Saturday, November 5, 2011


Last weekend, I had the unexpected opportunity to participate in the nightly snoring contest held at the intensive care unit (ICU) of the neurological clinic, university of Tübingen. Such a chance comes once in a lifetime, so I could not miss it. Here's how it went:

My wife certainly considered me to be the odds-on favorite. But, alas, even wifes can overestimate their husband: Bed 1 (the contents of which have been yours truly) lost by far. At aboUT 21:00, bed 3 opened with a sonorous snore of about 80 decibel (about enough to be heard in a disco) and immediately took the lead. But even such an awesome competitor had to give in: During the night, bed 2 never ceased to impress with staccati of four to five 70-decibel-snores in a row, taking the first price with him.

Every morning there a friendly female woke me, one of the doctors, who asked to take my blood and apologized in so many words for waking me. When that was done, she continued to do the same at the other beds, effectively waking all of us.

On the last morning there (sunday) I prepared a little speech for her, which I could never hold, because I was moved from the ICU to a normal bed in the night. So, I am trying to do it here and now:

I don't know whether any of my readers has ever spent a night in an ICU bed. It's deeply depressing. The only thing to look at are the bubbles in the bottles over you, which are pooring liquids in your veins, or the monitor, which is showing your blood pressure, heart beat, and stuff like that. With three apoplectic strokes in a row behind you (I promise to stop counting in public now. My inner self is a different matter.) there isn't much to expect or even hope for. Forget about sleep: There is a continuous background noise. Light is never completely lit and every five minutes some machine is beeping alarm, ideally on another bed, but from time to time it's at your own. (Usually, because you turned yourself to the other side.) Think of a Jura coffee machine that requests service to imagine the sound. In my worst moment, the nurse saw fit to blow oxygene in my nose because I seemed to be loosing. (Usually an indication of a heart that no longer works properly, fortunately not in this case.)

After such a night, waking up is a gift! I'm still alive! I can kiss my wife today. With a bit of luck, I can hod our daughter. I can enjoy the smell of coffee. (Something, I couldn't do in the last months even if
I had coffee. But, it works again!) So, don't apologize, Dr., you're more than welcome. I can't tell, whether the other gentlemen share my feelings, but I'll be glad to give a few centiliters of blood, if I can have this day in exchange!

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