Tara survives her German ophthalmologist appointment

I really dislike going to the eye doctor. I never know what is going to come flying out of their machines, and I really don’t like a surprise eye dilation.

Unfortunately for me, I have a chronic eye allergy that requires regular visits to the ophthalmologist. I’ve had a referral to go to one since January, but I only mustered up the courage to make the appointment this month.

Since going to the ophthalmologist in the U.S. usually gave me heart palpitations, I was extremely nervous about going to one in a foreign country.

As with other doctor’s offices I’ve been to in Heidelberg, this one was in a beautiful old building with incredibly high ceilings and big windows. I walked through the door to the office and was in the middle of a hallway. I walked to the right and the first room looked like someone’s home office with a low-level desk in the middle. I assumed this was the reception room, so I waited. Luckily, I was right and was able to explain in German to the woman who came to help me that I don’t really speak German. She told me I could wait in a room down the hall.

When you can’t read signs, look for clues on the walls.

I found a room that had wall paper with thousands of chairs on it. I found this helpful, since I couldn’t read the sign on the door, which I suppose said “Waiting room.” The chair wall paper let me know I was in the right place (along with the handful of senior citizens waiting). That’s the thing about ophthalmologists’ offices. In my 3 years of going to them, I’ve never seen anyone close to my age. So, I not only stuck out for my age, but now for my lack of German language and courtesies. (I had forgotten to greet everyone in the room when I sat down.)

The assistant called me into another room for vision testing. Always on edge, I had to ask what every machine was going to do. Luckily, these tests weren’t invasive. One strange thing was when I was seated to read letters projected on the wall, the room was bright and sunny. I had never had a vision test (even provisional tests like this one) which was not in a dark room.

I was extremely glad I could do the test with an English-speaking assistant, because I was fearful that I would mess up the German letters and be told my vision had significantly deteriorated.

Next, I went into the doctor’s large office where she had a set of machines next to her computer desk. The first machine she had me put my face up to (after I confirmed what it was) read the surface of my eye and displayed an image on her computer screen which showed us what parts of my eyes were dry and unhealthy. That was pretty neat and something I had never seen before.

The pressure test for glaucoma was the same as my Boston office’s machine, which I was comfortable with. She even omitted a part that they used to do (my least favorite part that I don’t even want to describe), which I was elated about.

They don’t have the same kind of drops that I was on in the U.S., so she gave me a new kind to try out. I need to go back in a week to see how it went.

Overall, it was a successful appointment, and I liked the doctor and her amazing English skills.

When I went to make my follow-up appointment, I was only given two options, so I went for the later time, 9:30AM. In my old life, this would have been a very good time. As I walked away from the office, though, I realized that I have a new life now and waking up in the 8:00 hour is just not part of it.

I’m going to keep the appointment, but I’ll never make this rookie lady of leisure mistake again.

Learn more as I navigate through the German health care system:


5 responses to “Tara survives her German ophthalmologist appointment

  1. I remember the first time I went to the doctor in China – it sounds like you definitely have more privacy in Germany! In China there are a lot of very public waiting and examination rooms. Great post.

  2. Pingback: The uninsured American in Germany | The Traveling Times·

  3. Pingback: Tara ventures into the German doctor’s office | The Traveling Times·

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