So living in different countries, you can’t help but have bizarre stories about visits to various medical professionals. Sometimes you have to put the word professionals in air quotes.
For example, in Greece you get vaccinations over the counter. As in, you walk in, McDonald’s style, put your arm on the counter and order a tetanus with a side of meningitis, and pray that the needle the pharmacist pulls out is actually going into your arm. I have fond memories of leaning over behind the counter, next to the windows, getting a hep. A vaccine in my ass, surrounded by old greek gramdmas who alternately patted my arm and discussed how brave I was being (meanwhile the friend I had brought for moral support was too busy laughing to offer any consoling words. Thanks Heyam 🙂 )
Then there’s the time I tried to get a morning after pill in a Slovak clinic, without the necessary vocabulary to actually explain what happened. The friend I had brought for moral support also didn’t have the vocabulary needed, so we had to act out the events leading up to the clinic visit, using charades, to a very unimpressed older Slovak doctor. The second she turned her back, her younger nurse winked at me and slipped the prescription over the counter.
Also a highlight in Slovakia is the total lack of personal space at hospitals. People walk in in the middle of your exams, coffee in hand and have a chat with your doctor about their holidays while you’re getting checked out. This made my yearly trip to the gynecologist a Very Special Experience.
Then there’s the time I desperately needed cold medicine while visiting Bulgaria, where nodding your head yes means no and shaking your head no means yes. I pointed to my nose and sniffed. The pharmacist pulled out what I needed. I nodded my head. She put it back and pulled out another thing I didn’t need. I shook my head. She rung it up on the register. Rewind, and repeat. Abbott and Costello would have been proud.
And then there’s Germany, where doctors are expected to explain, in detail, every single thing they’re doing while they’re doing it. They’re so used to it that even if you beg them to stop, they continue without realizing it. Dentists, who terrify me in the best of times, are the worst. It’s like being tortured by the evil tooth guy from Alias. They’re all like, “see this? This is the massive fucking needle I’m going to cram into your mouth. Now I’m cramming the giant needle into your mouth. And see this? This is the massive scary drill I’m about to grind into your…” and I’m all like “DANTOOINE! The rebel base is on DANTOOINE!”
Which is the reason I feel duty bound to tell you that I found out today that the dentist’s doesn’t actually have to be a waking version of hell. Today, after 5 years of guiltily walking by dentists offices at top speed, I finally cracked a tooth and had to go. I chose a new clinic that some of my clients had recommended, and it was amazing. A trip to the dentist involving syringes and drills was actually amazing. The clinic is all streamlined and shiny and modern, they have comfy black leather armchairs, and they serve espresso to you in the waiting area. Also, the dentists there are all so good looking I felt like I was in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy: Dentists Edition. I mean seriously: 5 men and 1 woman working in a chic dental clinic in the city center? If that doesn’t have award-winning sit-com written all over it, I don’t know what does. Also, my dentist ruled. I got her at random and she was both completely nice, and all down to business. She asks “comfy?” you say “sure!” and bam, she’s in. No t.m.i, no exhibits of the torture devices, just fixed the tooth, made sure I was ok at regular intervals, and I was out of there in 3o minutes. Also, the appointment started 5 minutes early. Yes, early. What’s more, she has a sense of humor. I asked for her last name again so I could re-book her, and she answers with a grin: “of course, but you don’t really need it. Just ask for the woman dentist. That’s what everyone else does”. And, to make things even more incredible, the check up, two x-rays and a patched up molar only cost 130 Euro. Love.
So if you’re in Cologne, and need your teeth fixed, go to the practice at Josef-Haubricht Hof. It honestly might be the best clinic on the continent.