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Jasper and Mats

Written by Huib, published Thursday February 22nd, 2018

My mother suggested a book to me, after my dog Mats died and I started to write some little stories about her prognoses, the best weeks of her life, the process of taking care of her and some tough choices I needed to make for her. The book is called ‘Jasper and his servant’.

“I wish I was two doggies. Then we could play together” Dutch poem

‘Jasper and his servant’ is written by an apparently famous Dutch novelist, Gerbrand Bakker, who wrote it as an investigation into himself and to figure out why he had not written any new novel for five years.

I had never heard of him, but that is no real surprise as I hardly keep track of who is famous in my country. But my mother reads his weekly columns in the newspaper about his garden and his German house, and about his life after Jasper was gone.

I was deeply moved by the book. Not so much because of Jasper, because he had a smaller role in it than the title led me to believe. No, it was because of a lot of recognition with both the personality of writer himself as well as with his style of writing.

He jumps from one topic to another, seemingly without any point to it. He is grumpy and makes no secret of it at all. And he’s deadly honest with himself, uses a cynical sense of humor and is sincerely politically incorrect about a number of topics in society. What a relief.

Lyme again?

At the end of the book Bakker mentions Lyme. Both Jasper and he had a tick bite. Bakker was hospitalised for a night to get IV antibiotic and wrote a column about it, warning Dutch people of how little serious it was taken in the Netherlands compared to Germany.

Shortly afterwards Jasper became blind and completely disorientated. In the Epilogue of the book Jasper dies, after waiting for his ‘servant’ for a week and greeting him exitedly for the first time in his life. Bakker writes how time suddenly ran short and how space suddenly closed in. About how quick everything went at the final appointment with the vet.

I could feel his love for his dear and ill dog pouring out of every sentence. While reading the epilogue, I cried my eyes out again.

My eyes were still dripping, when I wrote him a message on Facebook to thank him. To my surprise (he was very clear in his book about neither liking compliments on his work nor messages from readers), Bakker responded.

I told him of my suspicion that Jasper had died of Lyme, despite a negative test result and we talked about why Mats was a main character in my book.

He watched ‘Unrest’ later that night on German Netflix, to understand why I approach the topic of Lyme from a social angle. “Holy shit”, he afterwards wrote in the chat.

Jasper and Mats never met and played together. When Gerbrand is back in Amsterdam, we will meet for a coffee (or two glasses of wine) and exchange our books. And talk of the two dogs we loved. Jasper and Mats. Mats and Jasper. Possibly about next dogs. Maybe about other things as well.

Wander and wonder

As a writer – or as someone who simply wrote a book, as Bakker accurately stated it – reading ‘Jasper and his servant’ also inspired me to give myself more freedom again to roam, next to the work I will keep doing to shift the Lyme paradigm. The freedom to write about other, little things in life, after spending so much of my time, attention and focus solely on the multi-headed snake repressing knowledge about Lyme during the last years.

My ghost would like to travel, as Peter Gabriel beautifully phrased it, wandering and wondering about the many things that I don’t understand in this world or just about little precious encounters.

Cato the Elder

In most of these stories, Lyme will play the role of ‘mystery guest’ anyway. As it did in this one.

It reminds me of Cato the Elder, a Roman senator, who would always end his speeches – no matter on what subject – with this sentence: “”Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem delendam esse”.

“Furthermore I am of the opinion that Carthage must be destroyed”.

It took some time, but now Cartage is ancient history. Well, so is the Roman Empire.

I will start paraphrasing Cato at the end of this article and of all the ones from now on:

Furthermore I am of the opinion that the Lyme pandemic needs to be acknowledged.


Huib Kraaijeveld, MA

Author of ‘Shifting the Lyme Paradigm‘, chairman of the On Lyme Foundation and founding member of the Ad Hoc Committee for Health Equity in ICD11 Borelliose Codes

If you found this article worthwhile, would you like to take a look at the crowdfund campaign that serves to finance my work in a sustainable and honest way? This is how you can contribute to Lyme awareness and the impatient revolution needed to shift the current Lyme paradigm.

drs. Huib Kraaijeveld

In: Blog Philosophy Inspiration Lyme Mats a Dog

"This book perfectly describes the plight of millions of patients, who suffer from chronic Lyme Disease in many countries all over the world."
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"I received the book exactly on the day that I had decided to end my life. Huh?! Yep. I am 35 years old years and have been ill for 19 years. Now I know why: Lyme. Everyone should read this book!"
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Frans Vermeulen, journalist, the Netherlands

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