Mom: You know, I really need someone who speaks German.
Me: *Well, that's why I'm here*
Mom: So, will you be there with us all day long?
Me: Uhm, well... Of course, if necessary. No problem at all. *flashback to last time I accompanied a child*
Mom: We'll be going one day earlier and you can drive with us but we'll stop halfway through and spend the night at relatives. But you can drive with us.
Me: Uh. Okay? *But how exactly will I get from A to B then, looking for accommodation along the way, or for public transport to get me to my destination, or...
Mom: And on the way back, you can drive with us as well. We'll do all the way in one day if we leave early. If we don't get to leave early, we'll sleep at the relatives again. But you can drive home with us. However, we'll not go back to Bielefeld to pick you up.
Me: *Well, now how do you imagine THAT ONE? Me having to find my way to you, probably as early as possible in the morning no matter what connections public transport has to offer, or rather looking for accommodation, or...*
Mom: But you mentioned you'll visit your sister so you can go alone of course, but we're not paying for your ticket then.
Me: Uhm... Well, but there's still the way from my sister to Bielefeld, you know.
Mom: Oh. And how much would that be? *staring glare*
Me: About 15 eur.
Mom: Well, I'm not sure we're ready to do that. You can always go with us, but we'll be going one day earlier...
Me: *... and stop halfway... I know, but how exactly is this bringing me from A to B again?*
Mom: And on the way back, will you be going to your sister again?
Me: Not really. *Because, you know, I said that to emphasize that I'm really ready to go and we were talking about me visiting for quite a while, and of course I'll visit her when I'm nearby, but we both have stuff to do, so...*
Mom: Why doesn't a doctor go with us anyway?
Me: *They probably have stuff to do as well, but now that you mention it, I'm almost...*
Mom: And you know, I'd really like to have someone who speaks German
Me: *Well, here I am, so can we discuss the practical details?*
Mom: We'll be glad to have you with us and you can always go with us, but we stop halfway... But I'm not sure we're willing to pay your travel expenses. I'll let you know when you're supposed to meet us at the hospital.
Me: *What the heck have I gotten myself into?*
Needless to say, meeting the patient/parents before going abroad for treatment is probably the smallest part of the job. After going back and forth with the organization, and an extensive discussion with the doctor, too, I was probably on the brink of canceling the whole thing due to - unforeseen complications?
However, I was truly looking forward to seeing my sister and if I can combine it with helping somebody, I might as well adjust the dates even though they might not suit me perfectly and even accept that the part of my trip from home to sister will not be refunded. And since everything was said, I spent the whole evening looking for the most convenient connection, the cheapest tickets, the best hotel option, the way from hotel to hospital, the town of Bielefeld itself... After all, I very much like to be prepared when it comes to business.
And even though I'm not a tour guide, I even like to know things like the closest supermarket - just in case someone asks. Because being prepared is part of being professional.
Once the ticket to my sister was booked, and the hotel reservation made, I was sure to make it through the job no matter the complications and requests. And after all, even if everything goes against me, I'll survive by counting the days until I'd go home. I thought. Until, the very next day, I received a rather strange call: "You know, I'm sorry to tell you, but I just talked to the mom and they're not ready to pay your travel expenses so they'll go without you."
Maybe I should have listened o my intuition the other day. "Uh... Oh, I get it! You'd prefer to take advantage of me 24/7 and are not willing to pay a single cent in return, and you can't quite figure out how to do that?"
And before the shitstorm gets going, the rules of having an accompanying translator are clear: travel expenses are to be covered by patient/family. Also, it was always about "we're not ready", not about "we can't". Because you can't even try to "can't" me with all the bling that comes with neat clothes, manicure, make-up, perfect hair, up-to-date phone...
And after all, who says I'm in a position to "can" throw away money for tickets I shouldn't be paying anyway?
With the change of plans, however, the only thing I actually could do was to cancel the hotel and figure out what to do with my one-way ticket to Wuppertal. I could probably cancel it for a fee, but that would mean no sister-time. Going anyway would mean I'd need to buy a return ticket as well.
In the end, I decided to go anyway. If it was up to me, I'd probably pick slightly different dates, but well...
And on a rather cloudy May afternoon, I took off from Ljubljana to spend the night at my sister in Salzburg - because sometimes it's cheaper to break up the journey if possible, and doing the whole trip in one section would be torture anyway.
In a funny game of karma, the train next morning was delayed enough to grant me a partial refund of my ticket...
... and after an amazing game of sunshine and summer storms...
... I finally made it. Wuppertal, here we go! One week of sister-time and exploring the city in warm temperatures. A trip to the Zoo maybe? Or the botanical garden?
I thought. As soon as I settled in, however, I was feeling sick. And after a couple of days on painkillers and fever medication, I was feeling as bad as one can feel fighting a severe pharyngitis. I did make it through the days somehow because years of mandatory attendance make you get used to getting going even if you cant. I postponed seeing a doctor when I felt like shit because a) you don't want to bother anyone and b) you rule out the life-threatening things, and if it isn't life threatening you'll probably be fine somehow.
I even made it to Essen and tried to survive the day.
And as long as I was on my meds, it wasn't that bad after all... A lovely park and planes buzzing above my head - what more can one wish for?
The city seemed to be a fun place for discoveries, too. From random street sights...
... to the (closed) Lutheran church...
... the church of St. Lucius, that looks rather old and massive on the outside, but surprises with a bright, vivid interior...
... and - last but not least - the church of St. Ludger. The impressive Romanesque building was especially wonderful due to its cold interior which worked perfectly with my fever, but of course, that shouldn't be the only reason to visit.
However, at least when I couldn't swallow anymore and after almost passing out later in the day, I seriously considered seeing a doctor - if things would get worse overnight.
Since they stayed in a state of "not improving", I opted for suffering on my own - alongside with pieces of rock sugar, which turned out to be the perfect relief for my sore throat as well as the only "little something" I managed to eat.
A couple of planes and days later, just as I was beginning to feel remotely better, it was time to head home again.
I did have my share of Germany for a while, had my confidence ruined to the point that it took me ages to apply for accompanying patients again but also had learned that what I thought would be the worst accompanying trip ever, wasn't that bad after all. Who'd have thought...
Eventually, before heading back to Ljubljana, I even managed to stop by at my doctor.
I see, your throat is quite red and swollen... You'll need antibiotics.
Uhm, well. I'm actually almost fine already. But I sure as heck would have needed them.
And I should probably start to care for myself.
If others dare to request sick leave for a common cold or come to the ER for things that are anything but urgent, I should finally stop feeling bad for missing a day or two due to being really sick, and not be shy to ask for help when I need it.
But then again, once you rule out the life-threatening, why would I bother anyone? Because as much as "doctor" is a 24/7 job, I should still have the right to switch to "patient" when I need it. Because as much as it is a legitimate expectation to take care of other people's health, one should be required to take care of themselves using the very same standards. Not to mention the 10,000 steps one should take every day. And the regular healthy meals. And the little details of "getting enough sleep" and "avoiding stress". What a wonderful theory!
My dear faculty, only now I'm beginning to see what you've taken from me...