Unfortunately, life during the long break wasn’t all fun and easy…three days after returning from Ireland, I became really ill at about 2:00 AM. And by ill, I mean I was in the most excruciating pain I’d ever experienced, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move…I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Drew called Jens, who said that we should call a taxi, not an ambulance, because in Germany the ambulances only arrive quickly if someone is bleeding to death or having a heart attack. The taxi was faster. After dragging me outside and into the car, I lied in the back seat, shaking and clutching a plastic bag in case I threw up. I thought it was quite considerate of me. The taxi driver was a big jerk.
“Has she already thrown up?” he asked. “Is she going to?”
And then, after Drew told him to just take us to the hospital and not ask dumb questions, the driver felt the need to comment: “You should have called an ambulance, not me.”

Thanks. Very helpful and kind from a man who was about to earn 20 euros from us. And he took us to the wrong hospital building. Luckily, a nurse quickly got me into a wheelchair and brought me to the emergency room, which was only 50 meters away. It was a good thing that Drew was there, because I pretty much lost my ability to speak any German in the haze of pain and fear. They pumped me up with drugs and did some tests to find that something was wrong with my gallbladder, but nothing so serious that I couldn’t go home after a few hours. I would have to get surgery later. At about 4:30 in the morning, Jens showed up to drive us back.

The experience was quite scary but also very interesting. Unlike a trip to an American ER, everything progressed really smoothly. They simply took me in, asked for my German insurance card, and took care of me. No endless paperwork or filing on the computer or need for identification. No co-pays or billing. The German healthcare system is effective and good.