The NurflugelBlog is a place where I can vent my spleen about pretty much anything that crosses my mind. Politics, religion, those annoying little indignities we all have to put up with - I have plenty to say about them.

Location: United States

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Everything checks out - I'm good to go

Got my final checkup by Dr. Fenk-Mayer today, she was very pleased with my progress, and said that I can start "weaning" myself from the neck brace - a week ahead of schedule. Cool.

Saw my old roomie Gary, he's scheduled to get out on Friday, doing pretty good, walking for 15 minutes at a time. Now he's on solid food, he really wants OUT and get some real food.

Got some good news from the administrative staff, I'll get a refund of 425 Euros, as the deposit that was changed added that charge for a private room. Since it wasn't used, I get it back. Hmm, with the rising Euro rate, did I make money doing that? Probably more than keeping it in the back, I bet.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Free at last, free at last, free at last!

I'm out! Free of the hospital, free of the dreaded 3 pieces of bread for breakfast and dinner (although lunch was usually good), free of being woken up at 6:00 AM for blood pressure checks and then left for an hour before breakfast...

It wasn't really bad, but hey, it's a hospital - that's what they do. If the food was fantastic, you'd want to stay.

So, we've moved into the Hotel Seethaler, right on the Theresientor Plaza. It's in a 500 year old building, and in the Seethaler family since 1900. No elevators, but great rooms, with a view of the plaza, with the Christmas Market in full swarm. Double windows, each double-paned makes it completely silent. Closets! Places for clothes! Clocks! All the things the Hotel Asam lacked, and much cheaper. Plus, it's not a frigging half mile walk to a restaurant outside the hotel (gotta admit though, the Hotel Asam's restaurant was very, very good).

I'm going for walks around the area, doing OK if they're short, but get tired pretty quick. The Christmas Market was pretty cool - lots of food, stuff to buy, lots of people. Hot, spiced wine is very popular (glugwein, I think it's called). Not my cup of tea...

Pretty cold and windy today, not really great for wandering around. Supposed to be a bit warmer later in the week, and sunny. Mom's hoping for snow, and she might get it, according to the forecast.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dr. Fenk-Mayer

I finally met Dr. Fenk-Mayer today - according to her, we've bet three times before already, before surgery, afterwards, and in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I don't remember any of it - no memory past being wheeled into the OR, no memory whatsoever of being in the ICU. Mom says that she was holding a conversation with me in ICU, so I was conscious and lucid, I just don't recall it. Kind of weird, having a gap like that in my memory.

Dr. Fenk-Mayer is a human whirlwind. She's a petite woman, constantly in motion, and has more energy than can really be believed, really. Like all of the doctors, very warm and friendly.

It was nice to finally (consciously) meet the person whom I've been corresponding with for almost half a year.


Dr. Bertagnoli came in last night to check on us. I swear, his eyes actually twinkle. He told us that this had been a long week, he'd done 17 discs, including the four on Gary and my two. A very busy guy. From what I've heard, the surgeries are very physically demanding, and Bertagnoli is literally covered in sweat when he's done. There's a lot of work in this type of surgery - sawing bone, hammering, etc, that takes a lot of hard work to do.

The good part of all that hard work is that when they insert the implants, they're in to stay - it's a tight friction fit where they're hammered in, and they're not going anywhere. I had visions of them shifting around if I moved my head or something. The doctor explained that the implants are solid, the neck brace is for the soft tissues.

My roomie Gary is doing much better today, more mentally awake and physically stronger, he was able to walk to the bathroom with help, and didn't look like he really needed their support they way he did yesterday.

I have to remember to send Dr. Masyk a couple of boxes of Lucky Charms - he apparently really likes them, and they're not available in Germany.

We got rooms at the Hotel Seethaler, which is right in the center of town - and it had bathroom doors which work. Mom got the bags all packed and moved this morning. The Hotel Asam was very nice, but that suite with it's glass doors just had no privacy. The Hotel Seethaler is over 500 years old, should be a nice place.

One thing I don't know is whether there's internet access there - I bet there is, it's just not listed on their web site. But I bet there's a wireless hotspot in the area - T-Mobile seems to have those all around.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Post-op day 2

Had a uneasy night, my sinuses were so trashed from the intubation, and I'm still having difficulty swallowing, didn't make for a good night's sleep.

The nasal stuff is getting much better (some really disgusting nose-blowing got the dried bloodout), and I know the swallowing problems will get better with time. The swallowing issue has todo with the fact that they go through the front of the throat to get to the spine, and they have to push the trachea and esophogus out of the way to get to the spine. Needless to say, those tissues don't like that, and are sore and swollen afterwards.

Still, it looks good for me getting out of the hospital on Sunday, provided my post-op X-rays are satisfactory.

They're giving me a prescription for an anti-thrombosis shot, I'm supposed to give it to myself the day before I fly back, to prevent clots from forming. maybe ought to wear my anti-thrombosis stockings, too... we have to wear them in the hospital because we're in bed so much. Still, I was able to go on a good, long walk out of the hospital with enthusiastic consent from the doctors, Bogen's a nice town to walk around in.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's done!

Had the surgery yesterday, I'm recovering in my room.

I've got a soft cervical collar (130 Euros!), and some bandages, but the neck doesn't hurt. What's most annoying is my nose - they did a nasal intubation, as going through the throat doesn't work well when it all gets pushed aside. The nasal area is pretty delicate, it feels like I've been in a fight. As for the neck itself, it's just sore, not really painful. Although the pain medication probably has something to do with that.

Great doctors, great staff, pretty good hospital food, and Mom's still recovering on our ride on the Autobahn :)

Dr. Masyk (did I get that spelling right?) is the anesthesiologist, he's a real trip. Met Dr. Bertagnoli (it's pronounced ber-tan-yoli, the g is soft, I'd been getting that wrong), he's definately a larger-than-life character. He came by after I was awake to see how I was doing. A busy man, he worked on my roomie Gary of 7-1/2 hours after I'd been under for 2-1/2 hours - that's a really long day) - and he's got 8-year old twins to take care of, too!

Some interesting differences between American and German hospitals - here, they'll give you a pill tray, and expect you to take them when needed. Don't think they'd to that in America. The doctors seem to spend a lot more time with the patients as well. The rooms have mini-fridges, and lots of closet space. But, they don't provide towels or soap in the bathrooms!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In the hospital in Bogen... surgery tomorrow!

I'm all checked in, have been fitted for a cervical collar (soft, not hard - much easier to wear, and it was cheaper too - only 130 Euros for a special piece of foam wrapped in cloth instead of the 200 I was expecting).

Met with Dr. Masyk, the anesthesiologist who's a real card - on the check box on my possibly getting a transfusion in case of need (hopefully will never happen), he said that it was German blood, joking that it came from German virgins. "Getting hard to find!".

I'm getting a happy pill that will ensure a good night's sleep, breakfast tomorrow, then three magic pills at 11:30 - surgery at 1:00.

Gary, my roomie, is in for 2-4 levels of lumbar replacements. He's undergoing the "purge" tonight, so on the off chance that I'll need to use a bathroom during the night I've found alternate arrangements.

The rooms are are really pretty nice - lots of closet space, a mini-fridge, and bathroom. They allow you to book a bigger room for more money that lets someone else stay with you. Those have balconies, probably not a good idea in the cold weather.

So far everyone's been really nice - my anxiety levels fallen quite a bit, and I haven't even had the happy pill yet.

One bummer - they say I shouldn't be riding my road bike any more - it gives me bad neck posture, and I should ride something more upright. My electric hybrid bike's OK, and there are some made which have better posture.

I really liked that road bike... and the mountain bike's history, too.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What is a "suite"?

I'm staying at the Hotel Asam in Straubing - very swank, futuristic (lots of power blinds, auto-everything). The only drawback - I'd booked a suite, as I thought it'd be nice to have my mom in the same room, and a suite would give us some space apart when need be (hey, spending a week in an single room with your mom will drive anybody nuts).

Well, there's some differences among hotels as to what's a "suite". My "suite" consists of a very large bedroom/living room, and a huge bathroom, with separate tub, toilet, and shower. The doors between them are all glass - you can hear everything anybody does from any part of the room. The glass just amplifies things.

Had I known what the room layout was really like, I'd have booked two smaller rooms elsewhere (there's another very good hotel in the center square I liked, but their suites were full - but I could have got two regular rooms for less than what I'm paying here).

So, when we walked into the center of town this morning, we enquired at several hotels - all booked solid through December. Back at the hotel Asam desk, same thing - booked solid.

It's not a huge thing, but I wish I'd known about it in advance, it'd have led to a different decision.

On the plus side, the hotel breakfast is fantastic, and all the restaurants we've been to were great.

Tomorrow I check into the hospital, with surgery scheduled for Wednesday, November 21. I'll have my laptop with me, but don't know if there will be internet connectivity, so it may be a few days until the next entry.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Technology heaven!

Visited the Deutsches Museum in Munich today - it's a museum of technology. Geek heaven!

You will never see a museum like this in the US - the Smithsonian comes close in some areas, but people just aren't interested in science and technology any more, the kids would rather play video games than learn how they work. They have more electronic hobby stores in a few blocks than in all of Oregon and California, it seems.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Evil & Good at Lufthansa

So, I’m finally on my way – no thanks to the jerk at Lufthansa customer service who nearly sabotaged the entire trip.

I’d originally booked a flight flying out on November 15, returning on November 30, with surgery being done on the 19th. I got bumped two days on surgery, so I had to push out the return flight two days. I got on the phone with Lufthansa customer service to make the changes, and after some discussion (had to upgrade my tickets to a better class of economy) got the changes made. Even received another email with the Lufthansa reservations.

But, when we got up at 4:00 AM to get to PDX, the idiot had cancelled my Portland to Chicago ticket. I had a reservation, but no ticket (somehow that make sense in the airline industry, don’t ask me). Lufthansa had to be the one to fix it, and guess what – they’re closed in Portland on Thursdays (we were flying United to Chicago, then Lufthansa to Munich). Two hours at the ticket counter went by, and we ended up having to buy a ticket to San Francisco to work it out at a Lufthansa counter there.

Got in to SFO, had to wait for the Lufthansa ticket counter to open, and spent another two hours getting things fixed. Lee Me Ying was our savior; it took a lot of legwork from her to get everything fixed. I still have to try to get Lufthansa to refund my ticket from Portland to San Francisco, and maybe the hotel there, too (we left SFO at 9:50 PM, so we had to have some place to crash in the meantime. For $60, it was worth every penny).

In Munich, I observed that one of my suitcases has been destroyed. Apparently it had been caught under a luggage cart or something and dragged along the ground. The metal zipper handle had been ground nearly in half. One zipper handle was ripped off, and the sides of the case eaten through.

Thanks again, Luthansa!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


OK, a new twist - I got bumped two days in surgery - a more urgent case needed attention before me. I keep forgetting that there are other patients these folks are dealing with.

So, I'm leaving the same day (staying at the Portland Sheraton the night of November 14 to take out some of the early morning flight nastiness, and it give my mom and I a place to rendezvous before flying out November 15), and will spend two days in Munich before traveling to Straubing on the 19th. I check in on the 20th, with surgery scheduled for the 21st.

We're staying at the HotelAsam in Straubing (, which looks pretty good. I'll stay there a week after I leave the hospital, and then we travel to a Munich hotel airport and spend the night of December 1 there (another early morning flight)

Got my physical, all my blood work done (why do you have to sign a release form to get your own test results?)... I'm all set. All I have to do is pack.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

It still stings, but...

Talked to my credit union - nope, it was all them, that was the actual exchange rate for that day and that amount.

It was about what I'd originally expected (a little more), but it would have been nice to have a little extra left over...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ouch, that stings!

OK, when you're transferring large amounts of money overseas, they can't tell you what the exchange rate is until it's done...

It seems that either I got a TOTALLY different rate for a large transaction (below $5000 it was 1.4034:1), or else the receiving bank charged an extra 5% handling fee (more probable).

And, of course, you won't find this out until after you look at your bank balance and see how much really got sent.

Something to remember when planning this sort of thing...