Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Trip to the Hospital

Let me start with the news that we are all ok.  My friend Adelle arrived on Monday with her friend Michael.  She had a huge bandaid on her chin and was barely able to talk.  She had been in Paris with some female friends celebrating a special birthday.  She was to meet Michael at the airport in Paris.   They were to fly on to Rome together, take a train to Terontola, a city near us and we were to pick them up.

When Adelle got to the airport in Paris, she exited the cab quickly, so as not to be run over by the nutball Parisien cab drivers.  As she briskly walked toward the door of the airport, she tripped on a loop of plastic that was lying on the sidewalk and fell with full force on her face.  According to Adelle, there was blood everywhere. She was stunned and embarrassed by the fall.  A very kind French man offered her his handkerchief to stem the bleeding, and she is still worried that this kind man's handkerchief was bloodied. If you know Adelle, this will make perfect sense to you.  They paramedics appeared and they tended to her, and put a bandaid on her chin and told her to see a doctor.  She met Michael as planned, they flew to Rome, and then took a train to Terontola, where we picked them up.

Because Adelle fell on her mouth, she couldn't close her back jaw, which meant she couldn't chew or eat anything.  As you have been following our adventures, you know this is a huge tragedy! I wanted to take her to the emergency room that night, but she was too traumatized and tired to agree to go.  She thought she needed a dentist as it seemed her front tooth was loose.

The next morning, our friend Simona came by.  Simona is a vet. and she thought Adelle was ok but needed to go to the dentist.  We made an appointment to see the dentist at 5:00 but I was worried that Adelle had dislocated or broken her jaw, so we walked off to the hospital in Umbertide. Our first experience with Italian Health care.

First the good news.  It is true that medical care in Italy is free.  That's the good news.  So we go into the  emergency room, "Pronto Soccorso".  It was Soccorso but not very pronto.  The first different thing is there was no one to greet us, take our paper work, ask us to fill in documents, ask for our insurance identification, nothing.  There was a waiting room, and a hallway where they were bringing people in from an ambulance.  The hallway had a yellowstriped line down the middle.  I, of course, paid no attention to the stripe and went to find someone.  I found a very handsome if scowling medical technician.  He asked us in Italian what had happened.  No one, by the way, spoke English.  We explained the best we could and he told us to go back and sit down.  We were not to come across the yellow striped line. I noticed a sign above our head that graded the traumas from red to white.  I think we were a white ( not good as far as timing is concerned.)  We sat and waited, and waited.  Then, finally,  we were called into the office of the doctor jerk of all time.

So we go in, and he asks us what happened.  We tell him.  He asked when it happened.  We tell him it happened yesterday.  He pushes against Adelle's jaw and asks if she has pain.  Ok, you need to remember that Italians are like me, hypochondriacs.  If an Italian doctor asks you if you are in pain, you need to start yelping.  Ow, Ow, Ow.  Adelle is not Italian and she didn't yelp, and she said she had no pain.  So Dr. Jerk goes to the computer and asks us very important questions.  When was she born?  Where was she born? Where does she live?  These questions are asked in Italian at the level you speak to someone who has feeble hearing in one ear and deaf in the other.  We respond.  He doesn't take her temperature, he doesn't take her blood pressure and he doesn't ask if she has any other symptoms.  He hands us a piece of paper and we are told to go out into the hall again.  We wait.  This waiting stuff happens in American hospitals too, but you have a general sense of what is going on.  In a foreign country, in a hospital where no one speaks English, the waiting is particularly anxiety provoking.

We are taken into the lab, and they tell Adelle they are going to take some xrays.  This is good.  They won't let me stay with her. They have her stand on a machine that without warning whisks her up in the air and rotates her around in order to take her xrays. Not liking ferris wheels, this sudden movement scares the hell out of her.  They send her back to the hall to wait again.  We go back to Dr. Jerk who barks at us that her name has been an "r" in it.  We know that.  He then says in a disgusted tone that there is a mistake in the computer.  I want to say, "Look buster, whose fault is that?"  I don't.   He spends more time filling out a form, gives us the form, then tells us to go upstairs to talk to someone else.  I read the form and it says that she has no evidence of broken bones or dislocation.  He doesn't talk to us or explains anything to us.  I don't know if this is because we are foreign or because we had the bad luck to get dr. jerk. I suspect he acts the same to everyone.

We next go talk to a very nice female ear, nose and throat doctor.  She examines Adelle and tells her she is fine and she needs to see a dentist.  I ask her how she knows that her jaw is not dislocated.  (I have, after all, looked up her symptoms on the internet and am sure her jaw is dislocated.)  The nice doctor says if her jaw were dislocated she would have more pain and not be able to open her mouth so wide.  The doctor tells Adelle to go home and eat pasta and ice cream for 3 or 4 days and relax.  Just what the doctor ordered! We leave the hospital without paying anyone, or checking out. Adelle is hoping she won't be arrested at the airport for nonpayment.  I assure her this is highly unlikely.  All in all the treatment was probably the same as what you would get in the US for a couple thousand dollars, but it is really hard when you don't know the process and you don't know the language.

We did get to the dentist, who filed her teeth to get them back into shape and refused to accept any payment.   The dentist is a friend of Mani.  He is a treasure.  We have been to him before.  The Italians say he has "mani bianche".  White hands, meaning he can go in your mouth and not cause pain.  She thinks she might be able to eat a steak in a couple of days.

Our friends, Adelle and Michael. Adelle is much better having survived the wicked fall.

We all forced ourselves to eat strawberries and ice cream, with meringue in sympathy with Adelle.

No comments:

Post a Comment