Oct 272011

Alright.  This is a bit cumbersome and slow, so please forgive typos and unadorned prose.  But, I figured I might share a few observations from my last couple days of experiences.

I have had the privilege of spending a few quality days in US hospitals over the years.   2  childbirths, a benign tumor removed, and fibroid embolization each afforded me glimpses of the US medical system from a decidedly patient-oriented perspective.  It may be worth noting that the ovarian tumor removal was the only procedure done on an out-patient basis!  That procedure was done on 9/9/2001 and the next two weeks spent in bed trying to recover were among the most grim in my, or indeed, US history.

Luckily, almost nothing about my German experience has reminded me much of those past medical encounters.

To begin with, all those other events occurred in large, urban hospitals.  Superficially sterile, white, busy, and intimidating.  There were lots of papers, lots of noise, lots of people, lots of interruption, and lots of instructions.

This procedure, on the other hand, took place in a small “Surgical Clinic”- so well integrated into its picturesque village that at first we could not find it at all.  When we arrived at 7:30 AM we were greeted with a petite waiting room and a buzzer instructing us to ring.  Once we did, a cheerful matron in surgical scrubs came bustling out.  Central casting could just as easily have sent her for a role as the  kindly mother superior or a Victorian household Cook, but she fit well as the head nurse.  She knew who I was before I introduced myself, apologized for her limited English and reassuringly patted my arm as she whisked me back to change into a hospital gown.

There was no waiting.  Well, David waited, but they took me right into an open ward with maybe 6 beds in it.  There was only one other patient when I arrived.  The anesthesiologist appeared within moments, and we were off!  He reviewed my anesthesia plan which involved a block of all the nerves in my shoulder followed by general anesthesia.  The nurses were all amused that I recognized propofol as Michael Jackson’s drug. The doctor told me I had the EKG of a young girl.  The IV was expertly inserted and as comfortable as such things can be.  “The block” was probably also done well, but it was painful and weird as it caused every nerve in my neck and shoulder to fire before numbing them.  I was grateful for it later that night, but at the time, I hated it.  If I had realized it went in that high on my neck I probably also would have fainted.  When I awoke I had a bandaid that would be suited for a vampire movie.

Literally as soon as it was done, though, they injected the propofol (white!) and I was out until recovery.  I never even saw the operating room.  No scary instruments were ever in my view.

As soon as I awoke, in the same room, David was by my side.  I looked at my arm, chest and shoulder and realized I looked like an oompa-loompa, or a certain guidette.  They had painted me orange with the surgical antiseptic.  They asked me to sit up, but, I fell over, so they had me lay down again.  😉  It apparently took quite a while to get my blood pressure back to normal, so we were in the recovery room for a few hours.  Then they moved me here:

David didn’t get a photo of it, but there was a mini breakfast nook at the end of the room by my feet.  A nice plate of fruit and a yellow table cloth on it.  The cabinet next to me was a fridge.  Around 5, my nurse came with a calligraphied menu card with about a dozen dinner selections to choose from.  They had chicken, beef steak and salmon.  Her English was not great, so I went for simple- chicken, baguette, salad.  It was wonderful!  They had cut everything into manageable chunks, the chicken was seasoned well and had a crisp top crust.  The salad was lovely.  And I could only eat about 12 bites.  I just had no appetite.  Ah well!  The anesthesiologist made his evening rounds and teased me about not liking their food. But, really, it was one of the best meals I had had in Germany!

Overnight they (gasp) let me sleep.  And in the morning the bustling Head nurse was back.  She left me with the youngest girl on staff whose job it was to help me with breakfast.  “What do you want to eat?” she asked.  I got the impression I could ask for any normal German breakfast items, but after quizzing her, I asked for ham and bread.  She came back with a tray piled with cheese, 2 rolls, coffee, ham, jam, butter and cream cheese.  Then she proceeded to wait on me like I was in some Merchant Ivory film.  I finally got so self conscious that I politely send her away.  She was back soon enough to clear things up.

Next a doctor arrived to take out my “rope” (drain tube… shiver).  Then they re-bandaged me and got me dressed to go home.  David arrived an hour later, and we left.  No paperwork, just a friendly handshake and well-wishes.

Back home

The color of Snooki (no bathing for another week, but we managed to sponge some off!)

 Next up, titanium, sugar and the mechanical chair!

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