The wood anemones sparkled in the low morning sun through the trees as I drove through roads that cut through the forests across the border. The heavy mists had lifted and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. I’d rolled out of bed just as the light vaguely stained the curtains that morning, made a packed lunch and, after dropping Joe Brown at the bus stop, had headed for the motorway, heading North East. Traffic had, at times, slowed due to the heavy greyness hanging over the Small Country but, once across the border, the sun began to shine through the grey gloom and speed ensued. The road surface on some of the autobahns leave a lot to be desired, in places as bad as those in Belgium, causing the tyres to fill the car, my ears and head with never-ending long wails of agony and it was a relief to finally turn off at an exit and leave the demented banshees behind. As I neared my destination, I twisted and turned along roads with rising rocky crags on one side of the road and rivers running through the drops on the other.
By 9am I was parked and sitting on a treatment table, jeans in a pile to my side and the room filled with a number of clinically white-coated women, the number of which was difficult to keep track off as they kept appearing and disappearing through the multitude of doors in to the room. There was little talk other than from one nurse who spoke a little English. To an audible gasp by the nurses, the door opened and a man walked in. This was who I’d come to see and the reason I was half-dressed. After a cursory look at me, followed by a vague handshake and equally cursory look at a clipboard waved in front on him, he held his hand out into which magically appeared a large syringe with which he began to jab in to my leg in an apparently wholly random fashion, all the while talking to the nurses who flapped about around him. I have no idea what he was saying, my aptitude with German pretty much runs to ‘rubber gloves’ and that’s all (gummihandschuhen, should you ever need it). Having indicated that I should roll over and continuing to jab for a while, he then circled one finger in the air without looking up. I rolled back over and had a long wavy line drawn on the lower half of my right thigh with green felt tip.
“This” he said in English, tapping the felt tip on my thigh, “this will be removed”. He then vaguely shook my hand and left.
Medical compression stockings are not the easiest things to put on, believe me but so I did and I was sent away and told to walk for half an hour, no less, and come back at 2pm that afternoon. I half-wobbled down the stairs with tight legs, passing the waiting room filled with people who looked equally tight-legged, sitting with their feet up on stools placed in front of the chairs.
The clinic sits in the middle of a small town which, in itself, is perched half way down a craggy decline with a river running at the edge down to the car park. The main street is filled with cafes and shops that sell clothes, the likes of which would not be out of place in a British Sunday morning market – all appliqué, glittery tops and Stevie Nicks hemmed skirts that hang on wire coat hangers. The footfall of the town seemed to consist primarily of elderly people who could well have also been wearing medical compression stockings, many of which were walking with either sticks or zimmer frames. There are thermal baths nearby and Joe Brown tells me that this would be a popular pastime for the more senior of Germans who apparently have a bit of a thing about “taking the waters and cleaning the tubes”. I filled various tubes of my own with a squashed packed lunch eaten in the car and zwei cappuccinos sipped whilst sitting on the terrace of a deserted cafe in the hot sun, overlooking a large pond, complete with swans.
Medical compression stockings are shockingly difficult to remove, believe me but at 2pm, the whole process of white-coated, gasping nurses, Herr Doctor sweeping in and randomly jabbing my legs was repeated and I was told to come back next week.
“Two more sessions next week” said Herr Doctor and, tapping my thigh, continued “and we will do this at the same time when you have the correct paperwork”.
I drove home, running the gauntlet of the wailing banshees on the autobahn which nearly caused me to not take advantage of the lack of speed limit thereon, with toes curled over and, whilst driving, trying to smooth the stockings further down my shins to give them room to move.
The green felt-tipped vein in my right thigh, which I just thought showed up so much because my legs are so lily-white, was dealt with by phlebectomy, i.e. it was removed because it was pre-varicose. This was paid for by the health care system. Presuming the jabbing of Herr Doctor was not as random as it looked, the spider veins, zapped using sclerotherapy, will fade. Four sessions at a total cost, which I paid for, of 292 Euros and, for the first time in probably a decade, I may consider the option of wearing a knee-length skirt and go bare-legged. Believe me, I’ll find this rather astonishing.
Also? Medical compression stockings are far easier to get on and off if you use gummihandschuhen.