Tuesday, December 28, 2010

American vs. German Healthcare

For the past few days I have been reading a blog of an ER nurse, Nurse K. I have to say it has given me a lot of insight as to why the nurses and some doctors act as they do, and it reminded me of a few stories on my own... before I go into those stories I would like to give some insight on German vs. American care:

I have to say I am never having arthroscopic knee surgery or ANYTHING done on the German economy EVER AGAIN!! The American people take for granted the care they get Stateside. Bitch all you want about American doctors and care, but there is a quality of care that comes with the American healthcare system that does not come with other systems in the world.

I shared a room with FOUR little old ladies before and after my surgery. My surgeon never came to see me before OR after my surgery. The nurses handed me a gown, fishnet panties (gotta love those), a pill, and a syringe and told me to take them at 9 am... uh... there was no clock in the room. Still to this day (a month after surgery) I have no idea what was done in there, all I know is I might have had cartilage removed... I wake up with my entire leg wrapped in an ace bandage and a drain tube in my knee attached to a blue bottle.

I asked for my husband, he came in and was drinking coffee... I wanted coffee. I drank some coffee because I refuse to drink that bubbly water the Germans seem to love so much. The little old lay in the bed directly across from me gave me a chocolate bar, which I ate... I had nothing to eat or drink all day up to this point, and no one said I could not eat or drink. I knew that the anesthesia could make me sick, so I sipped everything slow, and nibbled very slowly on the chocolate (hey it made Harry Potter feel better after the Dementors got hold of him, so it should make me feel better too).

I was in PAIN, and they threatened to make me stay the night because I was in pain. I yelled that maybe if they gave me something for pain it would not hurt so much! They gave me something (some shot) and I worked through the pain to get to the bathroom, then out to the hall "Look, I am up... I want to go home." They told me anesthesia needed to release me first, so I needed to go downstairs to have them release me... so I did... they asked me if I could walk... uhhhh... are you fucking kidding me? They told me to go upstairs and get crutches from the ward where I was... so I went back upstairs with my file signed from anesthesia. "I need crutches so I can go home."

German nurse: Ve have no crutches.... for YOU. You need to go to Landstuhl to get crutches.
Me: Uh huh... fine... do I have medicine to take home?

She hands me three syringes that she tries to explain is a blood thinner, and that I need to give myself one shot  in the stomach every morning. She also hands me eight tablets of 400mg ibuprofen for pain... she says Germans do not give anything stronger, or cannot... whatever, and tells me to come back in 48 hours to have the tube removed from my knee. I figured since I have to drive an hour to the Landstuhl hospital anyway, I will have what I need taken care of there. I was just pissed that I had to leave one hospital to go to another one to get the care that I needed. They gave me a slip of paper that I was told explained what they did and sent on my way.

My husband and I got to Landstuhl and when he wheeled me in the ER I told the guy at the front desk that I needed crutches and pain pills. I explained that I JUST had surgery and what the German hospital did (and did not do). He tells me that they will "fix me right up", and goes to get me crutches (brand new and still in the plastic.. shiny). He put me on fast track, I got my triage done, and was sent to the waiting area. My husband got a soda and I begged him for a drink... I was so thirsty.

Within 5-10 minutes the doctor calls me back and I go through my story of what happened. I told her I never wanted to go back to the German hospital again, I was not thrilled with the quality of care I received. She said I could come back to the ER in 48 hours so that they could remove the tube, she was German and could read the paper that the German hospital gave me and said "This tells me nothing! This says they removed a few pieces of broken cartilage... that is it." She seemed annoyed with what happened to me as well, and that made me feel better. She gave me a prescription for percocets, told my husband where the pharmacy was and sent me on my way. I went outside to smoke (yeah, I know... leave me alone), and when I wheeled myself back in I felt sick. I asked the front desk for a bucket thing, they emptied one they were using for supplies of some sort, gave it to me, and I promptly vomited. Just then my husband shows up and asks me if I am ready to go... uhh... I got sick dude. He wheels me to the bathroom, cleans out the bucket, and we were on our way.

Once I got home my son was waiting outside for me and tried to help me get down the stairs. I did good on the first set of stairs, but on the second I lost footing and put weight on my leg that was just operated on. OH MY FUCKING GOD THE PAIN!!!! I screamed so loud all of my neighbors came out of the house. My neighbor came out and helped carry me to the door, and I went straight to the sofa, laid down, took a pill, and cried.

I never went back to the surgeon who worked on my knee, I refuse to... if he cannot take a few minutes out of his day to come see me and tell me what happened after the surgery then why would I go back to have him follow up on care I barely got in the first place?

I went to the Landstuhl ER to have the tube removed, which hurt... 5" of tube in my knee, but oh it felt so much better once the tube was out! I could move better, 50% less pain, and no bottle attached to my pants getting in the way!!! I followed up the next day (Monday) with my doctor and 2 weeks later started physical therapy. I am now in physical therapy to try to strengthen up my thigh muscles, driving again (finally), and walking without crutches or even a cane.

At some point my other knee needs work, but I will wait till everyone deploys so that I can go to Landstuhl to have it done. Fuck the German economy.

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