Sunday morning Dagmar and I got out of bed at 7 a.m. She prepared some coffee for me and a cup of tea for herself. She told me she felt just a tiny bit dizzy and went back upstairs. Less than five minutes later I heard a thud that sounded an awful lot like the start of a bad day.
“Dagmar,” I yelled already getting up from the couch.
“Dagmar,” I yelled again as I ran up the stairs.
I’m not a doctor and I don’t know what a seizure is, but when I reached her she was in the throes of what looked like a seizure, acted like a seizure and right outside the window an actual duck had a fucking seizure.
So I’m pretty sure Dagmar was having a seizure.
I’m a U.S. Army veteran of 20 years. I’ve served my country. I’ve served in Iraq. I’ve served in Afghanistan. I’ve run across traumatic situations, I know how to handle myself in stressful situations.
When I saw my beloved wife face down on the floor I immediately sprang into action and peed on myself.
She was doing some weird sort of, forgive-me-honey fish flop in what was obviously a shit-ton of blood.
When she fainted she landed in a spot her face was literally inches from a jagged edge along the wall. If she had hit that on her way down I knew it would be bad, teeth-missing bad in fact.
I ran to her and turned her onto her back. I made sure she was breathing, looked for gushing blood, peed myself some more, ignored the weird stare her unseeing eyes were giving me, peed on myself again, called her name again and then ran to my neighbors for help.
They, understanding none of my incoherent babble, but surmising it must be bad, jumped into action. My neighbor’s wife followed me upstairs while he ran to phone a German ambulance.
My neighbors get the heroes-of-the-week award.
That’s it though. Dagmar’s fine. Really she is. Her face looks like <insert domestic violence joke here>, and other than a small bruise on her shoulder (the shoulder which I think saved her face from that jagged edge) she is fine. Apart from not knowing what made her lapse into an all-too elaborate impression of Julius Caesar, she’s fine.
After five days in the German hospital she was released and she’s fine. , she left the hospital, but she’s fine.
German hospi … holy shit my wife was just in a socialist healthcare death-bed facility while everyone is debating Obamacare. Holy crap, thanks for doing a head plant and helping me think of a timely blog entry Dagmar!
Seriously though, think about it.
All of this occurred on Sunday and she left the hospital Thursday around noon.
Would that ever happen in an American health care facility? I’m not suggesting that because she was admitted, that suggests their health care system is at all better. Really, if it had been you, would you rather go to the emergency room, get checked out by a physician, get told you’re basically OK and that you have a follow up is with a specialist later in the week, or would you rather be checked in for four days?
Think about it, stay at home with all your creature comforts and follow up with subsequent appointments, or be admitted to the hospital?
There was a lady who shared a room with Dagmar and was discharged the day before her. She had been admitted to the hospital for five days — for hand surgery. As I’ve said, I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure that kind of surgery is what’s called outpatient surgery in the U.S. Afterward a loved one takes you home; you pop pain meds, elevate it and keep it under ice.
But not here. Four days of inpatient treatment is the prescription. Maybe it was some sort of life-or-death hand surgery that required round the clock care?
But that’s the point.
As much as anyone with a sane mind would hate the German medical system’s propensity to admit their patients for seemingly minor issues, the German medical system is seemingly focused on nothing more than making sure the patient is well. If that means admitting a patient for what we in the U.S. would consider treat-and-release, they don’t fucking care. They’ve got you and they’re going to treat you to the best of their ability.
Which fucking sounds expensive, doesn’t it?
Look, we all know Germans pay a shit ton in taxes, so it should get them top-rate medical care.
There are some interesting differences though.
When Dagmar needed an MRI during her stay, a team of medical professionals with a gurney came to transport … wait, that’s not right. Oh yeah, a nurse came into Dagmar’s room and informed her that she needed to go to radiology for an MRI. They were expecting her there in 10 minutes? Why hadn’t they told her earlier? Well, she’s an inpatient and they were pretty sure her schedule was free.
Also, she was expected to walk there — no gurney, no wheelchair and not even a staff member to escort her. She was just turned loose into the bowels of the facility on her own.
Granted, my hospital knowledge is limited, but the thought of an inpatient walking unescorted to an appointment blew me away. Dagmar was fine, fully capable of making the walk unescorted, eager even, but that really made us laugh. I guess lawsuits aren’t that big a thing over here.
Think about it: In the U.S. telling a patient to walk alone to their next appointment opens up more lawsuit possibilities than I could ever hope to imagine. Had the patient fallen, had another episode, or even fell on a wet floor, the hospital would be liable.
Not in Germany.
If you fall on a wet floor here, well, they cover the treatment of that with their health care too.
It’s not bad really. I’d be talking out my ass if I claimed that the German medical system isn’t profit driven. I really don’t know if it is or isn’t. I can say it seems unconcerned with cost however.
There was never once, much to my financial ruin, a discussion about what our American health insurance would or would not cover. It was just full-service medical care. The system said, “You, Mrs. Oliver, have a problem and we are going to fix it.”
Unlike other stories I’ve heard from veterans being treated for medical issues on the economy, I saw or was unaware of any preferential treatment. A lot of Americans have told me that with American insurance they get preferential treatment at the Germany hospital.
“I was seen immediately, before any of the Germans,” they’d exclaim as if their American insurance gave them privileged status because of — something.
I doubt the ambulance came to the door any faster, I sincerely doubt any of the staff were at all kinder (they are all angels anyway – you damn medical people, salt of the earth) and I’m sure we were never pushed ahead of anyone for anything.
We, well hell let’s be honest, she was just product in the machine. A machine designed to make you well again, and it’s pretty fucking awesome.
There are a million other oddities I could tell you about being an inpatient in a German hospital, like the fact that they don’t provide you with towels for the shower for instance, but that’s cultural not healthcare related.
I don’t know what Obamacare is. America does a fairly good job of taking care of its military veterans and for that I’m thankful. So while I don’t know what Obamacare is, I know that really if it’s a step towards this kind of health care, it’s a step in the right direction.
As much as Dagmar might have hated spending four nights in a German Hospital, we both know the hospital staff was working with not a thought about cost toward finding out what was wrong with her and every other patient in the facility.
And that my friends, is healthcare.