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Science week at my daughter’s school

A brief lesson on my field of medicine

Not too long ago, teachers at my daughter’s school organised a science week. For days on end, people tried to get pupils interested in STEM subjects, with the main area of focus being the human body. Parents who were professionally involved with the human body were cordially invited to come and teach a brief lesson. I have a vivid recollection of the pride I felt as a pupil attending a primary school in Veghel when my father told my class about his work as a neurologist. And now my 8-year-old girl wanted me to do the same for her and her classmates.

Needless to say, I immediately said yes. But to my surprise, I found while preparing my ‘lecture’ that I was considerably more nervous about this chat than about giving an official presentation at a medical conference. And I soon understood why. At a conference, people will politely listen to your story. They won’t start rioting until you start saying truly controversial things or making gigantic mistakes. Children, on the other hand, are much more straightforward. If they feel you are giving a dull presentation, they will find other ways to entertain themselves. So I was forced to consider the question: What do 8-year-old kids find interesting? How do I interact with them, and how do I make sure they don’t lose interest? How much can I interact with them before losing my train of thought?


Once I’d asked myself those questions, I started enjoying my assignment. I structured my talk, picked some nice illustrations for my PowerPoint presentation and compiled a quiz to check whether the children had been paying attention. I was in for a special morning. I was surprised at how much the children already knew about the human anatomy. They were also familiar with a good many medical specialities. Useful questions were asked, and we even did some role-playing, replete with surgery uniforms and tools. The kids answered most of my quiz questions correctly; only a few of my questions proved too hard for them.

So, for that matter, do YOU know:

  1. How many brain cells a human being has?
  2. Which type of medical specialist performs heart surgery?
  3. How many cervical vertebrae a giraffe has?

A doctor’s school visit

A doctor’s school visit

Neurosurgery from a different point of view

In the end, I got more out of this morning than just my daughter’s admiration. It’s confronting, but very useful, to step out of your comfort zone every once in a while and take a completely different approach to your work. It stops you from getting in a rut and keeps you on your toes. I believe that communication is an undervalued aspect of a doctor’s work. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that the success of any surgical treatment largely depends on the quality of the consultations that preceded the procedure. Doctors must ‘click’ with their patients and really listen to them. They must really make an effort to understand what they are being told and explain very honestly and clearly what they can and can’t offer their patients. Even if they have to tell the same story over and over again, they must find different ways of telling it, because all patients are different. Since my presentation at my daughter’s school required me to talk about my profession with young children, I had to think carefully about what information I wanted to get across and how to go about it. But of course, doctors must be that focused every time they meet a patient. Genuine contact and respect are keywords here.

The kids in my daughter’s class thankfully didn’t start rioting during my presentation. Afterwards, they came up to me, very excited, one by one, to share their own doctor’s experiences with me. Since that day I’ve become even more aware of the importance of proper communication at the surgery. And I’m hoping that the kids in question will be less afraid of seeing a doctor from now on, because the father of a classmate they know so well turned out to be a surgeon...

Oh, and as for the answers to my quiz…

  1. 100 billion (yes, you, too!);
  2. A cardiothoracic surgeon;
  3. Giraffes have 7 cervical vertebrae, just like human beings.

Surgery manual

Dr. Schröder is happy to inform you about the surgical treatment of your neck or back condition. He also discusses the possible complications of the procedure with you.

After you've carefully weighed up the pros and cons of the surgery, you can decide for yourself whether you consider your condition serious enough to operate.

View the surgery manual

  • Instructions for after you have left the clinic

    Once you leave the clinic:

    • Make sure that someone comes and picks you up in a car, and refrain from driving yourself
    • Make sure that you recline your car seat
    • Make sure that you are not home alone for the first few days following the operation
    • Allow the wound to heal for the first 2 to 3 weeks
    • You are allowed to shower, as the nurses will give you a waterproof plaster to cover your wound before you leave the clinic
    • You must not drive for 3 weeks, but you will be allowed to sit in the passenger seat while someone else drives you around
    • You are allowed to do whatever you feel up to, as long as you keep listening to your body and stop doing whatever it is you are doing whenever your body tells you to stop

    Your doctor, nurse and/or physiotherapist will provide you with more information on how to look after yourself following the operation.

  • How long will I have to stay at the clinic?

    Depends on the nature of the operation

    The duration of your stay with us will depend on your situation and on the type of surgery you are undergoing. If everything goes according to plan, and if you are undergoing a minor back or neck operation, you will only have to stay with us for one night. If you are undergoing major surgery, such as a spinal instability operation, you will generally have to spend a few nights at our clinics.

  • Swelling after surgery

    Swelling reduced after 2 to 3 months

    After the operation, your wound will swell, which may be painless but may also be a little uncomfortable due to your skin being pulled so taut. Generally speaking, the swelling will subside of its own accord within 2 to 3 months of the operation, and the skin will grow less thick.

  • Medication after surgery

    Following the operation, you will be given painkillers for as long as you need them. You will receive these painkillers in accordance with a set schedule. It is vital that you take your medication at the scheduled times, even when you are not experiencing any pain. In this way, your body will build up a steady level of analgesia.

    Most people will be able to stop taking painkillers a few days after undergoing back or neck surgery. If your painkillers somehow fail to provide you with a sufficient level of relief, we recommend that you notify a nurse as soon as possible. If you were on morphine-like medication prior to your operation, we advise that you gradually cut down on your medication after the operation, if your level of pain allows you to do so, in consultation with your GP. Acute withdrawal may result in adverse events.

  • Post-operative pain

    If you are experiencing an excessive amount of pain, you will receive additional painkillers

    The level of post-operative pain differs from person to person, and from operation to operation. Generally speaking, major lengthy operations will prove more painful than brief minor operations. At our clinics, all patients receive proper painkillers following surgery, as a result of which very few of our patients ever experience a great deal of pain. In consultation with yourself, we will determine your pain score, both at the ward and once you are home (we will call you to discuss this with you). If your pain score is too high, you will be given additional painkillers.

100% insurance covery

Nearly all treatments performed by Dr Schröder are covered by health insurance. This is true for the following conditions: neck hernia, spinal hernia, lumbar spinal stenosis and cervical spinal stenosis.

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Dr Schröder's blog

Dr Schröder regularly publishes new articles on his blog. Read all about spinal hernia, neck hernia, spinal stenosis, neurosurgery and other related subjects.

View all blog posts

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  • 12. Dozing off

  • 11. The Big Spinal Quiz for the articulate patient

  • 10. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson

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