Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Being Hospitalized in a Foreign Land

I guess, of all the expats all around the world, I am the only one who has fully integrated myself to the land I chose to migrate, not only on everyday life, but also on not-usual-events such as HOSPITALIZATION.

Staying in the hospital is not something new to me, for I used to be a sickly kid. However, system here in Germany is totally different in my homeland, and I was shocked. The day I was admitted was also not so good because the hospital was full. Hence, even if my sickness was not something too serious (based on the initial findings), I have to stay in a room with patients of stroke. A lot of visitors have their curious eyes on me, why a young woman like me is on this station. We got no choice, the doctors wanted to look at me over time hence I have to stay there. I had to stay there for four days, and I found that a bit depressing.

Back in the Philippines, at least one family member is allowed to stay with you all throughout the time you are confined in the hospital. In that way, when something hurts, or you find it difficult to eat alone, you got your "support group" around. But here, I have to endure 4 long days alone, doing all stuffs by myself. That is not a problem for me, but I feel sorry for the elderly. I got a roommate who is 86 years old.  She can still do stuffs on her own but I feel sorry that she has to stay there all alone, with strangers, when it is already almost sunset of her life. While our visitors come and go all throughout the days, hers did not come, I never got to know her daughter that she always calls. She sits all day until 9 in the evening by the window, wishing and hoping to see her son or daughter's car coming in. I feel sad and can't help not to compare the system to the Philippines. I came into a realization then, that we shall move back to the Philippines before my mom reaches that age. I would ensure that I am there and that she would not have to sit by the window and waiting and waiting.

Anyway, back to the topic, aside from this system, I also witnessed first hand how unmanned the nurses here are. For morning shift, there are around 4 or 5 nurses, including the trainees, but at night, there are only 2 of them. I could not blame though that not a lot of people chooses this profession here. The pay is not that much, and it requires a lot of their energy, physically and emotionally. This situation is not different from the Philippines. I used to have a room mate who was a nurse in a private hospital in the Philippines and she complains about the hard work and less pay they receive, that's why she made sure that she can leave the country and serve in the US. Today, she is indeed in the US with her family, but I have no more idea about the difference between US and Philippines's salary for nurses. I can only speak for Germany, and it is not good. Yes, they are earning euros. Say a Filipina nurse moves here to work, converting the money that she'll earn, that would definitely be more than how much she earns in the Philippines, it can be 5 times more than that. However, the cost of living here in Germany is not cheap. The apartment costs already at least €500 (I am speaking only here in our county), the electricity and water and internet or phone can sum up to around €300 or €400. She still has to eat and for her transportation, either by bus or with own car (on which the gas fluctuates every hour). Hence, the life of a nurse here can be really difficult. This is one of the professions that I believe, should be receiving more than what they are receiving today. They work really hard, the responsibilities that they carry on their shoulders on every shift they take. I wish that the politicians will get to see this reality.

And lastly, as an expat, being hospitalized in a foreign land with a totally different language is really difficult! Luckily, I can understand a lot of things already, though I still stutter when I speak. Imagine your sickness being explained to you in foreign language. The word "nausea" that I am accustomed to since I was a kid suddenly became "Übelkeit." The heart murmur that I have since time immemorial is termed as "Herzschlag." And finally, the simple term of "Vertigo" I usually say when I get this dizziness (or Schwindel) suddenly became "Gleichgewichtsstörung." I was alone in the hospital and speaks with the doctors and nurses about their findings and hearing all these foreign words for the first time. My husband had mixed emotions that time. One side, he is worried, and on the other side, he is proud. He could not believe that I survived it and I was able to communicate with my doctors and understand them completely! I, myself, was surprised with myself. 

I am already home, but my treatment is not yet complete. I still have a pending MRI test due next week, which gives me headache and depression. Everytime I hear MRI and that the brain shall be scanned, I only have one thought in mind: brain tumor. I am so afraid that they will find tumor and then that will be the end of all my dreams. I still have lots of dreams and things that I wanted to accomplish, which I am afraid that one tumor will end it just like that. Like what I've said earlier, I still wanted to take care of my mom during her old days, hence I wanted to live longer than my mom. I am afraid that a tumor will end everything and I shall leave all the people I love alone, nobody to take care for them. I fervently pray that whatever they'll find on my brain would not end all my dreams.
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