Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Not Again...

Lektüre: -Siegfried Lenz, Der Verlust (German Lit)
-pamphlet describing laposcopy procedure
-Anne Frank, Het Achterhuis (Dutch)

Tagesmenü: -Thai peanut noodles (from a box mix) with tofu
-low-fat yoghurt with cinnamon and sugar
-tap water

Nervensäge: -being diagnosed with yet another health problem…

It seems that I’ve come to Germany in order to explore its health care system.

Allow me to explain.

I’ve been having nasty abdominal pains for a week or so. On Saturday night they suddenly got worse. I had a fever (due to an ear infection), I was confused, I was all by myself, and I freaked out—I thought I had appendicitis or an ovarian cyst or something worse. In the US, I probably would have gone to Urgent Care. But, this is Germany, and there is no Urgent Care. If you get sick outside of the your doctor’s office hours, you can either drive to the emergency room in Bautzen or contact the Notarzt, a kind of doctor-on-call who makes house calls.

Seeing as my only means of transportation is a bicycle, and I didn’t really feel like biking all the way to Bautzen while dealing with terrible abdominal pains, I took the latter option. The Notarzt told me to go to the hospital. So I called a taxi, and away I went.

The examined me and performed some tests. They couldn’t find an immediate cause for what was wrong, so they decided to hold me. –An American hospital would have sent me home until the test results were in, but this is Germany. German hospitals hold you on any possible pretext, for as long as they can. So they didn’t let me go home until Tuesday morning.

Hospitals are wretched. You have no privacy, even in the shower. The nurses wake you at 6:15 a.m. and insist upon shooing you out of your bed so they can straighten the sheets (despite your protests that you’re just going to get right back into it anyway). People are constantly demanding tubes of your blood. The food is icky. There’s nothing to do (German hospitals lack candy-stripers who go around with magazines, and you have to pay extra if you want to watch TV). And, worst of all, you have to share your room with strangers.

One of the strangers I shared my room with was extremely irritating. An old lady, the kind who lives to discuss her health problems—in heavy Saxon dialect, no less. Direct quote (which I’ve left in German, because I think it’s funnier this way): “Heut’ hab’ ich schon Stuhlgang g’habt, und der war hart und derb.” (Translation: “I’ve already had a bowel movement today, and it was hard and coarse.”) She harped on me for not cleaning my plate at meals, despite the fact that I had abdominal pain and nausea. And she told me that since I walk around barefoot on the cold floor, it’s no wonder that I landed in the hospital. I ended up paying for TV privileges just to give myself something else to listen to.

In case you’re curious, here’s what’s wrong with me: apparently I have an endocrine disorder that makes my internal organs hurt. It was aggravated by the antibiotics I was taking for the ear infection. Hence the pains. So, I have yet another chronic condition (add this to temporal lobe epilepsy, TMJ disorder, back problems, etc.), though thankfully it isn’t anything dangerous.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The old lady certainly provided waaay too much information! Mom

12:19 PM  
Blogger Ada said...

Every day the nurses would come around and ask us all whether we'd been to the toilet. My roommate considered this an excuse to go into extraneous detail-- even after the nurses had left the room!

10:30 AM  

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