Rockiest part of the road behind us, I hope

It’s good to be home. Sarah photographically documented these aspects of the “ordeal” (I’m being dramatic here; it was not as big a deal as I make it seem). I was initially glad we went with the Evangelisches Krankenhaus due to their proximity to our house. But after all is said and done, I’m glad to have had such a “personalized” experience. Choosing a smaller hospital definitely felt like the right choice, because I met with the surgeons* before and every day after the procedure and had direct line of communication to them via the nurses on my floor.

Surgery is not something you do for fun, but the especially the nurses in the surgery department did their best to ensure a speedy and comfortable recovery, and being home a whole day earlier than expected is proof enough for me.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: my out-of-pocket costs are 10€ per day for a hospital stay, for up to 28 days per year. I don’t know what the co-pays would have been under my HMO back in Michigan, but I wager they’d have been higher. This health care system is getting high marks in my book.

I’m thinking some day when Sarah’s out getting her voice lesson on or otherwise occupied, I’ll invite Tammy over or bring my “eggs” over to her and we’ll extract them out of their Evil Sauce and do a proper dissection.

We’re finally out of the Stone Age

See, I can do witty blog commentary, too.

For everyone I haven’t been able to contact personally, Cliff’s surgery took place on Monday afternoon. He had his gallbladder removed in a laparoscopic procedure, which was what we fervently hoped would take place. There were several gallstones, and because he thought fast and asked the doctors to save them for him, they set aside four of the largest ones. They’re each about the size of a peanut M&M, dark brown with a dappled pattern and utterly repulsive. They’re preserved in what I think is formaldehyde – whatever it is, it’s a sickly green color and I’ve just taken to calling it ‘evil sauce.’

Cliff is doing really well now. He was a little loopy yesterday afternoon, after coming out of surgery, but that’s to be expected. He is currently completely lucid and able to move around without much pain. He’s also desperately bored, which is unfortunate, since he’s probably there for at least the next couple of days. If anyone wants to visit him, I’m sure he would be tickled.

Photos to come later.

I’ve got some gall…

…but it’s really the stones in my gallbladder that have been making themselves known lately. I’d love to post my ultrasound pictures from the examination today (starting with an episode last night, an overnight stay in the hospital down the street from us, and heckuva lot of waiting around there between bloodwork and EKG and ultrasound results), but the hospital is still processing my paperwork (I can go pick up my discharge papers in about an hour).

So that’s what’s been keeping me up at night a few times per year for the last few years! It’s nice to know what was causing that; I just wish the timing for surgery options could be better, given work stress and upcoming travel.

So, my fellow consumers of the German state-sponsored health-care program, my questions to you are:

– Have you undergone any surgical procedures here in Germany? Got horror stories? Success stories? Artifacts*?
– What about copays — especially for those of you on a state-run plan like mine?
– How did your overal surgery experience compare with a similar one in other countries?

The mixed blessing here of course is that it’s not a surgery that has to happen this week, but if I am going to do this laparoscopically (if that’s even an option), I’ve got to shake a leg before we head off to Mexico and the U.S. at the end of the next month. If not, and this turns into a standard “open” Cholecystectomy, then I’ve got to hold out until the end of December at least, because I just can’t do a 6-8 week recovery period before then.