Guest Speaker – Ap Van De Kraats Bio
Born in 1954, Ap grew up in the Netherlands. He received his flight training in 1972-1975, at the Dutch Government Flight Academy. After that he spent 3 years in small aviation, performing banner towing (advertisement) flights, aerial photography and sight-seeing flights over the Netherlands.
In 1978, he joined a large Dutch airline company and spent 33 years there with great pleasure. After 7 years as a co-pilot on the DC9, he upgraded to Captain on the DC9, B737, A310 resp. (all short- and middle range routes). In 1994 he became a Captain on the B747-400 (long range). During the last 5 years before his retirement, his partner Annie would frequently accompany him on his trips, which they both enjoyed a lot. In 2011 he was retired, in good health and fit, and he wasn’t too keen to give up active flying yet. So, when offered the opportunity, he happily accepted a position as a Captain B747-400 in a South Korean company.
Ap: “Also in this ‘after career’ I was more than happy: many new destinations and routes, the interaction with new people, new cultures etc. It was a very intense period, but in one word amazing!”
Unfortunately, mid 2014 he suddenly got several acute health problems, like a sudden hearing loss, neurological disorders and extreme fatigue.
Ap: “That was the abrupt end of a flying career and the start of a difficult period with lots of doctor appointments, getting to accept my limitations and searching for possible causes. And of course for solutions, if at all possible…..”
“After a tip from a colleague, we were lucky enough to discover the cause of my health problems pretty soon: for years the air on board appears to have been contaminated with Organo Phosphates, severe toxins which damage the nerve system. Even very low doses can silently ‘pile up’ in your body until they reach a certain critical level, and then suddenly cause this type of disorders.”
“At that time I was in a very bad shape indeed, almost like a Zombie. My short term memory was very bad, and my mind had slowed down dramatically. My vision was blurred and I was moving as in a slow motion movie. For about 4-5 months, driving a car was absolutely no option, as the world was going way too fast for me, I simply could not keep up. Sitting in the car as Annie was driving me to the next doctor or therapist, I’d suffer strong vertigo during turns, I’d literally brace myself with both hands. I had several strong tremors per day, which literally exhausted me. I slept well over 12 hours per night and even then I really needed a good extra nap in the afternoon to get through the day.”
“One of the nastiest symptoms there is probably the depressive emotions that come with it. I’ve fortunately never reached a point where I seriously considered to commit suicide, but I do understand now that so many people with these problems do take their lives. I’ve been particularly lucky to have the unconditional support, understanding and solidarity of my partner Annie to help me through this difficult period. Many a relationship gets under severe pressure or even strands completely as the partner doesn’t understand what is happening to an AS patient (nor does the patient himself) and why he/she changes so drastically.”
“I was again very lucky to come into contact with John Midavaine., an ex-orthopedist, who specialised in sports- and orthomolecular medicine. With his professional guidance, food supplements and some supporting therapies, daily life gradually became a lot more ‘normal’ again.”
“I personally experienced how important it is to get the right information passed on and to receive the proper support when you’re suddenly confronted with so many health issues which you don’t understand, a really threatening situation. This motivated Annie and I in 2017 to take part in the founding of Stichting Fly Aware. With our contribution to this non-profit foundation we hope we can help others to get going again, too.”
The board of Stichting Fly Aware consists of:
Chairman: Dr. John Midavaine
Secretary/Multimedia/International Contacts: Annie de Vries
Treasurer/web master: Ap van de Kraats
Ap Van de Kraats Contact:
Fly-Aware Information Event In Holland – May 10
Host – Chriselda Barretto
Check out her blog: chriselda.blog
Contact her at:
Link to her books:
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