20 September 2009

What I Wish I'd Known Before I Had Surgery in Germany (and Pictures)

Sorry, Tanya, that I didn't post pics of me, post-bandage/splint removal, earlier. Just beware. These pictures are without makeup, and my skin was (and still is!) very angry about having been under a bandage for two weeks. Also note that I have no idea/no feeling for if my nose looks different. I do know that the point of it is now directly above the middle of my lip (that's what the doctor said, anyway).

After removal of the bandage and splint

I also took a side picture for your enjoyment analysis. Sorry I don't have any pre-pictures. I always hated side pictures.

From the side

I was telling some friends of mine that I felt like I was very uninformed before and after surgery, something that might result in lawsuit in the U.S. I was assured that my experience was nothing compared to that in the GDR. Yeah, don't even want to think about that. Many Americans have said I was brave to do surgery here, but Germany is very modern and efficient, I felt good about the doctor I was referred to, and I'm actually insured here (thanks for covering all my health issues this year, DAK).

But anyway, I wish I had known:
-That German hospitals do not give out towels or soap.
-That I could ask for a sleeping pill (I discovered this two days too late) and muscle pain salve.
-That the water and such in the hall was for patients to stock up on.
-That there is no phone in the rooms and no free wifi (a girl can dream, can't she?). There were phone jacks and I heard that you could pay to make phone calls somehow, but mostly patients are expected to use their cell phones. (Mom, thanks for making your way through German to talk to me.)
-That five or so different doctors would be responsible for my recovery (this might just be because the head doctor went on vacation the day after my surgery).

Specific to the nose surgery:
-That I would have black eyes.
-That I would need to ice my nose and eyes.
-That I would have nose stops for the first night and major trouble breathing for the first two weeks.
-That the cleaning out of my nose would sometimes hurt my vocal cords or something else deep inside my head . . .
-That I would have an intensely dry mouth and sore throat from breathing through my mouth (I would have brought all my anti-sore throat stuff).
-That I would be able to smell rotting snot in my sinuses. (Believe me, it's not any more pleasant for me than it is for you.)
-That they would let me go without any instructions or pain medication.
-That the nose oil would smell like orange and greasily run everywhere.
-That I shouldn't buy saline spray because three days later I would be told to only use the nose oil.

Specific to me:
-That the pain medication in my IV after the surgery was not a good idea (Dormicum).
-That my skin would react very badly to being under a bandage for two weeks. The way it's looking now, it's going to take longer to get better than it took for it to get that bad.
-That my back would hurt more than my nose ever would.
-That the nose oil would cause some major oil problems under my nose.

What I still wish I knew:
-Why I'm supposed to stay out of the sun for six weeks. Is that for my nose specifically?
-Why one side is still weird. Three doctors now have said it's just swollen still, but I don't trust that because the two nostrils are shaped so differently. Is it because it healed crookedly when I was 12 and then grew that way? I guess this doesn't matter that much since I can breathe, but after going through all that, you would hope . . .
-Why is the skin on my nose so weird right now? I don't think they did anything with it during surgery, did they? Is that going to go away?
-Why I won't have another appointment with them for a year (at least they suggested I see my normal ENT, who cleaned out my nose yet again).

Things I did hear about for which I'm grateful:
-That I should bring slippers.
-That I should bring shampoo.
-That I should bring normal clothing.

Here's what I look like twenty days after the surgery (you can see the weird side really well in this picture):

20 September 2009

But in the end, none of the negative things matter. I lived to tell about it and I'm breathing sooooo deeply. Mmmmm.


  1. Wow. I don't know why "they" don't give out more information. I guess the hospital experience in a country is so cultural or something that no one realizes it could differ so much from place to place. In Cairo, we didn't know we were supposed to baksheesh the nurses in order to get toilet paper, etc. It was very dismal.

    I hope your continued recovery is better than the original experience (you're looking great/much better :)!).

  2. Oh no, you missed your chance for pain killers and sleep medication! I probably sound like a junkie, but I know you really needed it.

    Your skin doesn't look that bad in the photo, maybe it's different in person?

    Another year until you have an appointment? Can you call their office with those question? Someone must be placed there to accommodate patients post surgery . . right?

    Your nose looks good! It's different - in that it's straight. Did you get the spa thing?

  3. wow! How scary and brave of you. I tend to trust doctors but then you never know! Roughness. Great list though