Monday, February 1, 2016

Mammogram in Italy

A couple of things...first you will note there is a new book, Tales of our Lives, on my blog page. It is an anthology of women's stories put together by a great editor, Matilda Butlier. If you are a writer, each section begins with some writing prompts that are fun to use to get the juices flowing. I wrote a piece in the book called Recover: Italian Style. The anthology is available on Amazon as an ebookI hope you enjoy it.

Speaking of recovering, the last mammogram I had was in the US. I have been hesitant about having one done here in Italy,  but I decided this year it was time to make the transfer. I finally dropped my US medical coverage, and committed myself full time to the Italian Health Care system. It was not as easy as it sounds to let go of that final American tie. I have had very good experience here in Italy with doctors and the health care system, and it was very silly to pay for something I wasn't using, but still....I finally took a deep breath and cancelled my previous health insurance.

I received a letter from the Italian Health Service telling me it was time for a mammogram and gave me a place, date and time...quite organized. I was directed to a  new hospital in Citta' di Castello, a fairly large town near us.

The Stoic One and I trundled off together for this latest Italian experience. The hardest thing about the whole thing was finding the entrance to the hospital, no kidding, and the correct floor. What is it about Italians and signage? Anyway, we were early, found a large wooden statue of Jesus, and of course, the entrance was next to him. We located our waiting room, and sat down with several other husbands who had accompanied their wives .

I was immediately called in. My paper work was reviewed, but once they found out I had previously been diagnosed, things changed and I was put into antother category. I was told that every mammogram is read independently by two doctors and then reported by a third. Once someone is diagnosed, they have both a follow up mammogram and a sonogram, which is different than the US.

One of the differences in the US and Italian health care is that there is no infrastructure in Italy. No receptionists and no nurses who accompany you. Also you are  not given a cover up. No paper gowns, nothing. When I went to move from one room to another, I tried to pick up my clothes to cover myself, but they said, no, no, just leave it. OK. Other than that, the procedure was the same. They didn't say breathe in, hold it and then breathe, but I managed to do this on my own. Breathing is fairly easy for me. Also the person doing the radiology did not leave the room. The machine that actually did the exam seemed as if it were brand new and smaller than what I was used to. The health care people could not have been nicer. They were patient, kind and attentive. They immediately told me I was fine and scheduled me for April of next year. Cost to more thing off my list.

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