So I Ran Over to Brno And Then

Photo by Nathan Wright on Unsplash

If the flight out to Prague was surreal and delightful, the return flight was surreal and miserable.

End of January beginning of February is DevConf.CZ and FOSDEM and since both are quite close to where I live, the plan was to run out to Brno for the first event, run back home for a few days, then zoom down to Brussels for the other event.


I woke up miserable on Sunday, but since I had stayed out late the night before, I just stumbled into the shower, thinking I only needed a little steam healing. But I just felt worse. And worse.

…and worse.

I took a minute to count up the symptoms. Fever. Cough. Achy skin.

“Influenza” is too wimpy a word for what I had.

I call it Zombie Death Plague.

Photo by Daniel Jensen on Unsplash

Thankfully, Sunday was the last day of DevConf.CZ and ALSO the RDO Community stepped in to run and break down the booth and bring me my luggage.

And. And. And.

Getting to Brno involves flying via Vienna or Prague and then a two hour ish train or bus ride which is tolerable unless the Brno central train station is under construction.

Which it is.

And then it started snowing.

Here’s the thing – before the flight, I was able to eat. I was able to walk. Able to carry my luggage. Able to stand and breathe and function.


And then.

The gate’s passenger boarding bridge was somehow broken, so passengers had to debark via the stairs.

I let a ton of people out before trying to stand, feeling even hotter and more miserable than when we took off – and when I tried to stand, the entire world tilted. I flagged down a flight attendant and started crying.

“Please help.”

For the record, all secondary languages disappear under stress. Or illness.

I explained that I was extremely dizzy, feverish, and sick and was scared of walking down those stairs. KLM kicked ass by arranging for local medical services and keeping me calm and hydrated.


Dizziness plus fever plus verticality plus walking equalled me taking a nap on the tarmac.

Did you know that the Amsterdam airport has a mini hospital?

They do.

And I saw the inside of it.

For four hours.

And here’s where food stopped staying in my body.

Getting to the Amsterdam airport involves a quick walk to the bus station followed by a short bus ride to Groningen and a solid two hour train ride – sometimes direct, sometimes switch one or two times, depending on circumstance / weather / construction.

No big deal normally.

Unless the food’s not staying in the body.

Instead of attempting all that in reverse, I checked myself into an airport hotel.


Now, CitizenM is my hotel of choice when I have to spend the night at the airport before an early flight, but part of what makes them so very well priced is that they don’t have room service, for example. And the entire hotel, from the rooms to the services, are streamlined to the point of automation.


From the moment I showed up in an airport wheelchair to the point I got into a taxi two days later, CitizenM was BEYOND AMAZING.

With my permission, they checked on me every few hours, brought me food and drinks, and came to the room whenever I called. They were absolutely beyond and above and I’m still utterly blown away at their support and awesomeness.

I thought I’d just have to stay one night, bounce out of bed, and drag myself northerly the next day, but no – the next day the fever dropped a bit, but as soon as I sat up, I vomited. It continued throughout the next day and I opted to stay at the hotel again.

Towards the end of the day, my boss and I discussed the logistics of getting home and she immediately approved a taxi.

All. The. Way. Home.

Exhausted, I went to sleep knowing I’d be home the next day AND I WAS.

But Zombie Death Plague lived up to its name.

My local general practitioner came over and listened to my lungs, looked in my ears, my eyes, and throat, and determined I wasn’t getting antibiotics.

Let’s read that again because it’s so very unAmerican.

My doctor CAME TO MY HOUSE, confirmed I had the flu, and there would be NO ANTIBIOTICS.

Ask me how much my copay was.


Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zip. Free. Gratis.

But then on day ten, while the fever was totally gone, I was still coughing and puking but not as dizzy, so I took my happy butt back to the doctor. Who heard something wrong with one of my lungs. And found bacteria.

And gave me antibiotics.

In the Netherlands.

And while the Zombie Death Plague is not quite gone (I’m totally back publishing this cause, damnit, I want to post twice a week), I’m only on day three of antibiotics.

So, here’s to hope.

And thank you to KLM and the Amsterdam airport medical services and CitizenM Schiphol and Red Hat and Dr. Vries here in Haren.

Cause, DAYUM, the Zombie Death Plague is serious.

And while I still crave braaiiiiinnnnnnns, I’m a bit less zombie than I was yesterday.