Sorry Gulch, Arizona, by Eric Talerico

Monday, November 24, 2008


 I was not given much of a choice about surgery. I don't think. There might have been a language problem. I could have been more assertive. The surgeon told me he would be doing "breast conserving surgery." I asked why not remove the entire breast. "In your case," he said, "this is the best plan." And that seemed to be that.

From my viewpoint, in Germany, Medicine decides and Insurance pays whatever's decided, which is the way it should be, of course. Breast conserving surgery requires a week's stay in hospital, and that was paid 100% by my insurance.  All of the other bills - surgeon's fees, anestheologist's, pathologist's fees, out-patient medications, examinations, tests, doctor's fees, were billed to me directly, which I paid, and I'm hoping to recoup from my insurance.

The day before surgery, my dear daughter arrived at my house in the morning, in spite of living over 100 kilometers away, in spite of her three children to ready for school,  she insisted she take me to the hospital. I was grateful. Required to check in the morning of the day before surgery, once through the paper work, we were directed to a Ward, or Station, in the enormous sprawling Frauenklinik. I was shown my bed, and my cupboard of drawers to unpack my stuff. I was relieved to see, above the bed, a place where I could plug in my iPod charger, cell phone charger, and laptop. So - this was to be my home for a week.  My daughter left, to return the next day - and I was now a cancer patient in a German hospital awaiting surgery.  

I was sent to various areas thoroughout the hospital for tests, XRay of lungs, CT scan of liver, and a photograph of my breasts (chest, no face, ID# only). And eventaully, I settled in for the night. They gave me no dinner, no water. I was not especially worried. All had been explained to me. It was what it was. It was manageable. I watched some of the second season of "Closers" on my laptop, and prayed a rosary after I turned off my lights and laptop.  Was I afraid?  Yes. But it was manageable.

Early the next morning, I was woken by a nurse giving me gauze panties and white compression stockings, and telling me to take a shower, and then put the panties and stockings on, and get back in bed.  Little did I realize that was the last completely normal, satisfying shower I would have in many months! I donned the required compression stockings and strange gauze panties and slid back into bed under the white hospital quilt. I was rolled in my bed to surgery. What a strange sensation, being rolled along flat on one's back. Interesting perspective, not wished to ever be repeated.

Once in the Operating Room, I was told to shift myself from bed to the operating table along side. At some point (no pun intended) I was given a shot. So smooth. They were so good. They gave me a shower cap and said, "Please put this on." I don't remember putting the cap on. The next thing I remembered, I was in a room with many people moving about wearing blue gowns. I had no idea where I was,  or who they were.  I had absolutely no idea who I was.   

But a young man began pushing my bed and said - "It's OK. I'm taking you back to your room. You will see, we're going back to your room." And, as we arrived on my station I began to recognize it, and I told him - "Oh, this is familiar." "Of course," he said.

1 comment:

Dianne said...

I am reading your journey with breast cancer. What you have written has helped me face my new challenge. "What is, is! I hope I will be able to say as you said, "It is manageable." I hope you know I am praying those rosaries with and for you my lovely lady.