Down in Brussels החולה הבלגי

Dear bot followers,

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog, some of which is due to my lack of empathy to my non-human followers, some of it was due to the radical changes my job status was going through, but a large part was Pulmonary embolism. So there.

I was working in Belgium, training the european branch of Orbotech to work with the a new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. The training was not easy – mainly due to very active resistance of the employees to the new software – they feel it sucks. In comparison to the old software – which they were accustomed to (and built some nice software tools around it – to make it more palatable) – Now it’s all gone.

I was getting on top of things after three courses. Got the material down, got the people smiling, got good reviews. The only thing I could not make happen – was my fitness. I was feeling less fit by the day. On the second week (after a tour of old Brussels) I felt like a rug.

On a Friday, the situation was unbearable. My walk to the workplace (along the NATO building site) was a via dolorosa for real, every three steps I had to stop for a breathing session. I thought my juvenile asthma woke up from a 30 year slumber, or maybe just pneumonia. I reached the office a wreck. but the best was still ahead.

Walking back to the hotel was impossible. but even reaching the bus station was a task beyond my means as my vision blurred (like a migraine hase) from the center up. I was worried I would not see a car coming. I barely climb the bus, paid the annoying driver (who knew no english) someone picked the coins I dropped and gave me – I thanked him in a whisper – I could not move.

We reached the airport after a ride from hell (no available seats for me to gather breath reserves). I could not walk more than a meter at a time – and to reach my Hotel shuttle station – I had to cross a two lane bus road. I did it half running as I felt I’m going to fall in a few minutes. And then I sat. and waited.

Even sitting down was a problem – no oxygen was coming in, and I did not know how would I get up to the bus. I blessed the fact that the bus was not in a hurry, so I could rest somewhat. I should have been careful with my wishes, It was a five hour wait, in a biting cold drizzle, with a short sleeve shirt.

Finally it came. I nearly cried. I got up then down somehow. It took me 10 minutes to reach my room and get to bed. I hoped that sleep will make it better. It didn’t.

I contacted the insurance hotline. The girl there was courteous and smart – “Get an ambulance” – but I insisted to see a doctor. I still hoped it could be gone with a ventolin shot or a steroid. And not for the last time, I was wrong. The doctor came after three hours, I was on edge – packed my suitcase in a pace that would make a slow motion lookalike. Her verdict was short – “it’s not your lungs, it’s your heart. You need to be in a hospital”. I could not get the relation between my short breath and my heart. But I could not breathe anyway, and I did not trust my thinking. So an ambulance it was.

The Belgian bedside manners are superb. At least at Brussels Saint Luc . The doctors struggled with english, but unformed we on their every move. I got a blood clot travelling from my leg to my lungs – where my heart right chamber was working overtime to get some blood over the clot.

It was not over in a day, nor a week. I spent two weeks in the hospital, almost a week in intensive care. The training in europe fell on the overburdened shoulders of the local “jack of all trades” who was my focal point.

And the Cadet course, My salvation, my way out of the age trap of Hi-Tech, was lost. I missed the final selection process.

My wife and Brother came to aid me (I was thankful, of course, but I couldn’t help regretting letting it fall apart). Everyone was in an uproar – My mom, wife, my workplace, the entire Kibbutz, my friends.

It’s getting late, and I’ll post this without the finale or Hebrew version for now.