Temporary interruption of the practice

On July 9, 1980, in the first year of practice, Janny and I got married in Haren, Groningen. We went on honeymoon to Portugal, by tent, that is, because I have always been rather frugal and, after all, we had just started working. In the Algarve I fell ill with, at least that's how it felt, a rather high fever. I wanted to go home, didn't want to let Janny drive and after 2 days we were back in Vught. It was Friday evening and the fever had disappeared. There fate struck. It was quite cold and we had the fireplace on. At one point it threatened to go out, so I aimed a jet of spirit at it. Bad choice! A stinging flame scorched the ceiling of the room and my right pant leg was on fire. Quickly I took off the pants and put my leg under the faucet for a long time, but my skin of the lower leg was badly burned and was acutely painful. And we had just started practice.....


I showed evasive behaviour, but I couldn't escape it: after removing the necrotic (= dead) tissue, skin grafts, taken from the upper leg, would have to be applied. Kees Pennings, the incredibly kind anesthesiologist, reassured me that he would make sure I would not be in too much pain and apparently prescribed a hefty dose of barbiturates. The operation, performed by Carolus Hospital plastic surgeon Hans K., was not without its problems. Apparently I had a clotting disorder and the wounds bled so heavily that skin flaps would drift off. So bag after bag of blood were administered by infusion  and the leg was kept cold and wet hoping the bleeding would stop. As a result, the operation took much longer than planned. This in turn caused unrest with Janny, who as a former operation nurse knew how long such an operation would take. My spouse and my mother in nerves and in tears.

Well, after a long delay, the grafts could be applied to the wounds without drifting off, the leg was bandaged and I was taken to the recovery room. When I woke up I felt .......... nauseous, nauseous, nauseous. Side effect of the barbiturates, so the spit trays had to be changed frequently. Kees had gone on vacation immediately after the operation. A week later he came back and right away he asked the plastic surgeon: 'How is Ton doing, Hans'? 'Still nauseous, Kees', the surgeon replied teasingly.

Two or three weeks later, I was already back at work, in the wheelchair and with the leg raised as much as possible. Hans made me an example for patients with similar injuries, who still 'could not go back to work' after 2 months: 'Our dermatologist had worse burns than you and went back to work after only a few weeks!' I did continue to suffer from discomfort and a heavy feeling in that leg for many years afterwards, especialy when I had to stand for a long time.

Suggested next chapter: