Sunday, June 9, 2013

Two weeks after surgery

Happiness is non-hospital and a beer!
Here we are, two weeks after surgery, and the damn leg is totally healed. NOT—just kidding! But things are much better than just a fortnight ago, and every day brings a little bit of an improvement, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a little less. Just getting out of the hospital last week Friday (nine days ago) was such a big thing for me. After Sabine drove me back to Bernd and Isolde's place in Wasserburg I propped up my leg and enjoyed a wonderful beer. I think the photo above speaks volumes.
Isolde, Norbert, Bernd, Sabine, Oliver, Martina, and Elli celebrate the Invalid's return to the Land of the Living
That afternoon, half a dozen of their sailing friends came over and we had a bit of prosecco before digging into home-baked cakes and coffee, in true German fashion. I had felt cared-for in the hospital, but this gave me the first feeling of "home," even though actually being there is still weeks away.
Playing with my big, green ball—rehab at home
We stayed for an extra night in Wasserburg before driving back to Freising. I had been worried about getting in and out of the car, and especially sitting for three hours, but neither was an issue. In pouring rain, which caused some of the worst flooding that southern Germany has seen in a long time, we arrived at Sabine's place, where I have been laid up for the past week. On Monday, I had my first PT session (I tell you, I've been super-lucky setting up appointments with almost no delay); rehab will continue on a thrice-weekly basis until I fly back. On Thursday I went to see an orthopedist whose office is literally 30 or 40 meters from Sabine's place. My stitches were removed and things look really, really good. I'm supposed to go back in two weeks for a quick check-up and a possibly a x-ray (which the doc had deemed unnecessary last week after providing him with all the pics that I had received from Prof. Maurer). The incisions are healing up nicely, even though there still are some very major bruises around my heel, my knee, and my outer upper thigh, all in colors that are worthy of a Kodak moment.
With thread ...
... and without
While Sabine has been back at work I have been reading, answering e-mails, doing leg exercises, paying credit cards and other bills online, and working with her son, Jonathan, on his English assignments and vocabulary lists. He's been having fun doing so, maybe because I once in a while throw a little zinger in there to keep him interested (e.g., telling him about Thomas Crapper, inventor of the modern flush toilet, when the word "crap" appeared in his vocabulary list). We've been sharing a few good laughs, for sure. I've also started to limp into town, not easy with the cobblestones surrounding Sabine's 16th century home. But I take my time, and with (now-)beautiful weather my mood improves when I get to run off for a little while.
Sabine, Barbara, Heiner, and the Invalid enjoying beer (shown) and music (not shown)
Friday night, Sabine and I went to an outdoor concert in one of the two town squares, maybe half a kilometer away. We met two friends and listened to the finest Bavarian music I've ever heard. No, this was not the stuff you'd hear in the Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Koflgschroa is a group of four young men from Oberammergau (they grew up with music, obviously!) who have developed a style totally their own playing tuba, waldhorn, guitar, and accordion. The result is something impossible for me to describe—if you have a minute, you may want to follow this YouTube link. Modern Bavarian music is something else! After all the crappy (there's that word again!) weather everybody seemed to be out, enjoying brews and the concert (which celebrated the 500th anniversary of a local pub, Furtner).
The whole scene was different from what one would expect at a similar concert in many (maybe even most) parts of the US: People walking up or riding their bikes, no loud talk by anyone but a steady murmur of conversation by those a bit away from the small stage, while those in front of the stage are enraptured by the gentle, caressing sounds these guys produced; waiters not overly concerned about whether your beer is empty; a city bus driving by every 20 minutes, and the occasional taxi unloading a few more spectators. Dress code is Bavarian-casual: some seem to have shopped at the local Goodwill, others come in Lederhosen, and some are definitely gussied up. It's all a melange that exudes a soft, almost caressing atmosphere. The German word, which is untranslatable, is Gemütlichkeit, I believe.
Easy does it, on stage ...
... and off
Yesterday was another beautiful day, and Sabine decided to take me out for a big excursion, to the Staffelsee, about 100 K south of us. No, no more sailing—nyet to that for a while, I'm afraid. But just this past week she had been in that area with a delegation from Cincinnati, OH, in her capacity as a landscape architect for the City of Munich, and she thought that my spirits would be lifted (I did have a 5-minute hissy fit on Friday afternoon) if we went to the foothills of the Alps. Oh man, was this ever a pretty trip! The recent torrential rains had produced more snow in the Alps, and the vistas were spectacular. We went to a small Biergarten on the north shore of the Staffelsee, and the view was unparalleled:
Staffelse and Alps: It doesn't get much more picturesque
Of course, it wasn't just the view that was so overwhelming—the refreshments were just as top-notch. Smoked fish, giant pretzels, and even more gigantic beers are all my middle names. Afterward we lounged in the grass, like all the other good folks who were out to enjoy a wonderful summer day.
This was dessert—the smoked fish had come first!
We lingered until after 7 p.m., when a more-traditional oompah band started playing next door, creating a perfect backdrop for our leaving. If it weren't for crutches and a still-unbendable knee my life would be pretty close to perfect—of course I wouldn't have been here since I would have been back in Lubbock since Monday. Oh well, let's not even start the what-ifs but rather be glad for what I have, and that has been a helluva lot of good stuff for the past two weeks!
Traditional sounds on the Staffelsee
And that's been my past week. In an few minutes we're going to go to Weihenstephan for a traditional Bavarian brunch of Weisswurst und Weizenbier, the local sausage with you-know-what. Tomorrow, Sabine has to go back to work, I will have PT in the late afternoon, and I may venture back into town. I'll do my exercises and try to do as much as I can to heal up. I have been able to change my return flight to the US to July 1, and I hope that with American's Special Assistance I'll manage that 24-hour day in airplanes and airports. But I won't worry about that right now: My job is to continue my recovery and be a as little of a burden to Sabine and Jonathan as possible, which is not easy when one is on crutches.

For the time being, enjoy your early summer and don't get injured!



  1. Excellent update! The amount & size of daily beer consumption in Germany continues to amaze me:) Ha.

    Glad to see you on the mend.


    1. Thanks, Scott. I didn't start with the REALLY big beers right off--I wanted to taste a few different ones and thus initially stuck to the half-liter version. But I KNOW there were a whole bunch of men who went straight to the liter!