“Growing up, I was surrounded by broken men ― men who came home from the war filled with shrapnel and guilt. Men who were misled into a losing ideology. … And right now they’re resting in hell.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger
My grandfather was in the German Navy in WW2. I’ll never forget him telling me how much he hated Hitler. He also hated the Nazi flag. Once when on a ship crossing the baltic, he heard some of his comrades talking about Hitler. He said that they were making jokes about Hitler, laughing, etc. Two days later after reaching port, the men who were talking and laughing had disappeared. No one who served with them on that ship ever heard from them again. My grandfather never heard another sailor making those kinds of jokes again either.
My grandfather told me what it’s like to look up in the sky and watch American and British planes open their bomb-bay doors. The screeching sound of those bombs made you lose your orientation when trying to find cover, he said. What he meant to say was… you lose your mind. His English wasn’t perfect–but it was damn good. Luckily, he was outside of Bremen that day so he wasn’t in direct danger of getting hit. But he watched both the planes fly off beyond the horizon and the smoke and dust rise in the sky of Bremen.
My grandfather was captured by British soldiers as he was trying to defend his ship after the port where it was docked in Belgium was invaded in 1944. Two of his comrades were shot and died instantly, one fell into the water. As my grandfather reached for a concussion grenade, a British soldier pointed a gun at him and yelled… Don’t. My grandfather surrendered. He was taken to a prison camp in England where he was put in charge of other German soldiers because he spoke such good English.
My grandfather always expressed, with the deepest sincerity a defeated Prussian can, how grateful he was that the Americans not only freed him and Germany but also his town and village. My grandfather was the only man I have ever looked up to.
No hate. No Nazis.
No. Seriously. Like. I’m walking Beckett, the killer pug. It’s eight in the morning. I notice people in the water… Swimming in the Rhein? Ah. Yea. Very strange. To each his/her own, eh.
So. Like. I’m riding my bike around a god-knows-where northern Germania vacation village. On the one side of me I’ve got the Baltic Sea and Denmark and on the other side hellacious church bells ringing as though there’s no tomorrow. So I turn the corner and approach the bells that are thundering and the first thing I notice is the parking lot of the church. It is filled with Mercedes Benz after Mercedes Benz. Accordingly, a whole bunch of really old white people are getting out of those cars and trekking their way up the cobble stones. Within the entrance of the church I can see–and perhaps feel–its interior filled with the soothing light of candles, their God and the shade of someone recently passed. I proceed to take a few tourist picture of the old church–that is surrounded by graves–that was initially built in seventeen something or other (you know how it is with old $hit here in #eurowasteland) and then, before all the Mercedes are empty, I skedattle my way outta there. Here’s two pics of what the experience left behind.
About ten years ago I got a nasty tick bite between my big toe and my pointer toe on my left foot. I was doing some garden work visiting family in my beloved #americant and I wore sandals when I should have worn boots. Although I managed to get the tick off without much hassle, the swelling and puss coming out of the wound that was left behind became unbearable by the next morning. I jumped in my rental car and drove to a wal-mart-like clinic in town that my sister recommended. When asked by the receptionist if I had insurance I told her I did but that I lived in Germany. Looking at my insurance card she said, “Oh, I don’t even know where to begin with a language like that.” I then told her that depending on the cost, I’d rather pay directly. “Oh, ok then,” she said. “I need a credit card.” I gave her my German credit card and took my place among the many in the waiting room and filled out the patient questionnaire. Eventually a young Indian doctor helped me by opening the tick bite, cleaning it out and giving me some antibiotics. “Within a day or two you will be right as rain,” he said. Upon leaving the clinic, the receptionist charged my credit card eighty dollars.
I got hit in the knee by a van in the early afternoon last Thursday while riding my bike. The pain and swelling made me go to a nearby emergency room that same evening. Hoping only to get an x-ray to see if I had broken anything, I entered an ordeal that ended up consuming days, hours in waiting rooms and numerous doctors that confused me more than when confronted by Pam Anderson speaking Chinese. As of the worst-writing of this worst-post, I’ve had x-rays, CT scans and even my first MRI. I’ve been given crutches, a leg brace and even some sodium-something-or-other that I’m self injecting to prevent thrombosis because I’m not supposed to move my left leg.
As you may or may not know, dear worst-reader, Germany has a fairly decent national healthcare system. If you were to ask me if I utilise that system I would answer: fcuk no! Reason for the expletive is another post. Reason that I’ve always been a skeptic regarding national health insurance systems will be dealt with in the rest of this worst-post.
Indeed. After all the care I’ve been given regarding my knee in the past few days only two things stand out about the whole ordeal.
I will not see a doctor bill for all the care I’ve been receiving and I wish I could/would see it.
No one. And I mean no one in this (sarcasm on) amazing (sarcasm off) healthcare system has asked me once about how it came to be that I was hit by a van while riding my bike.
But before I get too deep into bitching & moaning about Germans and how the only thing they have to offer the world is über-priced luxury mass produced cars driven and designed by idiots, let me just say this: the German national healthcare system sucks! It sucks batballs. It blows horny goat-mules that have herpes on their penises. If German healthcare were a duck I’d shoot it with my twelve gauge and cook it up in a witches pot only to throw it away and bury it to prevent others from eating it. Then I’d gorge on self-pity-candy till I throw up unicorn puke. Oh. And I hate things.
Or maybe not.
I warned my better half after the initial emergency room visit after that fcuking van hit me that I would have to be careful regarding my care. “I’m not worried about the costs, honey, of course. But I am worried about what THEY could do to me,” I said. My better-half laughed and smirked as only a well-off German, spoiled by the spoils of The Marshall Plan, can. By the end of my initial emergency room endeavour things were clear: there was a limit to how much care I would get and, more importantly, on whose terms that care would take place. And so, they took some x-rays of my knee. From the x-rays they thought I had a tibial plateau fracture but said, because of lack of personnel, I would have to come back in the morning to get a CT scan, which would show more bone detail. I returned bright and shinny the next morning and, without much wait, got my CT scan. Conclusion? No fracture. Then the doctor in the hospital recommended a MRI scan to see if there was soft tissue damage. When the doctor tried to arrange the MRI she came back saying that I would first have to go to a regular doctor. Obviously the hospital had booked what it could off my insurance up to that point and obviously reached a limit. In order to get the further care–that they were recommending–I would have to go to another (different) doctor. Yeah, that makes sense. Or? They either work like a team or they work in collusion. I found a local orthopaedic doctor online. Let the circus begin!
The orthopaedic specialist, without even examining me, gave me a prescription for an MRI of my knee. Should I be thanking the heavens now, I thought. Because of demand, though, I would have to wait till June 20 to get the MRI done. Oh really! Luckily my neighbour was a radiologist and could squeeze me in at her hospital the next day. I only had to wait till Monday to return to the orthopaedic specialist with the new pictures. Bright and early on Monday I waited a full hour and a half in his waiting room. When I finally got to see the doctor–again without ever even touching my knee–he was reading from the MRI report–he never even looked at the pics–he recommended an operation to fix some minor cartilage damage.
“But doctor, don’t you even want to look at my knee?”
He arrogantly pointed to the document from MRI doctor. At the same time he was massaging the back of his throat with the temple tips of his rimless glasses. He sat down in the exam room while I remained standing.
“But doctor, when I was younger I didn’t treat my knees well as I wasted a great deal of intellectual time playing highschool sports in suburban hell #americant and chasing girls. Till my mid-thirties I regularly jogged five to eight miles three or four times a week and also ran away from girls. I had to give up jogging because of a bone cyst that had developed on my left achilles which I got from an injury when I was young–running away from girls. By my early forties I had learned that my left leg was two centimetres shorter (or longer?) than my right leg–and this was caused by marriage and no longer running away from girls. Since my late forties I’ve been limping regularly, especially after heavy rains and three divorces…”
“Wait. Please, please,” the doctor said. “I would recommend two doctors for the operation on your knee. One of the doctors might be a problem to schedule because of your insurance. You don’t have good insurance. The other doctor will do it but it may take a year before he can.”
Let’s be clear here. I have the right as a blogger and useless eater to bitch & moan about everything. Yet why do I favour paying eighty dollars at a wal-mart-like clinic than having a system pay thousands upon thousands of Euros for care that ultimately has nothing to do with caring? Obviously it’s not right to compare a tick bite to a meniscus injury. So I guess what I’m really getting at is the fact that I have great health insurance yet when I consider what it is that doctors do with that insurance I get pissed off as though nothing is… right as rain.
Without even touching my knee or asking a question about how I felt or even how I got to his clinic that morning the only thing the doctor with the fancy Porsche could come up with was that I needed an operation.
Butchers. They are all fcuking butchers.
Would you believe that at his clinic there are no parking spaces for patients but he has a lone spot near the front entrance of his clinic. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t care what kind of car a doctor can afford to pay interests rates on. I’m seriously not a class fighter here. I’m just pissed off at the fact that a national healthcare system is ultimately nothing but a conduit for money transference galore.
Oh. As far as my knee is concerned. I can walk but I’m not ready to run. I can pedal a bike no problemo. There is still some swelling so I hope I don’t have an issue with water-on-the-knee. There is no acute pain only some stiffness. I’m wearing one of those fancy (and expensive) compression bandage/stockings that really does the trick.
Got hit by van the other day. Can you believe it? The know-it-alls say that that line of distortion in the X-ray could (could!) be a tibial plateau fracture. Yea. The van hit my left knee.
Update: It’s not a fracture. Whoopi. And get this, I get to get my first MRI so they can see whether my meniscus is damaged.
Hold on there a sec, chippy!
Between you and me, dear worst-reader, this whole health insurance coverage thingy that I’ve got over here (in Germania) that pays for all this great care is really, really over-kill. Knowing that the bone isn’t broke is enough to know that the swelling is caused by some slight meniscus damage. Ice packs, keeping leg still/braced for a couple of weeks will be the ultimate outcome with or without a corporate sponsoring MRI. But what do I know?
What an exciting afternoon in good ole Germania. Have I volunteered, dear worst-reader, what I actually think about my expat host country? Well, there’s no time like the present to NOT volunteer such things. With that in mind, I was hit by a van today while riding my new über e-bike through the city. As you can see in the pic above, I was on the reddish bidirectional bike path and the van was blocking it while trying to rush into traffic. After using my bike’s bell and giving off a whistle, the female (in the pink/purple sweatshirt who was in the passenger seat) looked me right in the eye as I approached the van. Then I noticed, to my own detriment, that the driver of the van, the guy on the far right with the striped short-sleeve shirt, didn’t even bother to look both ways before entering traffic. Without very little consideration on my part–or being a bit brain dead as only I can be while riding a bike–I proceeded to continue on my route thinking (blindly hoping?) that the eye-contact I had with the passenger-chick was enough, so I proceeded to circumvent the van from his front. Obviously (obviously?) that was my error. And allow me to reiterate: The driver never looked to his right–even though he was blocking a bidirectional bike path. And so. Just as I was in front of the van the driver proceeded onto the roadway hitting me on my left knee and knocking me off my über e-bike. Fortunately I caught the fall with my right leg and didn’t body slam the road. I then limped off to the side as a young man–the thin guy with the shoulder bag and the blue jacket–came from around the corner and picked up my bike (not pictured but you can read about it here). The young man then proceeded to start asking me questions as I was dealing with the pain that the van had shoved into my left leg.
“Are you a doctor,” I asked the young man.
“No. I’m a medical student,” he answered.
“Should I call the police,” I asked the young man.
“Not really sure. Don’t know if they can do anything,” the young man said.
“Aren’t you supposed to always call the police in a situation like this,” I asked.
“Not if it’s not serious,” the young man said.
“Was this situation my fault,” I asked.
By that time everyone had come together, see top pic. As soon as I uttered the word “fault” everyone, EVERYONE, Germans one n’all, answered:
And so, dear worst-reader, heed this as you bitch & moan about #Trumpism and the world of greed you have created: there are only two things that mean ANYTHING today–especially in good ole Germania. One, of course, is money. The other is The Automobile and all that that entails. And so. While traversing through Germania make sure you watch every possible way and direction from where a car/van can hit you. Because even if you are hit, it WILL be your fault. On the other hand, if you do get hit, I hope you too will be hit by a car from your home country that has an American Bald Eagle in its grill. Yeah, baby.
Rant & Ride safe.
PS I’m fine. Just a bit of knee pain but I’ve got it wrapped as I worst-write this.
PSS The down by the river thing:
“You kids are probably saying to yourself, “Now, I’m gonna go out, and I’m gonna get the world by the tail and wrap it around and put it in my pocket!” Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re probably gonna find out, as you go out there, that you’re not gonna amount to jack squat!” You’re gonna end up eating a steady diet of government cheese and living in a van down by the river!” -Matt Foley SNL