Now that I can write first hand about LaGeSo’s services, let me tell you the story of that day when I had a work medical appointment there.
I will begin with the positive: next to no wartezeit for me. After all, I have a European passport. There is even another entrance, so it’s the first time I’m LaGeSoing without seeing any refugee. I think about the fellow volunteers from last year, wondering who is still around. I wonder how it is, and whether the tents are still up.
But I’m here on another business. Now let me introduce you to the worst doctor I have ever visited: Frau M, courtesy of the LaGeSo.
Frau M. is a tall, wrinkled mid-fifties doctor, who looks at you from above small glasses perched on the tip of her nose. Frau M.’s first words when she sees me are: ” Err, leave your luggage in the corner please”. My luggage consists in a handbag. I comply and come sit next to her desk.
“You sit when I tell you so please”, she says. I stand up and apologize profusely.
” Whatever. Sit down”, she hisses rather than says.
I wonder whether I’m being touchy or if she’s just plain rude. It doesn’t take me long to find out.
“So, for how long have you been working there?”
I swallow, feeling more and more uneasy with her ways: “a year and two months”, I reply.
” The date, I need the exact date young lady”.
I give her the exact (f***ing) date.
“The ankle, when I was a kid”.
“Well I fell and…”
“I don’t care, tell me what they did at the hospital”.
“I was 12. I don’t remember, all I know is that I had screws put in”. I lie, I know exactly what and how they did. I just don’t want to discuss with the woman.
” You mean metal? We say metal here in Germany. So why did they put the metal? ”
I’m slightly bewildered. “…I suppose because it was broken inside hence needed”, I reply.
Her narrow eyes narrow further as she kills me with her stare: “look, if you’re not cooperating you know that I can send you away and not complete that examination, right?”
I’m beginning to feel really stressed out, she is getting really aggressive. I look at her straight in the eyes though and just calmly retort: “Whatever you think best”. My heart is racing, I just feel she’s the most malevolent being I have met in a long time. Bad vibes all over the room.
She’s a bit taken aback by my answer and accordingly backs off but goes on with another line:
“Any other operation? Tonsils, or the like? ”
Tonsils in German are Mandeln. Like almonds, or mandibules in French, so I smile at the thought and repeat “Mandeln? Nope, still got them”.
She takes my smile for an hesitation.
” You understand me right?” She gestures towards her throat and shows me where the tonsils are. Doh.
“I do understand you, yes”, I answer.
“One has to speak good German to be a German teacher, you know?”, she darts, not glancing above her notes.
I take the blow, thinking to myself, well one has to be human to be a doctor, you bitch, and say instead: “Well you know, you’re being really unfriendly so it stresses me out and I lose my words”.
She was just waiting for it: “Look, I’m not here to be friendly, I’m here to ask questions that I expect you to answer quickly. We’re nothing to each other, after this meeting, we will never have to have anything to do with one another anymore”. I can’t help but sharing that in German: wir werden nix mehr miteinander zu tun haben. I love the word miteinander, so I focus on my linguistic musings instead of feeling hurt by her pettiness. Come to think of it, Mitgefühl is even nicer. A tropism she clearly knows nothing about. Pech.
I must have entered another dimension. She’s so stupidly mean it doesn’t even hurt. Plus she gave me the opportunity to fire my favourite German word right at her: ” Glücklicherweise “.
She hates me. It is so very reciprocated.
I wonder what does that reveal about my health and can’t help but notice she wears a wedding ring. Wow. I commiserate. Leather and a whip come to mind. I should do something about my vivid imagination.
“Do you smoke?
Not even a drop?”
**answers im my head: None of your f***ing business, yeah sure a bottle before each class, and a drop would do you good too**
Come on…no drugs…none at all?”
She just strikes me as the most vicious thing I have met. How unhappy must one be to be so bloody rude. I almost reply that I’d happily comply to a blood test but the thought of her with a needle near me is enough to keep me quiet. She double checks her list, seemingly disappointed, and for lack of more drama on my behalf grabs the tensiometer.
“I’ll check your tension. Get undressed.”
I never had to remove my upper clothes to get my tension checked so I’m a bit surprised.
“You mean rolling up my sleeve?”
She sighs loudly:
“When I say take off your clothes you do just what I say.”
I comply, still sitting and she grabs my arm, fastening the tensiometer narrowly. It hurts more than it should but I know better than to say something.
I become aware that we’re sitting at the window. The curtains aren’t closed so people in the courtyard can see everything happening in the room.
“Would you mind pulling off the curtain please?” I ask, suddenly feeling self-conscious as I don’t wear all my clothes.
“Yes, I would, actually”, she says. Simple as that. Not a care in the world.
I don’t know why I don’t grab my clothes at that moment and leave. I suppose I should just feel that this whole thing was a joke, but being half-naked with someone who clearly hates you touching your body and enjoying humiliating you leaves me feeling uneasy to say the least. I can’t think of anything else than the window and the clear view one has from the outside. I see groups of people but fortunately they don’t look. Still, it’s a crap feeling.
Next, she orders me to do plenty of silly exercises to check my eyesight, balance and so on. Has a lot to say about my vertebras. Sneers at my feet, too. I should wear soles, she says. There are many things one could do. Also, wearing orthopedic shoes or support stockings. I’ll think of it again in thirty years time. I just decide to not engage with her in any way and shut myself to anything she’s saying. She asks me to undress further and to lie down, I do it and close my eyes. I don’t think I have ever closed my eyes at a doctor before, I’m usually curious to look what’s going on. But I can’t stand the thought of that mean woman above me and just wish to get over and done with.
I can feel her leaning closer as she checks my heart: ” nicht abschrecken”, she says, in what could be likened to a friendly tone. Don’t panic. Ha, it’s a bit late for that now, isn’t it, I’d like to say. I think my heart must be racing but she doesn’t comment.
“I’m done”, she finally says.
I grab my clothes, put them on again, lace my shoes as she begins to enumerate my rights to medical secrecy as her routine speech and ends with a relieved “Das war es“. That was it. I leave, without saying goodbye. Look at her name at the door. Hope to never, ever see that excuse of a doctor again.