Once Upon a Time, in Germany... (Part I)


Hello readers, it's been a while. It's nearing a month since we left Munich, and I've blogged ONCE. I've had blogging on my mental to-do list for a while now, but until now I've logged in and seen my Athens post time and time again, I scraped together a quick Paris post...and everything else has been very quiet.

Our last week in Germany was not ideal. I just finished (semi-jokingly) telling John that he "had a weak immune system" when I came down with something fierce. You see, I hadn't been sick in at least a year, so clearly my immune system was superior, while my poor husband was sniffling and coughing. As soon as his sniffling/coughing/sore throat ended, I went to bed with a terrible headache and woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. I was wheezing and felt like I couldn't breathe, so I walked (!) myself to the doctor. (The grace of God is real, friends, because getting myself there before the doctor left early for the day, dealing with the language barrier, not being able to breathe well, etc. was challenging.) At that point, we were leaving in two days for the U.S. and all I could think about was how miserable the 10.5 hour flight home was going to be if I didn't some medicine, and quick.

Doctor visits are definitely different overseas. You typically sit on the opposite side of the desk from the doctor, who asks you what your symptoms are. (Mine were headache, body aches, chills, some congestion, fever--at least I assumed so, since I didn't have a thermometer at home.) I've never filled out one piece of paperwork when going to the doctor in Spain or Germany, never had my temperature taken, and I don't think 99% of the doctors I've seen have even asked me what medications I take or if I'm allergic to anything. After a less-than-professional "listening to my lungs" procedure (i.e. your stethoscope can go under my shirt, I don't have to take everything off--seriously--please and thank you), the doctor concluded I had a "touch of the influenza." (How do you have a touch of the flu? Never mind.)

I was handed a prescription for some eucalyptus pills (no kidding) and ibuprofen, and wheeze-coughed my way home. I was a sick, sweaty mess.

To make a long story (and a long two weeks) short, the plane ride felt like an eternity, and when we landed in Charleston I immediately went to a clinic where the nurse on call gave me antibiotics and a cough syrup that I'm allergic to (I'm glad to know I'm allergic to codeine!). When I wasn't feeling any better a week later, I made an appointment at my home doctor. He ordered a chest x-ray and some blood tests, and two days later I found out that while I probably initially had the flu, my body had developed pneumonia. As bad as it is to have pneumonia, it was finally nice to know what was wrong, and to have medicine (steroids + a second antibiotic and a steroid inhaler) to combat the illness. Within a day of taking the steroids I was already starting to feel better, and my cough was subsiding.

So while our last week in Germany was not what I'd had planned or hoped, we still spent some time with friends and enjoyed our fill of Wienerschnitzel and Kaiserschmarrn. And while I didn't want to arrive back in America in the state I was in, it was so nice to have family take care of me and to be able to rest and see the doctor in my home language and culture. 

We're glad to be back in so, so many ways. Because shopping at Trader Joe's again is a dream come true.

But there's still some sadness that we're processing. We miss our friends Jimmy and Deborah. I miss having a friend that I worked with several days a week (Deborah), she on her master's degree project and I on my art and writing classes. We miss walking and taking the train, and planning trips to local and more exotic places for the weekend. And I miss the beauty of the architecture and general European-ness (shopping frequently for groceries, riding bikes, etc.).  But here we are, adjusting to life in South Carolina and trying to start making our little home here.

I didn't talk much on the blog about life in Germany--so that's another post, coming soon.