A personal farewell

Shortly before my departure, the chairman of the medical staff, Simo Brada, came to see me. He told me – to my great pleasure of course – that I could not really leave silently. I had meant too much to the hospital and the staff, of which I had been chairman for 5 years. He proposed to organize a farewell 'en petit comité' and I could indicate myself who I wanted to be there. The management would invite them and organize everything. And so it came to a pleasant farewell drink on Friday afternoon, June 14, 2002 on a terrace somewhere in Vught. Present were, in addition to Janny and me: Simo Brada (medical staff chairman and internist), Ben ter Heine (medical staff secretary and clinical psychologist), Peter de Kubber (hospital director), Vince Mollee ('my' secretary during the period 1990-1995 when I was chairman of the medical staff, and clinical psychologist), Harald Aarts (plastic surgeon), Arie Ketelaars (head of non-surgical outpatient clinics), Albert Smeets (my successor as staff chairman and radiologist) and Jean Conemans, hospital pharmacist (I wrote earlier that he was not there, but in September 2022, after he had found my website he e-mailed me that he had been there and that it had been very pleasant). Jean and I had often worked closely together and written many scientific papers on contact allergy. Usually I would have seen a patient I suspected of having contact allergy to a particular substance or product, and Jean would provide the materials to be tested to confirm the diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis.

Frank Vernooy, the former medical director of the Carolus Hospital, with whom I had worked closely as staff chairman, was unable to attend because he was working on his hospital project in Africa at the time. Ron Nobrega, gynecologist and my neighbor in the outpatient department, was on vacation. Han Duppen and Erik-Jan Carol, both surgeons and Han also a member of 'my' staff board, were not there to my disappointment. It wasn't until many years later, when Vince Mollee stopped practicing clinical psychology in Carolus Hospital and had a farewell reception, that I was able to ask Han why they hadn't come and his answer was clear: 'We weren't invited.'

At one point Simo took the floor on that terrace in Vught to address me. At the end of a series of very kind and complimentary words and sentences, I was presented with a Liber Amicorum, a 'book of friends'. That came completely unexpected to me and it was a very pleasant surprise. It contained contributions from people in the hospital with whom I had collaborated a lot (Frank Vernooy, Vince Mollee, Albert Smeets), a general practitioner (Lex Bots), and the dermatologists from the other hospital in 's-Hertogenbosch. In addition, Simo had found some fellow dermatologists with whom I had had a lot of contact in the Contact Dermatoses Committee of the Dutch Association for Dermatology and Venereology (Derk Bruynzeel) and the Dutch Journal of Dermatology and Venereology (Jan-Gerrit van der Schroeff and Jannes van Everdingen) willing to write something about their experiences with me. I have always been, and always will be, grateful to Simo Brada and the staff board for making the perfect conclusion to my career as a dermatologist in 's-Hertogenbosch possible for me.

Back to Jean Conemans for a moment. The last time I saw him was at his farewell in..... (I don't remember) after being a hospital pharmacist in 's-Hertogenbosch for 32 years. That was in the basement of a hotel ...... (I don't remember, that makes one think) in 's-Hertogenbosch. Freddy Gerkens, also hospital pharmacist, had asked a number of people with whom Jean had worked to write something in 'Jean', a glossy farewell magazine Liber Amicorum, including me. Well, I knew what to do with that, so I wrote a piece titled - of course I couldn't resist - 'Jean et moi' (just as I couldn't help adding a 'Für Elise' card to a gift to my newborn granddaughter Elise). And believe it or not, Jean et moi got pole position in his Liber Amicorum. This much to the - more or less feigned - annoyance of Vince (who had ended up on page 35) and who said 'You've done it again'. It started like this:

Eternal youth

'It was not obvious that we would see each other after 2002, Jean and I. In that year I had closed the door of the Carolus Hospital behind me and, while we spoke very regularly professionally (by telephone), Jean and I never had many personal contacts. A few years later, Janny and I exchanged – in my opinion – the much too busy and noisy province of Brabant for the quiet and beautiful Drenthe, where three quarters of the population is my senior and everyone talks with a local accent. Delightful, but far away from old friends and colleagues.

However, the world turned out to be smaller than I thought. In the fall of 2008 we crossed paths. Janny and I ran into Jean and his wife Evelien in windy Utrecht. We were on our way to our daughter's graduation from law school, they had watched one of their children's sports game. It was with amazement and – admittedly – jealousy that Jean hadn't changed a bit. 'Dude', I said admiringly, 'How young you still look, it should be forbidden'.  At that time he must already have been one of 

the senior staff members of the Carolus. Was I wrong and does tretinoin cream work after all (De Groot AC, Weijland JW, Nater JP. Tretinoin: promise for eternal cutaneous youth? Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 1990;134:848-850)? Or had Jean discovered something in the pharmaceutical candy jar and secretly kept it to himself? Probably got lucky with his genes and lived a healthy life. Admirable and enviable, that's for sure.'

I was somewhat disappointed that the list of our joint articles was not included in the Liber Amicorum. That had something to do with space or budget, I think. Fortunately, I now have my own website and I can show the list in its entirety! 23 articles in a period of 25 years! Thanks, Jean!

  1. De Groot AC, Conemans J, Liem DH. Contact allergy to benzoxonium chloride (Bradophen). Contact Dermatitis 1984;11:324-325
  2. De Groot AC, Conemans J. Allergic urticarial rash from oral codeine. Contact Dermatitis 1986;14:209-214
  3. De Groot AC, Conemans J. Chloral hydrate: the contact allergen that fell asleep. Contact Dermatitis 1987;16:229-231
  4. De Groot AC, Conemans J. Contact allergy to metipranolol. Contact Dermatitis 1988;18:107-108
  5. De Groot AC, Barella CGJ, Conemans JMH. Risk of sensitization to Kathon CG. Contact Dermatitis 1988;19:210-211
  6. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH. Nystatin allergy: Petrolatum is not the optimal vehicle for patch testing. Dermatol Clin 1990;8:153-155
  7. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH. Contact allergy to furazolidone. Contact Dermatitis 1990;22:202-205
  8. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH. Systemic allergic contact dermatitis from intravesical instillation of the antitumor antibiotic mitomycin C. Contact Dermatitis 1991;24:201-209
  9. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH, Schutte Th. Contact allergy to di-isopropyl sebacate in Zineryt @ lotion. Contact Dermatitis 1991;25:260-261
  10. De Groot AC, van der Meijden APM, Conemans JMH, Maibach HI. Frequency and nature of cutaneous reactions to intravesical instillation of mitomycin for superficial bladder cancer. Urology 1992; 40 (suppl1):16-19
  11. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH. Contact allergy from mitomycin C after intravesical instillation. Contact Dermatitis 1990;23:263-264
  12. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH, van der Meyden APM. Huidafwijkingen door mitomycine C. Ned Tijdschr Derm Venereol 1991;1:112-118
  13. De Groot AC, van Ginkel CJW, Bruynzeel DP, Smeenk G, Conemans JMH. Contactallergie voor oogdruppels met ß-blokkers. Ned T Geneeskd 1998;142:1034-1036
  14. De Groot AC, Conemans J. Epileptische insulten: een weinig voorkomende bijwerking van isotretinoïne. Ned Tijdschr Derm Venereol 2001;11:260-261
  15. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH. Ivermecine in de behandeling van scabiёs. Ned Tijdschr Derm Venereol 2003;13:211-215
  16. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH, van der Hoek EW, van Oijen PLM, Sigurdsson V. Infliximab wordt een belangrijke aanwinst bij de behandeling van psoriasis. JBZ Medisch Journaal 2003;17:117-121
  17. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH, van der Hoek EW, van Oijen PLM, Sigurdsson V. Infliximab (I). Therapeutische rol in de gastro-enterologie en de dermatologie. Ned Tijdschr Derm Venereol 2003;13:270-275
  18. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH, van der Hoek EW, van Oijen PLM, Sigurdsson V. Infliximab (II). Therapeutische rol in de reumatologie en bijwerkingen. Ned Tijdschr Derm Venereol 2003;13:316-321
  19. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH, van der Hoek EW, van Oijen PLM, Sigurdsson V. Bijwerkingen van infliximab geordend en gewogen. Pharm Weekblad 2004;139:513-517
  20. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH, van der Hoek EW, van Oijen PLM, Sigurdsson V. Nieuw medicijn infliximab. Effectieve therapie voor Crohn-patiënten. Crohniek 2004;26:29-30
  21. De Groot AC, Conemans JMH. Psoriavis voor psoriasis? Ned Tijdschr Derm Venereol 2004;14:406-408
  22. De Groot AC, Stoof T, de Beer H, Conemans J, Mulder C. Dermatitis herpetiformis. IV. Medicamenteuze behandeling. Ned Tijdschr Derm Venereol 2007;17:240-4
  23. De Groot A, Stoof T, de Beer H, von Blomberg M, Conemans J, Jonkman M, Mulder C. Dermatitis herpetiformis. Aanbevelingen uit de Richtlijn. Ned Tijdschr Derm Venereol 2008;18:422-3

Allergic contact eczema due to a substance in shoes. This is often chromate, the metal salt with which leather is tanned. Other possible allergens in shoes include rubber, glue and dyes. Often the allergen is not found. It is very difficult and usually impossible to obtain reliable information about all materials and chemicals used in the production of the shoes.

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