Thursday, March 8, 2012

My (Not-So) Emergency Room Experience in Germany

Last Tuesday night immediately after basketball practice, we were in the locker room getting ready to take a shower and go home.  I found the towel in my sport bag and was rooting around the bottom of my bag for some shower gel.  After a few seconds of digging around, I felt a sharp prick in my right hand’s pointer and middle finger.  When I pulled my hand out of the bag, it took me a little while to realize what I had just done:  I had caught my two fingers on my razor lying in the bottom of my bag.  At first, I figured that the cut couldn’t be that deep.  After all, it was a shaving razor, not a chainsaw.  Then my fingers started to bleed… a lot.
Unfortunately, after 15 minutes, the bleeding was not letting up.  I took a one handed shower while my other hand bled into the public shower drain.  The blood trail looked like a shower scene from a horror movie.  If my teammates were not wearing flip flops in the shower before last week, they certainly are now.  After the shower, I put my clothes on and wrapped the injured fingers in Kleenex.  My teammates suggested that I go to the Emergency room to see if I needed stitches.  I initially refused this offer.  Every trip I had ever taken to the emergency room resulted in a minimum 5 hour stay and at least a $200 bill (this is with insurance.)  I really did not want to stay in the Borken Hospital until 4:00 am.  Based on my previous experience, my finger would have to be completely cut off in order to go to the emergency room at 10:30 pm.  
One of my teammates offered to go with me to the emergency room, which told me that a. maybe my finger really was hurt, b. maybe the trip wasn’t going to take as long as I feared and c. I would have someone to explain to the doctor, in German, how I managed to slice my fingers.  I agreed to go. 
We walked in the Hospital at 10:20 pm, checked in and waited for the nurse for 5 minutes.  When the nurse came, my teammate Dennis explained the story to the nurse while I sat there feeling totally embarrassed and stupid.  The nurse took me in to the examination room, laughed at me, cleaned my fingers, laughed at me, said that I wouldn’t need stitches, and laughed at me again (in that order.)  Soon after, the doctor briefly appeared and offered a tetanus shot.  After declining the tetanus shot, he was quickly out of the room. 
Before I knew it, I was at the checkout desk paying my quarterly co-pay of a whopping €10.   That was all I needed to pay.  At 10:40 pm, we were back in the car on the way home.  
The wounds on my fingers quickly healed and I was able to play basketball without any major disruptions. 
Next time, when I have an actual emergency, I will feel much more comfortable going to the Emergency room in Germany. 

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