Today Matt took me back to the Sindelfingen hospital at 0700 to check-in for my back surgery called, Percutaneous Nucleotomy. I was very scared and a little anxious as we waited in my room on the seventh floor for the nurses to come get me. Tricare only covers what’s called a “semi-private” room here in Germany so I had a roommate, she was a much older lady and her name was Rita; she spoke okay English and seemed harmless enough. We ate lunch together at our little two person table while Matt napped in my hospital bed.
The German hospital food was horrible; for lunch we had ratatouille on zucchini, it was bland and full of water with terrible red pasta sauce and bow tie pasta with no salt or butter. I ate my fruit yogurt and went to lay down with Matt.
|Dinner was the smallest meal|
The nurses came to get me at 1145 and I was asked to dress in a lovely (yeah right) gown with odd looking under pants before they wheeled my bed down the hall, in an elevator, and onto the surgery floor. I began to cry just before we entered the elevator, and it only got worse as we passed through a hallway which was under construction ; all I could see was black trash bags where the ceiling had been removed. This long hallway was rather dark and it reminded me of every scary hospital movie I had ever seen. All I kept thinking was, “I want my Mom.”
Matt was asked to take a seat in the waiting room and I was then wheeled into a room where I was given my IV by a woman who spoke very little English and acted irritated with me that I didn't know German. Three hours later I was being wheeled back out of the surgery room and back to my semi-private room.
I remember looking at the clock before I went under at it was exactly noon when I was given my IV. It was 1500 when I woke up and was given this weird sponge to stick in my nose; the nurse kept telling me it was for oxygen but it made it harder to breathe. My whole face was itchy and my back really hurt. I remember several nurses walking around the room to other people who were "coming to" after surgery and complaining about the pain. I was given several doses of something that didn't really seem to work because I kept saying I was in pain.
Later, back in my hospital room, I was fading fast after some sort of meds (or maybe it was the pain) and when I awoke Matt was gone and I had no idea where he was. When I had to pee I was given a bed pan and asked to roll a little to one side so it could be slipped underneath me. This was made it very difficult to urinate because I was propped up on the bed pan and it seemed like I was peeing my own bed, I had to turn the TV on so I could concentrate on something else and I think it still took another minute or two to allow myself to pee.
In my hospital room I had my own TV with a phone attached; both of these were hanging from the ceiling and on a rotating device so I could move it around to any position I desired. On the TV there was a nurse call button which I used quite often. I was later told that I had such a "luxury" because of my private Tricare insurance.
The nurses came by each morning after breakfast with our menu choices for lunch and dinner. I guess it was too difficult for them to try to talk to me in German because they stopped asking me what I wanted after the first day and just brought me menu option 1. I could have read it myself and understood what the menu said because I saw one laying on the table after I was well enough to walk and I was very upset that they kept asking my roommate what she wanted but never bothered to ask me. I stopped eating most of what they brought me because after a while one can only eat so much German/Swabian food.
I was in the hospital all day on Monday for blood work and to speak with the anesthesiologist, and the surgeon about my procedure. They talked to us about rehab options and we decided on an in-patient facility in Bad Urach (about 40 mins from Stuttgart) where I could stay the whole three weeks and not worry about driving to and from every day. We wanted a place that offered in-patient care because Matt would be going TAD for 5 weeks while I was under their care. I'm free to come and go as I please on the weekends but during the day Monday-Friday 0700-0500 I'll be on a pretty packed rehab schedule. The rehab facility is called Fachkliniken Hohenurach, it is a pretty popular physical therapy rehabilitation center in the Swabian Alps. Here is an English website but their really isn't much info: http://www.fachklinik-hohenurach.de/index.shtml?en_homepage
I'm very thankful that my nice Doctor, "Professor, Dr. Kessler," allowed Matt to take me home Monday evening at 1900 as long as we returned the next morning at 0700. We were able to meet up with our friends Kate and Gio for dinner at the Hendlhouse before spending the rest of the night together watching TV shows on my laptop in bed.
I didn't get released from the hospital until 2100 on Friday night, and that was only after I proved to the doctor on call that I was well enough to sit around all day in the comfort of my own home versus the hospital. I was up and walking around for two hours before she came to check me out and I was exhausted, but I couldn't take it anymore in that place. The food was terrible, my roommate was starting to annoy me, and the nurses were getting more and more rude. The German "pain" pills didn't even work and I was given this painful shot every night to prevent "Trombosis:" as the Germans said. I looked it up and it means, "the formation of blood clots," or, Thrombosis.
I had been on my feet as often as I could handle it since Wednesday with assistance, and since Thursday on my own. Friday morning I took a shower by myself and even though I still couldn't bend or twist, I did a pretty good job of dressing myself...at least my bra and shirt. I was stiff when I got out of bed each morning or if I was on my feet for too long, but it didn't really matter. I felt pain whether I was in bed or up and walking around.
|My sexy compression socks|
When I did finally leave, I was given a few German pain pills to take home and let me just say, I gave one to Matt for a headache after we looked them up online. I was given Novalgin, and Benuron for mild to moderate pain which are both not marketed in the U.S. Needless to say, I began taking my Tramadol once I got home. No wonder I was in so much pain!
Notes: If you're going to stay at the German hospital for any length of time, make sure you bring your own towels, wash cloths, soap, tooth paste, shower shoes, etc. It's not like staying at a hotel. You will be given a bed with a German blanket and a pillow. You may want to bring your own "non gas" water and American food or snacks as well. There is a small cafe down stairs where you can buy desserts, drinks, small gifts, body wash, shampoo/conditioner, and sandwiches and ice cream but the prices for the toiletries are very high in my opinion.