Germany vs NZ: Healthcare

It’s been nearly 10 years now that I moved to NZ. And therefore nearly 10 years since my last tetanus vaccination which I had done just before I left.

Time to see my GP (‘Hausarzt”) here.

As opposed to Germany where you can just go to your GP without an appointment, it’s a must here to make an appointment. This might be different if it’s something really urgent, but otherwise you don’t stand a chance to get to see the doctor.

The next big difference is that upon arrival, you’re probably one of maybe 2 or 3 people in the waiting room. And no way you have a chance to read one of the magazines there. You’ve barely sat down and picked up a magazine when the doctor calls you to see you.

Yes you’ve heard it all right, there are literally no waiting times. Your appointment time IS the time you’ll see the doctor, give or take a couple of minutes.

So I got my booster shot done, plus a smear test which I was due for. Smear test at the GP???? you might think? Yes ALL basic healthcare is done by your GP, even the female stuff. And note that a smear test is only done every 2 years based on research that shows that doing it annually doesn’t deliver any additional benefits.

But the differences don’t stop here. When leaving, you don’t just walk out. Or if you did the nurse would come after you pretty quickly. Time to fork out the doctor’s fees which for my visit were $58 for my vaccination, $69 for the doctor plus $5 for materials he used.

Bill paid, I left with a lab request in hand for a routine blood test as I’m now approaching the ‘danger zone’  as he calls it being in my mid 40s.

You see, GPs don’t take blood samples here. For this purpose, there’s labs specialised in this. Off I went to the lab. Thankfully, blood tests are government funded so no need to dig out some dosh this time.

Maybe you wonder why I don’t just get health insurance to have it all paid for. in fact, I am insured, like around 30% of people in NZ. But when taking out insurance, you realise pretty quickly that the full package would be rather costly. So it’s best to tailor it to your situation and get cover for what’s really important: Diagnostics and surgical stuff.

Yes you can get access to all of this through the government funded public system. But there’s a problem here: Wait lists. Long wait lists. People dying off wait lists, or what started off as a problem having grown into a big problem by the time it’s your turn.

Hence me having taken out health insurance. But there’s another reason why I’ve not gone for the full monty. Even the most comprehensive package available here won’t give you the coverage that you get through what’s compulsory health insurance in Germany.

Germany has an absolutely top notch fantastic health insurance system. Something I wasn’t really aware of until I emigrated for the green NZ pastures.

I say it again. Germany is AWESOME when it comes to healthcare and health insurance. Think about it next time you’re about to complain…

What concerns medications, some are government subsidised i.e. cheaper whereas for others you pay the full commercial costs. This can be quite hard or even impossible for some people in particular those with serious or chronic diseases. Imagine you have to pay out of your own pocket for some medication that could make a real difference to you but it’s so new and/or expensive that you have to pay for it yourself.

Guess what happens. Some people do fund raising to scratch together the money they need for a particular treatment. No joke.

Let’s get back to medications. So your GP might have prescribed something and prescription in hand, you make your way to the next pharmacy. The pharmacist there will by no means give you a branded and labelled package of pills. What he does is put the pills the doctor prescribed into a little container or cardboard box, prints off a label including instructions how to take your medications, plus a copy of  the general information about the medication (‘Beipackzettel”).

You won’t get to see original packaging. Stuff is bought in bulk and then given to you in the amounts you need. Not more. No unneeded pills going into the bin.

In a nutshell, the system here works well if you have money. If you don’t there’s some challenges here that you wouldn’t have to worry about in Germany.

So if you’re in Germany, next time you find yourself stuck in a waiting room full of other people and still waiting to see the doctor despite the appointment you had made for what now is 2 hours ago, think again  (as you’ll have plenty of time in this situation anyway….). Yes the waiting times in Germany are really, really bad.

But all the rest is being taken care of  courtesy of your health insurance.

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Rest in peace Rob

Last week, Rob Hutchins  of the Electro-Sensitive Trust NZ unexpectedly died.
Rob and I had never met in person but we had a number of long phone conversations over the last couple of years. Conversations that I hugely enjoyed and always went away from feeling uplifted and inspired.
According to the Otago Daily Times, Rob  died in a house fire in his own home.
I still find it hard to believe that he’s gone.
It’s a big loss for electro-sensitive people in NZ.  For me, he was the spider in the web who connected us and a shining light in advocating for electro-sensitive people in NZ.
It was through him that I got to Anahata Yoga Retreat for my holiday. And through him I got in touch with a young electro-sensitive guy in Wellington with whom I now catch up regularly.
Rob was an impressive and extraordinary person. An unusually critical thinker for New Zealand, with the courage to call a spade a spade and speak up for the truth. Despite him not being able to use a computer because of his ES, he was incredibly well informed and always up to date about anything concerning ES.
His life wasn’t easy, but he was always cheerful despite the difficulties he faced on a daily basis.
In our last phone conversation earlier this year, we both agreed that we wanted to build an “informal network of electro-sensitive people in New Zealand”. I now feel more committed than ever to this task.
Having planted the seed for this network to grow it beyond what it currently is will forever be his legacy for me.

Of raging rivers, a temporary lake district and mineral baths

This year’s Easter escape didn’t take Gregor and me where we had intended to go. Right before Good Friday, a cyclone tore through our part of the world. Luckily, Auckland and anywhere southwards was spared the worst.

So it was just VERY wet but otherwise warm and humid. Just what you’d expect from a tropic storm.

The campground we had booked was closed because of the deluge, and so we drove a but further South towards Paeroa where we camped in the Karangahake Gorge.

This area is quite extraordinary with its amazingly steep and deep gorges:

The river looks pretty tame now but in the days before our visit, the water must have been around 2 to 3 metres higher telling by the debris along its banks. All the rivers were still quite swollen with most gravel banks submerged, and I cannot even imagine would they would be like during and right after the cyclone. Big raging torrents I suppose.

With the landscape still more than saturated with water, we adjusted our footwear accordingly.

Tramping boots cyclone style:

The main attraction why we had decided on the Paeroa area for our Easter trip are the mineral pools. This time, we treated ourselves to an hour in the mineral spa with private tubs.

Gregor and I taking a soak:

Not sure what the mineral composition is but the water had a rich soft feel to it and no hint of sulfur. Very pleasant and very relaxing.

We also explored the historic relics of the wood logging era.

Massive Kauri trunks were carted out on little wagons, one of which was still around:

Yet another fantastic weekend away for us in an otherwise challenging year.

Fab Feb holiday -Anahata yoga retreat

When I left for the South Island for my holiday, it had been with a sense of foreboding. Of something life changing that would happen to me. Not quite like a booming voice speaking to me from the sky, but something significant, maybe a dangerous situation or some other challenge.

I was right. It was subtle, but powerful and came in the form of a number of important realisations about myself. It had slowly started while tramping, and gained real speed in my week at Anahata Yoga Retreat high up in the hills of Golden Bay:

I had no previous experience with yoga and in fact had never had any interest in yoga before. But I had heard that Anahata was pretty much a “white zone” i.e. minimal electro-smog . As I felt I needed more time for emotional-spiritual work than I would be able to have while tramping, it seemed like a good place to be.

Main house:

Atma Mandir where classes are taught:

It was amazing. It’s changed my life, in every regard. Body, mind and spirit. It was cathartic, uplifting and healing, all at the same time.

I was so well taken care of that I could really relax and focus on my inner work and not worry about electro-smog or my currently rather detailed dietary requirements (in fact, the food was outstanding). I was challenged in many ways, not just by taking in the new experiences from the various yogic practices, but also by what these experiences and my studies made me discover about myself.

“My” bench where I sat in the sun doing my study and thinking work:

Two months have now passed since my stay.  I have firmly integrated some yogic practices into my life. I’m well into the juice fast that the resident chef and nutritionist had suggested to me.

And I still think about Anahata every day feeling grateful for the momentum it’s given my journey to health, healing and wellbeing.

Fab Feb holiday – Kahurangi adventure

The second week of my holiday took me into the peace and quiet of Kahurangi National Park. It’s been my favourite park ever since I first visited in 2002, and this time turned out to be a a particularly interesting backcountry adventure.

That’s because of some really surprising contrasting experiences. The Anatoki-Waingaro track travels along a couple of river valleys, and I started off at the Anatoki end.

Basking in the morning sun at the start of the track:

On the first day, it was 99% easy walking along a well maintained benched track. But every so often, the track presented me with a real challenge with a windfall with no track marker in sight, or pleasant creeks with big boulders to navigate.

To my great surprise, despite the numerous creek crossings, I didn’t get my boots wet. And to my even greater surprise, on arriving in Anatoki Forks Hut I was greeted by a warning sign regarding hot water.

I first thought this was a joke until I went into the main room of the hut and saw the big water cylinder. This was for real! But as it was a warm day and I was on my own, I didn’t want to fire up the range and opted for a cold shower.

That’s until I turned on the shower and WARM water came out. Courtesy of the people who had been at the hut a whole 3 days earlier!

A day’s walk further down the track, there was another surprise waiting for me. A shelter that had only been opened less than a year ago and wasn’t on maps and track brochures yet. I had heard about it from other people so had decided to go there instead of camping.

The Soper shelter tent camp:

It was fantastic. A place of pure magic, and made with love. It was like stepping into Hobbit wonderland, with even small details having done with great love and attention right down to the toilet seat. It was very cold that night and I was shivering in my summer sleeping bag, but it was so worth it.

Lake Stanley, formed in 1929 by an earthquake:

Stanley river:

I usually had the huts to myself, but just when I felt like company, I got it. This was at Waingaro Forks hut,  a beautiful old style hut:

I shared the hut with a couple from Tasmania, and a veteran tramper and mountainbiker. Who had come up to the hut on his bike just to prove to his wife that he could do it. Not an easy feat by any means. He turned 65 the following morning.

Another 2 nights in a hut further down, and then a spectacular walk out thanks to clouds hovering

Reaching civilisation again, I was greeted by farmlands with a distinctly Bavarian look which gave me a short moment of feeling homesick.

Me at the end of my Kahurangi adventure:

Dusk in Golden Bay from Takaka campground:

Fab Feb holiday – Abel Tasman revisited

I did it again. The Abel Tasman Coastal track. 15 years after I had done it for the first time. It’s still as beautiful as I remembered it: Golden beaches, crystal clear blue sea, with a backdrop of regenerating bush.

But it’s a lot more busy than it was back in 2002. And I also noticed that the vast majority of people belong to two distinctly different groups of tourists: 20-somethings doing a multi-day walk, and older people in their 50s and 60s doing day trips.  What they had in common though is that most of them were from overseas.

Over Waitangi weekend, Gregor joined me, and I then completed the rest of the walk by myself. But not really by myself, as I’ve explained above.

Te Pukatea Bay – Abel Tasman at its best:

Beautiful sunrise on the next morning:

Boats anchoring at, well, Anchorage:

Gregor on the mud flats of Torrent Bay:

My picturesque camp spot in Tonga Quarry:

View towards Totaranui from the North:

My Abel Tasman tramping boots:

It was an excellent walk, with good weather most of the time and the sandflies and mosquitos weren’t too bad.  If you’re seeking solitude, it’s the wrong place. But if you’re after spending some time on the beach, it’s an excellent choice.

Just a quick one

As you can see by the regularity of my blog posts (or lack thereof), you can see that I’ve been really struggling this year to make time to keep you up to date.

It’s not just because of going on holidays or camping weekends.

My health work has been really full on. I’m currently doing a big experiment of which I’m sure it’ll finally resolve the issue that I unwittingly created  in my Vanuatu holiday in 2010.

I’ve now also picked up the work on starting my business again as this is synergistic with my health work.

Curious how this looks like?

Check it out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cleanleanenergized/ or google Clean Lean Energized and you’ll find it.

Big promise that I will post photos of my February holiday soon.

Change of mind, change of reality

Back again at my blog – finally!

My holiday in the Golden Bay area was fantastic. But since I’ve been back, life has been very challenging, and I even haven’t had the time yet to sort through my holiday pictures to select the best ones to post here for you.

So instead of the long overdue post about my holiday, I’m going to share with you something I’m currently experiencing.

Your thinking shapes your reality.

While having my shower this morning, I realised how true this is. In my life right here, right now.

The last few weeks were incredibly stressful for me, amongst other things because of a significant disagreement I had with my two flatmates. It’s not because they wouldn’t have been decent people – in fact they  were, both of them nice and considerate hard working ladies.

Our personalities just clashed. This became clear to me pretty much from day one when they each had moved in (which certainly doesn’t speak for my ability of choosing the right flatmates).

Both moved out over the last couple of weeks, and new people have moved in.

Now my flat is very different to what it used to be. Just because I had changed my thinking about who my ideal flatmates would be. And the reality that I now experience in the flat has changed as a consequence.

This isn’t just happening in how I perceive things. The change is hands-on and real.

To illustrate this, my ideal flatmate used to be female,  tidy with mature attitude, around my age, earning her living as a professional like I do.

My ideal flatmate still is tidy with a mature attitude. But in considering what would be good for me where I am in my life right now, I concluded that I wanted more diversity in the flat.

Which now has materialised, with a young student lady from Ghana and a Maori guy in his mid 30s teaching performing arts.

It’s not like I had to push and shove for this to happen. In fact, these were the first two people who wanted one of the rooms. All I needed to do was give it to them.

You might now say what’s so special about this? Of course you get different results when you change your criteria.

Well, apply this to the bigger picture.

If I want my life to be different to what it is today, if I want to have my own self-employed income and settle down with Gregor in the Nelson/Tasman area, the first step is to open our minds and think differently.

And then all else will follow.

Zapped

It was a bit of a difficult week for me as I had a headache like I haven’t had it in a long time. I felt pretty crap for a couple of days with the pain being ever present and impacting on my work and enjoyment of life.

Considering that I lived with this pain for 1 or 2 years until I had reduced my EMF exposure quite a bit, it doesn’t surprise me that I felt low and grumpy most of the time back then.

The crazy thing is that this time, it was entirely and inadvertently self-inflicted.

I had had a bit of a headache all weekend but didn’t take it that seriously as it was a completely normal weekend at home, spending most of my time in my shielded room.

Surely it was just a random thing.not to worry about?

On Monday night, when I packed my backpack for work, I realised that my cell phone was turned on. Not that I ever keep it turned on. But since the earthquakes, I’ve had it in my backpack just in case. And obviously other stuff in my backpack must have put pressure on it and turned it on.

So for days, I was just a couple of meters away from my turned on cellphone. Day and night. In a part shielded room with quite weak cellphone reception which means that my cellphone would have radiated quite significantly.

Oh the pain…

By now, I feel much better again. But this was certainly a lesson to ALWAYS take seriously what my body is telling me. And if the reason isn’t obvious, then to go searching for it until I’ve found and dealt with it.

Northland holiday – Kauri forests, Bay of Islands, and a lake

The second part of our Northland holiday was a bit of a road trip combined with an island escape and a few walks here and there.

I usually don’t particularly like driving, but wow this time was different. I’ve always liked BMWs ;simply for their looks and the fact that they’re from Munich just like me.

Now having driven one (Gregor’s work car, a small 2003 model) along some seriously windy roads and the odd bit of gravel, I can definitely say that they’re my kind of car. No wonder that I ended up doing most of the driving up there, and it made this fantastic holiday even better.

But back to where I left off. We spent the following night in Rarawa and it turned out one of the best beaches I’ve ever been to in NZ. Crystal clear turquoise blue water, waves just right to be fun, and the sand was absolutely world class white powder:

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The forests were just great, but as always not easy to take phtoos of… :

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In the Bay of Islands, we spent a couple of days  hanging out on Urupukapuka Island. We went for walks in the morning, and then spent the rest of the day reading, talking and maybe a very quick dip in the sea.

Which was unusually cold, just like the windy weather we had throughout our entire holiday. Great for doing stuff, not ideal for frolicking on the beach.

A calm morning in Urupukapuka Bay at the campground:

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Green hills, deep blue sea, sailing boats, and an old woolshed:

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Very nice sunsets if you went up the hill:

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In places, the coastline reminded me a little bit of the”Calanques” in the South of France where I had holidayed with friends what now seems a lifetime ago:

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More forest, here’s Gregor in a stand of young Kauri :

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Lake Taharoa impressed with clear blue water and the petrified remains of an ancient forest:

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Not that you can see much of it as the lake shore drops off steeply to great depth where most of the forest is.

We rounded off our dream holiday with a BBQ on an Auckland campground. Gregor enjoyed a serious chunk of steak while I stuck with fish and had a most delicious salmon. Most of which got into my mouth as some of it was blown off my fork on the way to it. It was that windy!

Hope you all had such an amazing Christmas break as we did. And should you ever be in need of a  holiday destination, with Northland you won’t go wrong..