Tuesday, 5 November 2019

From Zurich with Love to Gelsenkirchen with Vomit!

Craig and I woke before the alarm went off the day we left Zurich.  He looked at me nervously and smiled "It'll be fine, I got you" but I could see from the look in his eyes he was as shit scared as me!  

We were originally going to fly but had to cancel the flight as I wasn't well enough to leave. Everything we have read says planes and surgery don't go together, in fact in the study I read just yesterday by John Hopkins Institute said short domestic flights no sooner than six weeks and 12 weeks after surgery for anything longer than 5 hours!!!  We weighed up all the pros and cons, do we re-book our flight or catch the train.  We already knew the trains were comfy plus I could walk to my hearts content, so we booked it.  

Suddenly it is the day we are leaving, and it has crept up on us like a thief in the night!  I kept panicking about how the bloody hell Craig would manage five bags, it was four but I accidentally bought too much rosti to bring home....but that's another story! 

We checked the flat a hundred times, did we forget anything, but, really I think it was that we didn't want to leave.   This place had actually begun to feel like home.  The familiarity so comforting on days that were hard or painful, we just cuddled up under the covers in our little loft and ignored the world.  (I will put in a link in case anyone else is looking for accommodation in Zurich as it is literally opposite Dr Rischke's rooms where you have appointments and physio and just a six minute walk from hospital!) A perfect place for two people plus it has a lift. Link to accommodation in Zurich.

The train journey was to take a rather long 7 hours, we past through some really pretty places.  It became particularly pretty as we hit the Rhine river, we must have seen at least fifteen castles. 

The pain kicked in about 5 hours into the journey and I have to say I was impressed the CBD covered me so long.  But suddenly the predicament I had been dreading, what do I do about pain now?  I am on a train....I lasted an hour more before the pain got so bad I was in tears and sadly had to take morphine.  I am sorry but the more I travel this road, the more I realise just how ridiculous it is that this substance is not readily available around the world, what is it? Big pharma can't make money from it?  Is that it?  All I know is it gets rid of pain but doesn't take me with it.  I get to be level headed and pain free, it was joyous.  Sorry I digress, that's for another post, another time.

We arrived in Gelsenkirchen at around 6pm and headed straight to the hotel.  The town we arrived in was very pretty but as we drove on and on we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of absolutely nowhere, I was actually starting to wonder if we had been kidnapped, and we were being taken off somewhere (just kidding!).  I reckon the hotel is a 30 minute walk from any shop of any kind though.

Upon Checking into the Marriot Auf Shalke it looked to be quite nice. We were met with courtesy and given a key card.  We struggled up to the room with our cases, or rather Craig struggled up to the room with the cases and I watched, the whole time cursing my large rosti purchase.  Strange, I would have thought a four star Marriot would have had someone to help but that's okay, not the end of the world, well for me anyway, poor Craig looked knackered.

We collapsed on the bed.....Oh no, my worst fear about changing accommodation, the bed was literally like a house brick, as if the mattress was missing altogether. On their website they say and I quote "Luxury bedding - crisp linens, thicker mattresses, custom comforters, fluffier pillows" Trying not to worry I thought I would put the kettle on, I look and I look but no kettle....a bit strange for a Marriot especially as it is advertised on the website as having a coffee maker and tea facilities and I quote "Coffee maker/tea service"  Must be a mistake I will ask at reception, also I will find out how to order food and maybe these two weary warriors will have dinner in bed just for one night.  

But, first a shower, I avoid the toilet as the state of it makes me feel sick, you don't want to know why and out of kindness I won't post the picture I later showed the receptionist!  I managed to get in the shower with some help but getting out was terrifying.  I couldn't lift up my leg it was just too high.  It's one of those bath/shower units and the extractor fan we discovered also doesn't work either (along with the heating) so the place becomes an ice rink. Craig is panicking, I am crying and somehow he gets me out, without either of us falling over, frankly a miracle.  But the pain was unbearable. We had booked a room for a disabled person, there had to be a mistake?

Off to reception for the first of many unfortunate interactions.   Having spent a fair few years in the hospitality business, even running my own small hotel for a while, you expect certain things when you stay in places.  The most basic thing, is to be listened to and helped if at all possible. The receptionist just stared through me as I spoke to him.  Said he couldn't help with any of our problems but maybe tomorrow something could be done, or Monday when I got to Medicos I could talk to them. Not sure what they have to do with it but, feeling like I didn't have the energy to argue with him we went into dinner.

I should have prefaced this blog with 'Whinging Pom Alert' sorry! 
We waited at our table for menus, watching others eating what looked like delicious meals but instead were presented with a bowl full of coleslaw and although strange it was pleasant enough but that's the end of the nice food, next a plate full of what looked like dog food with beans came next, followed by a creme pudding that tasted like it had been doused in petrol. We went to bed confused, hungry and longing to be back at our little flat, or even better back home with our family in Australia, gosh when homesickness hits, it hits hard!  We went to bed feeling miserable.

In the morning fresh faced and feeling a bit brighter we once more tackled our problems at reception.  We were told there were no rooms available with a shower only and if I wanted a shower I would need to go to the top floor and use an open communal shower that faced the gym!!! He didn't care about the poo stained toilet or any of that, just shrugged.  They do not provide tea making facilities and you have to buy all hot drinks from the bar, clever  really as we are 30km from anywhere so at $8 a cup and the only place to get a cuppa I imagine it's a license to print money. A Marriot without any room facilities and yet rated as four stars?!

That day was really quite miserable, we sat and sulked for a few hours, actually to be fair I sulked, Craig was just sweet and encouraging trying to see the best of a bad situation.  We talked about just getting on a plane and coming home, or trying to find somewhere else to stay.  I mean, what I just don't shower for 17 days or shower in public, not much of a choice and yes I know 1st world problems.  Craig talked me down, after all even if I wanted to with all my heart I am not fit enough to make the journey home yet, it's that simple. 

We went down to dinner and it was a least a buffet, which looked hopeful.  Sadly, it was still only one choice of food just in a bain marie instead of a plate.  Luke warm pork with a green stuffing, green cauliflower and that awful spatzli stuff, that's like a weird mix between soggy bread and pasta.  There were two portions of pork left and they looked like they had been sat there forever.  I refused, no way, not taking a chance.  Craig of course being his usual not fussy self, and with the constitution of a horse when it comes to these types of things and desperate not to make a fuss about anything, he tucks in to his luke warm green pork.

28 hours later and Craig has been vomiting since this morning.  I took him to breakfast but he was pale and said he felt unwell.  Within a few hours he was running a temperature, vomiting and had all the signs of food poisoning.   I was due to start physio and my poor man is barely holding it together.  He refuses to stay in the room (of course) and comes to the first introduction before realising that he needs to get to bed with a bucket.  Which, is where he has been ever since.  The vomiting has calmed finally and at the moment he is sleeping.  I am keeping him cool with cold flannels and making him take sips of water when he wakes.  I asked reception if they had the number for a doctor...you guessed it "We don't have any information like that, we don't know one" really, the most helpful hotel we have ever stayed in...not.  What kind of hotel doesn't even have details of local doctors for their guests?? 

Perhaps I should send the hotel a link to these awesome Guest Information folders, great for helping your guests during their stay.  With information about the local area, hotel and doctors numbers!!!!!!

So, I left Craig which I didn't want to do and went off to my rehab program.  I missed him so much, instantly.  Strangely partners can come to everything with you, guide you, cheer you on, rather a good idea I think, certainly if you like your partner anyway!  To know he was sick and I was here, well it just felt wrong.  Luckily today was really just a doctors visit, nurses visit (where I found out my official new height, I have gone from 160cm to 164cm!!!!) then a very short introduction to physio and home.  I have been next to Craig ever since, thank goodness.  I don't think he is any worse, but if he hasn't improved by tomorrow I will look up one of the doctors I found on the internet and take him there. I feel so completely useless, he is so poorly.  He has been so amazing looking after me and all I can do is sit here and rub his back.

Meanwhile, the hotel got worse and started arguing that the price we had been quoted was incorrect and they needed more to cover food, another 40 euros each for breakfast and dinner, which I have clearly stated as included on all emails.  By the way, this is an hour after I have told them Craig has food poisoning from the buffet!  

Anyway Medicos eventually got it sorted for us as they had actually booked it in for us.  We are now eating at their bistro instead, which I have to say I am relieved about.  Although I have decided that German food is in general no where near as nice as Swiss and we were seriously spoiled with food there! Today's lunch resembled Craig's vomit, I kid you not!

Medicos looks to be amazing though and my timetable is amazing with everything from water therapy to massage.  I will let you know how my first real day goes tomorrow.  I only hope Craig will be a little better and I can leave him knowing he will be okay.  Luckily our room is not far from Medicos so I can at least walk back and check on him. All extra exercise.

So, that's it my moaning is over.  We are learning to get around things and we did manage to get a kettle and luckily we had brought our t bags and coffee from Zurich.  We got a few sugars at breakfast and some milk,  and suddenly we have tea facilities plus we can make hot water bottles!

My advice to anyone reading this who is thinking of using Medicos is GO FOR IT!  It is an amazing place, full of nice people, who obviously love their work.  Although not many English speaking professionals.  The facilities are amazing, and it really does deserve the reputation it has as a world class rehab centre.  However, do not stay at this hotel, I know it's really handy being so close but it will bring you down, it's terrible.  There are other places and Medicos even offer a pick up and drop off service.  Do yourself a favour and go Air B n B or find another hotel.  

We did this evening have a bit more luck with the hotel.  Although they told us they could do nothing about the shower. Tonight they turned up with a step and a handle for the wall, plus a rubber bath mat.  They just wouldn't give me one till I had complained to Medicos! We also got some duvets to make the bed a little softer, plus, which was really sweet they came to our room with some dry biscuits for Craig.  Was it our bad review or just that we had moaned so much? Tonight they have been much nicer to us.  I still would not stay here though, not if you can avoid it.

At the end of the day as Craig reminded me though, wise old bugger that he is.  The hotel, the food, none of it really matters we are here for the rehab at Medicos and that looks like it's going to be amazing!  I can't wait to share some of it with you!  By the way the doctor said I was doing amazingly well and everything looked perfect!

Our Last walk in Zurich - The Opera House

I am happy to report that this morning Craig woke up feeling quite a bit better.  The vomiting has stopped and he has regained his colour.  It will be a quiet day in the room for him though, although he doesn't know that yet and I suspect he will fight me on it but I will get 'tough' with him....she says giggling.  I am so relieved he is okay, I feel like I have spent all night with one eye open and my hand twitching over my phone, wondering if all this was going to end up in a German hospital.  The human body is a wonderful and mysterious thing.  Craig I love you so much, you scared the shit out of me...perhaps it was payback? 

Love Kate x

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