Germany is a special place, special in the nest of three-headed, phosphorescent rats on the shores of Lake Karachay sense. Germany can be difficult to stomach at the best of times. After all, even seemingly mundane matters can give those of us with distinctly Anglo-Saxon leanings fits of the vapours. For example, in order to be enrolled in a “Krankenkasse”, I was instructed to provide a copy of my British health insurance card that does not exist. They were well aware that prior to my descent into madness, I mean, move to Germany, I had been living in the United Kingdom. They were also aware that there is no British health insurance card. Yet they requested it anyway.
So… I was strongly urged “not” to visit their local office as they want everything done remotely. But the only way that this issue could be resolved was by visiting their local office. I was, seemingly, able to provide them the documents they needed but after three weeks, I’m yet to hear anything from them. Although they continue to claim their right to payment, they have proven themselves incapable of even processing a routine enrolment.
Perhaps I am being impatient. I have, in fact, been accused of being irrational by some. It is, of course, perfectly acceptable to send me on a wild goose chase with windmill-tilting segues, but it is beyond for me to question the rational of even trying. It reminds me of living one of Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s kabuki plays. It is at times touching, at times hyperbolic, at times implausible and, after reading two of his plays, utterly predictable. The first time is always the best. There is the sense of the unknown, of discovery, of uncovering merits and demerits. The second time serves a purpose. There is much merit to his works and it gives a sense of what the culture, mindset and lifestyle of Edo era Japan were, but it becomes clear that with the exception of a few details, there is a set formula. The third time is the least rewarding. You know exactly what will happen and when. Of course, the names and setting will be different but the plot remains the same.
So, I try to muddle on as best I can. It’s not quite like it was before. Before, however exhausting, I had more space and could spend hours each day wondering alone in the forest. Now, I’m in very cramped conditions in a city. I still try to go out for an hour or two each day, but it’s rare that I’m able to enjoy it. I’m not entirely certain what I will do next summer. I’ve written off going to the USA. It scarcely seems worth it at this point. From an ill-tempered, obnoxious oaf who irritates all the right people to a demented, bigoted cretin who is loved by all the wrong people. I couldn’t stomach the original Obama S**t Show, I’m disinclined to put myself through its third-rate “sequel”. If I can get through a visit to the supermarket without suffering the vapours in Germany I proudly chalk it up as a success. So that leaves me with the option of genteel poverty in Portugal or England. I’ve had some fruitful discussions about living in England again as the dust seems to be settling.
11 thoughts on “Tilting At Windmills”
Oh dear, you sound a bit down in the mouth and pretty pissed off with everywhere you have ever lived.
I suggest a complete change, six months in Greenland should do the trick!
Preferably somewhere without electricity.
It will concentrate the mind on what was good that you left behind, not all the dross!
Reminds me of when I had the lease on a National Trust place in Wales. It included three rental cottages that had open Victorian coal ranges in the living rooms. The number of people that didn’t know how to light a fire or work a damper was amazing.
Equally, no cell signal, we were in a fold in the mountains. People literally ran screaming out of the place, quite extraordinary.
Others went completely the other way. Used to have an executive who came regularly for weekends, all he wanted was a carpark full of logs and an axe. He spent the weekend hewing logs into pieces for the fires. I used to go out and ask him how many people he had beheaded, he used to name the logs! By the time Sunday night came he was a different man, so relaxed and entertaining one would hardly have recognised him! It is very interesting how dramatic change of environment alters people. Perhaps you should consider it.
CO: Moaning is a grand tradition. However, that I have never been content anywhere I’ve lived isn’t quite true. I did rather enjoy living in England. I left only because the financial pressures in Dorset were getting a bit much. The cost of living, when adjusted for average wage differences, was relatively similar for, say, North London or Bath and Dorset. However, there was precious little in the way of an economy and financial pressures were simply growing too intense. Even finding a simple, part-time job to supplement my income was an ordeal. I was having a lot of luck in California, my old contacts and ties were proving very helpful in finding well-paying jobs. Caught between a hopeless position in Dorset or a degree of comfortable asset in California, I chose the latter. The utter meltdown, one calamity and cock-up after another on the part of the government since March, made the relatively stable (albeit dreary and generally miserable) Germany a viable short-term, transitional alternative. I never intended to stay here for more than a year. I simply wanted to take stock of my options in a more stable, affordable and predictable environment at the time. That Germany has gone utterly bat-shit since then with shades of the Third Reich and DDR colouring every aspect of life was not entirely unpredictable, but certainly not welcomed.
I see this as just that. Living in primitive conditions with savages has reminded me of what was good, kind and great about England. That, and the fact that I’m utterly isolated and alienated here makes the friendship, kindness and loyalty of my friends and family (I do have family there!) at home in England be all the sweeter. The lower cost of living has allowed me to start to recover financially from Dorset’s economic pressures. Wonderful place to live, had I had more luck with finances I’d still be there now.
PS: I’ve been in rather a state lately. I ended up collapsing in a fit of seizures a few weeks ago. Day from hell. Missed my flight to see a medical specialist in Stockholm (Rapidly declining lung function) due to a delayed train, had seizures on the train back, collapsed on the pavement because, despite looking like hell and being caught in the midst of severe spasms, some moronic Hun (tautology, I know) decided to blow cigarette smoke in my face and barely made it back to my flat without passing out.
Rapidly declining lung function? WTF!
Sounds like COPD. How did you get that?
Have you thought of using an oxygen concentrator? I have a very nifty little gadget at just under 3lbs in weight that delivers up to 3 litres from a battery pack on a canula. I use it all the time when out as my lungs are pretty fucked from 55 years of smoking.
The only thing that does help is lose weight, less to drag around!
PS At my age I refuse to give up my two major food groups of red wine and fags!
I haven’t been back to the UK since 2017 but thought then that prices were utterly ridiculous. Mind you, this year since the plague struck the USA has got well pricey on food, meat has rocketed in price. Thank heavens I have my endless supply of vegetables! They too have gone up hideously, not enough Mexicans left to pick them, either deported or fucked off home anyway, seemingly.
CO: Even with a small, part-time job I was able to get by comfortably. Sure, my lifestyle wasn’t what it had once been but I wasn’t really lacking anything and my days went by in a general state of blissful peace. I made adjustments and sacrifices, but things weren’t bad. It’s when you can’t cut back any more, when your quality of life has declined to what it was when you were a teenager in spite of working a fair amount and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. A lot of it was that Dorset has never had much of an economy, but it was hit a lot over the past few years. I worked for a time at a small shop, but management changed and I, as the most prominent holdover from the old regime, was managed out. After that, I simply couldn’t find anything. The odds are that had I been somewhere else, London, Bristol, Bath, London, even Bournemouth or Poole I would likely have not had the same problems. After my financial reserves were utterly exhausted, I had no choice but to go somewhere where I would have extremely low moving costs. I had a free place in California for a few months, but that went with the bloody pandemic.
What, precisely, is wrong is still not 100pc certain. It’s very likely that I have had asthma for decades, but a very mild form. Symptoms were present, but sporadic and not so severe as to warrant undue concern. Because I kept in good physical shape, my lung capacity was out of necessity relatively high so even though they weren’t working as they should have, they were kept functional. Since March, I’ve not been able to work out at a gym and since September I’ve been stuck in a city and my former daily 6-mile-hikes dropped to about 2 miles or so. I spoke to an asthma specialist in the UK about it. The daft nose-and-mouth cover requirement is hell for asthmatics. It wasn’t too terrible until it was required in a number of outdoor spaces. I never suffered a collapse before the nose-and-mouth covering requirement. Since implemented, I’ve had 6 with each one getting worse. I was told under no uncertain terms to not wear one and wear a visor instead. Since then, I’ve still had some minor issues, but nothing as severe or drastic. I was supposed to go to Sweden to see a specialist, but it will take until March at this point so I will have to make due until then. Since the daft Huns won’t accept British or Swedish medical advice and since even buying a bottle of milk in Germany can be such a miserable experience that I get the vapours, that I simply can’t afford to pay extortionate Hunnish fees for at best highly mediocre care, I’ll have to make due until I’m in Stockholm and see what the doctor there says.
Suggest you see a full on pulmonologist and get all the tests, only way you will get a half way reasonable diagnosis.
Yes I agree it is very difficult to wear a mask and breathe too. I have the same problem even with an oxygen supply.
If I may suggest an exercise, breathe in through you nose normally, purse lips and slowly blow out air as much as you can and then some, drawing in your gut muscles as you do so. Repeat for several minutes. It brings the oxygen in the blood up, the lack of which is making you pass out. No gasping or gulping all must be done in a smooth regular manner. When one can’t breath it is an instant reaction to gasp for air but that is the very worse thing you can do, makes it worse. Slow mind control of controlled breathing, do not try to walk whilst practicing.
CO: It seems that will have to wait until I get back to England. The doctor in Sweden can give some advice and support, but his specialisation is in “big picture” health management. The travel situation is hairy at the moment so travelling between the UK and Luxembourg is a bit of an ordeal and many restrictions apply. But with the NHS backlogged as it is, there isn’t much chance of seeing anyone in a reasonable amount of time anyway. One thing that I’ve found also helps is wasabi. It clears the sinuses right quick and an egg spoon full of the stuff is enough to make breathing easy for days.
Sorry to learn of your health problems, Christopher. Do take care and stay safe. Christina’s advice on controlled breathing seems excellent. My main objection to wearing a mask is that my glasses get steamed up when I go into a shop.
Sheona: It’s similar to what the asthma specialist said. I’m not opposed to take measures, but there does need to be greater flexibility than is sometimes shown. For example, in Denmark the text of the law assumes that there are a number of different individual circumstances. For example, someone with severe asthma or COPD should, under no circumstances, wear a “mask” or anything that restricts breathing. As a result, visors and other face guards are accepted without question. It is very similar in the UK. In Germany, they don’t care. They’d rather have people collapse on the shop floor than think a law through because they just know so much better. I also find the notion that I should be carrying a medical licence with me at all times for the most basic natural functions chilling and unforgivably creepy.
I do not know how much you know about this so forgive me if its a grandmother sucking eggs situation!
Asthma and COPD are frequently treated as the same thing, even by doctors, they are not. Completely different causes and treatments, drug regimes and inhalers are really not interchangeable. I have had COPD for 10 years and have been on permanent oxygen for the last two. It is a a slow downward slope that will kill me in the end. Asthma can kill but with the right regime it will take a lifetime and is more bad luck than an inevitability! Only a pulmonologist will be able to diagnose the difference and that probably not immediately. I cannot see that the doctor you suggest in Sweden is likely to be able to help as he will not have the specialist equipment to make such a diagnosis.
I very much doubt it is COPD as I don’t think you smoke, or have been exposed to substances such as asbestos etc. Consider fibrosis style disease, any in the family. Any previous relatives had lung trouble?
Personally I would think that you might have to pay for a private appointment at the moment with the Covid. I’m sorry you are having such a hard time, me too with the masks. I only go to the supermarket, go very slowly and lean on my cart, it helps.
CO: There are lung problems on both sides of the family. My father, his brother and some of his nephews/nieces have asthma. My father also has COPD and sleep apnoea. Then again, he smoked heavily for decades — and not just tobacco. My mother’s younger brother, my maternal grandfather and some of my cousins have lung problems. Diagnosed asthma on both sides. I’ve never smoked and, although I’ve worked in a few old houses, haven’t been exposes to asbestos or anything of that nature to my knowledge. I’d be more than happy to visit a private doctor — even to get private health insurance in the UK. The travel situation at the moment makes it all rather a nuisance so travelling to Dorset is a bit of a challenge. There is also a question of whether or not I’d even be able to rent a place short-term, with the rules constantly shifting and changing. I still have an address in Dorset and the ability to stay there for longer periods of time in stable circumstances as well as a GP surgery if necessary. After getting screamed at for having the temerity to pop into a shop to buy butter yesterday, the odds of my giving the Huns a go is nil.