Short Trips Around Small Countries: Norway

Some years ago I had the good fortune to attend a conference in the village of Geiranger in northern Norway.  This is located at the end of the Geiranger fjord, one of the longest and most beautiful in Norway.  The fjord is sinuous and has many waterfalls (in one location seven) and is quite spectacular.

On leaving we took the ferry to Hellesylt, where we caught the bus to the coast and then took the ferry to Bergen.  In Bergen we visited the house where Grieg lived and worked, and enjoyed the town fish market.  After a few nights we went on an adventure tour, by train to Voss, then by coach to Gudvangen, and then by boat thru the Sognefjord, the narrowest in Norway, with precipitous sides, to Flam and from there on the Flam railway through the mountains to link up with the mainline train from Bergen to Oslo at Myrdal.  This trip lasted from 9 am to arrive in Oslo at 10.30 pm.  It was quite a journey and quite exhausting.

On this trip several things happened.  First, my suitcase was taken in error by someone, and then I was told it would be picked up by a later train and then delivered to me at the Oslo main station at around midnight.  When we got to Oslo we walked to our hotel (about 15 mins) and then after a brief rest I had to go back to the station to retrieve my suitcase, which was indeed delivered to me there.  Then I walked back to the hotel again, pulling the suitcase over cobblestones.  I remember feeling very tired.

Sometime during the night I awoke with a dull pain in my abdomen that gradually got worse.  I called down to see if they had any aspirin and asked if there was a doctor on duty.  They said no, but there is an emergency service they could call.  So I said yes, call it, and the doctor came about 15 mins later.  I showed him where it hurt and described the growing pain, and he immediately guessed that I had a kidney stone.  He said he could call an ambulance, but he gave me some painkiller and said why not wait a little while and if the pain increases call him back and he will send an ambulance to take me to hospital.  The pain did get worse, so I called him and they sent an ambulance, and that was how I spent my first night in Oslo, in the hospital.  My theory was that the stone was disturbed by the strenuous day of travel I had, capped by dragging a suitcase over cobblestones.

Luckily the doctor spoke fluent English.  She said they would like to admit me under observation for a few days and then if necessary operate to remove the stone.  I told her I worked in a medical center and I would rather return home if possible and then see if they needed to operate there.  She gave me some sedative and I don’t remember much after that.  In the morning she examined me and gave me the option of traveling with a strong sedative to keep the pain at bay.  I chose to do that, since our flight was that day.  So we took a taxi to the hotel, my wife packed and they carried the suitcases down, then we went to the airport where we had informed them in advance of the situation.

They had an electric cart waiting for us that transported us to the gate and we flew to Copenhagen, where we changed flights via another electric cart.  The rest of the journey is a blur to me.  I woke up the next morning in my own bed, but dragged myself to the car and my wife drove me to the Medical Center.  In the emergency room, the doctor on duty fortunately recognized me (I was the Chief Scientist of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer).   He admitted me and they proceeded to locate the stone with a CT scan and then gave me a drip and a lot of water to drink for 24 hrs, and luckily I passed the stone and was more or less back to normal the next day.   Still, it was a great and memorable trip to Norway.