parties have been demanding it gets put into the package to prevent women needing abortions), etc. When I lived with my husband, I had mostly just the basic package (I did have some physio coverage but didn’t use that) and I didn’t have to pay a lot of extra money for things that weren’t covered.

You can decide to get additional coverage for things like dental care, physical therapy, alternative medicine, etc. However, insurers can refuse you for those. They usually don’t for the cheaper packages, but then again getting these hardly outweighs the cost of paying for care out-of-pocket.

Basic health insurance currently costs about €133 a month if you want to have free choice of healthcare providers (I do). You can opt for a cheaper policy where the insurer has contracts with only certain providers and you have to pay 30% of treatment costs if you go to an uncontracted provider. Like I said, there’s a mandatory copay of €385 a year on your healthcare. GP visits do not count towards this.

Like I said, I think our system has the best of both public and private worlds. Before the current system was put in place, low to medium income people were covered under the sick fund, which was similar to the UK’s NHS, including its problems of extreme waiting lists and bureaucracy. People with higher incomes would need to get private insurance, but I don’t think it was much better for them, in the sense that those with private insurance would be treated favorably. That’s a good thing.

A note about those who cannot afford to pay for health insurance at all: as a general rule, basic insurance is mandatory and there are several ways in which the government aids low-income people, but ultimately if a person doesn’t pay at all, insurers have the ability to stop insuring them. In that case, hospitals can refuse care, but not in acutely life-threatening circumstances such as when someone has a heart attack. In that sense, you have a right not to die on the health system, but not an ultimate right to medical care.

Historical Events

Today, in the journaling app Day One, the daily prompt was to write about the historical events you remember. I used to be a big news and politics junkie as an older child and teen, so I remember quite a few events.

I was born in 1986, so technically might’ve remembered the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, but I didn’t. In fact, the first important historical event I remember was the Gulf War of 1991. At the time, I listened to the radio and heard about it, but erroneously thought that Iran, Iraq and Kuwait made up Ukraine. I don’t know what news event there was about Ukraine at the time, possibly the fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

When I was nearly eight, I remember my parents taking me to the polling station for the national election in 1994. I remember both of the names of the candidates my parents voted for. I also clearly remember learning about the “purple” government, which meant that the Labor Party and the conservative party VVD were for the first time forming a coalition. Another party, D66, was joining them too and I asked what color they were and why that party’s color wasn’t represented in the mix. My parents explained that mixing too many party colors would make brown and that’d be a Nazi color.

When I became a teen, I got involved even more into politics. I obviously remember 9/11 when I was fifteen and the murder of Pim Fortuyn eight months later. That year’s election, nine days after Fortuyn was killed, was the most memorable election of my life. I remember kind of aggressively persuading my father to vote for the Socialist Party rather than GroenLinks, the leftist party he normally votes for.

During the fall of 2002, I myself joined the Socialist Party. I was a semi-active member in my local affiliate for a while. Still, I gradually lost my interest in politics and important news events. I left the political party in September of 2007, half because I didn’t like its rather undemocratic treatment of its members and half because I was tired of politics.

Since then, I haven’t really been following the news or politics much at all. I do find it intriguing to be a witness to the coronavirus crisis even though I’d rather have gone on like old normal.

As a teen, I wasn’t affected by the impact of important historical events. Like, I always wanted the stock prices on the AEX to be low for some reason I still don’t comprehend. Now, I understand the impact of economic crises more than I did before and it scares me. That’s why I’d rather put my head in the sand and not watch the news.

What historical events do you remember most?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 16, 2021)

Hi all on this grey Saturday. Today I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had my afternoon coffee about half an hour ago. If you want a Senseo though, I can make one for you. Let’s have coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first I’d ask you how your weather is. Ours is pretty cold, but the newspaper said it isn’t even really freezing. I guess I don’t really like winter if I consider this cold. Snow is forecasted for tonight, but I doubt it’ll even create a dusting of white. That’s fine by me as I don’t like snow.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I guess I shouldn’t have said on Thursday that I am glad to live in a stable democracy. After all, the Dutch government collapsed on Friday. It’s totally justified though and no, it’s not about COVID. It’s about parents pretty much randomly being labeled as fraudulent childcare payment recipients and made to repay sometimes tens of thousands of euros that they didn’t have.

If we were having coffee, I would share that my father had his birthday yesterday. He considered the government collapse to be a welcome present, as he doesn’t support the rather conservative parties making up the government.

I phoned my father yesterday and he told me he’d also gotten some type of signal converter, so that he can read the status of his heating on his computer. I sent him a Kate Rusby CD, but it isn’t due to arrive until like the 25th.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I have been quite creative lately. I made a bath bomb on Thursday. I might take it with me into the bathtub later this evening.

My one-on-one staff also helped me bake cookies yesterday. Well, she did most of the prep, as the dough was too sticky for me to handle. That was a bit frustrating. The cookies were delicious though.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had a long phone call with my husband yesterday. I am not going to go to our house this week-end, but I loved to hear his voice instead.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that I’m hoping to get an AFO (ankle foot orthosis) for my left foot soon. The physical therapist already E-mailed the orthopedic equipment maker, but we haven’t heard back from him. Walking is still doable without the AFO, but when I go for long’ish (like twenty minute) walks, my foot drags. This is a little painful. It also causes my shoe to get damaged quite easily. In fact, even though the orthopedic shoemaker had already put some type of buffer thing on it, the shoe was almost beyond repair after three weeks. Anyway, I’m hoping the AFO gets here soon and will be helpful.

If not, my father mentioned that, back when I was little, the doctors had mentioned surgery to lengthen my calf muscle. That probably comes with its own risks though. Besides, as long as the pain and discomfort are manageable, I don’t think any doctor would want to operate on me just to save me buying a new pair of shoes every month.

What’s been going on in your life lately?

COVID-19 Worries

The coronavirus came to the Netherlands a few weeks ago. Yesterday, we had the first case in the care facility’s town. The care facility hasn’t yet been affected as far as I know, but still, I grow more scared as the days go by.

I’m not scared of falling seriously ill or dying from the virus. Though some of my fellow clients are in their sixties, we don’t have anyone in my home who is otherwise at risk of serious illness or death as far as I know. I am not really sure whether I should worry about my family in this respect. So far, the thought has only fleetingly crossed my mind.

What I do worry about though is the consequences this will have for our society at large. I worry about people stockpiling food. I know my husband got some extra stuff a few weeks ago already when he saw it coming.

I worry about another economic meltdown. My husband has a pretty secure income, having just been hired indefinitely at his job a month ago. He might be forced to take time off, leading to a significant decrease in income, but he won’t be jobless. I am not sure about my income, as I’m on benefits. I don’t know that I will be able to handle yet another round of budget cuts to health care though.

More importantly in the short term, I worry about the need to isolate if you’re infected. What if I get the virus and need to stay in my room 24/7 for two weeks, not being allowed any human contact? Some other blogger idealized this by writing they’d finally have time to read all the books and binge watch all the Netflix series they wanted. As much as I’d like to escape the day center at times and just hide out in my room, I don’t think I could make this work for two weeks straight.

I also worry about staff needing to self-isolate if they get infected. Will this mean there won’t be staff to care for us? My staff has been trying to reassure me, but the letter sent out to clients’ family yesterday, had no information about what if the virus enters the facility in it. Which seems to be more of a “when” than an “if”.

I’m linking up with today’s RagTag Daily Prompt, for which the word is “Isolate”.

Nuts! #SoCS

I first heard about the details of the Care and Force Act in the Netherlands a few days ago through a fellow mental health advocate. I’d heard of the bill being passed before, but never quite understood or cared what it entailed. Now I know, from both her opposing side and thesupporting side, namely my own long-term care organization.

As it turns out, the Care and Force Act impacts everyone who receives mental health or developmental disabilities services, whether voluntarily or not. Before this law, only those committed involuntarily to a psychiatric hospital, psychogeriatric nursing home or intellectual disability facility, could be subjected to involuntary care. Now, basically everyone who receives (or, I assume, is supposed to receive) care for a mental illness or developmental disability, can be subjected to involuntary care. Yes, even if you live at home. Support staff are allowed by this law to enter someone’s home without their permission and hold them down there, force medications on them, install cameras for monitoring the client, etc.

This all sounds pretty nuts to me. Of course, that’s what said mental health advocate said too. My care facility says that forced care is not allowed unless… and then they go on to list the law’s reasons involuntary care is allowed. This is a long list, including obvious reasons such as self-harm or aggression, but also “endangerment of the person’s development”. Well, WTF?

I understand the well-meaning intentions behind the law. For example, a client with Prader-Willi Syndrome, which makes them eat and drink without inhibition, can be prevented from accessing sources of food or drink. The long-term care facility said in this case (in a flyer by my care organization) they’d decided to disable the client’s bathroom tap so that they cannot drink like 5 liters of water at night. However, quite possibly, this could be affecting people like me who suffer with compulsive overeating. I am sensible in that I try to ask for help in preventing binges, but I mean, I’ve heard clients being told not to enter the kitchen because they eat lots of cookies and are prediabetic. Well, this is physical health, which I understand on at least some level. But isn’t this whole bill meant to make us all conform to the non-disabled standards of “normalcy” whether we want to or not?

And besides, there are huge budget cuts to mental health and disability services, so will this bill not just be used to facilitate lower levels of actually helpful care?

For example, I could in a worst-case scenario be confined to my bed at night so that I have fewer reasons to bother the night staff when I go to bed later than most other clients. Or I could be banned from using Facebook or the Internet altogether during certain times of the day for reasons such as my needing to socialize more, study, or whatever. Like I said, danger to one’s development is a grounds for forced care.

In theory, the law doesn’t sound too bad, but I can imagine treatment providers such as the ones in the mental hospital, whom I couldn’t trust, can misuse this law for very harmful purposes. Does this mean anyone deemed nuts or dumb, to use some slurs, is at the mercy of the so-called helping profession? It’s crazy!

This post is written for #SoCS, for which the prompt this week is “Nuts”.