Saturday, June 11, 2011

A day spent at the hospital…a few thoughts from an “Auslander”

We arrive at the hospital a little after 8 am.  The sign out front says “seit 1901”.  It is a posh hospital with marble floors and leather couches.  A case in the lobby is filled with fancy good luck charms that can be purchased for gifts.  The man at the front desk is friendly, but seems to apologize frequently to whoever he is speaking with.

Our first reminder that we are in fact “Auslanders”, occurs shortly after Brad finishes filling out his admission paperwork.  We do not have E-cards like most Austrians, instead we have private insurance.  Normally this is to our advantage, but today the insurance company has not yet arranged a payment plan with the hospital, and the man at the front desk explains to us that if something is not worked out, then HE will personally be held responsible for the balance.  Crazy. 

We provide 2 credit cards to cover the costs and put a call into our insurance company stateside, so they can confirm that we do have coverage.  We hold for about 10 minutes-which seems much longer than that- and Brad explains the situation.  He is careful to spell out the name of the hospital, as it is all auf Deutsch.  Of course with our American insurance company, “customer service” is of utmost importance. They explain that everything will be taken care of without question.  It is certainly in times of stress that we really can appreciate this. This is often not the case here~ and more often than not, the customer is not given the benefit of the doubt.

Thankfully our insurance company is able to confirm, and we can take the exorbitant amounts off of our credit cards, and the front desk man won’t need to take out a loan :)
He sends us on our way with directions to Brad’s room, and wishes us the best of luck.

The elevator smells of smoke- but that is not really surprising to us.  But what does surprise us, are the patients walking the halls with smiles on their faces…a good sign for us.

Once upstairs we are greeted with more smiles, formal handshakes and the exchange of names.  We are led to a room with 2 other patients.  Brad will have the middle bed.  It is awkward for me as the other men, who obviously have had recent surgery lay in their beds, just staring at us.  One can hear a pin drop and I am thinking twice about bringing Luke back with me later.

Brad changes into a gown, but not without first dropping his i-phone on the floor, cracking the screen.  Typical Hunter moment here.  We put his belongings in a locker and we sit in more silence.  Having once worked as a nurse, it is a bit weird for me that no one pulls their privacy curtains and everyone is exposed.  A reminder that I am used to the American way of doing things.

Everything is very white and clean. Each patient has a bottle of mineral water at their bedside. The window is open-as there is not air conditioning- and you can hear kids playing and trucks driving by. Everything appears to be very state of the art, but there are no vending machines to be found storing cold Diet Coke in the halls or access to the internet while you wait.

Soon the nurse enters the room and puts a sign on Brad’s bed stating “Nüchtern”-meaning nothing by mouth.  She takes down his health history and seems surprised when Brad says that he is a pastor.  She then proceeds to tell him that it is a good job to have.  I am thinking at this point that she may be an angel in disguise.

There are medications given, blood drawn and IV’s started.  I decide it is a good time for me to go and check on the kiddos.  Fortunately, they are all happily dispersed at different friend’s houses and I am back at the hospital in less than an hour to find Brad sleeping.

I spend several hours waiting in the hall- reading “The Prodigal God”, by Tim Keller, while Brad rests comfortably in his room.  I also watch patients walk the hall, cleaning ladies push their carts and call lights intermittently go on and off.  It makes me miss my days of nursing and my interaction with patients and their families.

Around 2:30 pm- nurses began passing out coffee and tea (with proper white cups and saucers none the less) to those patients that can have it.  No disposable dishes here. This time, a sweet reminder that I am living in another country.

About 3, Brad is instructed to put on his TED hose and told that it wouldn’t be long before they would take him down to be prepped for surgery.  I was told that it was best for me to just go home, because there is no specific waiting room, and they would call if they needed me.

I am home now~ and will head back to the hospital later this evening.

Thanks for your prayers and kind words.  I will write more later…

*an update at 21:30*
Brad's surgery went well and he was just moved from recovery back to his original room.  He is sleeping now and will most likely be discharged tomorrow.  :)  I am assuming everything went as planned, but I never did get to meet his surgeon.  It has been a long day and we are all tired, so I will say Gute Nacht. 

Much love to all of you that have called, prayed, texted, and took care of our kiddos!


DrsMyhre said...

As a lover of hospitals . . enjoyed your description. Sorry Brad is the patient though, and hope all goes well. Jennifer

Brian and Wesley said...

Glad it went well. Praying for Brad's recovery.
Love you guys!

Jodie said...

Great post, Stace!