It has been a loooong summer, probably in that it is the first in which neither C nor I had any real obligations (read: research). In that way, 2.5 months has felt very long, but we’ve been so blessed to have parents who support us in our interests to travel.
T: Went to Asia to dutifully visit grandparents and extended family. My grandfather’s elderly dementia has been worsening over the last few years, and so now I must reintroduce myself every time I visit, and sometimes many times each visit.
Cooed over new little nephews and nieces (adorable, but reaffirmed my decision not to go into peds of any kind – they are such a crazy handful. Crying, throwing up everywhere, using you as a climbing post – and that’s when they are fine and healthy). Did nothing medically related but did meet up with the hepatologist I shadowed two years ago…to karaoke with her and her high school-aged kids who berated me about my SAT score.
During my visit to Asia, parents also took me to South East Asia for 2 weeks, which was gorgeous but very hot and humid. Met many a gorgeous transvestite in Thailand – very very curious about how they work physiologically. I wonder if their gender reassignment surgeries/regimens are better than those in the US?
C: Also went to Asia to dutifully visit grandparents and other relatives. Went to tour Beijing near the end.
In July, we went on our Eurotrip: Prague, Berlin, Paris and Barcelona (3 days per city). Other than visiting the regular tourist sites we also had some medically related fun – most of it in Berlin. On the third day in Prague, C-who-sleeps-with-his-contacts-in got a superficial cornea infection. Silly C. Luckily my mother (a former psychiatrist in the asian motherland) is super cautious and gives me a goody bag of drugs before I leave on vacation. This goody bag happens to include a little bottle of Tobramycin 0.3% opht. solution, which tides C over and keeps his eye from eating itself overnight, and on our 5 hour bus ride from Prague to Berlin.
In Berlin, I was most frustrated when we had to visit not one or two but THREE hospitals in order to be seen by an ophthalmologist, or an ED doc with the balls to look into C’s very inflamed eye. (In the states, I’ve shadowed an ED doctor who did check a man for a cornea scratch using that nifty fluorescent dye – I wonder if ED doctors in Germany simply do not do anything ophthalmology related, or if C’s eye just looked particularly nasty.) Stop 1: Franziskus-Krankenhaus. After being misdirected by the hotel lobby staff, we find what appears to be the local community hospital. We were wrong. This place seemed to have all kinds of urological and surgical services (two floors each!) but the nurse at the front desk of the “erste hilfe” station took one look at the eye in question and told us to go elsewhere. They don’t do anything eye related.
Stop 2: Evangelische Elisabeth Klinik. 30 minute walk to this next hospital which looks very big and so quite promising. No suck luck. Again, the lady in the scrubs at the front desk refuses to let us into the hospital because they don’t do eyes. Now, we happen to know they do a hell of a lot of surgery, especially plastic/hand surgery (its own building!) based on the parking lot signs we found, but no ophthalmologists? Really? Not even one in your huge, multi-building complex? Mind-boggling.
Stop 3: Charité Campus Virchow-Klinikum. Just by the name, and the fact that we had to take the subway to get there, we knew we were playing with the big boys now. This hospital is massive and arranged in a so-called “pavilion style” – i.e. elegant architecture, with different specialties housed in separate small houses around a long center courtyard/lawn, complete with huge oaks and a fountain. 100 euros and a one hour wait in an uncrowded ED later, C is seen by a young blond doctor who confirms what we already know. Keratitis. She prescribes 2 other antibiotic drops which he is to apply alternating every hour. What a fine way to be welcomed to Berlin!
We did have another med-related stop in Berlin that turned out much more fun and much less stressful (and less painful for C): the Berlin Museum of Medical History at the Charite main campus. C died of happiness there, pretty much. The ruins of Virchow’s original lecture hall in the three-story museum is pretty cool. That and the jars of crazy diseased organs, in a sizable collection that rivals that of the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. There was also an artsy exhibit showing huge gall and kidney stones alongside rocks found in the earth (body geology?). We very highly recommend visiting this museum in Berlin! Only 3.5 euros for students – C could have stayed there all day.
We had two more small medical museums we wanted to visit in Paris but alas they were closed on the weekend (they have very strange hours in the summer, something like 2:30-5pm each day on weekdays). Guess we’ll just have to go again sometime?
Next up: If C has time, perhaps he will detail our visit to the medical museum (where we learned some German). And maybe some other escapades like how I had a glass of wine and then fell asleep like the cheap date I am, on a park bench at the Champs de Mars.