You know you're in the country when...the first smell greeting you upon arrival is cow shit. Fortunately, it was due to the rain and subsided as things dried out. The clinic is in the small town of Hinterzarten in the beautiful Black Forest region of southern Germany. It is so far south that we flew into Zurich, Switzerland, the closest large city. The nearest small city is Freiburg, about 20 miles away. We are also quite close to France.
While the clinic is located in the country, it is very professional and efficient. To my knowledge, it is the only place of it's kind in the world, a clinic specializing in the condition known as lymphedema. If you are wondering why Susan had to come to Germany for her surgery, that's one reason. They not only have the facilities to do surgery but also the very detailed knowledge of the before & after care needed for the best results. They have a large wonderful staff of doctors, nurses, therapists as well as the support people like cooks, cleaning ladies, office,etc. Everybody is cheerful & helpful and the environment is light & clean. A husband & wife team, Dr and Dr Mrs Foeldi founded the clinic. The wife Dr Foeldi runs the clinic. She has personal knowledge of each case, coming around every Friday to visit & observe each patient personally. The husband Dr Foeldi is a professor & researcher of lymphedema at the university in Freiberg. Susan's lymphedema therapist, Miss Faller is hilarious & has a real way with Susan, keeping her happy thru all the difficult things she has to do.
There are approx. 140 patients here of all ages and various nationalities. About 1/3 are from Germany where, I think because of the Foeldis there is more knowledge of lymphedema, not to mention the convenience. Another 1/3 are from Spain, Italy and Greece. As I said, all ages, we were surprised to learn that many people are born with lymphedema...it is very sad to see little children having to have their legs or arms bandaged. At present there is a darling 8 month old baby boy from Spain here with both his parents. There was a 2 yr old girl from Singapore who seemed to have a whole entourage of parents, grandparents & i don't know who all. There are many teenagers who come each year during summer break. These kids have a great attitude & all hang out together of course. There is a 14 yr old boy from Spain who plays great flamenco guitar. Yes, the baby & the boy know each other. Their table is next to ours in the dining room so I am practicing my Spanish (words like bebe and abuela). Other patients include many women who get lyphedema in their arms as a post-op side effect from mastectomies, as their lymph nodes are removed. Also people from various other types of operations that have affected their lymph systems. Then there is the strange case of a young (early 20s)woman from New York City who got lymphedema in one leg from a parasitic infection she got from mosquitos in Brazil! the saddest part is she was a professional ballet dancer!
At this point, there is no known cure for lymphedema, just continuing treatment by bandaging of swollen extremities. Surgery is a treatment for extraneous situations like Susan's but not a cure. I admire the Foeldis for their dedication and care they give to thousands of people. I guess if a cure is to be found they will lead the way.