Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Electrical therapy

A couple of months ago, I started feeling pain in my left wrist. Carrying/picking up/putting down Emma a zillion times a day (not to mention getting her into her car seat and pram while she twists and wriggles) had started to take its toll.
The last couple of weeks, it got so bad I couldn't even lift a freakin' frying pan so I instead of giving up cooking altogether, asked Emma's pediatrician if she knew of a good osteopath in the area.

Fast forward to Monday morning: after waiting for an hour (at 9h30 am!!!) I get to see the
Frau Doktor H.
who after a couple of questions, fiddles with my wrist and then with a smooth wave-like motion chinks some small bone back to mobility. Ta-da. She wiggles my wrist some more and checks that, yes, it feel less painful.

Not done though. She taps her keyboard while staring into her computer and sips some tea. She then tells me I am to have 10 sessions of therapy after which I am to see her again. I'm a bit surprised since I have a long-standing relationship with an osteopath and there was never any follow up therapy.

When asked, she says I am to go to the front desk to make the appointments and that her assistants will be giving me the therapy which is necessary because the bone has been left stuck for a long time. (Note to self: get to the osteopath asap next time!)

As I leave the room having thanked her and said "good-bye" she gratifies me with a "You're welcome" and shouts out "Nächste!" (next). I tell you, bedside manner or customer service could compete with the levels achieved by communism. (Am I totally spoiled because my doctor in Geneva always comes to get me in the waiting room with a warm smile and an extended arm?)

Whatever... she fixed my wrist, and was by no means the gruffest Dr. I've met here, so off I go, adamant to make the appointments earlier so I won't have to spend half my free time in a doctor's waiting room for the next 10 days...
As it turns out, early in Vienna is 7am!!
Ok - fine I'll do it if it means no waiting, fine. If Steph is around, he'll get Emma up, dressed and fed and I'll be back in time to take her to kindergarden. If he's not - well, I'll have to reschedule.
Oh, and I am asked to bring a towel or I will be charged 1.- Euro for one. Ummm...

So, Tuesday morning bright and early I head in for my therapy, expecting some sort of massage...
I am told to go to room N°2 and after a wrong turn and some re-routing in simplified German, I arrive in a room subdivided into about 20 cabins divided only by blueish dingy curtains that remind me of my student hall in London. Each subdivision, or "cabin" if you will, contains a camp-bed, a chair, a coat hanger and some kind of electronic instrument that looks like a very old-fashioned radio receiver...I also note the burn marks on the sheet of the camp-bed. Ummm...

I take a seat on the chair in my cabin and soon enough a lady in blue dungarees muffling "Guten Morgen" takes my prescription sheet from me and clips it onto the curtain with a laundry peg. After peering at it over her specs, she walks off and a couple of minutes later appears pushing another radio-receiver-like machine on a cart and squirts translucent gel onto my wrist. First the ultra-sound she says. Huh?
Oh, but it's not the kind they do when you are pregnant 'cause there is no screen. It doesn't hurt so I go along with it. 10 minutes of her rolling it on my wrist later, the radio-receiver-ultra-sound-providing machine beeps and she wipes the remaining gel off my wrist.

She rolls the ultra-sound cart away and comes back with what look like orange dish-cloths (the ones you wipe your kitchen counter with). Turns out they are orange dish cloths and they are wet. She tells me to remove my ring and reaches behind me to the first radio-receiver and pulls out some electrical cables. As if this were the most natural thing in the world, she sandwiches my hand between the cloths and pegs the electricity on to them. Ummm... I'm beginning not to feel so confident about this. Isn't water conductive?

In the end it was ok, a slight tingle and a rash on my hand for a couple of hours was all... I didn't get electrocuted or anything...

As it turns out, this kind of therapy is used for the relief of acute pain (back, wrist, knee, you name it) and what I did not see the first time was that there is a piece of paper coated in medical substances in between the orange kitchen cloths. The electricity is used to enable deeper penetration of the substance and the ultrasound apparently improves circulation.
There you have it. It was news to me, but it seems to be working.

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