I wish I didn’t have an excuse to not have written on Organice your Life, but I do: I’ve been recovering from a very unusual episode while being on vacation in Thailand. Below you will find a summary of the e-mails that I have sent to friends and family during this period (the ones that either knew I was in Thailand, or heard what had happened). Like this, it saves me having to rewrite and remember some stuff I really don’t feel like remembering just yet. Organice Your Life is about health, and I don’t think I have ever been happier to be regaining my health than at this moment. I am doing well enough that tomorrow I am even flying off to Capetown to work. The thought of not constantly thinking about all that has happened and at least partially having my normal life back is making me very happy. This might be the longest post on OYL up to date, and I apologize. So here it is, an unexpected turn of events in Thailand.
17 October, from Phuket Hospital
“For those of you that don’t know, I got bitten or stung in the toe by something while snorkeling at Maya Bay, off Ko Phi Phi island now about 40 hours ago. The pain was immediate and spreading fast and we took the boat back to the island ASAP. The color of the front part of my foot was darkening. Also the toe was getting very swollen. while walking to the hospital my leg started to stop working more and more and I could feel I was getting close to losing consciousness. I ran to the hospital where they told me it was a stingray. This is still a possibility but I still find it unlikely, there were many fish around me but I didn’t see a stingray and they’re hard to miss. They gave me some medicine and said, don’t worry it’s fine. I later found out that this ‘hospital’ is run by volunteers and there are no doctors. But, I felt a bit relieved and went to bungalow to shower. When I tried to walk to have dinner I realized my right leg was dragging behind me, it felt rubbery and I lacked control. Also, there was big color and temperature difference. This concerned me enough to start coming home sooner, this is not how you want to feel on an island with no roads and medical care. With help of my wife and my parents I was going to come home yesterday (16 October), taking the first boat off the island. I had noticed as well a numbness in my right arm, but it was minimal. After the boat in the taxi to airport was when the real concern began, since the numbness and lack of muscle control started spreading fast through my right arm, then left arm and then up my neck. At this point I had been already at the airport but decided to go find a hospital since I was afraid that it might be too late by the time I would finally get to Holland. In the hospital here they ran blood tests, did cardiograms and other tests and they have been in touch with toxicologists in Bangkok and based on the story and symptoms (in the blood you cannot see exactly what animal bit you) they say it was a highly poisonous animal that bit or stung me, either a stingray, water snake, or others. Highly poisonous, but not poisonous enough to kill me, and they are quite sure also not poisonous enough to leave permanent damage.
For now they are keeping me here in Bangkok Hospital in Phuket town and today my amazing wife and superhero brother are flying here, and will arrive tomorrow morning for which I am extremely grateful and happy. It’s been a little tough being alone.
Now, for some good news. I have slept alright, even though I look like a junkie at the moment with the amount of injection holes I have in me (those of you that know my little problem with needles are allowed to giggle) and the numbness in some parts of my body are definitely getting better. My leg is still a problem, I still have a Hollywood-movie-killer dragging leg, but I think it might be feeling less numb this morning. I am extremely tired both mentally and physically. The hospital is nice, my room prettier than any of the huts and bungalows I’ve slept in in this vacation.
The prognosis is that everything should return to normal in some days, I am hoping I can fly home with my wife and brother on Wednesday night but it all depends a bit.
It’s been a tough time since it happened, but now I feel safe and confident it will be alright.
A big hug, hope to see you soon in Holland.”
19 October, from Phuket Hospital
First of all thanks a lot for all the messages, calls and mails full of get well wishes, how are you’s, bad jokes and threats to the ocean in general.
My right leg is slowly getting better, still not recovered though. Yesterday my wife and my brother have arrived, hard to explain how happy that made me. The alone days before have been very very tough. I feel very weak, my whole body is just so tired. Hopefully every day this should get better. Maybe it’s even an effect of the medicine or something.
Today is both a scary and a good day: we’re flying home. Makes me nervous because I hardly have the energy to get to the bathroom, but going home is an overriding thought. Also, there will be wheelchairs at the airports and the insurance has bumped me to business class. Tomorrow I’ll be going to the tropical diseases department of the Amsterdam hospital (AMC) to double-check if all is well and to hopefully hear a bit more how long full recovery will take.
Again thanks for caring guys, the prognosis is still full recovery! I am happy this bad episode is hopefully coming to an end soon.
A big big hug,
21 October, from Amsterdam
I have been at the hospital at the tropical centre today and had a diagnosis which was different from the one I had received until now in Thailand. First of all, just like the first email, I want to stress that they also assume that there will be a full recovery in the end.
The poison that went into my body was most probably a neurotoxin, and not something that just affected the muscle. They also found a significant effect still not just on my right leg, but also right arm. I figured the arm was fine since the numbness and tingling was gone, but apparently I miss strength. They are not sure what it was (they are almost certain it was a water snake), and based on photo’s I made during and after and based on the story they are now researching, hopefully to get more info. This could have been deadly, but I have been extremely lucky that it happened in an extremity, being my big toe. This part is the part I would like to focus on, and not linger too much on what might have been, and how close I came.
I will be going back there weekly, so they can monitor my progression. Their prognosis is that in a few weeks the effects should be gone, if not, they got a next doctor ready who can start examining my nervous system. I am confident it will not come to that. I feel like I am still improving daily, even though I have massive swings in energy levels, am very tired and I sleep a lot.
Talking tires me very quickly (for those of you who sometimes wonder if I would ever shut up, all it needed was a watersnake) and also it is not really easy for me to talk about this at the moment.
I do love your emails, I read them almost the second they come in and thank you for all the get well wishes.
The news of today was a bit of a shock, but in the end it changes nothing: I should be fine in the end.
A big hug to all of you,
25 October, from Amsterdam
A good update this one will be. Today we have been to the doctor again and to a neurologist. Things were getting better, but then during the weekend we had a bit of a scare again since some of the symptoms (tingling) were returning. Today, at the neurologist a lot of tests were done and I came out alright! I came out so well that the neurologist is even doubting the other Amsterdam doctors who think they were neurotoxins. Basically, it will probably remain unclear exactly what animal got me. Whatever it was, I share the hopes of my father-in-law who told me straightaway ‘If this is the effect it had on you, he’s gotta be dead’ :)
The tiredness, weakness, headaches and still some lack of strength in arm and leg are normal after the poison, and it should subside in upcoming weeks.
So! I am a very very happy guy, and I think this will be my last update mail, since if all goes well, there is nothing left to update you about anymore. It’s been a difficult week and a half, but now all should be fine in time, if I just take it easy and recover.
Once again, thank you for all the messages, mails, cards and even a book today, I hope to see you soon.
A big hug,