I thought I would post an update from Ghent from one
who is now officially "on the other side".
I’m here at
the Villa. It’s Saturday and my surgery was on Tuesday.
Sumati is here as well and will be sending you her own post
so you can compare what we have to say!
This has just been an incredible experience so far. I woke
up early the morning of surgery with no apprehension at all.
I had prepared my mind as best I could alternating self-
hypnosis and meditation but I wasn’t expecting to feel so
serene and peaceful. I’ve never had surgery before. Many
friends had said they would send love, light or prayers
according to their beliefs. Giving energy works, no matter
what the skeptics say. I’ve just never had such indisputable
evidence of it before. It was like I couldn’t be anxious no
matter how hard I tried. I was just feeling surrounded and
protected by love and positive energy.
is, so far, a complete success. Dr. De Smet had to do some
bone grafting before he could install the implant because I
had trashed the top of my femur so completely trying to walk
and play bone-against-bone for such a long time. When I met
with him personally for the first time he said "I prefer to
see people at an earlier stage than you. But never mind. I
have completed many cases like yours before. It will get
done." And get done it has. Now, four days post-surgery, I am
getting better every day and my progress is (to me)
astoundingly fast. I walk easily with the elbow crutches
(including alternating stair-climbing) without pain as long
as I don’t stress into certain positions which are to be
avoided anyway. Today I walked around town for about 1 km or
so…no problems at all. The previous knife-pain in my left
hip, which has plagued me for years, is completely gone. I’m
not taking any meds for post-surgery pain at all..don’t need
them. I don’t quite get how this is possible, but that is
what is happening. I credit my total absence of pain and
easy recovery so far to the healing energy sent by those who
care about me, and particularly to the skill of Dr. de Smet.
care has been excellent…they cover the wound with this
stretchy saran wrap- like stuff that sticks to the skin and
is totally waterproof. You can go in the shower, the pool,
no problems. The daily schedule until I leave is: dry-land
Physical Therapy, massage, hydrotherapy in the pool. Every
day for about 2 or 2.5 hours.
The rehab center "The Villa" is really more like a european
spa. In fact, there is a full ‘spa’ menu (facials etc.) that
they have just started, even though this whole place has
been set up first and foremost for Dr. De Smet’s patients.
This is a new addition in the way De Smet does things.
Previously guests stayed at the Holiday Inn but De Smet is
in such demand now they have created their own rehab place.
The food is outstanding and served with love, care and
highest quality table settings. A typical lunch would be
smoked trout on belgian toast for appetizer, followed by
steak w/ bernaise sauce and belgian style french fries with
homemade sauce, fruit with whipped cream for dessert. There
is always fresh- squeezed OJ available….Oh, and good
French and German wine of course, or Belgian beer if you
prefer. If you don’t care for what they are serving that day
chef Peter will make you a huge salad with all the
ingredients you specify.
Our room is
excellent as well. Fridge with minibar, huge flatscreen TV
on the wall, wireless internet, and a very clever expresso
maker that uses tiny packets of expresso and then ‘throws’
them into a small trash container after use so you don’t
even have to touch them, and the machine is ready for the
next round. there are the highest quality european fittings
in the bathroom and the bed is fantastic…king sized but
made up of two single mattresses that independently go up
and down hospital style. A plush down comforter competes the
ensemble. The whole room reminds me of a display at IKEA but
upgaded about three levels. One small caveat…all the items
in the minibar in your room cost Euros and they are not
The staff here is uniformly high quality. There are several
instances where multiple family members work here. Hugo
Contino is the Villa manager. His sister, Gaitana, is
married to Koen and she also works here as a nurse. Peter
the chef’s daughter works the office and answers phones here
as well. Many of the PTs were personally recruited (stolen
from other positions) by Koen, as is his operating room
nurse Bart who also runs the x-ray and pokes you in the
stomach with your daily Herparin shot until you learn to do
it yourself (I learned today!). The restaurant staff were
recruited by Hugo who stole them away from long-standing
other jobs (one 30 years in length!)
I can’t say enough about Dr. De Smet (or Koen, as we call
him). Koen is pronounced Kun. The man is on some kind of
mission. Koen does 18-24 hip surgeries per WEEK. The day of
my surgery he did four, the next day six. People have come
from around the world…there is a big world map in the 2nd
floor ward that is kind of ‘his’ at the hospital. Dots from
just about every country. Dr. de Smet’s wife told me today
they talk regularly about how he needs to slow down but she
says, "we can’t let the patients down who want to see him;
we can’t say yes to some and no to others". But Koen will
not be able to keep up this pace forever….
My roommate in the hospital (Vlad) is a Russian from Moscow.
He is really a trip and has told us many stories about he
life of the decadent super-rich in Russia. Vlad was next
after me for surgery on Tuesday so we are monitoring each
others’ recovery. He’s 38.
I am SO GLAD I made the decision to come here. I count my
blessings to be able to have the financial resources to make
this trip and I remain aware of those who need this kind of
help and cannot receive it. The total cost of my surgery,
including the plane flight, the Villa and all the rehab, is
less that 1/2 of the cost of the surgery alone in the USA.
(I’m still dealing with insurance issues). With all due
respect to all the great doctors and HR surgeons back home,
our health care system is badly broken compared to the
Best Regards to all
Rod Windle, Ph.D. LBHR De Smet 12/18/07