Friday, January 15, 2016

Adventures in German drugs...

No, not THOSE kind of drugs.  I have limited my personal recreational drug use to the few days I spent in Haarlem for my birthday last year.  That's where I tried space cakes/marijuana for the first time.  Unless you count all the beer and wine I drink, I live a fairly drug free lifestyle.

Today's post is about my experience taking German prescription drugs.  I think this is a notable occasion because, prior to this week, I hadn't taken prescription drugs of any kind since 2004.  I have been very healthy over the last twelve years. Also, I never visit doctors unless I'm about to die.  Last time I saw a regular doctor was in 2010 and Bill had to drag me there, more or less, by my hair.

Anyway, because I just had dental surgery, I did end up being prescribed some medications by Dr. Blair, the wonder dentist.  And because of my ordeal on Tuesday and the fact that I needed to sleep off the meds that I took in his office, Bill ended up having to visit the apotheke for me.  Last night over dinner, he finally told me about his first experience buying prescription drugs on the economy.

We have just one apotheke in Jettingen and at the time Bill wanted to fill the prescription, they were closed for their three hour lunch break (12:30-3:30).  That seems like an extreme lunch break, but they also stay open until the relatively late hour of 8:00.  Because our local druggist was closed, Bill ended up going to Nagold, which is only a few miles from where we live.

Bill walked into what looked like a cosmetics store.  Someone immediately figured he was looking for drugs and pointed him in the right direction.  He handed over the prescriptions and waited.  Then he saw the drugs come down some kind of chute, where they were picked up by one of the clerks who waited on Bill.  I guess the pharmacist was in a back room dispensing the medications instead of hanging out in front.

The two ladies behind the counter then started speaking rapid fire German to Bill, who asked them in German if they could speak English.  One of the ladies said, "I speak a little." with a bashful smile.  Naturally, her English turned out to be excellent.

She held up the two boxes, both of which looked pretty similar.  One was amoxicillin and the other was high powered ibuprofen.  There was also a bottle of prescription mouthwash called chlorhexamed.  That's supposed to help clean the area where I had surgery, since I can't really brush or floss vigorously there.

The clerk verbally explained to Bill how and when I should take my meds and then put little stickers on the boxes that showed when and how many pills I should take.  This is different from what I've experienced in the United States.  There, you get a well labeled pill bottle that has a lot more information on it.  It usually tells you who prescribed the meds and includes warning labels.  Not so in Germany, at least not this time.  I also noticed that my pills look very similar to one another.  In the United States, when you get amoxicillin, it's usually a bright pink "horse pill".  American prescription strength ibuprofen looks more or less like the white horse pill pictured below.


Very simple labels on my drugs.  It just tells me when to take them.  I'm expected to figure the rest out by myself!


Sorry about the blurriness of this picture.  I was using my iPad instead of a camera.  I took this photo to show something I find interesting about drugs in Germany.  These two pills look almost identical, but they are two different drugs.  One is amoxicillin and the other is ibuprofen.  The only difference in how they look is that one is very slightly fatter than the other.  

After she explained the medications and how to take them, she packed them into the bag pictured below.  And then she threw in a little something extra...



Two packages of facial tissues and samples of cough drops!  Total cost for all of this, 35 euros.  And that was before insurance.  I'm not sure Bill will even bother to make a claim for the drugs, since our limit for dental is only $2000 and my implant will cost way more than that.  

The goodies from the pharmacy were unexpected.  I have never had an American pharmacy give me free samples.  However, when I see American dentists, they usually give out "goodie bags" with floss, toothpaste, and a new toothbrush.  Dr. Blair doesn't do that.

I'm excited about the extra facial tissues.  They really come in handy, especially when you find yourself in a public restroom that has no toilet paper.  And thanks to the much larger purse I bought myself for Christmas, I have plenty of room to carry them!

As for my recovery from Tuesday's sinus lift surgery, I am happy to report that I'm feeling mostly fine.  It's a little annoying to have stitches in my mouth, but I haven't had a lot of pain, swelling, or bleeding and haven't even really needed the ibuprofen that much.  I'm mostly eating what I want, too.  I can't say the surgery was a lot of fun, but it wasn't nearly as painful or traumatic as I expected it would be.  I get the stitches out on Tuesday.  I don't even really notice them unless I happen to touch them with my tongue. 

Maybe this doesn't seem like something most people would blog about, but given my educational background, healthcare stuff interests me.  I also like how in Europe, people expect you to have common sense.   

A year ago, we spent MLK weekend in Hamburg.  Maybe I would have liked to have traveled today, except that it's snowing pretty hard...  I plan to stay in my nightgown all day and only venture out to shovel part of my driveway so no one sues me.

Happy holiday weekend!

Click here to find out how the next phase of my dental implant saga went...

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