First things first, I am okay! No need to worry about anything! I was well taken care of at the hospital! So here’s the story:
On Friday November 16th, some friends and I cooked dinner together. However, I wasn’t able to actually enjoy the dinner because something got stuck in my esophagus. It didn’t effect my breathing only my ability to swallow. Now, this had happened to me before and it only took a matter of hours before the piece of stuck meat would go away. So, I just went home and relaxed all day on Saturday. However, by saturday night it still wasn’t gone and I was starting to be concerned. I didn’t want to go the doctor. For some reason, it really scared me to deal with it all in German. My mom suddenly wanted to Skype with me and I told her what was going on and then of course I was more concerned and she made me promise to go to the doctor. So through my mentor teacher and my roommate, I figured out the place to go on Sunday morning. I also did some homework on how to say certain things. I even wrote some of them down for reference.
One of the other ETAs in Mainz, Katherine, came with me to the hospital. I was relieved to have someone with me. At this point, it was really uncomfortable and I was rather dehydrated. After finally finding the right building, we had to wait a little under 2 hours till we saw a doctor. Finally, I was able to see the doctor and I managed to describe all my symptoms in German. Actually, it surprised me that the whole appointment was completed in German, not once did the staff switch to English. Anyways, I ended up having to show the doctor what happened when I swallowed water and then he understood. He tried looking through this thing that went through my nose and down my throat but it wasn’t long enough. So, he hooked me up to an IV and then talked about the options. He said it looked like I need to have surgery to get it removed.
With my IV and all, we walked upstairs to a hospital room. They gave me some medicine to try help relax my muscles. Then, another doctor came and said he wanted to try using this other method that wouldn’t require surgery. So we tried it, but it required sticking a thick tube up my nose and down my throat. My gag reflex kicked in and they weren’t able to do it. Within 15 mins, I was being wheeled into surgery. It was a bit crazy how fast it all happened. The last thing I remember thinking: “I can’t wait for a big glass of water!”
The first thing I saw when I woke up was a sign that said: “JA! Ich lebe noch!” (in English: “Yes! I am alive!”). It was a bit funny to read that right when you wake up from surgery. In the recovery area, I was pretty much by myself for about 30 mins while they made sure everything went well. I drifted between sleep and consciousness for a while. The nurse showed me a little container with the pieces of chicken they took out. Finally, the nurses came to get me and wheeled me back to my room. Katherine and another ETA, Austin were there waiting for me. It was so great to see their smiling faces!
The doctors kept me overnight to make sure nothing went wrong with the surgery. Katherine was amazing and she went to my apartment to get me pajamas, toiletries and other necessities. She even attempted to contact my mom to update her on the situation. I was able to drink some hot tea and water, but they wanted to wait for a while till I ate anything. However, I finally was able to eat some vanilla pudding! It felt so great to be able to drink and eat without any problem! The doctors came to check on me and said that the chicken was far down my esophagus, almost to my stomach. Other than that, he said everything went really well!
Finally, I was able to eat dinner which consisted of yogurt and bread. It was probably best to eat soft things. After dinner, we watched “She’s the Man”, one of my favorite movies!! Austin had never seen it, so we forced him to watch it! haha Around 10 pm, Katherine and Austin left. I watched a little bit of TV and then fell asleep. Surprisingly, I wasn’t disturbed too much during the night.
In the morning, the doctor came to visit to release me. Since everything went well, he said I was able to go home. I just had to take care of some paperwork things and then I was able to go home. After being super confused for a while, I finally figured out where to go. Luckily, the lady was able to speak English and she told me everything I needed to do. I didn’t have to pay anything up front and the insurance should cover all of it. Once I was done with all the admin stuff, Katherine arrived to go home with me. We went back to my place and just relaxed all day…Austin joined us later too.
The whole experience taught me a couple of things:
- Eat slower and chew my food carefully
- My German isn’t as bad as I think
- I have some amazing friends and support here
- I’m lucky to be in a place with excellent health care
All in all, I was thankful for this experience. It was a bit tough not having my family by my side, but I still was surrounded by love and support. I’m forever grateful for Austin and Katherine. They’re my little angels in Mainz! 🙂
Its been a week and I’m feeling much better! Everything has gone well and I’m now the slowest eater! Please just keep me in your prayers that this doesn’t happen again!
Here are a few pictures from the experience: