Thanks to my supplementary insurance, I was given the chief surgeon of the university hospital I was admitted to. The big hoo-ha man. For those who are aware of the German system, getting private treatment is reassuring. You feel you’re getting the best. But even the best make mistakes. These were rather small, but they really ruined my next few weeks.
When I was still coming out of the anesthesia, a voice in the dark told me that the surgery went perfectly and that everything was removed. Later in my room, the chief surgeon came by briefly to tell me the same thing. My recovery should be smooth and easy, I could go home first thing in the morning. Everything was fine.
A resident, surrounded by a gaggle of eager happily-nodding interns came by again in the morning to discharge me and said the same.
At 10 pm that evening I was back in the hospital with a fever. Hmm, said the physician on call, looks like he didn’t get everything. And so began a round of medication to cause contractions (ie the worst period ever) and two weeks of monitoring. Not such a big deal, the fever went away and the meds seemed to be taking care of the rest, but come on! What happened to me getting on with my life already? Not quite yet it turned out.
In the subsequent follow-up appointments, on every- or every other day, I met some new nice doctors and some very nice but not super competent nurses. Maybe they were just busy and stressed, but getting a blood test turned into a gory comedy of errors.
By the end of the first week, both arms were spotted black with blown veins. I finally understood what track marks really were. It culminated in a geyser of blood all over my jeans when, after my perhaps-still-in-training-nurse had stuck the needle in, another nurse brushed by, catching her arm on the tube attached to the syringe, yanking the needle out and popping the tube.
At first I felt no pain. I just watched, my jaw dropped in amazement as everything went by in slow motion. I could see the arc of my blood go through the air, landing all over the table, all over my jeans, all over the floor.
“Oh!”, said my nurse, handing me a single cotton swab, “sorry! Um, let’s try the back of your hand this time, ok? I don’t think we can use your arms anymore.”
I was too bemused to comment; I just nodded and held out my hand.
Twenty minutes later I was in a room with a doctor, presumably for a final check-up before leaving for the last time.
“Well, this all seems to be going fine now. Call us if you have any more fever or if the bleeding continues after a week.
Oh, but one thing we need to still talk about is your hepatitis.”