Monday, February 21

Berlin's got a great ER!

Aren't they cute?! We arrived in downtown Berlin a few hours before we could check in to our apartment. We had to be creative with the 23F frigid weather! We tried to check out the Berlin Story bookshop and 25 minute film about Berlin’s history but the shop has gone bankrupt and had to move out of their posh Unter den Linden digs around the corner just this week! So the movie wasn’t an option to kill time, but we got a few souvineers for the kids with the East German pedestrian crosswalk images that look like this . . .

We decided to walk down to the Brandenburg gate for a photo op and some hot chocolate. Man was it cold!

Ryan grabbed his Starbucks hot chocolate while I lined up for the kids’ Dunkin Donuts. How ridiculus, but man was it packed with people from all over! The kids loved picking out their own donut and then it was back out into the cold to walk back to the car and check in to the apartment. It was nice to know the lay of this city since we’d been here before for Ryan’s marathon in September 2009.

Now for the fun part! Upon checking into our apartment, the kids were running from room to room checking things out and Morgan fell and split her forehead open on the edge of the bed. It began to bleed a lot as head wounds do and I used a clean diaper on her head which she was not thrilled with. It was immediately apparent to Ryan that it would need stitches. This was seriously the thing I’ve feared would happen since we arrived in Germany and it happened on "vacation" no less!

After effectively scaring the apartment manager off, we haggled a little over who would go with her to the hospital. I had hoped Ryan would jump at the chance at it since I have the routine medical care stuff already – shots are traumatizing enough for me! But after it was all done with later that evening, Ryan confided that it shook him to his core to see his baby girl bleeding so much and to know that he was going to be gone for over a week the next day. He misses us in advance of going away and this just compounded it. Oh well, bring it on, right? Earning my pay!

Luckily, our foray into German emergency care was better than could be hoped for. Not having done the emergency care here before, I was duly oblivious and luckily very blessed. At the closest hospital my GPS directed me to, I pulled into a private hospital employee parking lot and then walked myself into a secured medical unit with German military MPs milling around its hallways. I was very kindly redirected to another hospital with a KinderKlinik – a children’s hospital where someone who dealt with pediatric cases could treat her. My first thought was, “Really?! No one here can put a few stitches on her and send us home?! Come ON!!!” But it was worth the redirection.

Upon arrival to the other hospital complex, I miraculously did a beauty of a job parallel parking right in front of the place. This in itself buoyed me up with so much self-confidence I could have done just about anything at that moment! So I set off with my baby girl in her stroller into what looked like courtly palace grounds that held a KinderKlinik hopefully near the entrance.

This hospital was so amazing! Entering it’s stone fa├žade gate, the security guard/info counter man showed me on the map which building down the “grand alley” was the KinderKlinik. I forged straight ahead just as he’d directed into what opened up as an elongated beautifully groomed courtyard with mature trees, fountains, and park benches. The courtyard “alley” was lined on both sides with specialized modern medical facilities – orthopaedic, a women's clinic, and others I didn’t understand the names of until I got to the KinderKlinik.

Once inside, I followed the red cross signs hoping I was right in my assumption that it meant emergency care. I got our passport and insurance card out and braved myself for the check-in encounter. A very friendly matronly woman tried to help me initially but had to go grab a young gal who was able to do our admissions in English. With Morgan’s blood-matted hair and makeshift bandage job, she looked duly pitifull and the women were so darn nice! They all smiled knowingly as I told them what had happened. This admissions process was so much easier than any ER trip I’ve had in the States and far less paperwork!

Then we settled into the waiting area with a handful of parents with sick kids who were mostly passed out while Morgan romped in the playroom. I clandestinely made and scarfed down a ham and cheese sandwich from the back of the stroller where I had hedged my bets in preparation for an all-night wait with pregnancy hunger. However, just as I got to the last bite of my sandwich and read a good couple paragraphs in my book, the doctor was calling our name!

We went back and Morgan instantly was stuck to me like skin that whimpered. The young doctor who spoke great English pulled her bandage away as she began to scream and writhe and then he left the room. He came back with a nurse and told me it was good it had bled so good because it cleaned the wound and they would simply glue it closed and bandage her up. Hurray!!! No painful stitches!!! I had heard of the glue magic and had hoped this would be our fate! The nurse and I held Morgan down with great effort while he administered the glue and she screamed bloody murder. And then it was all done and Morgan, not the nurse, took a bit to calm down with the help of a playroom teddy bear she’d borrowed for the occasion. By the time she was back to herself, the doctor returned with his complicated write-up of post-care instructions to not get the area wet for 5-7 days. Easy-peasy!!

Being able to go to the KinderKlinic for emergency medical help and only have a handful of parents with their children to wait with was nothing short of a miracle to me! All other emergency cases seem to be directed to the appropriate klinics and I can’t say enough about how grateful I am for how this all worked out!

Morgan and I returned to the apartment at about 8pm. After our auspicious arrival, we were so emotionally and physically exhausted to enjoy our digs and locale. Little did our apartment manager know, he hadn’t heard the last of us this weekend!