December 16, 2008

German medicine

After we all decided to stay home yesterday I got really sick. Everything hurt and I got this horrible dry cough and it was just awful. The kids were relatively chirpy, which made for an unbalanced combination. Ralf felt I had no business being more sick than him and was annoyed that he had to be the one holding everything together.

German medicine always fascinates me. The packaging is indifferent. Much of it doesn’t work, or at least plenty of prescription drugs I’ve gotten here are less effective than over the counter stuff I can get in the US. It doesn’t taste good – I sampled two cough drops yesterday, one of which tasted like ear wax (and I’m being generous) and the other like bogies with a twist of lemon.

After naps, the kids felt warm so Ralf took them to the doctor. Nothing serious, just a cold, so that was good. Then I went to the doctor and requested Abuterol (asthma spray) because it’s the only thing that helps with dry coughing. Instead, the doctor said I should inhale hot Salbei (sage) tea and wrote a prescription for a EUR 200 electric inhaler device (which I didn’t buy, are you kidding me???) and some Codeine. I was excited about the Codeine, thinking of prescription Codeine you get in the US that knocks you out good, but it turned out to be some sort of lame drops you add to water and drink. It is supposed to suppress your cough, which it didn’t, and didn’t include any drugs for pain or to help you sleep. So I ended up mixing with some US stuff like Motrin and Tylenol, which made me wonder why I bothered going to the doctor in the first place. Oh, and it made me throw up.

It seems to me that doctors are rarely that good, in the US or in Germany. Obviously they have test taking skills but it seems that most of them work by their data points and don’t use a lot of common sense. If a patient comes to you and says they can’t sleep because of a chronic and painful dry cough, wouldn’t you think to give them something to help them sleep and suppress the pain? On the bright side, at least they aren’t all antibiotics happy here like US doctors. In fact, most of them would rather give you nothing.

Today both kids had low fevers and we all spent most of the day in bed – I wasn’t able to get out of bed for most of the morning, no matter how my girls implored me. It’s funny, I’d die for them but I just couldn’t get up for them. Later I felt well enough to give them some proper TLC punctuated by intensely painful dry coughing. K hasn’t been able to eat a thing without throwing it back up but she’s been fever-free and in a pretty good mood. L’s been doing better on the food front but cranky and I’ve had to keep administering Motrin to keep her temperature down.

Ralf just feels rotten but he’s functioning. And I’m starting to perk back up, too. Hopefully I'll be able to tackle some serious topics again in the next day or two...


  1. Looks like we are both fighting the same bugs North and South of the equator! Wishing you all a speedy recovery!

  2. If it makes you feel better, you should know that there are antibiotic happy doctors here too. There are also, I think, far mor bad doctors here than in the US (at least, I was in NYC and could choose very good drs). I have had drs here far worse than any I have ever had in the States. I have also found a kick ass ob-gyn, a great pediatrician (after a bad one) a great orthopod (after a terrible one) a decent general guy (after a guy so bad I should have reported him if I had known how to) and a wonderful dentist (after a terrible periodontist. How can one be a periodontist and not have anything to say about my gums? This guy did). Keep going. You owe it to yourself to find good drs even if you need to do the un-German thing and drive to a different neighborhood (or take a train).

    And we are all sick and stressed out here too, but there is nothing much to do. We only use OTC from the States because the German ones are disgusting and generally ineffective, as you said.

  3. LOL on the cough drops! I just don't dig that awful herbal taste.

    The first thing my doc suggests is ALWAYS Salbeitee - drinking it, gargling with it, inhaling it, whatever. He loves the stuff. I had wicked strep throat once and knew it but it took me three tries to make him stop talking about tea and take a swab to prove it so I could get some antibiotics.

    I've found Paracodin to be pretty good at supressing a nasty dry cough. Was that what he prescribed?

  4. After I finally went to urgent care for my sickness I managed to get an inhaler, cough medicine w/codine and a z-pack of antibiotics. I tend to push for anything that will make it go away. Nothing worse than being sick, get well S family.


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