The Week Of E-Mountain Biking And Refusing Medical Treatment

This Week:

  • What it’s like to be injured and resting while in the Swiss Alps.
  • Going on an e-bike adventure up through the mountains behind Lauterbrunnen.
  • Why I decided to refuse a doctor’s recommendation for treatment.

September 2023

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Where In The World Was I?

  • Interlaken, Switzerland
  • 🚅
  • Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
  • 🚅
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • 🚅
  • Milan, Italy

Live Travel Map 🌎

The Best Couch Views (Interlaken, Switzerland)

It was a slow couple days in Interlaken. I worked pretty much the entire first day (9-10hrs) on last week’s photos and Life Update post.

A Rainy Day In The Alps

The next day, I chilled on the couch pretty much the whole day (minus breakfast/coffee at a cafe).

BUT, this place I stayed at had an incredible rooftop level and balcony.

Every time I’d look up from my phone I’d see the grey drizzly scene, rocky mountain cliffs hugged by the grey clouds, beautiful houses, and the sound of the turquoise river rushing by.

Something about that moment just felt cozy. It felt right. I couldn’t help but smile.

I’ve definitely been venturing into YouTube videos that aren’t in my usual line up. It’s been a lot of longer documentary-style videos, mysteries of airline/cruise accidents, hijackings, disappearing people, etc. The common theme(s) seem to be: viral videos (multiple millions of views), compelling stories, and mysteries.

Resting and E-Biking In The Valley (Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland)

Stayed in Lauterbrunnen for 2 nights, what another gorgeous place to just chill.

I walked around a bit, but spent a good chunk of time in the back yard of the hostel chilling (YouTube, Duolingo).

The E-Bike Adventure

However, as I was strolling around the (only) main street, I saw a bike/e-bike rental place which sparked a flashback to Amsterdam (see: The Week Of Sex Shows, Music Festivals, And Fate) and I had an idea.

The next (and full) day I was there I decided to rent an e-mountain-bike and biked up the valley!

Wow these views.

At the end of the valley it turned to a dirt road and started climbing up the mountains.

I continued to ride my e-bike, cruising up that road on the “Turbo” setting at 17km/hr barely breaking a sweat. MAN that was fun and SO nice.

I definitely want an e-bike now. I don’t know that I could ever go back to those manual things 😂

Side note, I LOVE this picture (below). Adding to the portfolio??? Maybe maybe maybe.

(Not) Socializing

As you know, I had been watching a lot of YouTube, relaxing, putting my foot up, and just not doing too much.

But spending hours sitting on my bed watching YouTube feels… wrong. Especially given where I am.

I’ve thought about trying to kick back up some work (building up a business, content creation on Twitter, something else), but I just don’t know where to start.

It feels like I’ve let go too much since this past spring that getting back to where I was isn’t feasible (also given how much time I have to allocate towards it).

From my journal:

September 20th, 2023 | YouTube Socializing

I've been watching a lot of YouTube lately, browsing social media here and there for a couple minutes, and chilling.

I've mostly... hidden (?) under the rationale that I just need to relax and stay off my feet, which, is true.

But last night I had a "rogue" thought, as I lay in bed watching videos and seeing everyone else also on their phones...

I felt bad for not socializing.

I wondered, what's my future self gonna think of this?

Imagine 20 years ago, when no one had phones to distract themselves.

Imagine [my grandmother], always striking up conversations with strangers while traveling.

It feels like a shame, but I also don't really know how to change it (to get ME to strike up conversations) without feeling totally opposite to myself, without extreme discomfort.

I feel like I just instantly judge people, thinking (unconsciously), ah this person's not like me, [it's] not even worth the starting small talk.

But at the same time there's the idea that "you can always learn something from everyone."

I feel like it's clear that social interactions, at least the *starts*, continue to be a struggle/challenge for me.

And I just don't feel like I'm making any progress, or choosing to work on it.

[Starting conversations] feels out of my control... sometimes, at least.

Back To Zurich For X-rays? (Zurich, Switzerland)

Okay this needs a bit of context.

Last week when I met with the doctor after getting my x-rays, she said I should get a follow-up x-ray the following Friday (the Friday this week) to see a specialist and make sure the bones are healing properly and not moving around.

She said the specialist I’d be going to would be at this hospital by the airport.

I thought okay fair enough, so after Lauterbrunnen, I made my way back to Zurich on Thursday.

But I hadn’t received any more information about this vague follow-up appointment until… that Thursday. And what they said was, I can’t go to this other hospital because I’m from the U.S. (i.e. not Swiss). They said I’d schedule an appointment back at the same clinic to get the follow-up x-ray.

Again I thought, fair enough. My toe had been feeling much better, so this was just to get the check mark that I can continue on my journey resting and healing.

I show up for my appointment 15 minutes early and they tell me to sit down one floor, on floor 1.

I sit there, trying hard to not give in to the twitches to pull my phone out, scroll social media, or relieve my curiosities about the world (e.g. asking ChatGPT “What makes a passport considered strong?” ðŸĪŠ).

About 15-20 minutes later I start to hear my name being repeatedly called from the floor above (where the reception is).

I stand up and walk to the stairs and say “here” as I walk up the stairs.

The doctor gives me this look rolling her eyes “I’ve been calling you 4 times.”

I look over to see 2 people sitting in the waiting hall kind of chuckling.

Immediately I feel this wave of embarrassment, but also tension. I say “sorry I was told to sit…” and she cuts me off saying something else I didn’t hear.

I follow her into the office and repeat myself saying “sorry I was told to sit on the first floor.”

She responds, “they told you to sit on the first floor?” and rolls her eyes.

I’m thinking, jeez we’re off to a rough start here, but alrighty.

“You must still be in pain?” she asks.

“Not really, I mean maybe a little bit” I say.

She then proceeds to tell me the exact same thing I was told via email. “So the hospital can’t take you because you’re from the U.S. etc. etc.”

And says that I’m to go to the University hospital in the city and on the left side is the emergency room, where I should go and will be seen by one of the traumatologists.

I say, confused, “wait, I was told to go to the airport hospital?”

She says “No you go to the hospital in the city” and pulls up to show me the map.

She prints out a report that basically has this clinic’s record of who I saw here, what I told the first doctor, what they said, and my diagnosis.

I start imagining this he-said she-said mess of showing up there and being treated as a random walk-in. I respond, still confused, “do they like… know I’m coming? Do I show them this paper?”

She says, “one second,” and proceeds to call someone at the hospital.

I don’t know what they talked about (it was all in German), but after a couple minutes of talking, she hung up and seemed to affirm that I would go there.

On my way out, literally as I was opening the door, she started into this story about how she has sympathy for me (non-Swiss people) because of this other case she had. This woman got pneumonia and one of the hospitals requested they pay 30,000 CHF ($33,000) to get treated since they weren’t a resident, etc. etc.

It was kind of a confusing moment for me, but I thanked her and went on my way.

I went back to reception to pay and get my ID back, thinking, man I hope I don’t have to pay much for this, all I got was a piece of paper. It ended up being ~50CHF (~$55), which I shrugged off, thinking, not worth it but I’m not gonna argue.

I left thinking, this is NOT what I was expecting… and not what I signed up for.

See, I originally went to this University hospital (and that exact emergency room) on my hunt for an x-ray last week. When I went, they said just an x-ray was 550 CHF ($606) which was a big shock to me and seemed ridiculous.

I started to have doubts about this situation I was in, but I thought well maybe since I have this report and recommendation, maybe it’ll cost significantly less.

So alas, I followed what she said and took the tram to the hospital emergency room.

I walked in and over to the registration desk. I said “Hi, I was… told to come here” and handed over my paper.

She read the paper and said “okay we can get you in for an x-ray.”

I responded, “how much is it?”

She asks the woman behind her.

“550 CHF”

My stomach sank, I don’t understand…

I froze up, my cheeks turning pink as my mind wavered rapidly back and forth from “eh, just do it” to “this is ridiculous, don’t agree to that!

She recognized me standing there like a deer in headlights and said “let me ask the doctor” and turned around back through the door behind her.

30 seconds later she came back through and kind of shrugged, affirming that it would be 550 CHF plus any other treatment, cast, etc. they gave me.

Still confused, I pointed down to my foot (and cast/boot) and said “I already have.”

She said, I think with some miscommunication both ways, “yes you need nature [to heal].”

Getting more confused, I said, “so, this report/recommendation paper I have… doesn’t change anything?”

“Right”

“So you would take me in like I hadn’t seen anyone before this?”

“Yes, the report is more for… security” as she kind of shrugged her shoulders.

She said, “take some time to decide, have a seat and you let me know what you decide.”

I thanked her and slowly walked back out the door, feeling a deep pit in my stomach.

My mind started racing, “what the hell, this is not what I was expecting. I thought I was just gonna have a follow-up appointment with an x-ray. Why am I going to an emergency room as a walk-in? And why did I just pay for this report that literally does nothing?”

But despite that, this is what the doctors told me to do… Am I going to disobey their recommendations?

I felt… alone.

The clinic wasn’t incredibly helpful.

The emergency room wasn’t helpful (unless I have money).

It’s now up to me to make this decision.

I sat down on the curb and thought it through, my mind still racing with adrenaline.

I thought, maybe my insurance would cover this? But I looked at my rates for x-rays. In-network is 10% after the deductible, out-of-network is 30% after the deductible and I’m not even close to the deductible.

So, it didn’t matter, in either case I’d have to pay for all of this.

The question became, well, now that this is not a follow-up appointment and is essentially a new x-ray appointment… Do I feel it’s worth getting another x-ray?

See the original rationale was to make sure the bones were healing in the right way and not moving around. But, as I looked back at my x-rays, it didn’t look like a full separation (it still look attached, just fractured).

And on top of that, the bruising by now had been basically non-existent and the pain level was down to barely anything. I felt like I didn’t have a reason to believe things weren’t going well, but what do I know right? That is the worry, the chink in the armor…

I ended up decided to call this 24/7 nurse hotline that’s part of my insurance and see what they thought, if they thought I had reason to believe a follow-up x-ray would be necessary based on my symptoms and situation.

I explained my situation and asked if she thought I had enough reason to get a follow-up x-ray.

She proceeded to ask me a whole bunch of general questions, most likely following the “required process.”

“What kind of pain are you having”

“I mean barely any.”

“Any bruising?”

“Basically none.”

Click for toe pics (from that evening)

As I kept answering I was thinking back to the first 2 days (pain at 4-6/10, huge swelling, no mobility, lots of bruising).

Click for toe pics (from the 2nd day after fracture)

I felt like I was starting to answer my own question.

And at the end she said, “based on your symptoms I would recommend, within 3 days, setting up a telemedicine appointment with a doctor and getting an x-ray” and instructed me on how to set up a telemedicine appointment. She said the doctor would be able to give their recommendation if I should get a follow-up x-ray.

We ended the conversation, I thanked her, and then thought, well that sounded like a very generic answer and was mediocrely helpful.

I headed back to my hotel with the intention of doing this telemedicine appointment, but on the way I thought, I feel like I just answered my own question… I don’t think I really need another x-ray.

I ended up texting some of my family (in-law) who are doctors and they seemed to say a similar message, just rest it, there’s not much you can do.

And so I kind of settled on the decision that I’d continue to rest it, try to stay off of it, and that worst case, in a week or two if things didn’t seem to be (continuing to) getting better, that I could always just find another medical clinic and get another x-ray.

Echoing some of the sentiment from getting in trouble with the Vienna ticket officers (see: The Week I Got Fined By Austrian Ticket Officers), it felt incredibly uncomfortable to refuse getting treatment that I was instructed to do.

Following what the doctor(s) said is easy, do this, do that, go here. And to an extent there’s a feeling of needing to follow an authority figure’s recommendation.

But having to pay $600 (for JUST the x-ray, not including consultation and whatever else they give me) for the SAME treatment I already got was just enough friction for me to snap back into my brain and challenge the orders I was following.

I can’t say I made the right decision, obviously, only time will tell.

But based on the information I have, I think I made the right decision.

Stressed.

This was a pretty tough day on me mentally. It took a lot out of me.

And it didn’t help that the morning of this fiasco, I was starting to feel the weight of everything going on in my mind.

  • Dealing with my toe, not being able to fully explore and hike
  • Resting, watching lots more YouTube, browsing social media, noticing the social media twitch more, not in control of my mind/impulse
  • Less social interactions, places I’ve stayed are less hostel-y, feeling a bit lonely
  • Journaling about struggles with starting social interactions, one of the things that brings the most mental tension
  • Everything is expensive in Switzerland, anxious about money and sustainability
  • Not feeling in control, generally
  • Coming up on end of EU trip, figuring out where to go next, what I need to do first, planning everything
  • Journaling about negativity, being judgemental and stubborn
  • Trouble with van insurance back in the U.S.
  • Wanting an income but not knowing a route to get there outside of 9-5, just uncertainty
  • Great sleep past couple days but today randomly 60% recovery score today for some reason

Meeting Up With Friends (Of Friends)

I met up with one of my brother’s friends here in Zurich! It was a nice break from it all.

We used TooGoodToGo to pick up some food (WAY more than expected)! I keep forgetting to use TooGoodToGo, it’s absolutely everywhere here in Europe. In the U.S. it had maybe a handful of places.

The Shopping Mall Train Station

Zurich’s main train station is essentially a shopping mall and train station combined. Very confusing at first but also pretty cool.

Entering The Country Of Pasta (Milan, Italy)

Bought my ticket this time 🙂 But also they have turnstiles here in Milan so you kind of HAVE to…

I can’t tell you how excited I am to eat fresh, delicious, amazing pasta in Italy.

Italy is the first country where their food specialty (pasta, pizza, bread) is some of my absolute favorite foods. I mean who doesn’t like pasta com’on.

But also I literally think back to Duo Cucina Italiana in Seattle (see: The Week Of Coffee And Food In Seattle) and Macchina Pasta Bar in Barcelona (see: Clubbing In Barcelona Until 3am With People I Just Met) every couple of weeks.

  • Via Pasteria Milano – bruschetta and carbonara
  • Ciacco – gelato

So creamy, so chewy, so salty. I can’t wait to eat more lol.

I’ll save my other couple Milan pics for next week!


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