Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Long Night

One of the nice things about living in another country for a few months is that you get to see the little, out-of-the-way places where few tourists go. Like our little foray last night to the Emergency Room or Pronto Soccorso. I am on the mend, but over the past several days I was experiencing abdominal pain that finally got too severe for over-the-counter remedies. As we were driven in the middle of the night via ambulance to the hospital, I, ever the conscientious home-schooling mom, thought to myself that this too might prove to be an educational experience for Boris. And if not, well at least he got to ride in an ambulance.

Italian proved to be a necessity in almost every phase of our six-hour stay. Several of the doctors and nurses could speak English but were very self-conscious about doing so. So, I highly recommend that everyone travelling abroad have a decent pocket-dictionary or phrase book for these kind of situations. I’ve been studying Italian for twenty years, so I do pretty well but medical terms just never came up during any of my educational experiences. One more thing: bring your passport to the hospital.

The night was rather a blur except for the all-to-vivid fear I had that the doctors would find something serious enough to send us back to the States. It looks like it was a severe bladder infection and the intravenous antibiotics helped almost immediately. I got something of an insight into the public healthcare system. For one thing, we did not get a bill, although perhaps one will show up in our mailbox. Certainly nobody asked about our ability to pay. The emergency room was divided into separate little buildings, and I was ferried between several doctors by ambulance, the rides lasting all of two minutes. The progress was slow but steady. I will say that the doctors spent much more time than I’m used to and one nurse in particular was very kind; she set Boris up in a bed in the recovery room so he could sleep for a couple of hours. All-in-all I think I had consults with three separate doctors. They never introduced themselves, so although I knew that one was a gynecologist I never really understood the expertise of the other two. The person that finally discharged me from the hospital was also a doctor, rather than a clerical person. You could hardly call the process streamlined. By the last hour I thought we would never be done. Fortunately Bill brought the card game Quiddler which has turned out to be a favorite of all of ours. Suddenly, (during a game that I was winning) they called my name, I went into the office and had my IV removed. I left with a bunch of papers which will provide me with my most challenging Italian reading practice yet.

As many of you know, I am not a patient person. That’s Bill’s job. So this was a real trial for me. But even as I was lamenting my ospedale soggiorno, thinking I was appearing in a newly discovered work of Dante (Pronto Soccorso Purgatorio perhaps ?) I had to admit that I was feeling lots better than I had six hours before. We had left our house at 1 in the morning. When we left the hospital to hail a cab it was 7:30. We all went back to bed. Boris was sure he wouldn’t sleep, but he did so before any of us. We awoke afternoon. It’s 3:30 now and the boys are on a sketching expedition in centro and I’ll try to meet up with them. I’m looking forward to a nice afternoon.

1 comment:

Bella Stander said...

Wow, what an educational experience! Italian midnight ER sounds a lot more pleasant than at Denver Health, with armed policemen, bag searches, metal detector--and no beds for anyone but patients (some of whom are shackled to the bedframe).