My name is Susan, and I was diagnosed with carcinoid in February 2002. Following nearly a decade of treatment in the U.S., I decided to seek PRRT treatment with Dr. Baum in 2011. With the help of Dr. Woltering in Kenner, LA, I was accepted into Dr. Baum's PRRT protocol and scheduled for treatment in December 2011.

My husband Bill and I made the trip the week before Christmas. Because of a variety of challenges we encountered, we felt it would be helpful to compile a list of do's and don'ts for those who are traveling to Bad Berka for the first time.

That initial trip can be daunting, especially if you're not prepared for the problems, big and little, that can crop up. Some of these are covered in the section on this website about patients' stories, but we've put them here in one place.

If you're traveling from the continental U.S., you may not want to make the trip in one day. Instead, consider spending one night in Frankfurt before embarking on the three-hour train ride from Frankfurt. Book the cheapest room you can (around 200 euros) at the airport Sheraton in Frankfurt for the layover. (There are several other hotels near the airport, but none as convenient for a weary traveler.) The Sheraton, though pricey, is attached to the airport by an enclosed walkway. Avoid the hotel restaurant since it is expensive; a hamburger can cost you around $21 USD.

The flight from Dulles to Frankfurt is about seven hours (nine hours for the return flight). Factor in the travel time from home to Dulles, plus the inevitable layover between flights, and you're talking a long day. After getting a good night's rest in Frankfurt, you can make the train trip to Weimar. From there, Bad Berka is a 15-minute taxi ride away.

In Bad Berka, we would recommend that spouses/companions of patients stay in a room at the facility known as The Kindergarten, a 10-minute walk from the hospital. The rooms are booked through Patient Services at the Klinik and are reasonably priced at 18-30 euros a day, depending on whether you get a single or double room. The room comes equipped with a microwave, toaster and refrigerator -- but no soap. (Be aware of the 10 a.m. check-out time, because we didn't know, and an angry, non-English speaking maid wasn't too happy when my husband hadn't gotten out of the room by that time. She then proceeded to call the nurse on the ward where I was staying to tell me. Book an extra day, because you don't know when you will meet with Dr. Baum. It could be late in the evening after you've been released. Our appointment was scheduled for 4 p.m. and we didn't get to see him until 7 p.m.)

TIP: get the person who gives you the Kindergarten room key upon check-in to explain how the key works. We were only able to get the key to work because a maid who was working on our room showed us how.

Patients and caregivers should consider taking some lightweight dehydrated foods, such as macaroni and cheese or oatmeal in pouches, or Nutri-Systems diet food. There are only two places to eat at the hospital: a café in the lobby that serves sandwiches, pastries, brats and a few other items, and a restaurant, Station 33, which serves decent (German only) food at moderate prices but closes early in the evening (around 7 when we were there).

Wi-fi is available for free in patients' rooms and the hospital lobby, but the signal is weaker and somewhat more unreliable in the lobby. We recommend communicating by Skype phone (without the video), which is very cheap, a few pennies per minute. Skype audio and video didn't work for us together. The purchase of an iPad came in very handy while on the ward in communicating with my German-speaking roommate. Google translate was our only way of talking during my week-long stay on the ward.

In our experience, American cell phones didn't work in Bad Berka. Thus it would be a good idea to buy inexpensive German cell phones after arrival in Frankfurt. There's an electronics store, called Fotec, in the shopping complex that adjoins the airport. The phones we bought were 69 Euros each and came with sim-cards good for 160 minutes. They were our only way to communicate most days. - Editors note - Sprint and Verzion will not work - other American pland will be very pricey, but you can use your phone with a German SIM. Any GSM Tri or quad band phone will work - you will need to make sure it is unlocked by your local carrier before going to Germany and getting a local SIM. See our section on connectivity for greater discussion.

You will need International power converter in order to operate hair driers.. You must also use a German electric outlet plug converter for computer and chargers.  You can buy the converter and plug before leaving the States. If you have Apple computers, a converter/plug kit for international travel is available at Apple stores. We bought 2 of everything since we were going to be in 2 different locations during the week.  - Editor note - for all electronics check to see if the device runs on 110 and 220 - if so all you will need is a very inexpensive plug converter.

We spent one night at the Hotel Hubertushof, six nights at the Kindergarten rooms, and upon my release headed to Weimar to spend several nights during Christmas at the Best Western Premier Grand Hotel Russischer Hof. In all the places that we stayed, there wasn't a washer and dryer to wash our clothes. The hospital used to have washers and dryers, but they were taken out for some reason. Plan accordingly or you will be buying underwear at the Mini Mart in the hospital lobby, like we did!

Upon my release, we ventured by taxi to Weimar to stay at the Best Western. I chose the hotel thinking that more employees would speak English there, which was true. But for the most part, only the front desk employees could speak with us. The hotel was very nice, but avoid eating at the pricey "Anastasia" restaurant and the breakfast buffet, which was 18 euros each. In the days after the treatment, I was feeling queasy and couldn't even think about eating a heavy Germany breakfast.

It's better to walk across the street and start looking for one of the bakeries -- a lot cheaper and probably better when one's stomach can't handle German cuisine. Residenz-Café Weimar became our favorite place to eat. Two of the staff spoke English and the food is generally very good. Nice atmosphere, and loved the fact that people could bring in their dogs while eating. I got the American breakfast along with fresh-squeezed orange juice. Next time we will look into staying at one of the seven rooms they have available, located above the café. For more info:

Since it was Christmas and most places were closed for several days, we happened upon Napoli's Italian Restaurant. I had a wonderful Margarita pizza, which looked and tasted like a good old cheese pizza. My hubby had the pepperoni/salami pizza, another winner. Many of the Germans were eating a pizza with what looked like a salad on top. We still don't know what that greenery was!

As you can see, I was into avoiding the local cuisine as much as possible and wonder what I will do while in the hospital again in April, when my second treatment is scheduled. The mac and cheese I took over didn't work out because the carafe of water apparently wasn't hot enough to cook it properly. I'm considering buying Nutri-System diet food in pouches to survive the stay at the hospital. For me and many patients, the food is the biggest problem of all. Editor note- Please check out Amazon Gourmet to GO section for many soups and meals that can be prepared with hot water especially products from Gourmet to Go, Nile and Dr. McDougall's.

Another thing you should be aware of is this: expect to be asked to strip off your blouse/sweater and bra at any time. I went for an abdominal ultrasound and walked into a room with two doctors working on computers and a tech who had me strip down from the waist up without being offered a gown. The two doctors didn't bat an eyelash or look up from their computers until one of them came over to take a look at the ultrasound. This happened another time for the echocardiogram. U.S. citizens are probably the only ones shocked by this.

Overall, the trip was stressful but worth the knowledge and level of care that you get at Zentraklinik. We learned more in one week about my carcinoid than we had in the previous 10 years. This was mostly due to the Gallium-68 DOTATOC PET/CT Scan and Dr. Baum's experience in treating over 1,000 patients. The scan is so good that you walk away learning you have far more tumors than you thought. Editors note - This is true in a little less than 1/3 of the cases, but that is still a larger number of cases.

We will keep you updated on my progress as I go through the treatment cycle.