We’ve not been in hospitals too often. At least not lately. Angelika was asked at the “Evangelisches Krankenhaus der Paul Gerhardt Stiftung“ here in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg, when last she was hospitalized. It was with the birth of our last born Matthias. After that I was in hospital with our first born Christoph, when he had whooping cough back in the old hospital of Piet Retief, Mpumalanga. Since then our children have visited hospitals overseas, but without our personal attendance.
Years back, when I was still playing Rugby, I was no stranger at the emergency unit of the old H.F. Verwoerd Hospital (Renamed “Academic” and later still “Steve Biko). My long-time friend Matthias more than once accompanied me. He would joke about the administrative bureaucracy, which always wanted to know about any other sicknesses even as you were obviously struggling with broken and bleeding limbs, ribs and other loose body parts. Well, it was very similar today. Angelika hat to answer several questionnaires and undergo more than one tedious examination. However, after all I have to grant it to the local sister Angelica, that she did a great job: Friendly, efficient and very interested – especially after she learnt that we were South Africans.
An Indian doctor from New-Delphi did the actual examination. She said, back home in the Indian capital, she was used to seeing over 200 malaria patients daily! She was pretty sure, that Angelika did not have malaria despite the bad headaches and the fever attacks. Tick bite fever was also eliminated, because of Angelika’s regular bouts of “Schüttelfrost”. Google translates that as “chills”, but its more than that. It is the shivers before the next fever attack. She was pretty sure, that is some viral infection. Well, they will keep Angelika at the hospital tonight and under observation. She has got her own spacious room for fear of possible infection. They took blood samples, which were tested here and others were sent directly to the “Tropeninstitut” in Leipzig. Angelika might be transferred there still, if the reports tomorrow are positive and she does indeed have malaria.
During the initial examination, I was banished outside in the waiting room. That was quite an experience too. At first there was just one mother with her teenage daughter, who were both waiting for the results of the child’s blood tests. They had been waiting for more than 4 hours already. They didn’t say much, but waited patiently. The next patient was a single-mother of about my age, who had sprained her ankle yesterday although she was planning to go on a cruise via the Orkney Islands in Scotland, Reykjavik in Iceland and then Hammerfest in Norway. After some hours, she was doctored and had a big yellow casing around her ankle, purple crutches and a cancelled holiday prospect. Her son picked her up and she kept a brave face, although it must have been a blow, to see those well nurtured plans of over 2 years suddenly go up in smoke or down the drain or trip up like that.
Two different sets of parents dropped in with their little boys. The one set was on their way to Heidelberg and needed help for their ill one, who was hanging on to his mother in a rather sad state. The other set had a bright kid on their arms, so the doctor found nothing wrong with him. The parents didn’t like that idea and hung around for quite some time still, arguing their point. The others got their medicine and left on their long way home. Then came a lone depressed lady with some rather modest tattoos. She left after a short while. Obviously she had not bargained with a packed waiting room or our company had lifted her spirits enough to leave once more and face the world outside.
The 2 young drunkards, who stepped in then, didn’t have that kind of concerns. After looking around a bit, they started pressing the bell and didn’t let go until the sister came to help them after she admonished them: “One ring is enough really!” The one guy had obviously fallen badly on his knew. Perhaps due to his stupor. It had happened yesterday already. The leg was still dirty with caked haemoglobin, dark Wittenberg soil and a fair deal of hair, skin and flesh too. A mess! Still, they both prodded away at that knee to show, that it only needed cleaning and not the entire process of Xrays, examination and perhaps even hospitalization suggested by the help desk. They had planned on going fishing this afternoon. They disqualified the Elbe for it’s remaining 30 cm of water in the deep and wanted to look for some better fishing holes. Now, those 30 cm are an exaggeration on their part. We had checked it out yesterday and it was still flowing quite nicely past these parts. Still, you get the gist of their argument. I liked them quite a bit. They were a bit afraid of the hospital, calling it “Sterbe Tal” (Valley of death – play on words instead of hospi-tal, death valley.) That reminded me of P. Wolfgang Krause, who would also disqualify the Piet Retief hospital as a veterinary clinic and the medical specialists as veterinarians (Pferdedoktoren). He too was sure, that you were better staying outside than inside this place. The 2 friends underlined their argument, that every day several helicopters arrived with those pulled from accidents and other troubles, but never would you see them take anyone out again. Sounded like a dangerous conspiracy of sorts. When one of them got some soup in the hospital kitchen, they were both sad, that it was so solid. They both preferred liquids. Still, they shared the broth brotherly. When the injured one suggested leaving, his companion complained: “It’s just getting social around here” (Es wird doch hier gerade sozial!) That got the whole room laughing. That again alerted the nurse Angelica, who didn’t trust these guys. I’m sure, she wanted to do me a favour, when she called me in to sit by my wife Angelika rather, and not get to involved with these Wittenberg brothers.
While waiting I got to see three of the old people carted in on tray tables by the emergency troops. Obviously the weekend had been too much for those. They looked pale, wrinkled, starry eyed and very frightened. The pushers didn’t seem overtly concerned about their troubled patients, but looked far more interested in our direction not wanting to miss any spectacular wound or catastrophe waiting in the emergency room called “Schockraum”.
The young medic was nearly finished with his 3 year training. He was a local boy and very happy with the Wittenberg program. He sat in on the first interview the nurse gave Angelika and when I engaged him on his studies, he came into his own and shared his joys about coming to a close of his training pretty soon. I think, we can be grateful for young men taking up this kind of vocation. He mentioned, that every time he goes out with his dog, there are no patients in “Outpatients”, but whenever he’s on duty, the room is packed. Both Angelika and I were sure, that he should tell this to those in charge, because it seemed like going for a walk with his dog was a very easy way to address accidents and other mishaps in Wittenberg. For some reason, he didn’t seem to take that all so serious.
Up in the room Angelika was put to be by an elderly nurse, who looked something like Rolanda Hooch. The young one had some very bright Adidas sneakers on to contrast the light-blue and white uniform. She defended her choice by pointing out their obvious advantages of comfort even after a very long and otherwise strenuous day. In the end Angelika got a typical “Abendbrot” with some slices of cheese and cold-meats, tea of chamomile and yogurt. Let’s hope and pray, that it plus that mixture in the drip will keep her until breakfast in the morning.
When I left, some rain drops fell on my head. Hopefully that’s just the beginning of some good rain falls soon. Tuesday and Wednesday are supposed to be rainy. It would be good news for this parched land, suffering from nearly 10 weeks of sunny days and no rains. Rain after all means “Pula”: Blessings all around!