First Surgery in Germany

Around 5 years ago when I was still in Malaysia, I was at a company event at A’Famosa Resort in Malacca. The whole company and their families were invited to spend the weekend together, and enjoy the nice Malacca food, while our days were full of activities and games. one of those games that we played once was the infamous tug of war. I don’t even remember when was the last time I played that game as a child, anyhow even the most boring games could be fun when you’re playing them with friends and colleagues. but apparently, my long-trained programmer’s body was not strong enough to cope with me pulling a rope as hard as I could just to make my team win.

Our team lost the game, but the cost for me was not only the hopeless effort we’ve put ourselves into. 2 days later when I was back from the trip, but I also began to feel a sharp shooting pain on the right side of my abdominal area. which after two days of pain finally shows itself as a bulge at the same spot. By seeing that my mind immediately went about it as a hernia, an inguinal hernia. I was no stranger to hernias, as a matter of fact, I was diagnosed with one of those 17 years prior to that day, which I’ve undergone surgery and fixed when I was eleven or twelve.

after checking with my doctor just confirmed my intuition, it was indeed a hernia, maybe a relapse, maybe a new one. back then I had bought myself personal health insurance from AXA, one lousy insurance company in Malaysia whose responsibility to me was just to take my money and provide no service. after all, I was an Iranian, and according to them, I had no rights. (I did actually write a post about how they told me that they will no longer be providing services to me because of my nationality.)

I tried to book an appointment for the surgery with a surgeon in Malaysia, after going through all the processes and tests I had a surgery day, but according to the hospital, they would only find out whether my insurance would pay for the surgery on the day of the surgery itself. So I had to go through all the stress and preparation of being poked by a knife, just to find out on the same day that my insurance ditched on me.

I decided not to do the surgery for that obvious reason, things changed and I permanently moved to Germany, when I heard about how the health system works over here, I was pretty excited that I could finally get my hernia fixed. 3 years into living in Germany, after surviving the pandemic and lockdowns, I finally decided to check my condition with my doctor. My house-doctor or hausarzt as they call it here gave me a letter to take with me to a hospital, any hospital of my choice.

Around 4 weeks ago I visited Rheinland Klinikum in Neuss, checked in, and was given an appointment to visit the surgeon 4 days later. I visited the doctor, pretty excited and looking forward to finding out what he suggests, he was a friendly middle-aged man, who told me that I have to do the surgery and he can give me an appointment for 4th of august, right 30 seconds after checking me out. He also told me about the different methods of surgery, the minimally invasive (laparoscopic) and the open surgery, which he was suggesting the former as it would suit me more based on my age. he also said that this is something that Germany is a pioneer in and they have invented this method of surgery for hernias, he gave me a good 10 minutes lecture that how good they do this here and I should not be worried at all.

So I decided to commit to the surgery on the day he proposed, I did not want to postpone it any longer. I’ve been procrastinating on it since I settled in Germany, then the pandemic happened, then the war! I did not want any other reason to stop me from this. coming back home from the Doctor’s appointment I was pretty excited, filled with positive energy from whatever the surgeon has told me 30 minutes before.

They gave me 2 appointments before the surgery day, the process was to first do a PCR test for covid in the hospital, 2 days prior to the surgery. Then one day before the surgery I had to meet the anesthesiologist doctor and a different surgeon, the second surgeon would check me as well and describe everything and ensure that I am filled with information about the operation and am not left with any unanswered questions.

This was pretty interesting, I really liked the process, I’ve done 3 surgeries before when I was younger, and I was about to do one in Malaysia, and I’ve never seen such a transparent process. I’ve never been interviewed as thoroughly by an anesthesiologist before. although at some point, it started to be stressful, when I met with the anesthesiologist he started off by asking about my lifestyle, pre-existing conditions, and all the normal stuff that you usually see in the forms you have to sign for anesthesia. Those were all good but then he started to tell me about the complications that could potentially happen to me, all of that one in the million cases, the more he was explaining the scarier it was becoming, at some point, he was basically telling me that I was going to be fucked up. I stopped him at this point and asked, so what are the chances that any of these happen to me, he smiled and said one in a million 🤣. come on man! In my opinion, that level of explanation of all the possible complications was not really necessary. I’d personally rather not know about any of those and go to the surgery day happily in my ignorance. I remember he was telling me that when I’m under anesthesia, I’ll be incubated and have a tube in my throat, as I won’t be able to breathe on my own. I’ve been under anesthesia 3 times before in my life, and probably this has been happening to me every single time, but the fact that I didn’t know about it, was really making it dead simple to me. I appreciate the transparency but I really wish this guy would tune things a bit more positively. anyway. Luckily the period between this chat and the surgery was less than 24 hours, so I didn’t have too much time to spend in a freaked-out state.

On the day of surgery, I was sent to the hospital by my friend Constantine, one thing that could make the idea of having surgery more stressful would be living alone in a foreign country, where your parents and first-hand family are not there to take care of you if something went wrong. thankfully I was lucky enough to be surrounded by good friends who offered me their full support if I needed something, and they did, I’m thankful to all of them.

The nurse who came to prepare me for the surgery couldn’t speak English! but she was full of positive energy and laughter, she was a middle-aged woman from Ukraine! I was trying my best to communicate with her in my broken unfunctional German! it wasn’t the best experience, but it was a funny struggle! at around 730am I was sent away from my room for the surgery, I was expecting to be out in my room in around a maximum of one hour and a half. but that wasn’t the case, apparently, there were some delays, so I was parked with my hospital bed in this room full of others who were waiting for their surgeries too. after waiting there for some time, the person who was in charge of my anesthesia came to me, started asking me some questions and having chats with me, they took me to the room right before the surgery theatre, and the anesthesiologist was chatting with me about where I am coming from, and how much he’d like to visit Iran. he was pretty friendly and telling me that I will be going down super fast and won’t remember a thing, he was right, I love this part about anesthesia, you are knocked out sooner than you can actually freak out. I woke up instantly with a dream, and it was already 1030AM, my surgery was done, I was in a room where nurses were checking out the patients who just got out of their sleep, and there was a beautiful nurse checking up on me and asking whether I am feeling ok, I remember at the beginning I could not speak, I was trying to talk to her and it took me 3 attempts before I could gain the speaking ability!

I spent around a good 30 minutes in that room, once they ensured that everything is stable, they sent me to my room. When I met that Ukrainian nurse again, she gave me my phone and asked me to contact my mom, she is probably worried. she was right, my mom during this entire process was under constant worry and stress, I could say her worry was even contagious. after those initial contacts with my friends and family to let them know I’m out, I went to sleep, the nurse was telling me she will check on me and I must be sleeping by the next time she comes to me.

I did that, around the afternoon my friends came to check on me, cheer me up, and talk to me. they were great, I was grateful to have them around. Thanks to all of them, Nour, Nader, and especially Constantine, who I spent the next 3 days at his place under his care, as I was not able to move around easily, great chef by the way.

After spending one night in the hospital, I was excited to leave that place, I hate hospitals, they give me chills, and they are scary places to be! I can’t stand the smell. around 10 AM on Friday 5h I was released, I was in extreme pain, I couldn’t really walk without crouching, but to me, it was freedom, I just wanted to get home and sleep in a bed.

Today marks the fifth day after the operation, I am feeling better and better every day, I came back to my own place yesterday early morning, I kinda missed it. I still have another 3 days of rest on working days before starting the next week! and I can’t wait to be fully mobile to get back to my friends and colleagues.

This was my first experience with a hospital and surgery in Germany, and I would say, it was pretty smooth. I’d also like to thank all the people who knew I’m going for this operation, who send me their regards and wished me a successful operation and quick recovery. You’re all the best.

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