Paulien Cornelisse is a Dutch writer, columnist and cabaret artist. In a recent article in de Volkskrant she describes her brush with the Dutch medical system. She gives a funny insight in how she experiences, somewhat resigned, the recommendations of the assistant of the doctor. This ‘don’t worry, you’ll get better’ from the assistant treatment makes many ex-pats in the Netherlands desperate. Can’t you see I need a doctor??

“My foot slipped, and that at the top of the stairs, but I was able to grab hold and my chest caught the blow.
It all hurt terribly, but you don’t need to go to the doctor with this, as a rib fracture/bruise should heal on its own.

‘But when I bend down, I do feel that something does ‘grok’ – like something is shifting inside me,’ I said when I called the doctor’s assistant. Again, this was not a problem. Only when that rib sticks outwards, or just inwards (into your lung) should something be done.

My surroundings can be divided into people who think a broken bone is about the worst thing that can happen to you, and people who once picked up somewhere that a bruise is actually much more painful.

‘It’s one of two,’ I say then resignedly. And meanwhile, I concentrate on what is experimentally the most important thing when dealing with a bruised/broken rib: don’t sneeze.”