This Week I Learnt The German Word for Ovary (aka: A Week in the Hospital)

WARNING: long post

Many of you will know that I spent the majority of last week in the hospital and lots of people have been asking me what happened. So I thought I'd tell you the whole story, not only to save myself typing out lots and lots of emails but also to encourage other year abroadies that hospital experiences aren't a complete disaster!  (after all, this is a year abroad blog!) 

It all started with a rehearsal for another show that I volunteered myself for. It went on pretty late and Franziska and I were getting pretty hungry. The looming Feirtag only escalated the urgency of this hunger, as we knew that the shops would only be open for another hour or so. So there you find us at 10:30 pm scuttling to the nearest REWE hungry and desperate to get home to our snuggly beds. Then I got a stomach ache. Now this wasn't your standard female stomach ache, nor was it any other sort of standard stomach ache; I felt like I was carrying the entirety of my mother's kitchen weights around in my uterus. It was painful, but one doesn't stop food shopping on the night before a Feiretag on account of a stomach ache. So I soldiered on round the REWE and got myself to the queue, where the world started to spin. I'm not usually one for nausea so I kept telling myself to man-up, buy the yogurt and get the tram home. My body had other plans. Before I knew it I was on my hands and knees whimpering 'Hilfe, hilfe' to the rest of the onlookers and then my head was on an Adidas messenger bag and my feet propped up on a shopping basket. Franziska was holding my hand and I heard murmurs about ambulances and bottles of water. At this point I thought it might be trapped wind, so was absolutely mortified at the prospect of an ambulance coming to examine me only to send me away with a pack of laxatives.

Nevertheless they arrived, a strapping trio of German intelligence and testosterone ready to carry me out on a stretcher into the back of the ambulance for examination. I swear I even blushed when one of them called me 'Frau Jackson' and shook my hand! He asked me all the questions a young female doesn't want to be asked by a tall, handsome ambulance man, the high point being the moment I had to look up the word 'virgin' on my iphone *face palm*

Once in the hospital I was asked to pee in lots of cups and patronised by the A&E staff who couldn't quite believe that I was capable of understanding them (I know I'm not a German doctor, but I think anyone can handle numbers and the words cup and 'pee pee') Then there was the endless waiting, lying in a white room, eyes stinging from the rehearsal makeup and a thermometer shoved in my armpit thinking 'This is a real low point Ellie' and trying to make myself laugh. 

At 3am I was woken up from my doze and sent to the Frauenartzt with a written report. I found my darling Franziska spread out on the chairs in the waiting room, surrounded by a bunch of drunken yobs who'd thought it would be a great idea to play show jumping along the Rhine. We both stumbled along the corridors lamenting the groceries we'd had to abandon on the supermarket floor and trying to find the funny side of this crazy, surreal mess. 

It was the Frauenartz who found the 8cm Cyst near my ovaries and yanked my light-hearted, British optimism gently back down to earth. I suddenly realised that there was no way I'd be going home anytime soon. The operation was scheduled there and then and I made that strange and earnest phone-call to my parents, trying desperately not to worry them unnecessarily and reassuring them that I was well supported.

Despite the reality check, I was unbelievably calm about the whole thing. Perhaps the German practicality is really starting to rub off on me, but I just didn't see the point in getting upset about anything. After all, I had to prepare myself for my first ever major operation and getting hysterical was certainly not going to make things easier. That night in that hospital bed could have been one of the loneliest in my life, but I lay there chatting to God, knowing His presence and putting my fears in His hands. He showed me how incredible it was that I'm already so settled here, He showed me what a miracle the EU health system was, He showed me how much support I have here in Germany and that I wasn't alone. 

Two hours before the op Franziska arrived (after two hours sleep back at her place) with an iphone  charger and we both tried to see the funny side once more. She was such a hero through the entire situation and I really couldn't have gotten through it without her. She helped me with all the forms, emailed Louis, informed my housemate and brought me some clothes and a washbag. I think the entire incident has cemented our friendship forever. She was the one who waved me off to theatre and was there standing with my floral wash bag when I woke up. We're known in the theatre as 'Die Zwillinge' (the twins) on account of our ridiculous costumes and right now she really does feel like my family.

Everyone in that hospital looked after me so well. I really felt as though i was getting the best possible care: they helped me to the toilet, comforted me when my scars were raw and painful, brought me tea , scolded me for eating MOAM and washed my hair. They saw me as the little girl so far away from home and so poorly and yet still so keen to speak German learn new words - I guess they felt it was their duty. Yes, I did just say that the Germans are compassionate, they are human too, get over it. 

Louis arrived a couple of hours after the operation, confirming for the umpteenth time that he's an absolute keeper. I was also visited by a few of my friends here and massively comforted by all the well-wishing messages back home. Thanks to my iphone I was able to Skype my parents (though my Dad seemed to really relish calling the ward phone and dusting off his German with the Krankenschwester) Then 5 minutes after I was discharged a family friend appeared at my hospital room OUT OF NOWHERE and offered to give me a lift home. God is good. 

I'm back home now and trying to take things easy. I am mobile and have been instructed to move around a lot, but also to rest. The cyst has been sent off for testing and I should know the results by the end of the week. I'm incredibly frustrated about having to take a break from the theatre and I hate having to live life slowly, but I will try to keep myself occupied, perhaps with Hammer's Grammar and some Tagesschau podcasts (I'm still a German nerd at heart) 

One thing this trauma has shown me is that I am officially settled here in Germany. Throughout the entire ordeal I didn't once feel the desire to go home. Today as I walked through the streets of Düsseldorf (SLOWLY) I felt positively ecstatic about living here: everything was beautiful, autumnal and exciting. I know this week of rest will only fuel my hunger for this city and I know there will be times when I will miss England, but  I'm so glad to say that it finally feels like home. 

For the year abroadies: So I feel like I've accomplished the first dip in the W-curve - yay! My advice for dealing with medical emergencies is this: carry your passport and health card with you AT ALL TIMES (if I didn't have mine on me the whole process would have been a lot more complicated) don't be afraid to ask for help from friends that still seem relatively new. Most people will always feel compelled to help someone who is so far away from their family when they get sick. My final nugget is to NOT FREAK OUT, stay positive, keep calm and think of it as a linguistic exercise (silly, I know, but it certainly helped me!) I really hope none of you have to use any of this!

P.S The German word for ovary is 'Eierstock'. Terribly practical. 


  1. Only you could make a stint in hospital sound as hilarious as a day at the zoo. Glad you're better now xxx

  2. I'm so glad that you're okay and that you had a positive hospital experience. We German do try to pride ourselves on our healthcare system even if a lot of people complain about it (what's new?). Sending lots of love your way for a speedy recovery.
    Nina from little nomad