The pain started about 3 years ago – 2 or 3 months after I had had an umbilical hernia operation where the surgeon put in a piece of mesh. 1-2-3, no problem. But later I started to have a radiating pain from my abdomen that I at first thought was pancreatitis or something along those lines. It wasn’t constant, but at times it was bad enough for my wife to ask me if I wanted to go to the emergency room. I subsequently had 2 CAT scans and a sonogram. Nothing. I called the surgeon – everything was by the book. Nothing.
And then it went away.
Over the next 3 years it came and went. But by the 3rd year  it decided to stay on a constant basis. And the pain changed over time. By 2008 it was pain in my lower right abdomen [felt like I had a “crease” in my gut], pain at my pubic bone and my right testicle would hurt. Hard to walk at times. There were other pains – but these were the main ones.
By year 2 plus - I had seen 8 doctors[including the head of thoracic surgery at a prestigious teaching hospital], had all these tests….and nobody had anything for me. I came back from a visit to the surgeon who had done the umbilical hernia operation with his words –“ there’s nothing showing in the tests you’ve had . I suggest pain management”. Didn’t examine me…his only suggestion was basically, you’ve got pain – deal with it [for the rest of your life].Wish I'd told him to f*** off, but I was raised to be polite. When I got home, bummed out at hearing this last failed “diagnosis”, a friend called who knew where I had been and wanted to know the results. She was pissed off at the doctor when I told her what he did/did not do. She said-“remember that GI doc you saw who asked if you had ever heard of a sports hernia?” Did you ever check that out? No. So I Googled it and found the LetsRun thread. Within 2 minutes [with my friend on the phone] I’m saying – hey, this is me - same pain, no diagnosis despite lots of tests, doctors who are clueless. I couldn’t believe that here were people going through what I was/had been going through. So over the next 6 months I worked my way through the entire thread. I finally knew what I had and I knew who I wanted to fix it.
I live in the Philadelphia suburbs….so if you’ve read this thread you know where I’m going – right? Nope. After a nice conversation with Meyers’ secretary I found that he was not in my insurance network, that it would cost $500 for his exam and then $2500 –3K for a non-network MRI. The posts on LetsRun were saying the operation was like 12-15K. So that’s 3 –3.5K to confirm MY diagnosis and then 15K to get it fixed….18K out of pocket!
Plus the more I read into the thread, the name of Muschaweck started coming up…and the reviews were very favorable. I checked out her website [very impressive] and emailed her in Munich. She personally replied to my “cold call” email and from there I was fortunate enough to get an appointment with her when she was here in the States. Unlike all the other docs I saw she was positive, professional and courteous. And she proved to me that what she said was a “sportsmans’ groin” was what I had. She did a digital exam – it hurt on the right side. When I said to her – “you know I bet that would hurt if you did the same exam on my left side”, she just smiled, said “you think so?”, and then showed me that the left side did not hurt. Then she did a sonogram where she showed me the injured right side.She told me “ I can fix this and you can get on with a normal life”. I could have kissed her. I was impressed by everything she did, said and projected. This is my doctor. And she is cheaper than Meyers [it ended up costing me about7K -free flight with frequent flier miles].
When I returned home I emailed numerous times in a dialogue with Cristina her secretary. She was very helpful. We settled on a date [Dec.4,5,6th] and I booked my flight.
So – here’s what the Germany part was like:
* UM’s business office in Munich is where you first report. It’s in a high-rise in a large complex of stores and other medical offices. An associate doc draws blood , asks questions and checks your groin out. Then another doctor [she was a very nice,beautiful Chinese woman –that was a nice plus] asks you more questions, examines your abdominal wall and does a sonogram. VERY thorough these people! She spoke with awe of Dr.UM’s surgical techniques….not scripted. Nice to hear before you sign off on possibly losing your balls if the surgery doesn’t go well!!! I’m not kidding here. If the spermatic cord is cut during the operation – you’re balls will shrivel and die! She also said that that had never happened in all 15,000 of UM’s surgeries. I like those odds. Still – it gave me pause before I signed over that possibility.
* The Residence/operating theatre is in Starnburg – about an hours train ride from her office. The train/subway system was great. And so were the German people. I was constantly asking for advice/help and they were warm and friendly. Many spoke English.
The town of Starnburg looks charming as I motor through it. The Residence looks like a modern hotel as you enter and the rooms are very nice, very clean. There is one tv station in English – CNN International.
The food is AWFUL. Inedible for 1 of my 3 nights. I’m glad that I’ve brought some edibles with me or I’d be starving. They forget me for 1 of my lunches and cannot get it together to bring me one,so I limp across the road for the saltiest and perhaps the worst pizza I’ve ever tasted . Adding salt to the wounds is that I had paid for the lunch that I did not get…it’s part of the package.
Breakfasts are underwhelming. This is worse than airlines food! This is the only part of the stay that REALLY needs improving.
*Dr.UM examines you [boy are they thorough!!] and goes over the surgery.
The surgery was the next day. They wheel you through an underground hallway to the O.R. Being wheeled into the waiting room immediately adjacent to the O.R. you can see UM’s current patient being operated on as the doors open and close. A little daunting that. But out came the anesthesiologist whom I had met briefly before. She pulls off her mask, gives me a big smile and hello. As I’m wheeled in and as they’re prepping me she pats me on the shoulders and says everything will be just fine, I’ll be right here watching the whole time. NICE TOUCH that! Well done!
Dr.UM is the professional non pareil. She does 4-7 of these a day at 1-1 ½ hours each. An amazing woman. A great doctor.
The day after was painful – DUH! Hard to walk, ice on gut. I’m 57 and not in great shape due to not being able to work out for the last year cause of this damn s.h. So I’m definitely not getting on a train for 1 ½ hours the next day and then flying for 10 hours back to the states [plus a 2 ½ hour layover in Atlanta]. If you’re in your 20’s and in great shape maybe you can do what UM says – get up and walk out the next day. Not me. I scheduled another day and boy I’m glad I did. The trip back was still grueling and by the time I hit Atlanta I can barely walk.
I was surprised/dismayed to see the top of my penis and my scrotum turning an ugly purple the 2nd day. YIKES! Gives you pause to think of the “losing your balls” thing if your spermatic cord is cut. I HATE when that happens.But it's just the blood pooling at the lowest point - 7 days later it's much improved.I didn't even bother asking UM about it.
Today as I write this it’s 1 week since the surgery. I’m still having a fair amount of pain and trouble walking. But I am improving. Lots of ice and ibuprofen. And thankfully – my balls have not shrunken and fallen off. Yahoo!
I’ll report back in a while with progress….and I’ll keep it short next time. I wanted to let anyone considering their options to have a more complete write-up than any I’ve seen on these pages.
Here’s hoping for health for all…………