My Stay at a German Hospital: A New and Uncomfortable Experience

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Until my stay at a German hospital, I had only experienced a few uncomfortable culture differences during my stay in Germany. 

When I first moved to Germany, I was lucky enough to find that the “German way” easy enough to get used to. Although very different from what I was used to in Canada, German etiquette and culture didn’t blindside me. This was all true; until I had surgery in a German hospital that is. 

My Justified Fear of German Hospitals

I knew from my own experiences with doctors in Germany that the lack of privacy would be an issue for me. And I was freaking out. And turns out my lack of privacy fears were well-founded.  In addition to the privacy issue, I was surprised to see how many other differences there were.  As I had very similar knee surgery in Canada, I was easily able to compare the cultural differences between a hospital stay in Germany and Canada.

Related Reading: Why I’m Afraid to Have Surgery in Germany

The Difference? 

First things first, you cannot compare the quality of care in Germany. It is top-notch!

I dare say it was the best I’ve ever had anywhere, including Canada.  Germany is known for its medical competence so this didn’t come as a surprise. But I was surprised that the doctors and nurses were so friendly and caring.  Germans often have a reputation for being cold and unfriendly on the surface (although once you get to know them nothing could be further from the truth). 

The nurses spent time chatting with me which calmed my nerves before the surgery. You also cannot fault them on efficiency, I had my surgery an hour before my scheduled time. Where else would you get this kind of care? 

The German nurses were friendlier and more caring than the Canadian ones that cared for me. And trust me when I say this as it pains me to write anything disparaging about Canadians. 

I can handle this type of culture shock. While I was expecting to receive good medical treatment in Germany, I was not expecting it to be warm.  Fortunately, I received both.

Pain Management in a German Hospital 

When I woke up from surgery and saw a strange little device going into my leg yet not coming out anywhere, I panicked.  It turns out that I was also to experience culture shock regarding pain management methods.

In Canada, they usually give you an injection or pill which leaves you incoherent and rather dazed.  Not so in Germany.  It turns out that a strange little device was for pain management and was attached to a nerve in my leg that leads to the knee.  If you needed pain medicine it went in through the device, straight to the knee and left you completely coherent.  I thought this was the coolest thing ever. I hate it when pain medicine leaves you feeling groggy and out of it.

A Personal Touch


The next culture shock came with regards to how much more conservative and concerned German doctors are than Canadian doctors. It was recommended that I stay in the hospital for 3 days and 2 nights.  I balked at this. When I had very similar knee surgery last year in Canada I stayed for 4 hours after my surgery.  Both of the German orthopedic surgeons were aghast by this. But, in the end, we compromised and I stayed for one night.

Everyone was also very concerned about the risk of blood clots. And my entire leg was bandaged up to prevent against this, unlike the small bandage I had only on my knee in Canada.  I was in complete culture shock when the surgeon informed me that I would require an injection in the stomach for the next 10 days to prevent blood clots. 

“Who was going to do this?”  I inquired, all of a sudden feeling sick to my stomach as I’m petrified of needles.  “You or your partner can” he calmly replied.  Seeing as how I did not receive one single injection in Canada for blood clots, I thought it was ridiculous that in Germany I needed injections for 10 days.  Conversely, J.P. (my German fiance) found the reverse in Canada ridiculous.  At his insistence and willingness to give the injections, “Germany has won” this one as we like to say regarding our Canada vs. Germany debates.

Even The Crutches Are Different From A German Hospital

Another surprise, although I had seen other people using them, was that the crutches in Germany are much different than the crutches we have in North America which go under your arms.  The crutches in Germany fit around your forearm and are sooooo much easier to use than the crutches that go under your arms.  They even have reflectors on the front!  North America really should switch to this style of crutches.

So the lack of privacy issues?  Even though I knew this was coming, it still hit me like a ton of bricks and was the biggest culture shock of having surgery in Germany

I discovered that my attitude toward privacy did not just change overnight, even when I knew that Germans have different attitudes towards it.  The first lack of privacy issue hit me less than 10 minutes after I arrived for surgery.  I was to get fully undressed with a nurse watching me.  I later asked my partner why she needed to watch me and he said it was so that she could help me with my gown and then whisk me off to prep for surgery.  It was an efficient process, I’ll give it that, but more than a little daunting, and not necessary in my Canadian opinion.

Oh well, I thought to myself, at least we’re getting it over with, that should be it for the privacy issues.  If only…..

I snuck this picture from my bed in the recovery room. That is the reception area and main hallway, where everyone passing by got a good view of everyone in the recovery room.

After the surgery, I found myself in the recovery room.  There were no curtains separating the beds, but I could deal with that.  A few minutes later when I was more coherent I noticed that I could see the reception area and hallway.  Yep, the double doors were wide open to the recovery room and naturally anybody walking by couldn’t resist looking in, especially small children. 

I started pointing to my eyes, then pointing to the child giving the universal “I’m watching you” signal. Until my partner caught me in the act and told me to stop. In my defense, I was still on drugs.   It was a weird experience though. I really didn’t need the general public seeing me in the recovery room.

That would have been bad enough, but then I had to go to the bathroom…..

The nurse calmly brought over a bedpan and lifted the covers off my bed.  She expected me to do my business in a recovery room with 5 other patients. And the double doors wide open to the public reception area. 


I muttered something along these lines but with more profanity to my partner. He then tried to diplomatically explain to the nurse in German that Canadians are shier than Germans and that I would like to go in private.  She looked completely baffled. Clearly, she was not understanding what the big deal was.  Nevertheless, she wheeled my bed to another room to do my business in private. 

I have never been so relieved in my life (pun intended).

There are pros and cons to living abroad and culture shock catches up with you sooner or later. It was not my best experience, but surgery in a German hospital was not my worst either.

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55 thoughts on “My Stay at a German Hospital: A New and Uncomfortable Experience”

  1. Oh man! I had to go to the hospital last weekend for a virus. I was basically throwing up, had explosive diarrhea, and the worst stomach pains I’ve ever had in my life. They put me in a room with no bathroom, and told me that I was super contagious. They took blood work and left. A short time later, I had to go to the bathroom, obviously. The doctor came in and said that a nurse would be there soon. In my head, I was wondering why she couldn’t just point me in the direction of the nearest bathroom and I could just carry the fluid bag or something. No, no. A nurse came in soon after with a bed pan. I started CRYING. I asked if there was any way I could go to the bathroom. She said “It’s not possible.” And she left. I rang her again around 15 minutes later, when I had finished sobbing and felt like I was going to explode. Again, she said it was not possible. But, thankfully, she put a divider up so at least nobody could see me in the most embarrassing position of my entire life. AND she left the room. I cried and cried but I eventually did it. It was the worst. But at least she didn’t stay in the room with me!

  2. I just finished reading this article along with 3 other posts of yours and I can’t stop smiling and laughing to myself while I read such entertaining entries !!! Please keep doing what you’re doing; I love it <3<3<3<3<3

    P.S. I actually came upon your blog after googling "Nudity in Europe Saunas?" where "German Saunas: Why My First Visit Will Be My Last One" came as the first result! Why did I google that? Cz a (German) person started a thread in the IMDb Message Boards of the survival movie "247 Degrees Fahrenheit" aaaaand I was pretty shocked to find out that nudity IS the norm in supposedly "European" saunas and here I am; you confirmed it for me (at least in Germany). Thank you very much.

    You certainly are a very hilarious person and I appreciate the fact that I stumbled upon your blog. It was simply destiny. -sparkly dreamy eyes- I love your style of prose; it's very engaging u know. O and nice to meet you too, I'm Amal. A 20-year-old female waaaay from the U.A.E. <3

    P.S.S. My family and I traveled in the Summer vacation to Germany once, but that was along time ago and my memory fails m; I'm afraid I only remember the taste of German ice-cream, and it was certainly the tastiest ever. (Organic vs Hormonal?)

    May Allah bless your life. Cz darling, I was so depressed and stuck in a rut today, but your blog was like my silver lining. I am all giggles and chuckles right now.

    Good night. (or is it Good day?)

  3. That was a great article about medical care in Germany. I am from Canada a well and I would have to say i agree that medical care is better elsewhere in the world. I dont know where people say Canada having best in the world.
    I really enjoyed your blogs on your site.

    I figure i leave you an email to say i stopped by. I also Liked your FB page and follow u now on twitter. Just looking to backlink abit now
    i would like you to if u have time of course check out my site at
    and Like my FB page as well and sign up for newsletter
    also my site I think is best in the world
    your welcome to use my site to leave articles on as well if you were looking for a secondary portal

    • @John – Thanks for stopping by and agree that Canada does not have the best medical care in the world, although it is free, which it isn’t in Germany.

  4. Were you in a private hospital or clinic? That really makes a difference. I have had awful experiences in 7 different public hospitals (with myself, my mother-in-law and my husband) and I can say that the doctors and nurses were horribly infriendly. One doctor told my mother-in-law that she shouldnt take any medicine anymore because she was doing to die within six weeks anyway. Another told my husband that he was faking his pain and she left him screaming in pain. Turned out, when they finally operated three days later (only after i called the hospital administration) that he had an obstruction in the intestine. I had a stomach infection and the only toilet was shared with the entire ward (about 20 people). Because I could not make it there they put a porta potty in my room which i shared with three other women (no curtains and explosive diahrrhea). The nurses were understaffed (at night only one for the entire half wing – about 20 rooms). So you were lucky it was a simple and uncomplicated surgery and you amazingly found one of the only friendly hospital personnel in the country.

  5. Just found this site and I enjoyed reading your observations as a Canadian living in Germany…it was interesting πŸ™‚ Glad to hear your surgery went well and you found the German hospitals good.

    I am German/American and I was raised here in Germany, so I’m used to the German way of things. I lived in the US for 5 years and honestly that was kind of a culture shock to me that the Americans are SO private about somethings and then throw their business on the streets, so to say, the next. Wierd but ok.

    Now, the thing about the Germans wanting to keep you in the hospital longer? Its because usually German doctors will NOT perscribe narcotics to patients to use at home. To control pain after surgery, you have to be in the hospital. Sucks but its true.

    I had my wisdom teeth pulled a few months back. I know in the US, they use nitrous to make you all loopy. Apparently in Germany, they numb you up real good but you are awake as they saw the teeth out of your head. My insurance wouldn’t pay for them to knock me out, so I paid out of pocket for that. The surgeon made me seem like I was being a baby, but I told him that it was either that or I die of a heart attack from panic half way through the procedure. After I woke up I was in a lot of pain, more than I should have been and I was given a dose of medication and a perscription for Ibuprofen, which really surprised me because I know in the US, Percocet is the drug of choice for those kind of procedures. Needless to say I was at my regular doctors office 2 hours later with my father, who had to drive me there, I was in so much pain. I was given some kind of numbing drops which didn’t really do anything. Turned out that I bled into my gum tissue, which caused extreme swelling and pain. I was in excrutiating pain for over 6 days and no one would really do anything. I am German, so it’s not like there was a language barrier there. This is the only bad part of the German medical system, the pain management part of it. Everything else, I’ve found has been great.

    As for chiild birth, like some people posted, I think it depends on your situation. Mothers who had their children naturally really don’t need to stay in the hospital that long if there aren’t complications, so even in Germany they are released fairly quickly. I had my son via C-section in the States and I was in for 3 days, no complications. The experience in general was less than fun. I didn’t get to see my son until almost 6 hours after he was born. I was in a complete panic thinking something was wrong with him. What it boiled down to was that the nurses on night shift were too lazy to communicate or bring my son to me. I honestly would have preferred lack of privacy then being in a state of panic in a room by myself after major surgery.

    Every system has its good and bad sides i guess.

  6. I was in hospital in Germany for several months for cancer treatment, and I never, never, never got used to the lack of privacy. I had procedures done in full view of the person in the bed next to me, and I had to see theirs. (Part of privacy is not having to see other people’s stuff!) I had other patients get changed in front of me, and I had to listen to their consultations with the doctors. One patient was quizzed at length over her alcoholism and it got heated. Then there were the CTs and x-rays, where I stood or lay there naked to the waist, while unrelated technicians wandered through. Or the gynaecological exam, where the secretary came in unannounced. But the low point was the time an old lady with bowel problems was put on the toilet in the middle of the room, in the middle of a hot July.

    I will never get over the lack of privacy. Having said that, the Germans saved my life and the care was gobsmackingly good – and I’m not a private patient. If I ever get sick again, I hope I’m here.

  7. lol I didn’t even know that North-Americans had different crutches! Wow, glad I never had a broken leg here until now! Oh, and the bed pan thing is very weird, I couldn’t have done that, either!

  8. I’m glad the surgery went well and Germany’s doctors and nurses lived up to their expectations. I’m sorry it seems it was even worse for privacy concerns than you expected. I know that those kind of things generally aren’t as private as we’d like. I remember reading about an American who gave birth in America and was asked what she wished she’d known before giving birth and she said “how many people would see me naked”, so I imagine the door open with people walking by would be a shock for someone just having knee surgery. I’m glad they took you into another room to help you go to the bathroom. I think in the US if nothing else they’d at least have shut the door or made sure you were fully covered with a sheet.

  9. Just now finding your blog and am reading some of the past posts, this one included. Love it! It’s amazing how different we are from each other depending on where you are and yet, we are all the same in many ways.

    I particularly loved your post regarding your hospital stay because I was born in Germany (to American parents) in a German hospital. I was the last of three children my mother had given birth to. The first was born in America and the second at the military hospital. I was born in the German hospital because my mother had her children quickly and there wasn’t time to get to the military hospital.

    Anyway, much of what you describe is what my mother told me about having a baby in Germany. She was shocked at how little privacy there was for anything. I am with you on the privacy when relieving yourself thing.

  10. I recently discovered this site and find it very interesting, even though we haven’t lived in Germany since 2006. We had a great time there and we miss it a lot!

    I had a baby while living in Berlin. I’m sure I was the only person in the hospital having an epidural; the Germans certainly weren’t big on having them or doing them. Unfortunately it caused a fairly common but very painful headache a day later which ended up keeping me in the hospital for a total of 8 days, because the pain management was horrible. Here in the States, I learned later, they would have done a “patch” to cure the headache. But the Germans only offered me what amounted to extra extra strength Excedrin. Long story short, they eventually resorted to IV morphine in such a crazy amount that they had to check my breathing all night.

    During my days of writhing in headache pain, I had many roommates come and go — some even went home the same day as giving birth! I certainly didn’t see anyone staying 4 nights (other than me πŸ™‚

    I didn’t have any of the thrombosis prevention shots you guys mentioned. I also don’t recall any privacy issues, though my moaning and groaning did eventually score me a private room. πŸ˜‰

    Interesting to note: my son’s birth was mildly complicated, and having since given birth in the States I’m positive American doctors would have taken me in for a C-section, but that didn’t happen there. Also upon arriving home and translating info from my Mutterpass, my hemoglobin was so low I would have had a blood transfusion had I been in the States.

    And on top of everything, there was no sympathy from those German nurses!

    Really cool aspects of giving birth in Germany? The price, and the adorable newborn baby photographs we came home with!

  11. @Andy – Interesting, I’m Canadian and I’ve never heard or seen those crutches before. I’ve just seen the underarm ones in Canada.

  12. @coffeegrl – Thanks so much. Germans also get naked in the saunas here. I’ve done it once, but I’m not comfortable with it. Who knew that privacy, or lack of it, was such a cultural thing? I think that’s what really surprised me.

  13. What a thoughtful post. I know from personal experience that it’s not always easy to try to objective about these things, but I think you did a really nice job of critically examining a variety of different facets of the medical system that you encountered during your surgery.

    I’m still struck by how different the standard of privacy is in medical care in the USA vs. here in Japan. It was totally unnerving to me. I have become quite accustomed to getting naked with a bunch of other women in the hot springs or “onsen” here, but the doctor’s exams while I was pregnant – yikes!

  14. @Tim – Thanks so much for sharing your experience and shedding light on the fear of thrombosis. I was wondering why it was such a big deal here, especially when you’re not in a hospital bed. I can’t believe you had 9 weeks of injections against thrombosis, WOW, that’s a lot. Glad to hear your experience was as pleasant as a hospital experience could be.

    @Anne -Thanks for sharing your experience. I was surprised at how cheap it was as well, given the high level of care I received. Fortunately my insurance paid for mine, but we’re waiting to see if they’ll pay for physio or not.

    @Jess – Thanks so much. I was horrified reading about your experience, you are so brave! I can see how that would impact your stress test though. Glad to hear that you experienced good care though. Very cool that you have a German partner as well, it’s amazing how people do, will definitely have to commiserate :). Tschus.

  15. This is a great post! First of all, I really hope you’re feeling better, but assuming the Germans had you stay in bed / resting at home longer than you’d ever consider back home, you’re probably healing up nicely. I lived in Germany from 2003 – 2006 and I had a few hospital/doctor experiences and found myself nodding to every.single.point you and all your commentors make! Privacy – at home, doors closed, information safety, but at the hospital you just strip down! Just a quick story – Image taking a stress test, with those suction cup thingies on my heart/chest while I ride a stationary bicycle – with nothing covering my top (too many cables, it’s easier this way, they say)! The nurse is just chatting away as I ride this bike in pants only. Finally she looks at me, red and horrified and says oh my god, this must be terrifying for you, you’re American and practically naked. Yeah, cut a few points off my stress test, please I say back. All in all, Germany has the best health care in terms of quality and friendliness I have ever experienced around the world. Awesome site, will definitely keep reading (my partner is German too, so we can commiserate πŸ™‚ ) Gute Besserung!

  16. Great post – I had the same odd experience with the obsession over potential blood clots and amount of time to spend in the hospital. Of course, since they didn’t speak any english and at the time i didn’t speak german, I only figured out later what the daily morning injections were πŸ™‚

    The biggest suprise to me was getting the bill. 3 days in the hospital and general anesthesia in Germany were probably less than an emergency room visit in the US!

    Glad to hear everything went well and wishing you a speedy recovery!

  17. I spent 12 days in a German hospital in KΓΆln 6 months ago and this article brought some memories back. I had broken my lower right leg and had been walking around for a few days before I went to the doctor for an xray and it turned out to be quite a difficult break and I was immediately addmitted to German hospital. In a three man room with a shared ensuite bathroom and a balcony the room was fine. What got me was the sharp routine of the place, very very efficient. Pain management was excellent. What tickled me was the ‘abend brot’ it turned out to be just that, bread with hame, cheese pate, made me laugh when I got it. They were very concerned about the blood clots and anyone lying down get jabbed for thrombosis (I guess this is the result of excellentsalesmanship of the drug companies or negligence suing from the past) Wasnt what i would call the stomach, I injected myself quite happily although after 9 weeks it was a bit annoying (only subcutaeneous). Surgeon and after care excellent..a proper drain put in the wound, regular ice delivered to the room for reducing after surgery swelling, good crutches although I prefer underarm crutches (apparently they ruin your shoulders) I certainly got strong arms very soon (I weigh 115kg)
    Altogether as far as horrible experiences go (I hate hospitals) it was the most pleasant I could imagine..

  18. @Cathy – Thanks so much, I guess we don’t realize how shy we are until our shyness levels are tested by another culture sometimes. It was definitely an interesting cultural experience.

    @Grace – Your comment made me laugh, and glad to know I wasn’t the only one that was horrified πŸ™‚

    @Suzy – I felt really lucky that I speak some German as 90% of the time I was speaking German with the nurses and the hospital staff. I spoke English with the doctors as I wanted to know exactly what they were saying. So glad that my fiance was there and hope you continue the good luck streak of never having to go to a foreign hospital (even one with great care)

    @Andrea – Thanks Andrea and the Germans definitely take their surgery very seriously, much more so than in Canada, where space issues sometimes result in patients being let out too soon to make room for other patients.

  19. Great post! Really interesting differences – so glad that the nurse was kind to you and took you away so you could have privacy. It’s so good that you didn’t have to be groggy or ill from the pain medication. Sounds like they are very thorough over there. It’s really important to take surgery seriously because if the patient doesn’t have all the information or isn’t looked after properly then serious complications can result. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

  20. I think the privacy differences would bother me too. Luckily I have never been to a hospital in a foreign country, but I imagine it is a pretty daunting experience, especially if you don’t speak the language. However, it sounds like the Germans are pretty amazing with care and it’s nice you have your German fiance there to do some of the explaining.

  21. Laurel, hope your knee will be better soon! I would totally trip on the nosy kid too hehehe. As for the bedpan? I am horrified Eeeeeek! Seriously?

  22. First of all, wishing you a speedy recovery! Very much enjoyed reading your account of pre and post surgery privacy issues. Funny about giving the kids the “I’m watching you” signal. I think I’ve had bad dreams about a similar lack of bathroom privacy, but I guess that’s because of my American shyness. Good for you being firm with the nurse and getting some privacy.

  23. @Barbara – I find privacy in Germany to be so interesting, not so private when it comes to the human body, but very private regarding personal information. I can imagine going to the doctor in the US would be confusing for a German πŸ™‚

  24. @Lorna – I know, I couldn’t believe it either, thank you for your support and I don’t think I showed my butt to anyone who shouldn’t have seen it πŸ™‚ The healing is coming along, thanks.

  25. Very funny! When I moved from Germany to the US I was totally confused about what to do with that gown I got at a regular Doctor’s visit! By the way, it shows your butt, too…
    The flip side of the privacy issue is, that in Germany you have the freedom to be topless in the park or at the beach, or that you can change in public at the beach or at the swimming pool without being arrested for lewd behaviour. You can also let your 2-year old run around naked in your own backyard without running the risk of being reported to child protective services.

  26. laurel! can’t believe they wanted you to do your business in front of everyone! hahaha! good for you for drawing the line there. i’m all for “when in rome” but…hope you’re healing well and glad to hear your butt wasn’t hanging out down the hall! πŸ˜‰

  27. @Ali – The privacy thing has been big for me as well and I’ve heard it’s a lot worse when you’re having a baby, which has me rather nervous.

    @Tiffany – Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I never thought that when someone was using a bed pan that it wouldn’t be pleasant for the people around them, but of course…ewwww. A 4 day stay after you give birth? That’s a longer than in Canada as well where you’re usually release the same day, or definitely by the next day.

    @Sabrina – You make me laugh! Good to know it wasn’t only me who was freaked out by the bed pan in public thing πŸ™‚

    @Debbie – Thanks and I was surprised at how different it was. I speak some German for which I was grateful, since 90% of my contact with the nurses and hospital staff was in German, it would have been much harder if I didn’t have some basic language skills.

    @Barry – I have no problem peeing in the woods, just not in public. Thanks for the wishes. Unfortunately I’m only in Calgary for less than a week before all the Germans arrive and I’m busy playing tour guide, so perhaps the next time I’m in Calgary would be better.

    @Danae – Thanks for sharing your experiences. I guess the same is true in Canada or the US, you can get really friendly doctors and ones that are all about business. I had never thought of medical procedures as culturally enriching before, but after my hospital stay, I would completely agree.

  28. I’ve been to the doctor many times in Germany (though fortunately never to the hospital) but I always found it to be quite a culturally-enriching experience! Altogether I’ve visited two different eye doctors, a dermatologist, and two different gynecologists there. The way things are done there are very different than in the US, which is both good and not so great. I loved how cheap it was, but hated waiting for hours in the waiting room, for example. I had a mix of doctors, ranging from super caring to simply down-to-business. If you ever have to see a doctor or go to a hospital in another country it can be really interesting! I’m glad that you had an overall positive experience.

  29. Priceless! You are such a wimp. Where is all that wilderness experience? πŸ˜‰ When are you going to be in Calgary? I am in Waterton the first week of August and planning to be in Yosemite in the latter part of August / early September. It would be nice to chat over coffee if possible.

  30. Again, I enjoyed this post and am having fun learning about all the culture differences that do not present themselves during normal travel. I liked how they managed pain. Not knowing much about it, I’d have to say it seems much better than taking meds that leave you croggy and incoherent. I would have been uncomfortable stripping in front of the nurse too and using the bedpan infront of everyone. . . no way!

  31. I’m glad that you had what sounds like an overall pretty positive experience πŸ™‚ It’s so important to feel well taken care of when you are sick/need surgery. And if it makes you feel any better – as a German myself I would have been totally freaked out to have to pee in a bedpan with people around me. I would have thrown a huge fit πŸ™‚ German profanities included!

    Gute Besserung!

  32. I was in the hospital last year after our car accident and the hospital you are in really makes all the difference when it comes to friendliness of doctors. In the Frankfurt area (while my husband was in the hospital 2 years ago), they were awful and treated him like an idiot. But I have luckily had nothing but good experiences with giving birth and post-op. The best treatment was actually in the ICU for 24 hours.

    I did find that the nurses really don’t coddle you which I was pretty upset about at first…but it also caused me to recover more quickly I think which I appreciated.

    You stay in the hospital for 4 days after giving birth too…major difference over the US.

    And I also had to go through the blood clot shots but only while I couldn’t get out of bed. I can’t believe they made you take them even when you were at home and I assume moving around a bit more.

    Using bedpans I didn’t have to do myself but most of the older women I shared my room with did…they had had knees and hips operated on–definitely would have been nice to not have to remember sharing bowel movements with them.

    I was also sent home with random unmarked drugs and had no ID bracelet. I guess they just assume they will keep track of you — especially if you’re bed bound πŸ™‚

  33. That lack of privacy thing is really going to get to me. I’m sure *eventually* I’ll get used to it, but that does not sound like fun. I’m glad you found a lot of positives in your experience though, and glad the surgery went well!

  34. @Robin – Thanks so much. I usually don’t like freaking children out, but on the meds I found it a fun way to make light of a stressful situation πŸ™‚

    @Ben – Thanks and the knee says your welcome and hopefully most tourists to Germany won’t see the inside of a hospital while they’re here.

    @Ayngelina – I think I’m at the stage where I’m romanticizing everything about Canada, as in “all Canadians are so friendly” when I know this is not true.

    @The Dropout – I am so scared to give birth at any hospital it’s not even funny. Your story about the massage in Vietnam made me laugh. I found the same thing in Thailand getting massages.

    @Lita – Danke. Ich habe mein zuerst Physiotherapie Termin heute.

    @Jade – You’re right, given the choice of modesty or good care, good care would win hands down.

    @Jozef – Thanks and you just never know where culture shock will hit you πŸ™‚

    @Raymond – LOL, OOps, will fix that, thanks. The treatment your travel partner received in Cusco sounds wonderful. Definitely wouldn’t happen in Canada πŸ™‚

    @kei – Thanks and you definitely won’t have to worry about the medical care, it’s excellent.

    @Gina – Yeah, another Canadian in Germany! I haven’t met too many living in Stuttgart. 3 days? so much longer than what we’re used to in Canada!

    @CN Heidelberg – Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Glad I’m not the only one who thought the hospital staff were worrying excessively about blood clots. I never thought about the lack of wristband, but you’re right, I didn’t have one either. I was given explicit instructions for the medicine that I took home so I guess I was lucky. Will definitely check out your link, thanks for sharing.

    @Mo – Interesting to hear that you wouldn’t be comfortable using a bed pan in public either, but would put up with it. That explains why the nurse looked so confused. I wouldn’t have been able to do it, I was way to uncomfortable.

    @MIch – Interesting, I had no idea that in universities, each person had their own room. I’ve found it really interesting to see how different privacy is between Germany and North America.

  35. How odd that they have no curtains between the beds in the recovery room. And Germans are shocked that in American universities, we generally share a bedroom with our roommate because they would never do that — they all have their own rooms in University.
    How ironic!

  36. Wow.

    So far, I’ve had the luck of never having to stay in an hospital, so some of that stuff is actually new to me.

    I wouldn’t consider myself an overly private person, not even by German standards, but having to take care of business in front of all the others in the recovery room would *really* bother me.
    I think I’d put up with it, though, just to get it over with, and because coercing the nurse or whoever to transfer me to a somewhat more private place would be to much of a bother.

    Get well soon!

  37. Great post! I’m glad your surgery went well and you found the care very competent, and hope you’ll be fully recovered soon!

    I had surgery here too and had some of the same observations. I was surprised how long they wanted to keep me in for what would have been an outpatient procedure in the US. But, I preferred it this way because doctors and nurses were readily available in case I had any questions or concerns during recovery.

    Somehow the privacy thing didn’t bother me. I actually think the johnnies here cover you better than the US ones. I didn’t mind peeing in the bed pan but if I’d had to really go…I think I would have had a problem dealing with that!!

    The clotting thing is so huge here, and I wonder why! The whole time I was in I had to have blood thinner shots and wear anti-clotting tights, even though during most of my stay I was fully mobile and moved around plenty during the day. I would be interested if anyone knows what’s behind the mega-fear of clots here!

    The difference that really struck me, having worked in a hospital in the US, was the lack of safety checks. I never had a wristband on. Staff rarely verified who I was. They sent me home with unmarked drugs and no instructions. The staff sometimes missed me during rounds. None of my IVs were hooked up to mechanical pumps. That was definitely pretty different from my US hospital experience!

    • I know this is from years ago but I’m in a German hospital now and it’s the same – there’s really no checks often, maybe once or twice, and so far no ones taken my blood pressure or anything either. Temperature yeah, but otherwise. It’s really weird how hands off it all feels

      • @Nikki – Sorry to hear that you’re in the hospital and that you’re not having a great experience. I hope that you’re home soon and wish you a speedy recovery.

  38. Hi, I found your blog a few days ago–I am also a Canadian living in Germany. I had knee surgery here as well and I was surprised at how long they wanted to keep me in the hospital. The doctor said “there’s another doctor across town who’ll let you leave the same day, but if you want to have it done here, you’re staying for 3 days.” I loved the crutches too. I hope you get better quickly!

  39. Hi,

    I really like reading your blog. :)) It gives me an insight of what I should expect when I have to relocate in 2 years.

  40. I’m wary of “blog clots” too! (Sorry couldn’t resist…) πŸ™‚

    My traveling partner in Peru ended up in hospital in Cusco for 3 days, and the doctors are nothing like back in Canada. The doc went and picked up our prescription and actually drove us back to our hotel afterwards. Fat chance of that in Canada!

    Great story! Hope your knee feels better!

  41. The privacy issues would be hard for me to get used to, too. Changing in front of people is just odd!! It does sound like you had great care though and at a moment like that, really it’s all that is important!

  42. What a great story! (And great training for giving birth, no matter what country you’re in).
    I remember being quite freaked out by the masseuses in Vietnam, who would hold up a towel and then look over it to watch you strip off. *Eyeroll* But I got used to it. Just natural human curiousity.

  43. Oh wow. I can imagine the stress of surgery would all together heighten in another country. I’ve never found Canadian hospitals to be very warm, in fact quite distant, so not surprised at all.

    Here’s to a speedy recovery!

  44. You never really know a culture until you start doing everyday things in the country. Most tourists would never have this deep of an insight into Germany without making the trip to the hospital themselves. Love the stories – sorry about the knee. Tell it I say thank you.

  45. I loved this – a really unusual post with lots of informative detail. You can’t be all that concerned with privacy as you’ve really given us a glimpse here. Don’t worry about the “I’m watching you” thing – as a teacher I’m all for freaking children out.


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