Fifteen days have gone since my leg operation. Today is my first day out. Sun shines and the wind is not chilly. The neighborhood is empty; everybody is on vacations.

I was not entitled to borrow a wheel chair from the hospital, as I got both clutches and a walker to move at home. I tried my best to lend a chair somewhere else in Kolding, but it was impossible. The cost of renting a wheelchair for a month is basically the same as buying a new cheap one at the big supermarket chain. I think it is weird to buy a chair just for a month, actually not more than 4 or 5 journeys and then drop it away. So no, not “discardable” wheelchairs for me.


SMS: “Her er dit køretøj. Kh far og mor” (Here is your vehicle. Love, dad and mom)

I came to Denmark, for the first time 25 years ago as an exchange student and lived together with a Danish family in Lolland. I guess that my Danish parents were not quite aware of what an enormous task was to foster an exchange student at that time. I came back to Denmark for my PhD together with my own family three years ago. Since then, we have had a wonderful time in Denmark and I am incrediby grateful for my Danish family, who have always been eager to share their lives and love with us. Once again I beg them for help with the wheelchair issue.

And as always, they found a way. They lent a wheelchair in Lolland, from an NGO that collects and fixes used items to send abroad to developing countries. It is a pretty, purple, ultra-smart wheelchair, provided with a holder for clutches which is extremely useful.

As I don’t want to spend all of my last month in Denmark at home, a wheelchair and a lovely husband to drive it are a bless. Today was the first time I used it. We went by wheelchair to take the Danish public transportation to the hospital. There, a caring nurse got rid of the stitches in my leg and let me fold the knee 30°.

IMG_20160707_083506City buses being run by Sydtrafik (a private enterprise) are well equipped for the handicapped. The middle door opens and sinks down to be almost at ground level. Furthermore, a ramp can be unfolded so that you can drive in the bus without any help. The bus has a designed area for wheelchairs, so travelling in buses is actually easier than taking a taxi. The hospital is incredibly well equipped: doors automatically open as you approach them, or are provided by hanging door-openers at a considerable distance.  This type of doors are also found in public buildings elsewhere, and I thought of them to be pretty fancy. Now I understand that they are actually designed for the handicapped. I am very happy and grateful for them.

We have had three wonderful years in Denmark. Three years of different types of learning. This last stage makes me realize how important is to understand the “public” in the broader sense. I am incredibly grateful for the Scandinavian welfare, which comprises not only the public health system but also the provision of public transport, ramps and well-finished sidewalks for public use, and bike paths. I will really miss Denmark.


Operation Sundhed 2.0

radioI am programmed for surgery early tomorrow, to stabilize a tibia fracture resulting from a bike accident last Thursday.

This will require fixation of two titanium plates in my right leg. I already have two plates and two nails in my body, which allow me to walk and write, after a car accident more than 10 years ago. I know how painful operations can be and how horrible it is to depend on crutches. I would have preferred not to repeat it ever. But… such is life.

On the morning, I received a typical “medical visit”. In less than five minutes the procedure and timing was explained and before I digested the information, the doctor had already left. Actually, on his way to the door I managed to ask for his last name, since I couldn’t read it as the card on his pocket was upside down.

A quick Google search provided me with his e-mail address, 3 papers on ResearchGate (on topics not precisely related to my case) and his title as “overlæge” (chief surgeon) at this hospital.

I sent him an e-mail, asking to show me the x-rays, the CT scan and to explain me “pedagogically” the procedure. At the same time, I wrote to my freaky-geek friends at my department, asking them to take part on what I named as “Operation Sundhed 2.0” (Operation Health 2.0).

Modern “miracles” happen. Suddenly the Wi-Fi went down. I called the nurse, just as if I were at an office. I made fun with her and said that I had a “technical problem”. She told me the Wi-Fi was gone in the whole building. A second after, my doctor came into my room. He said he saw my email but did not had time to read it and then he had no longer Internet and couldn’t work. He decided to come by. He couldn’t bring the exams as there was no Wi-Fi, but would like to make a drawing of the procedure. Pen and paper in hand.

dibujoHe went through the drawing, explained how the bone was injured, and why he will like to install two titanium plates on both sides of the bone. He sat down long, explained carefully and left. As soon as he left, the Wi-Fi signal came back. Smile.

He sounds as an interesting and competent doctor. My geek friends came out with a number of other publications and research, as well as activities and associations in which he has been chair, and information about other people that have worked together with him. My worries about the medical procedure are all  blurred after a nice comprehensive offline talk with MY surgeon.

bambiThis is the longest day of the year. Sun still shines and a raindeer was standing just in front of my window. Have I mentioned that my surgeon is also handsome? Operation Sundhed 2.0. Completed!