Germans do not believe in Pain Medication: An Observation

by Brea

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I wrote a post about six months ago on having surgery in Germany. I have bad old lady feet, also known as bunions (i hate that word, ugh!), so I had to get surgery on both of my feet. Well they don’t do both at the same time so round one was last year on my right foot and I just had surgery on my left foot. My hubby isn’t home right now so this has made an interesting experience doing it on my own. And by interesting I really mean to say difficult, but let’s not complain too much. Thankfully I have absolutely amazing friends here that have helped me out more than I could have ever imagined over the past two weeks. They have been lifesavers! 

So this surgery went a little bit different from my last one. I had the usual pre-op appointment that naturally took seven hours of my time. Then when I left I got to pay the parking fee…because there’s a parking fee at a hospital. But let’s fast forward two days later to my surgery. They wanted to keep me awake and do spinal injections of the anesthetic to numb my legs. It’s basically the same thing like what they do for an epidural. In my case they would completely numb my legs and keep me awake. I was wary of this as I really did not want to hear cutting, crunching, breaking or other noises that might make me nauseous. Normally I am really fascinated by this stuff but I didn’t know if it would freak me out seeing it happen on me. 

But, I through caution to the wind and thought why not give it a go. Everything ended up going fine for the most part. It did take them two tries to get the needle into my spine since the first time the anesthetic spray wore off so I could feel everything. Not pleasant, not pleasant at all. Then I told the anesthesiologist that I didn’t want to hear everything going on so he gave me something to make me drowsy. I think he was getting a kick out of me attempting German. He claimed I was good but I kept telling him my German is ‘Nicht so gut’. I also realized that aside from the stress of assuring the patient is alive and kicking, anesthesiologists probably have fun dealing with loopy people all the time.

Next I went to the waking room. At this point my legs were 100% numb and this lasted for about another eight hours. I was able to go back to my room after about two hours in the waking room. The next day I was ready to leave. I was in a bit of pain but did not want to spend another night at the hospital. In hindsight I think that was a big mistake. The last two weeks of my life have been the most painful thing I’ve ever done. For some reason this surgery has hurt about 100% more than my last one. At one point I considered telling them to just cut off my foot because it hurt so much. That’s not even me being dramatic, sadly. I really, really feel for anyone who is in chronic pain. 

The title of the post is ‘Germans do not believe in Pain Medication’ for a reason. I am not sure why or what the philosophy is, but I sear Germans do not believe in good quality pain killers. I feel like they try to get away with giving you as little as possible in terms of pain relief. I even had to go back to the hospital to get more pain killers, but when I got the prescription filled at a local pharmacy I found out I had only received three more days worth. Huge bummer.

Luckily for me, I was able to get onto the military base and get much better pain medication. I had been holding out because I just assumed it would be like my last surgery. Nope, not at all. I am now at two weeks and still am having pain. I hope it starts to dissipate soon, very very soon.

It may be because they are worried about addiction problems, or more likely that pain killers have side effects and can sometimes cause more harm than relief. However, since I got my ‘American’ pain meds I haven’t had headaches or nausea or as much pain as I did on the German ones.

This is all my observation. Feel free to comment and let me know what experiences you’ve had with German medicine

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1 comment

Mark May 3, 2013 - 2:35 pm

Well, I’ve never been in Germany before. Pleased to learn their observation about pain medication. This is an amazing sharing and I really enjoyed learning some unique info through reading out this post. Thanks.


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