After I had called in sick that day I was ordered to go to a “bedrijfsarts”. Apparently there is no term for this in English. It is a physician, that is hired by the employer, to basically see if an employee is really sick. Since they are hired by the employer they can’t exactly be called a neutral party, because “who pays, decides”. I had to reschedule my appointment with the bedrijfsarts a few times because of further testing in hospital. Luckily it turned out that after 3 months, my pancreatitis was “cured” enough that my enzyme levels were more or less normal, but the bowel problems remained and were getting worse. So yet more testing was needed to find out what the problem was.
Eventually, I met with the “doctor” to discuss my illness. Of course I brought along all the evidence from my physician and internist, including an appointment card which stated all the appointments I would have in the coming month(s). He glanced at it and asked about my diet. Now, I may not be the healthiest eater in the world, but I do take great care in what I eat, among which is a reduced intake of processed sugar. At that time I still used Candarel as sweetner in coffee. He then started a diatribe about fructose and how it was the cause of all evil in the world and it was in everything and dear god, we are all gonna die soon! Then ended the meeting by basically saying I had 2 weeks to get back to work or else. Nothing medical was ever discussed… Needless to say I was rather , lets say, confused about the meeting.
Unsurprisingly I was not able to go back to work after those 2 weeks. I had tried a few times to make it to the office, only to be treated to a repeat performance of the prior bus scenario. It wasn’t fun. And of course the reaction from work wasn’t fun either.
Then about a month later, I had to get bloodwork done for a checkup. The next day I was, again, called by my physician that I needed to come in immediately. So I figured the enzyme levels were off again. Wrong! This time my bloodsugar levels were through the roof. It was 32 mmol/L (576mg/dl), while a healthy level is about 6 mmol/L (108 mg/dl). So I had to start taking anti-diabetic pills immediately. I had never had problems with blood sugar before. Ever. I had checked “for fun” on my mother’s glucose meter and was consistently below or on 6 mmol. I had apparently developed diabetes overnight. So, more fun to be had.
Meanwhile I was getting tested, pricked, prodded and poked in hospital to find out what was causing the diarrhea, which was by this time constant. No amount of antidiarrheals was able to stop it. I had (multiple) gastro- and endoscopies (during which it was discovered via biopts that the pancreatitis had destroyed quite a few insuline-producing cells, hence the sudden diabetes), biopsies, cultures and lord knows what else taken, all of which showed no explanation for the bowel problems. Allergy tests where done (nothing), medication tests where done (ziltch), fructose- (OMG! WE ARE GONNA DIE!) malabsorbtion, lactose intolerance, coeliakie (gluten allergy) (nada). In short, ever test thinkable was done and nothing showed up.
In the meantime, I occassionally had good periods, in which I was able to go to work. For me it was nice to be able to do something again and get out of the house. But my employers (and now former friends) were extremely horrible and hostile. For weeks they wouldn’t speak to me, except when absolutely neccessary. If I had been ill and came back to work, they would ask how my vacation was. It was all very ridiculous and low. And extremely depressing. I was just going to work to make sure our clients didn’t suffer under my illness. Then in november 2012, during another bad period and barrage of snarky remarks, I had had enough and called in sick for the last time.
So the next step was of course another meeting with Dr. Fructose. I went there with my complete patient file, signed reports from my (by now 3) internists and physician. He didn’t even look at them. He merely asked when I planned to return to work. Explaining what the issues were, he replied “Then wear diapers, take a taxi and return to work”… Excuse me? I was too dumbfounded to even react. 2 minutes later I was outside, wondering what the hell just happened. So he made his report and I was expected to come to work, on a therapeutic basis (part-time), by taxi a week later. After my employers got the report, they informed me, by registered letter, that I was expected at work the next monday. If you don’t show up, they would dock your pay. Oh and you have to pay for the taxi yourself… EXCUSE ME?
At this point I called the agency where Dr. Fructose came from and asked them what the deal was. I spoke to the case manager, who told me that he had been innundated by letters, text messages and emails from my employers. “And in fact, I just now received another email…”. He agreed with me, because it is actually the law, that if they wanted me to come to the office by taxi they would have to pay for it, because I was still in effect sick. Thank you, Mr. Manager. I asked him to inform them of this, because I was too livid to deal with them. Mind you, I worked for an Accountancy & PAYROLL company. So they should also have known this…
Comes monday, I felt well enough to go to work. By bus, because, silly me, I didn’t want to make extra expenses for the company. (yah, I know, shut up). I was already 2 hours at work when the bosses finally arrived. And was promptly called into a meeting. Oh joy. First thing that was said was “Every time you call in sick, D**** (lady boss) gets really upset and I won’t let that happen again, do you hear me?” Excuse the fuck out of me?! I got up, got my bag and coat, told them I was sick again and went home. By taxi. On their account.
Enter Dr. Fructose again for a 3rd meeting. I brought my patient file again, just in case. He didn’t look at it. Why change now, right? I can’t even remember what was said. Probably more fructose talk. Next thing I know, I get a letter from the agency that as of February 6th, I was considered healthy enough to work again. Yay! A miracle! I would be cured at midnight on February 6th! I don’t believe you exist, but um… thank you god! And thank you Dr. Fructose for your healing prowess!
Come february 6th, I did indeed feel well enough to go to work. Instantly I was called into the office and was fired with 3 months notice ( You can’t fire a sick employee here). Thank you “friend”. I am so touched by your compassion yet again. I did finish that day, simply because a tax report was due for my favorite client. The next day, I called in sick again, because I actually was. And they docked my pay, which is illegal, for the last 3 months. Then one day, 3 months later, after I was fired, I got a call. If I could please do the taxreport for my favorite client again. And I did. Because I didn’t want to get the client into trouble, not because of them. They said they would pay me for the hours. Surprisingly, they never did.
I hired a lawyer to sue them for the missed pay, not paid-out remaining vacation days and the hours I worked for that client. But by that time, I was so drained and ill, that I didn’t have the energy to go through with it. My dearest friends managed to fuck me over good one last time.
At the beginning of this year (2016), after even more tests, I finally got diagnosed. I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Dumping Syndrome (=food sometimes moves to fast through my stomach) and semi-chronic Pancreatitis. I am unable to travel, so I am basically homebound. If I MUST travel, I have to fast for 2 days to make sure my bowels are empty. Then take loads of antidiarrheals to basically flatline my bowels and hope for the best. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I also have to bring clean clothes with me at all times in case of “accidents”. My life is a barrel of laughs. But all this did teach me that betrayal comes in many, many disguises.