Monday, January 18, 2016

The End of 2015

Main River on a late December afternoon - It gets dark by 4pm

On December 21 (Happy Birthday to Jeff), Janet had surgery in a German hospital called Krankenhaus Sachsenhausen. We discovered that she had an ovarian cyst just before we left home, but she had no symptoms. Unfortunately, after we were in Germany for a short while, she began to feel some discomfort, fatigue, and other symptoms. Sister Castleton, our mission nurse, found an English speaking gynecologist and we made an appointment. We found that the cyst had doubled in size. They checked for hormone markers that might indicate malignancy and the results were borderline. Dr. Andrejevic recommended arthroscopic surgery to remove the cyst, and it was scheduled for Jeff's birthday.

The German medical system is different. Let's start with hospital admission. We had an interview with the surgical staff the week before the surgery. During that rather long process, an attending surgeon performed an exam and reviewed several documents with us having Janet sign again and again. But it wasn't legalese like in a US hospital. It was more focused on making sure you understood exactly what they would do and what the potential risks were. We also made a trip to the management office where they informed us that they couldn't accept our insurance. However, they would take our credit card. And because we are "privat" -- that is not part of the German socialized medicine -- they would assign the chief of gynecological surgery and the chief of anesthesiology to us. We were in good hands. And, even though we paid the entire bill up front, I'm guessing that it was a third or so of what it would have cost in the US.

The hospital was definitely a no frills event. It was spotlessly clean, and it didn't look old, but there is a sort of do-it-yourself atmosphere. During her stay, Janet would have nurses stop by, poke their heads in the door and ask if she were doing okay, and then when she answered yes they would say "Gut" and then move on. Even the surgeon left it to her how long she would stay. She was anxious to go home, so she stayed two nights and then said that she wanted to go. On the morning she left, we walked out of the room only to be stopped at the nurses station when they said they were working on her "Entlassungsbrief" - a release letter that said really nothing except goodbye. We were asked to wait, but when we returned to the room (less than 5 minutes after we left) they had stripped her bed and were mopping the floor. You have to admire efficiency.

Anyway, she was home for a week and felt progressively better. With the intervening holidays, it took about two weeks for us to get the final word on the histology. We were at peace with the outcome, whatever it would be, but we felt a great relief when it was all negative. She is now fully recovered and back to normal, for which we are deeply grateful.

Jeff had the opportunity to ponder life without Janet, and he could not imagine it without her. For him, especially, a great weight was taken from his heart.

During her second day in the hospital, Janet slept most of the time. Jeff read for hours on a hard chair. He finally slipped out for a bowl of chili at a shop next to the hospital, and then later in the afternoon went for a walk. The hospital is at the end of a footbridge over the River Main, and he wandered across and found himself at the Römerplatz which is the heart of the old city and where the Christmas Market started.
Courtyard of the hospital - not a very subtle sculpture given this is a gynecological and maternity facility

Walking bridge over the river - it is festooned with locks of all shapes and sizes.

View of the city side of the river

View of the Sachsenhausen side of the river
Sachsenhausen Evangelische (Protestant) Church steeple. Light is fading at 4pm and the moon is out.
A few street scenes from the Frankfurt Christmas Market - it goes on for blocks through the old city center and into the high end shopping district called the Zeil.
Hard to see, but the nativity figures on this pyramid were beautiful.

Crowds near the old city hall in Römerplatz. The tree was the Christmas tree for the market and was covered with lights and decorations.

Janet loves carousels. Sad that she didn't get to ride this two-story one.

At the entrance to the modern art museum was this art installation. No idea what is represented, but it looked kind of cool.

Entrance to an Asian bistro had this fanciful woven "awning" made of bamboo.

Christmas markets are fun places to eat. This stall had all varieties of "belegtes Baguettes." You could walk away with half a large baguette topped with just about anything. Some of the options were weird. They also didn't appear to be too popular.

Large carved elephant rear ends seemed to be pretty frequent offerings. Wonder why?

At an area called Hauptwache (Main Guard) that is mid-point on the Zeil shopping thoroughfare.


  1. I think you give an elephant back side to someone you may not be going off, such as a cranky boss. It's a gift, you know, with a subtle, or not so subtle message. ;)

  2. Not "going off" should be "fond of"

    Why does auto-correct make so many errors??

    1. I have seen these elsewhere here. Not sure what this means in the popular culture. Maybe Germans just like elephants.

  3. Not "going off" should be "fond of"

    Why does auto-correct make so many errors??