Today we once again made our way to Santa Maria Nuova, the hospital of yesterday’s adventures. Ths time we would be seeing an orthopedic doctor. I'm pretty sure just writing that on the appointment slip doubles the cost of this visit. Over breakfast we discussed what my questions were. This is important, because often Leif will have to step in and use Italian to get the answer. But unless I get him to first understand how important the real answer is to me, he may simply accept the first answer they give. Which here in Italy can be a non-answer intended to shut you up.
My big questions involve these mysterious prescriptions that came with no instructions. According to Leif, it is the patient who is responsible for getting the information, not the doctor or pharmacist to provide it. I understood the anti-inflammatory (with codeine). It’s for pain and the nifty part about this one is that it is a powder that sparkles in water and almost tastes like lemons. I just have to be careful when I use it, it puts me to sleep almost immediately. Until last night I wasn’t sure what the pill “for the stomach” was for…my stomach was fine. Until I tried to eat. Nothing tasted good, I felt nauseous and just not good at all. So the shots (that I now find are for “circulation and to dissolve things in the blood stream” make eating almost impossible. I’m fine till I try to eat. Poor Leif has to give me the injections, I don’t have the dexterity in my left hand to do this…yet.
Enough about the drugs, on to the visit with the specialist. First we had to get there with this monstrous thing on my arm. The bus is too small and crowded so we took a cab there. Extravagant, I know, but I’m not too strong yet. Not certain if we would have another long wait, we packed some snacks next to my paperwork and x-rays. Oh, you store your files, not the hospital. We handed the receptionist the envelope with my file in it and only moments later got to see the doctor. I know, wow.
He was very nice. We had to get me entered into his computer first. Because they are using my passport name for all official paperwork in Italy I appear to have a new first name…MicheleMarie. Actually, when an Italian reads my name I don’t recognize it. Meekaylay Mahreeai Rahoolate. I feel so exotic. We weren’t invited to sit down and so stood there as the nurse asks some personal questions while the doctor finishes with the computer. Where am I from? How long am I here? Oh you have the same address…oh, you are more than friends? She and Leif have a quick discussion. Apparently I am a fiancée without a ring. Hey, whatever gets me healthcare.
The break is piccolina (small) the doctor tells me. It sounds almost cute, but it is still a break. The cast, yes this awful huge ugly cast, will stay on for 20 days. We discussed smaller and lighter, but this required paging through a catalog, it would probably have arrived the day before it was scheduled to come off and would have made me look like the Terminator. So we will stick with this prehistoric looking cast out of a 1950’s health class movie on the dangers of riding motorcycles. “Sally foolishly rode on the back of her boyfriend’s motorcycle and after taking a curve too fast she will be wearing this cast to prom *gasp*” as the black and white film shows Sally being escorted into the dance by her date (we must assume not the boy on the motorcycle, he looks whole) while her friends laugh behind their hands.
He takes out his Italian prescription pad and starts writing. First a paper for the next appointment. Then a paper for today’s appointment (I guess for billing?) and finally a prescription for an injection…Leif stops him. We already have that. Well, this is just in case I think I need more. Let’s think about this for a minute. I’m supposed to self-prescribe for a drug that dissolves foreign material in the blood stream…exactly how do I know if I “need more?” He seemed reluctant to answer that question and since he holds the fate of my cast in his hands I will simply avoid refilling this prescription. Injections are no fun anyway, especially when they make a person so sick they can’t eat.
They wave goodbye and send us to the Emergency Room to make the next appointment. No, I don’t know why there. Their own receptionist looked quite bored and might have welcomed the work, but I am learning when to question the system and when not to. This is a “not” time. We were greeted like old friends by the receptionist and several others as we walked into the ER. The man who cursed me with this cast stopped and asked if everything was good. He looked so concerned I gave up hating him and smiled as I told him it was very good. Why hold a grudge?
Now came the part I was dreading…the bill for being seen by a specialist. Yesterday was an “emergency” but today was not. We all know what this kind of service costs in the states. I was pretty sure I would be wiped out. The bill was 22.60 Euros or $30.50 dollars. I don’t think you can use the tissues in the emergency room in the States for less than that. We hurried to the nifty little machine they have for paying your bill and got out before they changed their minds.
I don’t have to go back till the 23rd of May, interestingly enough the same day I also have to return to the Questura for my permesso. I wonder if this is some kind of endurance test. If I pass I get to stay and an "I heart Florence" t-shirt?