My Corona Diary – Convalescence.

My Corona Diary was getting a bit long, and was nowhere near over, so I decided to break it off after my return from the hospital and document my convalescence.
You can find the first part of My Corona Diary here.
You can find the second part of My Corona Diary here.

FYI, all measurements are Dutch/European. My normal body temperature is 36.5 Celsius. Normal glucose levels are between 5-8 mmol/l. Normal blood pressure for me ought to be 129/85, but I usually have 135/90.

(April 30th) I slept fairly well, no coughing bouts and only one early morning toilet break. At 07.30 hours I woke and switched off my oxygen, then measured my saturation, which was 88% but climbed to 92% within minutes. So I left the oxygen off and sat at my desk doing breathing exercises. Probably will be sent home this afternoon, so I better prepare to have energy for packing my bags. I will ask for the hospital to arrange transport back home though. It’s about ten minutes by car, but I don’t want to accidentally infect a taxi driver if it can be avoided. Although I’ve been tested negatively for Corona twice. So I told them I needed oxygen during transport, and they would arrange for transport by ambulance.
I was told the ambulance would be there by noon, so I packed my bags — a heavy one with my Kolibri typewriter and all my writing materials and the photos and my maps with poetry and the DRONE draft; another slightly less heavy bag with my regular stuff, like my vaporizer, headphones, the camping lamps, extension cords and adapters; a daypack with my toiletries, eyewash, medication, et cetera; and a bag with my sheepskin and bathrobe. Plus my sling bag with my valuables.
They put a wheelchair near my room and I told them it would be quite a strain for them to use a wheelchair to cart me with an oxygen tank and five bags to the exit. 
Ten minutes to noon I was ready and waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more. At ten to one, one of the nurses told me she’d bring me to the ambulance taxi. A small Moroccan woman to push a wheelchair with a man weighing 96kg, plus five bags. I asked her if she was sure, but it looked like she had no choice.
With both heavy bags on my lap and the sling bag hanging from my shoulder, and the two lighter bags hanging from the handlebars she pushed me to the exit. I inquired about the oxygen, but she said I didn’t need it for the wheelchair ride to the exit, and the ambulance should have its own supply.
After she got me outside, it turned out that the ‘ambulance’ turned out to be a van without an oxygen supply… No surprises there.
The medics who helped me were friendly and carried my bags into my house, so no complaints there, but they told me nobody mentioned me needing oxygen…
But, hey, I’m home again and reunited with Mingus.

My friend M arrived around 17.45 hours and the cleaner S some ten minutes later. We spent about an hour talking through my situation and what I needed, then S went to clean up the kitchen, toilet and bathroom and vacuum the house. He’s fairly young and has been working as a ‘thuishulp’ for six or seven weeks, but he’s capable and friendly, so I’ll probably ask the service for him to be my regular cleaner.
When it became time to go to bed, I still hadn’t be able to figure out how to connect the oxygen cylinder to the air converter, so I took two cylinders, put them next to my bed and connected the oxygen tube straight to the flow meter.

(May 1st) Sleep didn’t come easy — I had lots of lung spasms when I lay down on my flat futon bed, without the ability to raise the headrest. After I fell into a fitful sleep, plagued with nightmares, I woke up with severe cramps in my back and a blocked nose. My saturation was 77%, despite the oxygen.
I woke up my friend M, who could look in my bathroom cabinet for my nasal spray to unblock my nose and to rub my aching back. It took me another hour to get back to sleep. 
I woke up the next morning at 08.45 hours without oxygen because the cylinder ran out, so my saturation was at 83%. I woozily switched the flow meter to a fresh cylinder, friend M by my side while I waited for my saturation to stabilize above 92%. Even with 1.5 liter, it took almost ten minutes to get back to ‘normal’ saturation levels. From my knowledge of oxygen, I knew it was better not to kickstart my saturation with 2 or 2.5 liters, because that would cause my saturation to drop sharply if I disconnected to take a shower. 
With M’s help I weighed myself at 97.2 kg and measured my glucose at 11.6mmol/l. I took a shower without oxygen and M waiting outside the bathroom. After my shower my saturation had dropped to 83% again, but it rose quite quickly once the oxygen was reconnected at 1 liter.

My saturation after my shower, right after I connected the oxygen again.

With M’s help I made myself breakfast, then called Westfalen Medical about my inability to connect cylinders to the converter. Which turned out to be hilarious, because I didn’t have to connect anything to the converter. The six cylinders were for emergency air in case the converter broke down and they would need time to come over and repair/replace the converter. Or if I had to go outside for groceries or hospital visits with my own oxygen. Also, the operator told me I could call 24/7, because the operators were available from 08.00 – 20.00 hours and from 20.00 – 08.00 hours the calls were rerouted to an emergency service.
With the converter running I could have a continuous supply all over my house with the long oxygen tube. So I put the flowmeter at 1 liter and spent the rest of the day hooked up to the machine so my abused body could recuperate and build on its reserves. My kidneys still hurt from the lack of oxygen.
I called the OLVG to complain about the ‘no oxygen’ transport and demanded to speak to whomever had gone against my reasonable wishes. Turned out that Sylvana, the nurse from yesterday, had both nixed my oxygen transport — because I could clearly handle walking around my hospital room without oxygen! – and she has also cancelled my request for Thuiszorg (home care) because ‘I was capable enough’.
I spoke to the lung doctor, Ronald, and told him I was going to file a complaint with the hospital about the (lack of) treatment and the abuse of power, both for Sylvana who deliberately screwed up my transfer and Hilde who on April 22nd had tried to ‘punish me for smoking weed’ by radically lowering my oxygen from 4 liters to 1 liter. 
He thought I sounded ‘angry’. Damn right. I was furious. And I hadn’t been able to express my anger while in the hospital, for fear that my ‘insolence’ would earn me even worse treatment than I had received. This type of abuse of power should infuriate anyone, especially those who run victim to such small medical despots.
After I hung up, I called the hospital again, this time to speak with the eye clinic. During my stay I had requested a visit to the eye doctor several times, but it had been denied by the staff of the lung ward. This time I spoke with the secretary and she had me called back by the eye doctor. The eye doctor who called me back during her hectic schedule explained to me patiently how the unit could only see eight patients per day, and those patients were selected on the gravity of their complaints. She suggested that I used the carbogel more frequently as it could take a day or two for my eye to go back to normal after the dehydration it had suffered and to call back if the situation worsened. If I didn’t call, she would call me back on Wednesday to check up on my situation, but if I felt any indication that my vision was seriously at risk, I should call and they would take immediate action.
Such a relief to talk to a doctor who takes you seriously.
I spoke to my huisarts (GP) next. She was appalled at my story of being mistreated and being denied services, hoped I would recuperate at home now that I got my converter going.
On my request, she prescribed sachets of 200mg Acetylcysteine that would help me to cough up the slimy sputum remnants left by the virus in my lungs. Since I was in a ‘weakened condition’ and the side effects of the Acetylcysteine could be severe on a weakened system, she suggested I’d take the solution only once a day (instead of three times daily), preferably after breakfast, when I was settled. 
Plus she would have her assistant call me Monday morning to arrange a Thuiszorg nurse to help me every morning to start my day.
I called the pharmacy to make sure they had the Acetylcysteine and friend M went to pick it up before closing time.
Time to get some rest.

The afternoon went better than the morning, especially from having consistent air supplied to me as I walk around the house, but I still feel like a broken puppet on a lifeline leash. 

My friend J arrived around nine with pizza and potato wedges. It was so good to talk to her again in person. Calm and focused, I felt so much more at ease. Around 23.30 hours we went upstairs and she gave me a long backrub massage that got all the kinks out of my overstressed back muscles, which had been cramping up from the lung spasms. It was so good to be touched with care and love after seven weeks of hell. 
A hug a day keeps the doctor away — going without any loving touch for seven weeks has hurt me more than I realised, even though I’m a shiatsu practitioner myself.

(May 2nd) I slept like a baby, instead of like the dead. Woke at ten to six to go to the toilet, got back into bed and slept to 09.30 hours. This supports my own theory — I suggested getting oxygen at home at April 16th (the day I was taken to the hospital for the third time and was sent home without oxygen). 
Those thirteen days at the hospital they did nothing for me except give me oxygen (and fuck about with that, giving me stress and anxiety). I received on additional medication or procedures. Not even an extra lung x-ray or CT scan. They took my vitals — blood pressure, saturation, heartbeat — every few hours, but that also is something I could easily do myself. My saturation meter gives accurate readings of saturation and heartbeat, I have an automatic sphygmomanometer to monitor my blood pressure, I have a glucose meter to monitor my diabetes… 
Of course, not every patient is skilled or medically adept enough to keep track of their vitals like I can, but just giving me the oxygen and having me filling out the Corona Check App once a day would have been cheaper and much better for my healing process than thirteen days of hospital stay. 

Good friend FR expressed in a chat, responding to my angry phone call to the hospital yesterday:
“I definitely know/understand the necessity of restraining one’s emotional displeasure when in a vulnerable situation (when the ‘authorities’ can make decisions counter to your well-being and preferences). It is survival, quite literally. Once free, it takes a while to get back to doing what you know and want, and insisting on proper responses.”
I could feel myself tear up at her message. She is so right and this is not how it’s supposed to be. 

Friend J helped me through the morning and went away around 10.00 hours. I spent a few hours by myself, quite happy, and Friend ID came around 14.30 hours with groceries and gifts. She made curry for me and we watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Before bed, she gave me a relaxing massage, then went to sleep in my daughter’s room. 

(May 3rd) I woke at ten to six to go to the toilet. My saturation was around 87%, but sitting up in bed and doing some deep breathing boosted it to 94% and I went to the toilet downstairs, then slept again until 08.30 hours, when ID came to check up and me and curled up next to me, caressing the pain from my back. We had a leisurely morning and I took my second Acetylcysteine sachet, together with vaping cannabis through my PlentyRippa.

I hawked up some sputum from my lungs, but not much. Maybe the 200mg is not powerful enough (it’s basically the dosage for children), but maybe I’ll try to take another sachet this afternoon when I have to vape again.

My friend ID got me some final groceries and left at 15.00 hours. I haven’t used the oxygen tube since then, walked around, made tea and sandwiches, and sat behind my laptop working. The improvement I’m making is measurable though. Two hours without oxygen supply and my random saturation testing reveals 96-97% saturation at rest. Which is three point above yesterday and four points above the day before yesterday.
I’ve also been making plans to exercise outdoors by carrying a canister of oxygen in the front crate of my transport bicycle, so I can have extra oxygen while cycling outside.
I just went upstairs, took the laundry from the washing machine, put it in the dryer, cleaned the dryer’s lint filter, started up the dryer, went downstairs to the kitchen, made myself two sandwiches and sat down in my easy chair again. Saturation 94-95%. Yay! My recuperation time is seriously decreasing. Of course, it’s late afternoon and my energy drops in the evenings, but still, I’m happy.

I went to sleep around 23.00 hours and woke briefly at night from a whistling sound that was the air tube, which had slipped out of my nose. I put it back in and resumed sleeping. 

(May 4th) I woke around 08.30 hours, feeling pretty good. The air tube was wrapped loosely around my neck, so I must’ve rolled around a bit during sleep, but not alarmingly so.
I used the oxygen to go downstairs and use the toilet, but upstairs I hung it on a peg and weighed myself (97.2kg, same as yesterday), and checked my glucose (10.2mmol/l, 0.5 points lower than yesterday). I took a shower and after that checked my saturation, which was at 87%, but shot up to 93% as soon as I paid attention to my breathing. So, I switched off my converter, but took the long oxygen tube downstairs to hang it in the entrance of the living room. I have to train my lungs again to saturate my blood by themselves without any help. 

Around half past three, after I had some lunch, I decided to get some exercise and loaded a bottle of oxygen in the crate of my bicycle, to ride around town for the first time eight weeks.
I was pleased to notice that I rode about 12 kilometers without needing the oxygen bottle and with my saturation staying over 91%. I got back home around 17.30 hours and made a microwave dinner. Didn’t touch the extra oxygen at all. Yay!

(May 5th) Liberation Day. I slept with oxygen, but switched off the converter after getting up. Weighed myself at 96.7kg, glucose a bit high at 11.7mmol/l, but I feel pretty good. My kids are coming over this afternoon and my daughter wants to go to her (open air) kung fu class, so after breakfast I took her bicycle to the repair service to get the front tyre fixed. I also got the pedals of my own bicycle replaced, then rode to the supermarket to get croissants and other groceries. No extra oxygen needed.

My kids came at noon and were ecstatic at being home. The cat was almost hugged to death and we had lunch with croissants. I went with Nica to the repairshop to get her bicycle and at 15.30 we rode our bicycles to the Herenmarkt, where Nica had Kung Fu in the playground and Tycho played with the other kids, while I did some tai-chi and sat on a bench watching them play. We went home around half past five and my ex collected them at six. Such a lovely afternoon. I had taken my oxygen bottle, but didn’t need it.

The only problem I had during the day was blurry spots in my vision again, which I treated with eye wash and carbogel, but it didn’t help much. Maybe I just strain my eye too much.
My evening was peaceful, I watched part of Apocalypse Now Redux, and I only took oxygen again when I went to bed.

(May 6th) Slept quite well, woke at 07.30 hours, switched off the oxygen and went back to bed to snooze while listening to music. Woke at 10.00 hours and measured a saturation of 86%. So it’s quite obvious I cannot go without oxygen if I cannot consciously breathe deeply.
I didn’t have a relaxed morning, as I had to talk a suicidal friend down from the ledge — she’s been in therapy for almost two years now, but it’s still going nowhere. Terrible. I’ve called the caregivers with the message to call me back and discuss her therapy, because the therapist she’s seeing now is not helping her, but making her situation worse.
I also got a copy of the discharge letter from the hospital. Again, the lung doctor, who should know better, referred to me ‘smoking weed’. Stupid asshole. I called the hospital lung ward and told them that I do not ‘smoke weed’ but ‘vape medical cannabis under prescription of my eye doctor’, so they need to change the file so I won’t be regarded as a ‘pothead’. This may sound trivial, but judging by the attitude of some nurses in the lung ward, the distinction is important. I’m a glaucoma patient using alternative medication, not someone who is deliberately risking his health by smoking pot.

A friend sent me an article in the NY Times from Richard Levitan, a doctor at Bellevue:
“We are just beginning to recognize that Covid pneumonia initially causes a form of oxygen deprivation we call “silent hypoxia” — “silent” because of its insidious, hard-to-detect nature.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs in which the air sacs fill with fluid or pus. Normally, patients develop chest discomfort, pain with breathing and other breathing problems. But when Covid pneumonia first strikes, patients don’t feel short of breath, even as their oxygen levels fall. And by the time they do, they have alarmingly low oxygen levels and moderate-to-severe pneumonia (as seen on chest X-rays). Normal oxygen saturation for most persons at sea level is 94 to 100 percent; Covid pneumonia patients I saw had oxygen saturations as low as 50 percent.”
[…]
“We are only just beginning to understand why this is so. The coronavirus attacks lung cells that make surfactant. This substance helps the air sacs in the lungs stay open between breaths and is critical to normal lung function. As the inflammation from Covid pneumonia starts, it causes the air sacs to collapse, and oxygen levels fall. Yet the lungs initially remain “compliant,” not yet stiff or heavy with fluid. This means patients can still expel carbon dioxide — and without a buildup of carbon dioxide, patients do not feel short of breath.”

This is exactly what happened to me. And why I’m so furious about not getting oxygen at home when I asked for it. I urge anyone not feeling well to get an oximeter and track your saturation. 

I spoke to the eye doctor and she’s going to see if she has a spot for me this week to come over to the hospital and have my eye checked out. 
Meanwhile, I had to ride my bicycle to the other side of town to get a free food package from Guerilla Kitchen at 14.15 hours. As a friend of mine lives nearby, I shot him a message I was going to be in his neck of the woods, so we arranged to meet up at GK. Just before I left home, the hospital called and said they could fit me in for an eye examination at 16.00 hours.
T was waiting at GK and we went from there to Monks, where we got cappuccino that we took to a nearby park. It was good to sit on a bench in the sunshine with a cappuccino and a good friend. 
I left at 15.20 hours, took the food parcel home and went to the hospital to have my eyes examined. As expected, the dehydration was severe while I had been cleaning and moisturizing my eye continuously. Part of the dehydration could just be the COVID-19 infection, as these viruses have a tendency to dehydrate. The doctor gave me an ointment that was thicker than the gel I was using during the day and told me to apply it before going to bed, as the ointment would be so thick that I wouldn’t be able to see through it, but like a dressing it would keep my eye moistened throughout the night and hopefully help to hydrate it enough to take away my blurry vision. She also saw a tiny spot that could be a pigment flaw, but she wanted to discuss that with my regular eye doctor, who was currently doing administrative duties only as chief of the eye clinic.
From the hospital, I rode around the park some more, then went home to have some dinner and watch the rest of Apocalypse Now Redux. 

(May 7th) Before I went to sleep, I put the ointment on my eyes. Felt good.
I slept till nine in the morning and went through my morning ritual of weighing myself and measuring my vitals. 96.8kg, 11.6mmol/l, 94% saturation, and blood pressure 118/84 < very good for someone with ‘high blood pressure’. Made myself breakfast and took Metformin. Now I’m heading out to the park with my bokken, to do some kata training in the open air.

I had a great time swinging my wooden sword around in the pavilion of the Oosterpark, working through my battojutsu kata.
Afterward, I went to visit my friends at Speeltuin De Waag, the playground where I volunteer. So good to see them face-to-face again.
I also went by my local comic book store, Lambiek, where I got some books set aside for me weeks ago.
Then I went home to get some lunch and take my Metformin. I notice that my saturation, which hovered around 91-92% a week ago, is now hovering around 95-96%, so there’s definitive improvement in my health and stamina.

(May 8th) This morning, I had a Thuishulp (cleaning lady) helping me out. I had some things that were too heavy to do by myself, like airing out my futon and changing the bedsheets, washing the windows of the living room, and vacuuming and mopping the floors. So I can look through clean windows again and my bed is clean and fresh again.
After she left, I packed my bag and cane, and went on a long bicycle ride, taking the ferry to Amsterdam North.

I had a cup of coffee at Cafe Zamen and rode around Vliegenbos (Forest of the Flies) which was mercifully devoid of flies.

I love being out of quarantaine — you never miss your freedom so much as when you’re forced to stay inside. Riding around the forest, smelling the earth and the leaves, the fresh air… everything was much more acute and alive. I listened to Philip Glass and Erik Satie on my phone and felt a profound sense of peace.


I took the ferry back to the city centre and rode around the familiar streets, meeting friends and having face-to-face chats. I went home around five, so grateful I hadn’t needed any extra oxygen.
My next door neighbor welcomed me back, telling me she was afraid I might die, every time the ambulance took me away, but she was overjoyed that I was back and getting better. I always got along pretty well with my neighbors, but this pandemic makes this neighborhood even more cohesive than before.

In the evening, I wanted to write some poetry, but my eye started getting blurry again, so I went to bed, put on some music, put ointment on my eyes and lay there in the dark, listening to Seventeen Seconds by The Cure and speaking poetry into my voice recorder.

(May 9th) Another beautiful day. Got up around eight, took a leisurely shower, weight still around 97kg, glucose an all-time low of 8.1mmol/l. Around eleven my buddy MP came over and I made the cappuccino he likes so much. We talked for a while, then went together to Nieuwmarkt, where I went to Jacob Hooy to get Zinc tablets. MP went to the Chinese supermarket and I stood outside, watching over the bicycles and flirting with some women in those summer dresses that don’t leave much to the imagination. One of them was really interested in whether I still had an eye under my patch and she looked a little flustered as she told me that I looked like a pirate biker. Then her boyfriend came out of the Chinese supermarket and dragged her away.

I went for some groceries myself at the regular supermarket, made some lunch, then took my swords to train at the park. As I was stalking around the pavillion swinging my wooden sword, a tourist came up on the pavillion and took a boatload of pictures. I ignored him and just kept training. After he wandered off I wondered if I should’ve given him my card and asked him to mail me the pictures, but I was too late.

I went home to write out the poetry I recorded last night, then made myself some baked potatoes with lettuce and cold roasted chicken flakes.

All similarities to any women, living or dead, is purely circumstantial.

After dinner, I rode around some more, enjoying the warmth of the evening as I rode around the park. Then I went back home, watched a movie and a documentary on Charles Bukowski. And went to bed around one.

(May 10th) Woke up early, half past five, and knew I wouldn’t sleep anymore. Sometimes you just know. I snoozed for a while, but got up around six, took a shower. Glucose was at 8.8, not bad.
I made myself breakfast, reading while I ate. Around eight I packed my swords and cane and went to the park, where I met a friend who took some pictures and filmed me doing battojutsu and canefighting.

I went home around lunchtime and soon after the weather turned colder, so I spent some time working on typewriters.
Just before dinnertime my daughter Nica arrived and we baked potatoes and curry chicken, and had some peas with that. Nica was happy to be home and we had a relaxed evening. Since she didn’t have to get up early — she had Monday and Tuesday afternoon school and Thursday and Friday morning school — so I allowed her to stay up until ten, gave her a massage and she went to bed.
I read some more and went to bed around midnight.

(May 11th) With my daughter’s return, life seems to get back to normal – we took it easy in the morning, my weight was stable at 97kg, and she was interested in how my glucose meter worked, wanted me to check her glucose as well. So we measured hers as well – mine was 10.7, hers 4.9 – and she went to eat her breakfast while I took a shower and washed the ointment from my eyes.
It was a windy cold day today, so I rummaged around the house until she went to school, then rode around on my bicycle and picked her up from school at three to do some grocery shopping. The playground was closed, so we went home and she played Sims while I wrote on my draft. We made dinner together, her favourite pasta sauce with tortellini, and she showed me what she made on her computer before it was time for her to go to bed.
Life starts feeling ‘normal’ again.

(May 13th) Although I’m still not 100%, I feel much better. This morning I woke up at half past six with clogged sinuses from the oxygen. I disconnected the tube and cleared my nose and went to bed again, where I slept until I woke at 10.30 hours. My saturation was good, 97%. And my glucose was 9.8mmol/l.

With all these good signs of my recuperation, I think I don’t need to add more to this convalescence diary. I will have to go for a CT scan of my lungs near the end of May to check how much my lungs have improved, and I will report on that and all relative information on my convalescence.

Thanks for reading this and I hope my diary has been informative. If there’s one important thing I found in battling this virus, it’s the importance of checking your saturation — ‘silent hypoxia’ is a real killer and virtually undetectable without proper equipment — so if you are at all worried, buy yourself a pulse-oximeter to check your oxygen saturation and go to the doctor if you notice unusual fluctuations.

Love you all, thank you for your support.

Feel free to comment on this diary, I love to hear from you. And if you wish to support me in any way, read my novels!


My Corona Diary

FYI, all measurements are Dutch/European. My normal body temperature is 36.5 Celsius. Normal glucose levels are between 5-8 mmol/l. Normal blood pressure for me ought to be 129/85, but I usually have 135/90.

(March 18th) Just to keep people posted, there’s a fairly big indication that I’ve contracted Corona or COVID-19 — shortness of breath, fever — so I’ll be housebound for the next week or so. I have no respiratory diseases or a weak heart, so I’ll probably be all right. I called the hospital and I have to call them back if I intend to leave the house or if I might go into respiratory failure (and need a respirator/ventilator), so for now I’m just going to chill out at home and hope it won’t get too bad.

(March 19th)I slept fitfully until 04.15, lay awake for a while, took my temperature 38.2, took paracetomol, vitamin c and magnesium citrate and took a shower. Mercifully I don’t have either headaches or coughs, but before I had towelled myself off I was soaked in sweat again from fever.But I’m up, walking around shakily but pretty lucid. Going to make myself some yoghurt with apple and muesli for breakfast and see if I can eat it. My stomach is unruly, but while I did feel nauseated, I didn’t throw up.I’d like to thank everyone for their sympathies, prayers and well-wishes.I’lll keep you posted how my day is going.

(March 19th) I had no energy whatsoever and spent the day mainly behind the laptop chatting or watching movies on Netflix. Even though I wasn’t hungry, I ate an oven dish and Indian vegetable soup. I took vitamin D3 and C and B12, and magnesium citrate. In the evening my shortness of breath became more acute and I felt that I was panting even when sitting still. I forced myself to take deeper breath even though it hurt. I came pretty close to calling the corona clinic and update them about the effort needed just to keep breathing. My throat felt like it had swollen until my air passage felt like I was breathing through a straw. I’ve always felt compassion for asthma/COPD patients, but for the first time in my life I felt what it was like to struggle for breath. I’m not easily scared, but I was nervous about getting to sleep and meditated to remain calm inside. I finally fell asleep around 01.30 hours.

(March 20th) I woke up around 04.15 with my head in a pool of slimy sweat and went to the bathroom to pee and take my temperature, which had risen to 38.4C. I had a hard time swallowing a Saridon paracetamol and went back to bed, sleeping on the other side of the bed. I woke briefly at seven, gasping for breath, dranks some water and fell asleep again. I woke from the phone around 10.15 when a friend called me who had been worried when she spoke to me yesterday night. I felt a lot better, more air and it felt like the fever had passed. My temperature was 37.4C (still high, but not a fever anymore), stripped the bed to wash the sweat-soaked sheets and took a shower. And now I’m having breakfast, feeling better than yesterday. More energy to do my laundry, but I will be taking it easy and reserve my energy to battle the corona (which I’m pretty sure is what I have, even without the coughing and splitting headaches). Will keep you posted on developments. Since 15.00 hours my air started to get constricted again, so I’ve taken some precautions — I called the clinic and they have marked me ‘Corona Positive’. If my breathing becomes as bad as last night, I will be taken to the hospital for oxygen/respirator/ventilator. So I pre-packed a bag with my medication and favourite travel typewriter (you never know) and made sure my ICE knows what’s going on.

(March 21st) Situation has worsened – I can only take shallow breaths without coughing. No fever anymore, but pain everywhere. I filled out the Corona Check with an update, may have to go to the hospital with respiratory failure, but still hanging in there. Can barely talk without coughing. Any effort = coughing. After talking to the clinic, they decided to send an ambulance. At my home, they found my saturation was 96%, but my blood pressure was 190/100 and my bloodsugar was 25 (normal is 7). So they took me to the clinic for bloodtests and a lung photo.

My lungs were clear, heart did well, but they thought I was diabetic, even when the bloodsugar dropped to 16.7. I had this before, where intense pain spiked my glucose levels, but I didn’t exhibit other diabetic symptoms (they tried to tell me I was enormously thirsty because I asked for water, but I didn’t have my water bottle and with my kidney stone problems I have to drink 3-4 liters of water per day, so I just flush my system, but I’m not abnormally thirsty). It took a while, but they ended up bringing me a carafe.

Anyway, they gave me Metformine for lowering the glucose in my blood and sent me home. No corona test, since they reserve the few they have for people who are admitted into their ICU.

(March 22nd) I was still gasping for air, had some chestpain and headaches and was feeling like shit, so I called the clinic, who sent over a GP to test me at home. Same values as yesterday, but my saturation remained 96 when I was walking around and gasping for air, so my body does get enough oxygen. They told me to just take it easy and sit out the virus I might have. If my condition worsens, I have to call them again.Meanwhile, this evening I’m getting used to the shortness of breath and just move around slowly, so I don’t aggravate my condition.

(March 23rd) I slept reasonably well. My breathing seems to have improved slightly. I’ve contacted my own physician on how to deal with the diabetes. Perhaps I can get something to self-test. I’m carefully optimistic about having passed the worst part.

My GP just called. Since I’m not on insulin, I cannot get a self-tester for glucose in my blood, but they will send me a lab form so I can have my blood tested when I’m out of quarantaine.

(March 24th) Slept well, had dreams about aikido and my motorcycle getting stolen from an underground garage where the aikido seminar was held. I have more air now, but it feels more like the common cold now – coughing and sniffling. I have to get myself some camomile to steam.

(March 25th)My health goes up and down. Today is one of the better days. Still panting whenever I exert myself (like climbing stairs!), but I try to exercise by doing tai-chi in the living room. I put a Hermes Baby typewriter back together after ‘fixing’ the frame as much as I can. Neighbours have a group app now so I can ask for groceries and whoever goes to the supermarket can get them for me. I’m touched by the solidarity.

(March 26th) Bad day today. Sweat a lot during the night. Shorter of breath, pain is everywhere, I don’t want to move at all. Every exertion brings a bout of coughing. Twice I had to run (shamble) to the toilet to spit out a gob of slime coughed up from my lungs. Wasted day, really. Someone sent me a link to a list of free movies (mostly Oldies), so I watched Fritz Lang’s MEine Stadt sucht einen Mōrder, glad for a relatively slow movie where I didn’t have to concentrate too much.

(March 27th) I worry about my glucose, taking Metformine without knowing my current levels made me anxious, so I had a conversation with my GP (Huisarts) about taking measurements. There are home testing kits, but they are for diabetics who inject insulin. She did understand my anxiety, so she send a message to the apothecary to deliver a home testing kit, which I got in the late afternoon.

Following instructions I tested myself and my glucose was 15.6 (normal level 5-7). Makes me less anxious about popping Metformine pills.

(March 28th) I woke up feeling quite well, measured my glucose sober (15.2) and had a pretty good day writing three pages for DRONE on my late mother-in-law’s Olivetti DL typewriter my father-in-law gifted to me. And some poetry on the Royal FP.

Watched His Girl Friday, listened to Nine Inch Nails and watched their ‘snuff movie’ Broken on archive dot org. Have to keep myself busy.

(March 29th) Woke up feverish around eight-thirty and took my temp, which was 37.9C (38=fever). My glucose was 14.2 (!), so the Metformine is working, I guess. I took medication and went back to bed. Woke up around ten-thirty with a damp pillow, turned it over and slept until 12.30. I feel a bit better now, but still short of breath.

I feel resentful towards the people in denial. Saw a clip from some Trump rally where stupid people told reporters that it was just a hoax from the liberals/democrats. Unbelievable.

I also got another test result from my hospital visit March 21st, that states that I have ‘pleura’ fluid build up in my left lung. And back then they told me my lungs were clean…

(March 30th) Woke up this morning around eight-thirty with 37.8C. Glucose was down to 12.2. I took Metformine, but figured that today I’m going to let the fever run its course. Woke up again at eleven with 37.9C. In preparation for possible hospitalization, I removed my beard, since oxygen masks tend not to fit over facial hair. It’ll grow back when I’m healthy again.My kidneys feel like they’re trampled and my throat feels bruised from coughing. Lost all my appetite.

GP told me that it’s about 90% sure that I have Corona, but not bad enough to be hospitalized – as long as I don’t develop pneumonia or need a ventilator, I’m better off at home.

(March 31st) My temperature went down to 37.2C and my glucose levels are now at 11.9. I feel battered and bruised like going a few rounds in a cement mixer, but apart from that I do feel somewhat better. More appetite, at least. Not a bad day altogether, did some tai-chi and sword training in the living room, cleaned up the windowsill so I could sit in the sunshine on the street side and hoovered the living room floor. Usually that takes me thirty minutes, but now I had to divide that over the day in order not to exert myself, but it’s better than nothing.

(April 1st) Woke up with cold sweat, but my temperature was down to 37.2 and my glucose was down to 9.9 (normal level is 5-8). Went back to bed and slept until 12.30. Time to do my laundry… I had to turn over my futon, which became a major chore, complicated by bursts of coughing. Was pretty much spent after that. Got some more meals from a girlfriend who volunteers at a kitchen. My neighbour cycled all the way to the other side of town to get the food. I’m so touched by all the support I receive while I battle this virus.

(April 2nd) My sugar was 10.2 this morning, but the rest of my illness goes up and down as well, so I’m not worried. I’m taking it one day at a time, trying to relax as much as possible and making the best of it, sitting in my ground floor window to catch some sun.

And then I take a downturn and cough my lungs out with the slightest exertion (like walking to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea). This is one messed up virus. It went so bad that I put a warm coat on over my clothes, feeling exhausted from the coughing. I took my temp and it was 37.9 again, fever. I took paracetamol and tried to go to sleep, but woke from nightmare time and time again.

(April 3rd) My temp was down to 37.3 and my glucose to 10.4. I feel like crap because I barely slept. Let’s see what this day is going to bring.

Another wasted day. I wrote one page of my draft, but too low on energy of doing anything else.

My GP explained to me today that Corona is an endurance race. This rollercoaster will keep going up and down for a while, just make sure the last part goes up, not down.

(April 4th) Had a good night’s rest and it feels like I have more air this morning. Temp went down to 37.1. Glucose is up to 12.4, but (according to my GP) I shouldn’t worry too much about that. Also, I read an article that claimed that Metformin — the medication I’m currently taking for my elevated glucose levels — tends to decrease the severity of the corona complaints, so that’s good news.

(April 5th) Woke several times from fever dreams with ideas for poetry. Weighed myself today and my body weight has dropped to 99.9kg. Which is the first time it got under 100kg for twenty years or so. Glucose is at 10.4, so not too bad. If I’m able to exercise more I will put more effort into it and see if I can get my ‘fighting weight’ of 90kg back.

Today I sat in the sun on the windowsill for a while, but it was almost too warm — it’s such a shame I cannot go for a motorcycle ride through the countryside, but I couldn’t risk it even if I wasn’t suffocating half the time.

(April 6th) Another feverish night. I took my measurements — 37.5C, 10.4mmol/l, 99.5kg — and went downstairs for breakfast. Today I’m coughing far more than yesterday, and I’m sweating with the slightest of exertions.

Most of my day is spent indoors — writing, making sure I eat regularly and take my meds, vaping cannabis six times a day, and trying to save as much energy as possible for my body to fight this virus. Still, I feel like a slacker, sitting in the window sipping tea and doing nothing.

Still, I feel like I shouldn’t feel guilty for doing nothing. I am doing something, I’m aiming to get well again. Within a few weeks, those who are helping me now might need me to help them.

I’ve been watching Stephen King’s The Stand — at least we’re not wading through corpses and trying to survive in a battle between good and evil. Not yet. So, now I’ll slowly head upstairs to bed, see if I can get some sleep.

(April 7th) I slept well, with some weird dreams, and woke around nine, feeling like I breathing a little easier. Measurements before breakfast: temperature 36.8C, glucose 9.6mmol/l, weight 99.9kg. So that seems to be going well. I noticed quite a few dust balls running around the upper floor of my apartment, so I hope to be able to carry the hoover upstairs to clean the floors. Oh, the excitement of self-isolating chores.

Today I spoke with my GP (huisarts) and the GGD (Health Service) about testing for COVID-19. In the general interest, I’d like to share my findings:
According to the GGD, there are two tests.
One, the test everyone talks about, is testing whether someone has COVID-19. This should be done during the crisis, which (for me) was at March 21st, when I was in severe respiratory distress. This test would now be useless, as I’m probably too far recuperated to have the active virus.
Two, the test to determine whether someone had COVID-19. This test checks for corona anti-bodies in the blood, which would indicate that the body has fought with the virus (and won). This test is not yet available, as it’s not reliable yet.
However, due to my list of symptoms and the severity of my complaints, the GGD also considers me a COVID-19 patient, but one who is on the mend.

(April 8th) 36.8C again, 99.9kg and glucose up a notch at 10.1. Didn’t sleep that well, but it feels like I have a little more air than yesterday.
A friend came by from Speeltuin De Waag, the playground where I volunteer and hold Type-Ins for children, to bring me a Get Well card with the Corona Monster and three hand-crafted chocolate bonbons from Puccini Chocolatiers.

I’m so glad to have some many excellent people around me to support me in my time of need. Thank you, Alf, Saskia, Iris, and Adil.

This afternoon, I decided to pick up my sword again for some battojutsu practice. Out of shape and out of breath, my execution of kusanagi no ken was sloppy, but I hope my sensei will forgive me for that. You can find the video on my instagram account.

(April 9th) 37.1C, 99.9kg, 10.7mmol/l. The corona rollercoaster keeps going up and down. Today I’m going down — coughing, headache, exhausted and limited air supply — so I have to time my exertions to avoid tiring out completely. Maybe if I don’t overexert myself today, I will have more energy tomorrow.
Around 18.00 hours I didn’t feel well. Suddenly, as I was coughing in my chair, my mouth filled with vomit and I had to hurry to the toilet, where I vomited up some more. My temperature was elevated to 37.7C and I felt bone-tired, so I went to bed.
I woke at 22.00 hours feel feverish and took my temperature again, which was spiking at 38,6C. I took two paracetamol and went to bed, from where I called the emergency physician service (huisartsenpost). They were worried about my gasping, so they sent a physician. As my oxygen saturation was too low at 92%, she called an ambulance and I was once again transported to OLVG hospital. I was put on oxygen and they took blood and swabs and connected me to a machine to keep a check on me.

(April 10th) They kept me up all night, running tests. At five in the morning they announced that I would have to stay until my saturation normalized, so I was taken to the Corona ward. Since I was now officially hospitalised, they took the dreaded nose swab to test me for COVID-19,
Luckily, I have to vape cannabis. Since cannabis vapour might contain the virus in droplets that would penetrate normal masks, they gave me a private room, so I don’t have to share a ward with other sick people. At six in the morning I went to sleep.
I was woken at 8.30 for breakfast and meds. I called my ex to tell her about the situation (I had talked to her before she went to sleep, but she didn’t know then that I had to stay) and arranged for videoconferencing with the kids later today. The doctor updated me and told me that they expected the corona test results around 13.00 hours. Not that there is much doubt about that, but maybe I get a certificate…

My saturation is going up, so maybe I don’t have to stay in the hospital too long. I like having a private room – makes me feel like a celebrity – but the dry circulating air is giving me vision problems that I have to solve with artificial tears. Still, I can dim all the lights and leaving only the bathroom light on.

And the view is pretty good from the seventh floor.

Interestingly, my tests came back negative. As the lung doctor told me, that could also mean my Corona was too far in remission for a positive test, so the negative could be a “false negative”. So, they still suspect that I have Corona and will make a CT scan tomorrow, the standard practice to eliminate me from having active COVID-19.
If I don’t have Corona, we’ll have to figure out what caused the respiratory distress…

(April 11th) A new day in OLVG B7 Corona Ward. My bed felt clammy upon waking, so I asked for new bedsheets and towels to shower. Glucose was 12.1mmol/l, saturation 93% (with 1 liter oxygen), temperature 36.2, and blood pressure 139/94. I’ve asked to speak with an eye doctor today as my right eye is developing blurriness and halos around light sources, which is a sign of elevated eye pressure. Yesterday evening they couldn’t do much more than give me artificial tears against dehydration, but the air in this room is just too dry.

I’m in good spirits though and hope the CT scan will give more clues about what is wrong with my respiration. At least I have a pretty nice view from the seventh floor. The high tower to the right is the Rembrandt Tower, where I used to work.

I was taken to Radiology for a CT Scan with contrast fluids that could be pumped straight into my “Vampire Self Servise Tap”.

After the scan, I was brought back to my room again. As the afternoon progressed, my vision regressed so much that couldn’t read anything anymore, not even the large print “low vision” screen of my Kindle e-reader.. I became increasingly anxious and demanded contact with an eye doctor. This didn’t sit well with the nursing staff and lung doctor, who thought I was being unreasonable and disrespectful for “telling them what to do”. I told them that anybody in my position becomes impatient when doctors and nursing staff unfamiliar with my predicament didn’t assign the same urgency to my condition as my eye doctor would. And I added that their OLVG Urology professor ruined my left eye by prescribing the wrong bladder relaxant, so my mistrust of medical doctors and personnel is not unfounded. And I apologised for being demanding, but I was not a difficult patient, assisting the nursing staff as much as possible by grouping requests together with meals, taking measurements like glucose with my own equipment and using their monitor to check my saturation myself so they wouldn’t have to don protective gear to enter my room. Also, I showed that I increased efficiency by not pressing the red button that would make them rush to my room, but by calling the nurses’ station on my mobile to confer with them, That cooled down the lung doctor, who understood my anxiety. She told me the results of the CT scan, which showed traces of the Corona virus. The reason the COVID-19 test was negative was because the virus was on its way out. For this reason (and the potential side effects on my kidneys and eye), they wouldn’t start with Hydroxychloroquine, but she was confident I would recuperate under my own power. As long as I got my saturation to stay above 92% in rest.
Since I couldn’t do much with my blurry vision, I conferred with the nursing staff about taking out the oxygen assist and measuring my saturation while sitting in the chair by the window, At 17.15 I took the tube from my nose and connected the monitor. Sitting still without the oxygen, my saturation was 92-93%, but when I vaped my cannabis at 17.30 hours, my saturation increased to 96%!
It was already 17.40 hours by the time I got called by an eye doctor. He assured me that the lasered hole in the cornea of my right eye would make sure my Intra-Ocular Pressure couldn’t increase to dangerous levels. As he had my file on hand, I told him to check what happened with the first hole they drilled, which ‘disappeared’ a month later. Ever since then, my eye was checked every three months by my own eye doctor, who had instructed me to ring the alarm any time my vision became blurry and halos would appear around light sources.
He concurred and I told him that I understood that they may not be able to check my eye pressure right away, but he could prescribe Pilocarpine eye drops that would lower eye pressure. If that wouldn’t decrease the blurriness, we could see if my eye pressure could be checked tomorrow. I also asked for the more viscous Vidisic artificial tears gel that would do a better job of moistening my eyes in my dry room. He told me I’d get started on the Pilocarpine right away and he’d make sure I’d get the gel also.
I felt a bit better after talking to him, but when I spoke to the nursing staff, they told me the pharmacy had already closed, so they were searching the ‘polikliniek oogheelkunde’ to find Pilocarpine, This had been what I’d been afraid of, and why I had been asking for Pilocarpine since breakfast. They finally found a couple of vials at the polikliniek, so I got started on the Pilocarpine. I hope not too late, as the outer corner of my right eye has become inflamed, probably from my eyes drying out too much already from the incredibly dry air in my room…

(April 12th) I slept from midnight till three in the morning when the nurse came for my check-up. My oxygen was at 92%, my temperature was 36.1 and my blood pressure 132/85, so that was all good. I dripped more Pilocarpine in my eye and tried to get to sleep again, but the bed felt clammy and uncomfortable, so it took me at least until 04.30 hours to fall asleep again and I slept fitfully until 06.45 hours. My vision is still blurry, but if I concentrate I can write this diary. I will ask to visit with the eye doctor today because of the inflammation in my right eye.

The lung doctor just visited and told me I can go home this afternoon. I have to remain in quarantaine at home until all my Corona complaints are gone. He also took a picture of my eye to send to the eye doctor, who will call me before I go home. They’ll make sure I have the increased dosage Metformine 850mg pills and Pilocarpine vials to last until my GP/Huisarts takes over. Although my stay here was as comfortable as they could make it, I’m very glad to go home again.
At 13.00 hours I went downstairs to have my eye checked. The inflammation had gone down, as had the high IOP, and according to the eye doctor the irritation and blurred vision was mostly due to dehydration of the cornea. So I have to use the Vidisic Carbogel artificial tears to keep my eye moist and the blurriness should pass.
I was brought home by ambulance, as I told them I didn’t want to put a taxi driver at risk. I’m overjoyed at being home again and being able to look forward to a future when my breath returns and I can exercise again. At least now I know that exertion lowers my saturation and I just have to take a rest and allow the saturation to come back up again – spread my chores throughout the day and not do too much without taking long breaks in-between.

(April 13th) I had a good night’s rest, my glucose was 11.0, temperature was 37.1, and my weight 99.2kg, so I didn’t gain any weight from my hospital stay. My frequent use of the Vidisic gel is working, the blurry spots in my vision are shrinking. And it feels like I’m getting more air. The thing is not to get overly confident – I just donned my face mask and walked to the gate to get my mail, and I noticed my unsteady gait like a bowlegged sailor – no doubt my condition and stamina has taken quite a blow and I’ll have to train diligently to regain my physical prowess. Still, it could easily be worse and it looks like the damage isn’t permanent.

Hypothesis – Breathing, meditation and Corona.
Something a doctor at the hospital said got me thinking about how mental attitude and training in certain skills could decrease the severity of dealing with the symptoms of the Corona virus. What worked for me does not mean it will work for others, but trying to do what I did certainly won’t exacerbate the situation.
One of the doctors who saw the CT Scan of my lungs made on March 12th came into my room and noticed that I was playing around with the saturation monitor and how I wasn’t using the extra oxygen anymore. He told me that he was amazed that I had been able to battle the virus unassisted for weeks before I needed hospitalization, and how I was only put on 2 liters of oxygen for one day and 1 liter the next.
Judging by the presence of the virus still in my lungs, he mentioned how I must’ve had severe dyspnea and how exhausting that had to have been. However, he had checked my March 21st anamnese that showed pretty high saturation, 96%, while with the acute dyspnea I had back then, I should’ve had dangerously low oxygen levels that would require supplementary oxygen to not pass our or slip into a coma. Instead, according to the notes, I presented a calm but alert demeanour without any of the grogginess I should’ve had from the dyspnea, hypertension and extremely high glucose content in my blood. And the virus raging through my lungs, invisible to the x-ray they made.
However, since I had been experimenting with the saturation monitor, I showed him how my saturation would drop when I was physically active from 92-93% to 85%. I could see him looking askance at the oxygen tube I had hung from the rail over my bed, but he watched the monitor as I sat back down and started my breathing exercises, showing the saturation would immediately return to 93%. He surmised that my breathing exercises must’ve helped me get through the weeks as my lungs had more and more trouble to supply oxygen to my blood, causing me to be hospitalized and needing supplementary oxygen when I became exhausted.
That was not the case. If you read back about my situation on Thursday, the sequence played out differently: I felt reasonably okay during the day, than around 17.30 hours I ate three sandwiches with cheese and tomato. About two hours later I had stomach cramps, threw up in my mouth, rushed to the toilet to vomit for a while until I was exhausted and crawled upstairs to my bed and went to sleep. Around 22.00 hours I woke with a fever, took two paracetamol and decided to report this negative development to the huisartsenpost. A GP called me back, was worried about my breathing, sent someone to check on me and she was worried about my 92% saturation and decided to call me an ambulance.
So I wasn’t exhausted from fighting the dyspnea, but from vomiting, which tired me so much I went to bed and my body became feverish again. At that point though, judging by the presence of the virus in my lungs, I had all but won my battle against the virus. The vomiting in combination with the dyspnea was just too taxing for my weakened system, but if I hadn’t had to vomit, I doubt if I had been so exhausted that I would’ve called the huisartsenpost and probably wouldn’t have been hospitalized as a result.
With that in mind, the hospital did give me a reprieve from the battle with their supplementary oxygen, but even without that I would have stabilized and beaten the virus without assistance. On the other hand, without their CT Scan, I wouldn’t have known for sure whether I had contracted Corona, and without their saturation monitor, I wouldn’t have been able to measure the results from my breathing exercises and meditation to calm myself and increase my oxygen levels after exertion.
For those interested in trying my breathing method for themselves: I breathe in as deeply as possible through my nose and breath out through pursed lips, like blowing out a candle. And I keep ‘blowing out the candle’ until it feels like all of the air from my lungs has been used up. And then I breath in through my nose again to fill my lungs back up.
My hypothesis: while inhaling is important, the more important part of this breathing exercise is in the exhaling. Most people only breathe using the upper part of their lungs. As they only use about half their lungs, I surmise that the rest of the lung is filled with ‘old’ air that is much lower in oxygen content and that upper register breathing doesn’t use your lung capacity efficiently. By exhaling with pursed lips until you run out of air, you exhale both the breath you inhaled plus part of the deoxygenated air lower down in your lungs. And so your next breath, rich in oxygen, can penetrate deeper into your lungs, and help the lungs oxygenate your blood. As I’ve been using this breathing technique for several decades of martial arts training to recuperate from the exertion, I can often effortlessly perform martial arts kata that exhaust younger, less experienced martial artists.
And I assume how that deep breathing technique helped me to stay calm when I was in severe dyspnea and keep my blood highly oxygenated.
So, if you want to try it out, exhale through pursed lips, squeezing out as much air as possible, and breath in through your nose until your lungs are ‘full’, and repeat. Let me know in the comments if you feel like you have more air.

(April 14th) Slept quite well. Took my stats this morning, temperature normal at 36.8C, glucose pretty low at 9.8, and my weight has gone down to 98.5kg. I called the pharmacy to check if they can fill my prescription for the higher dose Metformine, and gave my stats to the assistant of my GP. Hope this day will bring improvement in my dyspnea.

Since my recuperation might take another two weeks, I need to buy medical equipment (not covered by my health insurance) to measure the saturation and my blood pressure. Figure that’s going to cost me at least another 60 euro, on top of the 60 euro I had to pay for the glucose meter. It may not seem a lot of money, but since I’m on Welfare it’s a big bite out of my budget…

I received a copy of the letter sent by the hospital to my GP, that lists my CO-RADS designation as CO-RADS 4, which means that as far as the hospital is concerned, I’m COVID-19 Positive based on my CT Scan.

(April 15th) Slept well. Took my stats this morning, temperature normal at 36.9C, glucose as low as yesterday at 9.8, and my weight has gone down to 98.2 kg.
I’m grateful to my (former) father-in-law, Erik, who has come to my financial aid by gifting me a sphygmomanometer, so I can keep track of my hypertension. It’s due to arrive tomorrow. I’m not someone who usually craves to know exact numbers, but in these trying times, I’m monitoring myself much more closely.
I had some fun reading my hospital discharge papers, which mention: Physical examination: Not sick. Sits in lotus position. Speaks in complete sentences. (Lichamelijk onderzoek Niet ziek. Zit in lotus-houding. Spreekt volzinnen). I wasn’t sitting in lotus, but just with crossed legs, and I wasn’t gasping after each word I spoke, but my neighbour Simone said that it sounded like I was sitting there like some buddha dispensing wisdom. And she added that I pretty much always spoke in complete sentences, so if I didn’t, that would be a reason for worrying.
I thought I was doing better today — had some long phone calls with a friend in need of counselling, and in person with a friend who brought me my groceries — but when evening came, I was getting chills and pains in my joints reminiscent of arthritic pain. I put on a pair of lined Helly Hansen pants over my yogapants for extra warmth and took two paracetamol. It’s unnerving how my state goes up and down and how easily I get exhausted still. When will this be over?

THIS DIARY WAS GETTING A BIT LONG, SO I CUT IT OFF AT THE POINT BEFORE MY 3RD AND 4TH HOSPITAL VISIT/STAY. YOU CAN FIND PART TWO HERE.

Love you all, thank you for your support!

Feel free to comment on this diary, I love to hear from you. And if you wish to support me in any way, read my novels!


Upgrading your vaping experience.

I’ve been using a Storz & Bickel “Mighty” vaporizer since 2016, vaping microdoses of Bedrocan medical cannabis six times a day for my glaucoma. Vaping six times a day was rough on my throat though, despite the vapour not containing solid particles like smoke and the use of a glass mouthpiece I bought separately for increased airflow.

To cool the vapour more and make inhaling smoother, I recently bought a Little Rippa EasyFlow bubbler bong and an adapter to use the Mighty to make a MightyRippa bong. Fantastic combination — the upended Mighty balanced quite well on the rubber Delta3D adapter, enough to put the Rippa away without fearing the Mighty flipped out of the pipe stem.

EasyFlow “Little Rippa” bubbler bong fitted with a Delta 3D adapter and a Storz & Bickel “Mightly” vaporizer.

I was checking for Storz & Bickel parts secondhand on Marktplaats and someone offered a S & B “Plenty” vaporizer for 150 euro (retail 199 euro). The Plenty is a hybrid vaporizer, basically a cross between the desktop Volcano and the portable Mighty, the Plenty has such a powerful heat exchanger that — like the desktop Volcano vaporizer — it requires an electric outlet. However, unlike the Volcano and like the Mighty, the Plenty is handheld and can be used in any position: horizontal, vertical, upended.

To cool the vapour, the Plenty has a metal coil whip between the heating chamber and the mouthpiece. Pull out the plastic mouthpiece, leave the tube sleeve on the end of the coil, and insert the whip in the pipe stem of the bong and presto, a vapour machine with double cooling (coil whip and bong) is born.

As I don’t lug my bong around, the Plenty’s main disadvantage (requiring an outlet) is not a problem anymore. On the other hand, it’s like a Mighty on steroids, with a larger capacity oven to bake enough cannabis for a family of four or six, and an unlimited power source.

“PlentyRippa”: Storz & Bickel “Plenty” vaporizer inserted sans mouthpiece into the pipe stem of the EasyFlow “Little Rippa” bubbler bong.

Drawbacks of the PlentyRippa combination are the necessity of using two hands — one for the bong, one for the vaporizer — and the inability to put the combination away without pulling the Plenty from the bong, making the combination a lot less elegant than the MightyRippa. Also, while the Plenty’s huge oven is great for parties, someone who medically microdoses cannabis can inadvertently take way too much cannabis due to the coolness of the easily released vapour, so 2-4 hits from the Plenty are about as potent as 6-8 hits from the Mighty.

The intense effect of the pure cloud of unadulterated vapour produced by the PlentyRippa muted my chronic pain enough that I can fall asleep without needing Tramadol. Which, I might add, is such a huge advantage that it’s well worth the money (I ended up paying half the asking price, 75 euro for the unit) and the drawbacks. Briefly having to use two hands to vape my cannabis is not that much of a problem, and there’s a ‘reducer’ on the market that reduces the Plenty’s huge oven to the size of a Mighty’s, with the addition of a dosage cup that snugly fits the reducer and minimizes resin fouling up the Plenty’s insides.

If you use cannabis recreationally, this combination will easily serve 4-6 people sharing one “Plenty”. The vaped cannabis is evenly brown and can be saved to use in edibles.


Typecast: Street Writing in Amsterdam

Writing @ Amsterdam Oosterpark
My ultra-comfy Helinox camp chair, with the Street Writer canvas bag and the Gaston Lagaffe piggybank.
The 1955 Groma Kolibri @ Vapiano
The 1955 Olivetti Lettera 22 @ Oosterpark.
Writing examples with stickers and the Gaston Lagaffe piggy bank.
My favourite on the road machine, my 1964 Swissa Junior.

Typecast Movie Review: They Shall Not Grow Old.


Review re-written on 1964 Swissa Junior.

The draft was typed immediately after the movie on my 1937 Hermes Featherweight:


QUORA question: “What’s a collectible typewriter I should purchase on sight?”

“What is a collectible typewriter that I should purchase on sight?”

Collectible.

If you mean, a typewriter that I can easily sell off for more than I paid for it and which will probably increase in value in the coming years:

Hermes 3000:

The bulbous Swiss typewriter with the minty green keys guarded by Mingus is a 1965 Hermes 3000, an iconic typewriter and favoured by respected writers and collectors like Tom Hanks, Sam Shepard and Larry McMurtry (who thanked his H3K in his Oscar speech for ‘keeping me out of the cold clutches of the computer’). Gorgeous design, precision (Swiss!) mechanics, and loaded with innovative features, this machine is worth buying blind if you can get it for less than 100$. They sell nowadays for anywhere between 200–700$.

Seidel & Naumann Erika M:

This is part of my S&N Erika collection. While the S on the far right is my preferred typer, the M (for ‘Master Class’) on the left is considered the pinnacle of the already astounding Seidel & Naumann range of Erika portables. It has pretty much any feature you might want from a modern machine — keyset margins, keyset tabulator stops – and it has an interesting shift mechanism — in most machines either the whole carriage shifts up (called ‘carriage shift’) or the basket segment with the typebars goes down into the machine (‘basket/segment shift’), but with the Erika M, the carriage remains on the machine, only the paper-carrying platen part is lifted (‘partial/skeleton shift’). Apart from all the features, the machine types like a dream and is aesthetically gorgeous. If you can get one for less than 100$, snap it up, because a clean refurbished M goes for 250–600$.

Groma Kolibri:

This East German Cold War typewriter became famous when featured in the 2006 German movie The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen), where a dissident author writes on an unregistered Kolibri that’s flat enough to be hidden under the floorboards of his apartment.

You can see it in this trailer of the movie, when it’s delivered under a birthday cake and later typed on and hidden under the threshold.

This is my main ‘in transit’ typewriter, for when I write outside my home. Like here, @ Vapiano Oosterdokseiland while sharing a pizza with my son.

It’s super-flat and fits in most backpacks, plus it’s a snappy typer. These machines are quite rare and will fetch prices around 350–750$. I bought mine for sixty euro and I’m not going to part with it, even though I had offers far exceeding what I paid for mine.

Olivetti Valentine:

This is the only collectible that I don’t have, nor want. Iconic design typewriter that has become incredibly popular among collectors, but I typed on one and it felt like a toy, not an actual typewriter. And since I’m only interested in machines I can actually type on, I’m not really interested in owning one.

Prices fluctuate, but Valentines can fetch from 200–600$, depending on their condition.

Edited May 12th, 2019:

And here I wrote about the Olivetti Valentine: “This is the only collectible that I don’t have, nor want. […] I’m not really interested in owning one.
And today, while street-writing @ Nieuwmarkt, an elderly lady complimented me on my 1938 Seidel & Naumann Erika S, and told me she had a red typewriter that had a red box it slipped into. She was looking to sell it only to someone who really appreciated manual typewriters, would I be interested? So, that’s how i became the owner of a Valentine for forty euro.

Below are some typewriters that I think should become collectibles, because they are so, so fine:

Erika 10:

Not to be confused with the S&N Erika’s above, the 10 is a post-war German typewriter after Seidel & Naumann had been bankrupted after WWII. Made in the early 60, it is an astoundingly smooth typewriter with beautiful lines.

Swissa Junior:

Until jousted from the prime position by the Groma Kolibri, this Swissa Junior was my favourite ‘in transit’ typewriter. It’s Swiss, like the Hermes, and it types even better than the Kolibri, except that it’s bulkier and won’t fit in a daypack backpack. The type is incredibly straight, like a laser printer, and distinctive. It’s also my son’s favourite machine to write on:

If you want to know more about the Swissa Junior (and some of my other typewriters), you can find my blog article here


Typecast essay: Incorrigible.





This is not how I usually transport my typewriters!


WRITING: “Writing Fiction Is Easy”

If you ever want to piss off an author, tell them:
If I had the time, I could write a book. Easily. Anybody can write. I used to write essays and stuff. I have tons of ideas. My life is very interesting, I could fill a book with just my experiences. 
Well, if these people ever found the time, they would realise that writing a book is not just about having the time to sit down and write.
If you can write a thousand words a day, and your book is a hundred thousand words (like my books typically are), then theoretically, you only need 100 days to write that book. So why does it take me 6-9 months to write a book? Considering that I know what I want to write and I’m working on my sixth novel?
Not to mention that, once you wrote the book, you still need readers to pay for reading it.
I’m not hugely popular, but after 3.5 years and 9 publications, I sell about 3-4 books a day to complete strangers, who are willing to pay for the privilege of reading my work.
When I started off in 2012 (with 2 publications), I sold about 1-2 books a week, which can be disheartening unless you factor in the competition – 350,000 books published each year, on top of the millions of books already available. And with hardly any marketing budget (I’m on disability*), I mostly sell through word-to-mouth: readers telling other readers to read my books.
So writing is only part of the equation. I could write more books if I didn’t have to worry about taking my books to market. And it’s pretty much the same for any published author – the publisher leaves a lot of the promotion to the author, who needs to build their own fan base and organise their own book tours and blog interviews. Only the big names get the assistance of a publicist and a marketing department to help them into talkshows and book fairs.
I love writing and editing, but I still have trouble with (self-)promotion. Just writing quality books is not enough. And I can count myself lucky writing a popular genre (suspense fiction) – a friend who writes literary fiction barely sells 2-3 books a year. And his books are great, but literary fiction is always a much harder sell. Which is why I’m still smiling.
So, piss off a writer today and tell them, ‘writing fiction is easy, I could do what you do, if only I had the time’. 

*My disability has been terminated, by the way, sending my marketing budget all the way down beyond zero. So now, I’m relying even more on you, my readers, to do what I cannot do – tell others that you liked my books and help spread the word that my books are worth reading.

I thank you for your support.


FAQ: “How do you get reviews?”

There is a ratio going around that you’ll get on average one unsolicited review for every thousand books you sell. At this moment of writing, I have 115 reviews on GoodReads and 75+ reviews on Amazon. And I can assure you that I haven’t sold a 1000 books per review, more like 30-50 books. And none of these reviews is bought*.

I did a few giveaways on GoodReads that netted me some reviews, but most of my reviews are from two things:

  • I give away ARCs, which are Advance Review Copies. That means that I send reviewers my books before they are published, so they can post a review when the book is published.
  • I ‘request’ reviews from my readers by posting this message at the end of each book:

Thank you for reading the Amsterdam Assassin Series. 
For an independent author, gaining exposure relies on readers spreading the word, so if you have the time and inclination, please consider leaving a short review wherever you can.

Most readers won’t consider leaving a review, because they are not used to voicing their opinion, or because they don’t see the importance, or just because no one asks them for their opinion. That’s why the message at the end of the book is so powerful – I just remind them gently that I would appreciate if they’d tell others about this book they enjoyed, so others can enjoy the books too. And I’m serious about reminding them gently – don’t push readers into feeling obligated to review your books. And be grateful for every review, whether it’s 20 or 200 words long.


 

*Customer reviews now outnumber professional reviews, but that has also made for some underhanded practices – just as you can buy Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers, you can also buy reviews, especially through websites like Fiverr.com which trades in fake reviews that are posted through multiple accounts.

Other loathsome review practices are the ‘quid pro quo’ review circles, where authors buy each other’s books and give each other glowing reviews, and authors creating ‘sock puppet’ accounts to write their own reviews and upvote themselves (and/or downvote their competition. Most of these fake reviews are easy to spot, since they are as formulaic as the books they promote, but it’s still profitable since many readers equate having a lot of reviews with ‘a quality book’.


WRITING: “If Only I Could Find The Time…”

One of the most annoying statements people make when they hear I’m a writer, is that they’ll shake their heads and say, “I’d love to write a novel, if only I could find the time.”

To most writers, this is a seriously demeaning statement, because most of us have 24 hours in a day, juggling our work, private life, responsibilities and social activities, and yet we authors are able to find our time to write.

I’ve written several novels and short stories and I’ve had people asking me, where do you find the time to write? And I tell them, wherever I can:

  • I worked night shifts as a security officer, filling the bulk of my shifts with writing.
  • I rarely watch live television, but I pre-program my television to record what I want to see, so that I can fast-forward through commercial blocks (a two-hour movie on television contains some 30-40 minutes of commercials!).
  • I write on an iPad with a bluetooth keyboard that I take everywhere, so I can write in waiting rooms and playgrounds (where my children are running around).
  • I turn my manuscripts into e-books that I can edit on my e-reader while I’m waiting in queues at the supermarket or during rides in public transport.
  • I get up an hour before the rest of the family wakes up, so I can cram in some writing before breakfast.

And I don’t mess around when I’m writing:

  • I write in drafts so that I finish a draft before I start editing. Writing and editing require different mindsets – I used to edit while I wrote, but I don’t do that anymore, because my inner editor will stifle my creative mind. And if you spend time editing on a scene that you’ll cut anyone is wasted time.
  • I don’t worry about beginnings, endings, chapter length, opening sentences, character names, or if the right words don’t come to mind (I write the closest word and add a @, so I can find the word again when I’m editing). Most of that stuff will be decided on in the editing process. My first rough draft is not to be read by anyone but myself.
  • Formatting, like smart quotes, bold, italics, chapter names, et cetera, is decided in the late editing stage, when the story is shaping into a manuscript.

The most important thing is that rough draft. Get that story out of your mind and onto a paper or screen, so you can look at what was in your head. Two hours movies often have several hours of deleted scenes that never made the movie. A sixty minute album of music will require a week of studio time. A novel you can read in eight hours was created in twelve months from a manuscript that might take twenty-four hours to read.

When you get better at filming, you will become more efficient. You won’t need to shoot eight hours of film to produce a two-hour movie. You won’t need weeks to produce sixty minutes of music. And you won’t need to re-write your draft six times to produce a polished manuscript. With practice, you become more efficient.

Don’t fritter your time away – do something constructive and write that draft. You can thank me later.