Health Care in Italy... Part 2

We are rockin’ and a rollin’ for surgery.

In Part 1, I had met with the Good Dottore Chirurgo. To get me to the head of the line for a surgical appointment with him in the hospital in Fivizzano, when those sorts of procedures are re-booted after the Summer Recess on the 1st of September… Italian dottori, hospitals, the medical profession in general, do not like to do surgery in the Summer, when the healing process slows and the risk of infection grows… he gave me a signed doc basically stating… Full steam ahead for Mr. Spears! My instructions were to personally hand it to the Capo Sala, the infermiere responsible for arranging surgeries at the Fivizzano hospital. Since it was too late to consign the doc that very evening… I was anxious to get this ball rolling before I dashed to the USofA for my Mom’s 90th Birthday Bash Weekend… I went the next day. The Capo Sala smiled and said to expect a call after the 15th of September. A day later I was on Delta for NC.

A call came right after my return for a pre-hospitalization appointment at 7:30AM. Blood work on an empty stomach… with a breakfast break afterwards for un cappuccino e una brioche which, I thought terribly thoughtful… then, an interrogation about my Medical History. I got a packet of papers to sign and return… mostly disclaimers or, requests of consent to spread your info around the hospital complex… and instructions on what to pack and what to have at home upon your return to Semi-normal Life post-op. This was followed by x-rays, MRI and an electro-cardiogram. Here, I am on a first-name basis. The waiting room crowd gave me looks as to how come I get all hugs & kisses. Well, as I wrote… everyone knows me. I stick out as the ONLY American about. I was in my car for home at 10:45AM.

In America, no one EVER, EVER, EVER talks with the other patients waiting to see the doctor. They either play with their iPhones… 90 percentile… or, flip through the latest copies of fashion or, interior decorating magazines… though rarely is there World of Interiors… and People magazine, well thumbed. The waiting rooms are functionally plush, colorful artwork grace the walls… signed to give distinction & value to their cheap sense of creativity, such as, splashes, geometric shapes or, bizarre landscapes with micro-figures stranded in them…and the air is filled with Muzak, so coughing, farting or groaning with pain won’t disturb. I HATE IT. So inhuman, unfriendly, dry.

In Italy, THE ONLY WAY YOU WILL SURVIVE or, know what in the Hell you are supposed to do, go or, be, comes from talking with the other patients. On a more expansive note, the chat will also cover local gossip, the political news… notices to exasperate you into pulling what little hair you have left after taxes… and the Five-day Forecast. Yeah, yeah, yeah, some try to play on their tablets…though most are iPads, Italians prefer the more universal term of tttabbblettt. These contraptions are cool. A very few dally with their iPhones, however, they are not considered so cool. You also are sort of obligated to be interested in the ongoing discussion though you may want to text your loved-one, who has just texted you to know how things are moving for you in the hospital. The waiting rooms are more than auster. Stalinist in the extreme. Drastic to an American sensibility on the topic. The seating is, 9 out of 10 times, a design first introduced in 1977. An individual seat… attached to 5 or 6 others with a metal bar running below them… which resembles a brown coffee cup sculpted just-a-tad so you can park your butt in it. They are more than uncomfortable… there is ONLY 1 position to sit in them. This is most unfortunate for me and others who are trapped in one waiting to discuss a hip op. No magazines EXCEPT in the X-ray waiting room. Trash journals with semi-naked TV stars of both sexes cavorting on beaches or, stroking a ghastly sofa in a ghastly salotto in a ghastly apt. in Roma or, famous couples holding their new-born infant with its face clouded out by foggy boxes to disguise its identity. If there is artwork, it is usually a photocopy of a photo of some locale of interest. Usually a church or, a highway. And, something America and its Religious Right ought to get on is a mini-altar, a mini devotional with the Virgin Mary draped with more chains than Coco Chanel sported and a mini-bust of Padre Pio, the Pugliese priest who, apparently enough, gained the Stigmata. Your are supposed to genuflect upon this news or, say something like, WOW!!! He cured disease and dis-ease of everyone. Became a charity industry so many were travelling to consult with him, naturally, leaving generous donations to The Church. One friend’s mother was taken by her mother to ask which of two suitors the mother should choose to marry… a rich Venezuelan playboy or, a prince. Padre Pio pointed to the prince. The rest is history.

Another aspect of these adventures in pre-hospitalisation is you end up passing from the Formal Italian Form to the Informal Italian Form for conversation. From Lei or, Voi, to tu. Mussolini KILLED the Voi. Thought it too French with its Vous. Voi makes sense to me. Lei does not. It’s like talking to a person but, you are actually not addressing them, instead, you could be talking to a glass on a table. If the conversation is friendly, animated, simpatica then, you can risk asking… Diamoci del tu? Once, someone said NO! to me. Did take me by surprise. Rather like a door being slammed in your face. I got over it. That bitch! You have to do something to completely dissolve distinctions of class, age, perspective since, you bump into your companions at every stage of the process on that day. Then, what happens is you run into them again for Stage 2. Got to be friends by then.

This happened to me for the all important meeting with the anaesthesiologist. You are hoping for a Thumbs Up for Surgery. Before though, the crux is to hear how the dottore wants to knock you out for the duration of the op and an infermiere wants to know your Medical History, again… previous ops, allergies, intolerances, etc… and gives you a review of your stats. Mine were OK so, I was sent on my way with a hand-shake, a pat on the back and a… Looks good. Wait for our call for the op date! Called You immediately. He congratulated me.

By the way, I have spent Euro 130 so far to date. About $153.11. Dig it.