Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Kindness In A Bleak World

I often find myself wondering whether this atmosphere of near-hostility towards those who dare to or have the misfortune to be different from 'normal' is something mostly limited to the Netherlands. I certainly didn't encounter the same kind of disinterest and distrust when I was in Norway or Canada, nor do people on UK and US forums treat me without a semblance of respect as has happened to me on all Dutch forums I have frequented during the past few years. It seems like Dutch people in general are very quick to attack that which threatens their perfect image of the world as-it-should-be, with their image of being tolerant merely derived from their completely passive nature while their little bubble isn't disturbed.

One could go so far as saying that Dutch people are a hateful, spiteful people with an intolerance bordering on or exceeding abject racism and similar unpleasant terms. This is also reflected in the medical care, as I have had the misfortune of discovering. Not that I am alone in finding that the healthcare in this country is one of passiveness, of strict adherence to protocols without caring whether they're right, or what it means for the patient. The latter being completely unimportant to the average doctor, specialist or psychologist. All that matters is being 'professional' and not letting compassion interfere with their work.

This has been my general impression of this country and its inhabitants for a long time, and though I still agree with it, I have had the fortune of encountering some people the past month who actually are compassionate and capable of understanding and feeling empathy for others, to the point that they'll do that little extra even with their work.

One such example is the GP I have here in Rijssen at the moment. With our intake appointment a few weeks back she was quite understanding already, and when I needed her yesterday to explain to my insurance company why I should get full coverage for my electrolysis treatment she literally dove onto the task. It's amazing and so very sad that I was actually surprised to encounter a GP who felt compassionate, who talked freely with me in an understanding tone and didn't try to pass herself off as a minor Goddess or so smiling benevolently down on her subjects while they prostate at her feet.

The other example is surprisingly the insurance company I mentioned. I have been there at the local office here in Rijssen a number of times already, and each time I meet someone who is also compassionate and understanding. So far I have talked to two women and one man there. One of the women has had to arrange for her mother to have her treated in another country as well, so she quite understands my situation of seeking medical assistance outside the Netherlands.

Last Saturday I sent my request for foreign coverage of examinations and treatment to this local office of my insurance company, and when I dropped by yesterday to deliver the letter from my GP, she called out to me and told me a bit about how the request was proceeding, and that she understands that the examinations are what is important at this point, that there can't really be any concrete information about treatments yet. It was so refreshing to talk with someone who treats you like an equal, and a human being.

This in contrast with my most recent contact with that doctor at the UMC Utrecht who had supposedly offered to take a look at my case. First of all he didn't even know yet whether he would even be allowed by his superiors to examine me, he also jumped to conclusions when I put my questions forward and when I mentioned that I didn't appreciate him drawing conclusions where he didn't have the required information yet, he would complain that I didn't give him a chance to explain himself and that he really didn't mean it like that. He also complained that I didn't respect him enough when I expressed my concerns based on my past six years of experiences with other doctors. Instead of understanding or compassionate it was more a serious case of Ivory Tower complex.

On the other hand I have this man who works at the local crisis center who recognized my Asperger and when he was here last Thursday he was just outright honest about everything. He admitted that he wasn't capable of treating a complex case like mine, and didn't think that I would find anyone who could in the Eastern part of the Netherlands, that going back to the big Western cities or surroundings would be very advisable as finding the right help there would be much more likely.

We agreed that I would find a place to live in the Western part of the country - near Amsterdam or Utrecht, probably - and that he would then help me find the right people to refer me to for my Asperger assistance. Last Monday I had someone from the IMK over who had to check up on the health of my company. Aside from being a nice and helpful guy, he also gave my company a clean bill of health and said that he'll recommend that I'll get the Bbz welfare. The loan I had in mind via the same Bbz regulation is trickier, as it's provided by the county, and they'd be hard-pressed to provide it only to see me leave the county using it. I did with some success point out to the IMK guy that as I mentioned before that it's at this point a medical/psychological necessity that I move back to the Western part of the country, and since my company's health rises or falls with my own, it's an investment in the company as well. I'll see how that goes.


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