As I write, it is day four of Jack and my hospital stay for the surgery on his eardrum. I know this because I have chiseled four slashes into the wall. Well, it’s not THAT bad but it does have a feeling of being in exile. Even though we have a private room, there is still no shower or internet. I can’t decide which is worse. Fortunately, my iPhone is keeping me somewhat connected. Gary was able to be here for the surgery but duty called in London. Nora is staying with good friends so Jack and I have built our own cocoon here.
Yesterday, my friend Megan cheerily texted me from her holiday in Cyprus only to find me desperate on the other end. “I really want a shower.” I had already asked our wonderful babysitter Olga to come but she was without a car. My friend Feri had also kindly offered to help but was having trouble juggling this in the middle of caring for her own children. That’s ok because, in a jiffy, Megan had her favorite babysitter on the way to us. When she arrived, I tried not to sprint out the door. Then, a couple hours later, I came back to the hospital a new woman. Thank you, Megan!
Our days in the hospital have developed a certain rhythm: Jack’s breakfast is delivered at 7:00am. Breakfast here is not worth waking up for so we say “danke” and roll over for more sleep. Sometime after 8:00, a nurse bursts through the door telling us the surgeon needs to see us NOW in the next building. It would be awfully nice if they could give us some warning, like an appointment. I haul Jack out of bed and help us both into our clothes. The nurse returns 2 minutes later to tell us “schnelle!” (hurry up!). Jack and I then argue about how many toys he can bring with him. Then we stumble out the door and onward to the surgeon.
Afterward, we go to the hospital café where I get tea and Jack gets an eyeful of graphic sex on the German television. (I thought those shows were just for evening hours??) Then we go for a frog hunt. We have one particular frog in mind: he is the one that lives in the courtyard our windows face, who croaks ALL NIGHT LONG. There is no air-conditioning so we must keep the windows open because summer has finally arrived. After many nighttime hours listening to him, this is the only way I can describe his croak: He sounds like a goat, imitating a bullfrog, but with a chicken accent, and using a megaphone. I hate this frog. And, with typical German fondness for all things natural, the hospital has a special swamp habitat for him in the center of the courtyard. All nicely fenced in with many tall reeds where he can hide. Jack and I have not found him yet. But we bring Jack’s new bow and arrow set with us every time, just in case.
After our frog hunt we usually return to the room to rest a bit. Today was no different–Jack was watching a movie and I was reading—until I saw a face peer into the window that is on our door. Not just any face, a clown. A German clown. And, he had a buddy. Pretending I didn’t see them only worked for another minute as they periodically pressed their scary faces on the window. So, I gave up the pretense and invited them in and, actually, they were funny. It was nice of them to come. Let’s give clowns a chance, people! By the way, I saw them later, sitting in the hospital café, still in full costume. They were drinking espresso and having a serious conversation. Somehow, that was even more amusing.
After 2 meals in a row of Jack being served 2 slices of bread, cheese, and a radish, we’ve been spent most of our mealtimes foraging through the hospital café. Success has been limited so I think we’ve been slowly starving to death. So, for today’s lunch, I decided to follow our noses and find the employee cafeteria. I hadn’t bothered with it before because that’s where all of Jack’s sumptuous meals had come from. But, hunger and the smells of potentially good food overcame us as we entered–surprise!–Nirvana with a salad bar. Jack chose a big piece of chicken with fries and I piled up a salad. We were so happy. When the cashier rang up our total she nodded toward what looked like a place where I should scan a card. I pulled out a wad of cash, hoping I could throw money at the problem, but she shook her head and sighed. As I put my tray aside to go hunt for a card to buy in the main lobby, the cashier told me to stop and called her manager over. We used her card and I paid her in cash. God bless her. This situation seems symbolic to my life in Germany so far: When I can’t get by on smarts, pity (theirs) and humility (mine) save the day. P.S. Jack is doing well! 🙂