Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

My First Check Up with a German Doctor

abcde of melanoma

The ABCDE of melanoma. If you have a mole with any of these symptoms, get it checked out.

While I’ve been to a doctor who is German before, it was at the clinic on post and they followed American conventions. In mid April, I went to a German doctor on the economy for the first time, which is a bit different. I got authorization to see a dermatologist on the economy because I had melanoma about seven years ago and have to get a checkup at least once a year to make sure everything is fine.

The location was at the Universitätsklinikums Heidelberg (University Medical Center Heidelberg) near the Frauenklinik (Women’s Clinic). I had my husband take me, and we parked on the street. It was not immediately obvious where we were supposed to go, but we found our way to the Hauptklinik (Main Clinic). When we first went in a sign pointed to the dermatology area. We went that way, but didn’t see anywhere to check in. We went the other way and found a desk. The woman there asked me whether the appointment in ambulance or something else I can’t remember. I told her I wasn’t sure but gave her the doctor name, and she knew who I was talking about.

I told her that my appointment was already a little past as we’d gotten lost inside the building. She said, “It happens a lot.” She wrote down for me what the door would say and gave me directions where to go to find it. When I started to repeat them to her, she asked a guy who was standing there if he could take us up, so he did. A lady was outside the door and greeted me. I asked “Sprechen Sie englisch” and then thought I probably should have greeted her in German and then asked. She had me wait. While I was waiting, someone from another office asked me questions in German. When I asked if she spoke English, she said “at little” and told me she was just asking if someone was already helping me.

I always carried my Droid, the Vodofone, not so much since hardly anyone needs to call it and my husband is usually with me.

When the lady came back, she sent me in to a woman at a desk. I explained I had an appointment and was running late for it. She said “It happens a lot,” and gave me a couple forms to fill out which were fortunately in English.

When I turned them in, she asked for my authorization form which I had forgotten to bring but had hoped they would have it on file. They didn’t  She gave me her fax number and asked me to call to get it. She acted a bit disgruntled when I asked if I could use the phone. Apparently she expected me to have a cell phone (which I do but hadn’t brought it as I hadn’t anticipated needing it).

The woman across the hall let me use hers and explained how to dial out and that I should leave off the area code. The number on my directions for a host liaison was apparently not who I needed. The person at that number gave me a number for TRICARE. The person there was with a patient but assured me the form would be sent within half an hour and they would call the office if they had a problem. I had the lady at the desk give me the number they could call.

When I went back to tell the receptionist they would be sending the form, she said that was fine and had me follow the first lady to a room. My husband came in with me. When we met the doctor, he asked a few questions, looked at my pathology report (which at least I had brought) and told me “Please take off your clothes.” While I had read about Laurel at Monkey’s and Mountains experience at a German doctor and knew this would be done, it was still awkward to do. I think my husband must have had a look on his face as I was taking my shirt off because the doctor said, “That is how we do it here in Europe. I always forget it is not done that way in America. But it saves time.”

Terry Cordrey undergoes a free skin screening

The way I’m used to being screened (including having a gown on)

This is true. While it was a bit awkward to strip down rather than being in a gown, it was nice not to have to take my clothes off, wait in a chilly room with only a gown for him to come back, and then have to change again. I simply took off my clothes (though I was able to leave my bra and underwear) and he checked me with a lighted magnifying glass, which was new for me as previous dermatologists did not use that. He had me lay down and checked by touch as well, I’m assuming to make sure I had no swollen lymph nodes. Then, I was able to get dressed as we concluded our session. It all took only a few minutes.

While I am used to having to see a dermatologist yearly, he recommended seeing him again in six months. He told me to schedule for a Tuesday because that’s the day they have their melanoma clinic and can do an ultrasound in addition to the visual check. This was a new idea by me because I’ve always only been checked visually and by touch.

While the appointment went smoothly overall, I wish I’d been better prepared to know exactly where I should go as well as to have some German phrases handy that might have made me less awkward. Also, I wish I had taken my authorization form with me because I could have avoided a lot of the steps I had to take to get it and saved time if I had done so.

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6 Thoughts on “My First Check Up with a German Doctor

  1. It is so much fun to read about experiences with German doctors. I am so sorry that many people don’t speak English in Germany. That must be really stupid for you. And yeah, I have never really thought about the gown thing. 🙂

    • Thanks. Ha, it’s all good. I’m just glad people do at all. I would be one very lost individual if no one spoke English (then again, if no one spoke English I would probably also get a lot better a lot faster with my German lol). It’s awkward for me lol but I do like that it saves time.

  2. I never see the point to those gowns anyway…they are all open at the back…I guess at least they cover the front…but then the doctor is going to check everywhere, right? Including under the gown? Its like when you go to have a brazilian wax or a bikini wax and they give you a pair of disposable knickers/underpants!! I don’t see the point.

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