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Column JGD | From a patient’s log book

HomeMediaColumn JGD | From a patient’s log book

Column Jacob Gelt Dekker voor Curacao Chronicle | From a patient’s log book

Interior designer Marcel Wanders put in rooms, lobbies and restaurants of the Kameha Grand Hotel of Bonn, Front Moooi’s Pig tables, at Euro 3,000 apiece, in the stunning wing-shaped building by Karl-Heinz Schommer, along the Rhine River.

At the opening, the hotel was not expecting too many Muslim and Jewish visitors and never anticipated to become the center of European-Middle-eastern mass immigration. Bonn was the Conrad, Hermann, Joseph Adenauer the German statesman who served as the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 to 1963. Adenhauer’s new center of power was for Bonn-babies, the romantic emptiness that fill in Hitler’s ruthless fascism with flower power-pacifism and socialism.

Lovey-dovey, cuddly animals, from Donald and Dagobert Duck, or if you prefer, Scrooge McDuck, to the bloodthirsty Midas the Wolf became the darlings of the 1950’s and 60’s kids generation. So, who wouldn’t want to impress their guests with life-sized pigs to serve soft drinks with a straw, shine soft light from horse lamps and rabbits fixtures?

The tray of the pig table is mounted to a unit that is already attached to the pig. For indoor use only, and available in black.

Thanks to Wanders it feels a bit like a living Dalí painting. Its target group is that most desirable the hipster business traveler, with thick wallets, and as such, it’s anything but corporate. They are more like spoilt trust fund babies lost in a fairytale wood with marzipan houses, wicked witches, and sleeping princess in glass coffins.

Wanders was so nice to allow a touch of that fantasy in his Andaz Hotel of Amsterdam, at the Prinsengracht, just around from the corner where I have lived, off and on for decades. Hyatt Hotels Corporation operates this five-star boutique hotel of 122 rooms and 5 suites. Located in the very center of Amsterdam, once a nondescript, socialist-poverty design, intensely, boring public library building, the Andaz Amsterdam has been transformed into a fantastical dream world. The hotel is now a center where old becomes new, history fuses with modern-day living, and luxury beats with the same heart as the city.

Oversized welcoming bells, passion-red Tulip Chairs, from hell to heaven wallpaper, carpets and walls with ancient nautical maps, a romantic secretive garden, all built around and a mesmerizing conservatorium full of memorable icons.

That is partly why I finished up in West Germany, in April 2014, hoping to find one of these one-day laser surgical remedies for a pinched nerve, following the lead of one of my managers. I had the poor man seen crawling over the floor screaming from pain, and, after the miracle intervention reborn as an Olympic athlete.

So, that morning, always early as is my lifestyle, in a dawn haze of the Rhine River, I hobbled along the quay, gawking at giant tour- and traffic ships, but realistically hardly taking in more than the morning chill.

At the clinic, Herr Doctor, Doctor, Professor had me waiting for half an hour while his Luxemburg-secretary checked out the validity of my credit cards.

“No,” Herr Doctor, Doctor Professor said, I cannot find anything wrong with your nerves, and they are not pinched, but I will call my colleague, Herr, Doctor, Doctor, Professor, Professor. So the six times heavy academics crowded behind the ocular of a giant microscope and the wall projector. No, nothing, some old stuff, but nothing wrong with you.

Yes, after a brilliant epiphany or a divine intervention from the former Roman baths, but the huddle came up with a solution. I should start taking Lyrical, in Germany a popular medication for adult neuropathy, pain and adult epilepsy.

“But Doctor Doctors, Professor Professors,” I protested,” what in that fist-size glob on the left of the screen?”

“ Nothing,” the Doctor-Professors chanted in chorale, “ That is an artefact. Yes, artefacts do occur, unfortunately. Can, we arrange a car for you to go back to the hotel?”

“You mean, you have a car at my disposal to drive me through the posh corridors to get back to the annexe with Moooi’s pigs?” I ignored the Doctor-Doctors, Professor-Professors and within hours, a luxury ICE got me back to the Old City of Amsterdam.

Lyrical made no difference, and by June I was no longer to walk, heavily depending on crutches, wheelchairs, walkers, my personal assistant and cabs.

June 17th thereafter was my next eventful day, the Pritzker Architectural Award was delivered to Shigeru Ban in the Amsterdam Rijksmueum at a Grand Gala dinner in the Rembrandt gallery, and three of my dearest friends from the New York museum world came over for the occasion.

Naturally, I bent over backwards to show them whatever Amsterdam had to offer in exhibition technology, and in particular, Wanders, of course. It was a glorious day, as we toured the canals and rubbernecked at the latest projection and exhibition facilities by a socialist country, set on wasteful spending by spoiled civil servants.

After the historic Maritime Museum, I had to get a car and go home, there was no other option. The next morning, my right leg had doubled in size from swelling, and I asked my PA to get me a car and organize me as a walk-in at the hospital. A dear friend, and oncologist, Bob Pinedo, instantly made urgent arrangements.

In the Business-Class waiting room of the cancer ward, I waited for hours. Occasionally a page would come by and offer me a glass of water, but nothing happened. Things were not getting better, and I in the end I collapsed.

It was a comical event. While I had fallen on the floor, other waiting patients alarmed the desk, but the attended was busy. I still hear her yelling,

“I am here all alone here, and busy, and cannot do two things at the same time. The gentleman will have to wait until, I end my phone call,” and she jabbed away about her marvelous weekend with some remote friend: patients, dead or alive would have to wait. If it had not been for a befriended neurologist who, by coincidence, found me in these confusing circumstances, I would have been dead, for sure.

What happened afterwards was not a picture postcard performance of medical teamwork, differential diagnosis, and patient care. It was a poor theatre show of pity, silly, little men and women professors, yelling at each other.

That large glob on the left side of my scan, the artefact of the Doctor-Doctors, Professor-Professors was a giant 20×10 cm tumor, stretching from the Femoral nerve, artery and muscle, infiltrated everywhere and grown through my bladder and alt the way up to the spine. For the next three years, I shuttled between residences and hospital but was never ‘home’ again. I had become a walking dead.

By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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