This is a blog from an ex-pat. In this post he explains how jobs work for Italians and compares Italian jobs to American. It is a crazy system!
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Saturday, October 27, 2012
I am finally feeling good! My appointment with Dr. Reus went excellently! He thought that the infection and healing would continue and that no more surgery would be needed! He asked that I come back in three weeks for a check up or if there are signs of infection like fever or nausea. Whoo Hoo!!
I continue to feel well and with Molly's help we had a wonderful Christmas dinner of Prime Rib, Twice Baked Potatoes, Green Beans! Everyone was here including Sue and Steve! We had a great time decorating cookies for dessert. The appetizers were yummy and the gingerbread house was gorgeous.
Lots of Christmas blessings for us this year!
So many us know what happens after strong antibiotics! YEAST! I called Dr. Mayhew yesterday and we talked. She really likes the surgeon that was recommended to me by the ER Doc. She said surgery is necessary to get the rest of the infection. So I will call tomorrow to see if I can remake an appointment. I am dreading this whole next step...........
After bending to tie my shoes, yesterday, I noticed a pain and a kind of pulling at my navel. As the day wore on I started feeling weak and achy and I had pink, warm spot under my navel. This morning I had a couple more red spots and now I had a little fever. My Dr. does not have office hours on Friday so she told me to go to the ER where they could take blood and give me ultra sound to see the extent of the infection. U G H! We left about one pm after I showered and packed a bag (unlike Italy) of clothes and necessities and bag with things to do.
It took about an hour to work my way back to the ER rooms. Lindy, Rory and J were in and out. Nurses, Dr. blood, IV line for iodine contrast for the CT scan. The blood tests looked good, the CT scan showed a couple of pockets of infection where my appendix used to be and at the navel. Diagnosis: cellulitis. Two antibiotics: Cipro. and Flagyl. I was out of the hospital by 6:20pm. We went to Costco for meds, picked up a sandwich at Port O Subs and then home.
I have the name of a consulting surgeon to call for an appt.
Hurray for no surgery today!!!!
We had a leisurely last breakfast at the Hotel Fellini. We finished packing the last minute items, settled the hotel bill and called a cab to take us to the airport. The airport went smoothly. The girls got some Limoncello from the duty-free and bought a T-shirt that has disappeared! Our US Airways flight was full about 300 people packed very tightly. There was not enough room for our arms! It is a 9-10 hour flight. We went right to customs where we queued for two hours to talk with the customs agent about what we brought into the country. We then went to get our luggage. Molly has a Nexxus pass which allows her to go to a kiosk and then right on through. She was sitting and waiting with our luggage. We then put our luggage on a conveyer belt and went to board our next 6 hour flight to Seattle. This plane was smaller, fewer people and we had plenty of room. We all took naps, finally. We arrived about 30" minutes late but J and Drew were waiting for us and Max was in the cell phone lot waiting for Molly. It is 25 degrees here with snow still on some surfaces! BRRRRRRRRR!
I am exhausted from the last two days of sightseeing. Carly needs to meet up with some classmates and though I wanted to go with them, I was just too tired. There were some gifts that I wanted to get for my family and a charm bead for my bracelet. I had one last appointment at the hospital for wound cleaning. Molly came with me to to get the final bill ($3100!). We rode the Metro (subway) back to our hotel. Molly and I did a little shopping and then she went to see a couple of museums and met up Carly. Lindy and I went out for a little shopping and then we had badger naps! We all met for dinner and drinks at the Albert.
All our bags are packed and ready for our flight in the morning.
This is Vatican City Day!
Our first stop is the gift shop and Post Office. Molly read that a resident of Rome actually comes to the Vatican to do her mailing because it is so much more reliable than the Italian postal service. Molly's package to Carly took six weeks to arrive! Anyway, we bought and mailed a postcards to friends and family with the Vatican postal stamp! (It still took three or four weeks to arrive)
Next we went into the Sistine Chapel. No one is allowed to take photos here because a Japanese company bought the rights to all photos in exchange for the restoration! But here is a photo from behind the altar The Last Judgement!
The Sistine Chapel is one of Michelangelo's grandest accomplishments !
Carly told us that when it is crowded you are only allowed a certain amount of time in the chapel. We were not ushered out but allowed to stay as long as we wanted.
It is so hard to believe that we were standing in the room where popes are chosen! Amazing!
Next we followed Rick Steves' advice and joined a Korean tour out the side door. I guess this a way to beat the crowds going into St. Peter's Basilica.
The Basilica is two football fields long!
In the center there are emblems that mark the sizes of churches around the world. Michelangelo's Pieta was to your immediate right as you come in the doors.
Behind the altar is the beautiful alabaster Dove of the Holy Spirit which is right above the Chair of St.
Touching the foot of St. Peter
Bernini's baldicchino made of bronze
The pope's point of view
View of Pope's apartment
View of Pope's apartment
I had another appointment at the hospital for wound cleaning. Everything looks good but I was asked to come back on Friday. Molly met with the Foreign Office and we will have a bill on Friday which we should be able to pay online or through a wire transfer. This is exciting because we thought we would have to do many transactions at the ATM (Bancomat) to get the cash! They say the bill will be around €3,000! Could this possibly be correct? In the US it would be 20 times that! Medical tourism is really making sense!
Today is Colosseum and Forum day and I feel good! There was no line which I am sure is long during tourist season. We are armed with our Rick Steve's tour downloaded on our iPod and iPhones and off we go. The Colosseum was started in 72 AD and finished in 80 AD! It was the entertainment arena for up to 50,000 people! Between earthquakes and stone looting the Colosseum is a ruin. Interestingly there are holes in the stones of the building where people chipped away to make mortar for their projects!
The Forum is a plaza where the government of The Roman Empire was. The Senate building is still there along with the ruins of temples and home of the Vestal Virgins. This is the place where Julius Caesar was killed.
This church is so ornate with gold leaf, paintings and statuary. It is hard to capture it on film.
And then we went to the Pantheon! How amazing this building is! Built in 126 AD by Marcus Agrippa as a temple for all the Roman Gods. It is used as a Catholic church where mass is heard on Holy Days and for weddings.
Then we saw this:
Fontana dei Fiumi (Fountain of the Rivers) (1648-51) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the centerpiece in Piazza Navona, signifying the four principal rivers.
It was an amazing Fountain.
Today I have an appointment at the Policlinico Umberto Primo to have my sutures removed. The aide was very rough pulling the suture as taut as she could before snipping them. I am glad that I only had a few! Some of the tissue needed to be watched (necrotic tissue) so I was asked to come back on Wednesday. We found the foreign office and began to unravel the bill and how to pay for it.
Second floor single window was my room! Driveway is the ambulance entrance.
Another quiet day for me. Carly really wanted me to see the Trevi Fountain with her before she left for Viterbo. I gathered strength and walked the three blocks to the Trevi. How amazing! How beautiful! I was so glad that I saw it with her! We took some photos and then had a late lunch before we had to say goodbye. She will be back on Wednesday.
We are trying to figure out what I should eat. My sister, Sue, suggested a liquid diet. Lindy put hot water in her water bottle and added some bullion. This was pretty good! Most restaurants don't do "take away" food.The girls went off to see some sights while I rested at the hotel. I took some photos out of the windows and napped. A quiet day for me. The probiotics are not taking care of the problem!
This is a photo out my bathroom window. The woman had a lovely garden with citrus trees and a kitty sitting in the middle of her table.
I was awakened by the nurse for a temperature check and I had a little celebration 36.8C (37 is normal)! I said no fever and she had to check the thermometer again! I kept the window wide open until the Docs got here just to stay cool. So today I was ready! The Drs. came in and of course I had no pain (ugh! that called for extra probing)! And yes I am eating and passing gas (fingers crossed)! Then they said the magic words, you can leave! The Dr. took my drain out and said it would heal with no sutures, changed my dressings and said that I needed to follow-up to have my sutures out. I needed to take Nexium and Augmentin that the nurse would give me.
A nurse came in and removed the catheter and unhooked me from the IV but did not remove the device from my hand. She started to fill out papers and I asked to use a phone to call my daughters to come get me. Then she asked for my passport and a credit card and she became agitated when I said that I needed to call them again to bring these things. So I waited until visiting hours and the girls came with clothes and my passport. The nurse that was checking me out apparently went off shift. So my buddy Carlos helped me find the papers and remove the IV thing from my hand and we were off!
I am amazed to be outside! So many sites and sounds! I am pretty dizzy but I have 3 strong girls to lean on! I am happy to be at the Hotel Fellini! The girls go out for dinner and bring me some soup from the owner of the Albert Inn (a Scottish/English Pub). Still can't eat. The doc told me not to take Immodium but the probiotic doesn't seem to be helping and I can't just stay in the hotel for the last week of our vacation!
Shoot! I still have a fever and I can tell! I saw my surgeon for the second time and he told me my appendix was very bad, hence the infection. He asked me how I was enjoying Roma! What a kidder! I looked out the window at the aging building and laughed!
I am allowed to eat (only hospital food) but I am not having any luck with digestion. The food is terrible. The soup is watery brown with tiny pastas (can't eat it). Tried two bites of zucchini and two of tomatoes but that did not work. I am guessing that I won't be released until I am eating so I may have to figure out something to tell the Drs. I had my second Ultra sound today and it looked mostly good!
The girls brought me my iPad. Molly downloaded some new games to help keep me entertained. I am leaving tomorrow - I am determined.
I still have a fever so I am not able to leave the hospital yet but I must be feeling better because I am bored!
The major differences between American Hospitals and Italian hospitals
1. They only clean the floors and surfaces of tables. The walls were dripping with stains.
2. No gowns
3. Very rarely change linens
4. Offer no bodily cleaning nor products for someone to clean themselves, no shower for the six
days I was there.
5. Gloves are worn only while changing dressings not when changing IVs
6. I never saw anyone with a mask.
7. I had to empty my own catheter bag.
8. There was one bathroom for about 30 patients and never was cleaned. And almost impossible to
get an IV pole into. The women's bathroom did not smell as bad as the men's.
9. No TV
10. There was a sink in our room but no one used it. The sign said that it was not potable so
don't drink it!
I am a little more awake today. The girls brought me some clothes. It has been quite warm so a t shirt was enough. Then there are all those tubes to deal with! No nurse or aid was there to help me figure out how to deal with all of this. The young Drs. said I need to walk to help with the distension. This would never happen in the US for fear of falling. Picture this, I have two bags to carry in one hand while pushing an IV pole with 5 wheels that don't all roll in the same direction. It really wants to spin and I am not strong enough to stop it so I pause and twirl the pole and the IV lines back around. A tripping hazard for sure. I take several walks that first day. I am motivated to leave. My window bed looks out on the ambulance bay! So noisy all night long! The sound of an Italian ambulance jangles my nerves.
My roommates are nice and help me with the language. Amar had some abdominal surgery. Her husband met the girls in the waiting room and offered to help with the language. He is a video editor and she is a chef for her brother the diplomat. Monika is beautiful and had a some serious issues. But I have no idea what they were. She had a lovely family that brought her food. She did not eat the hospital food (she has obviously been here before!).
This day is a bit of a blur with pain meds. I could not get my head around a catheter and what I was supposed to do about it (the answer is nothing, what a genius apparatus!). I also had a drain coming from my watermelon-like (large sized and very firm) belly. I had an IV going with nutrition, antibiotics and something someone said was a gastric (and then some Italian words). Lindy sneaked in early in the morning but promptly got kicked out. She told me that Carly spent the night. I think the girls came back that afternoon. The Dr. students and their teachers come in and out of the room occasionally pushing and prodding. Still naked!
Roma, Italia Day I
I think that I am ready to tell this story. It took me a few days to gain some perspective on the adventure!
I awoke on 11.5 with a pain below my navel but thought it was just excitement and I decided to ignore or if it were pre-motion sickness I was ready with the Dramamine!
Everything went smoothly at the airport other than the flight to Philadelphia was full and they had me check my carry-on at the gate which meant I would pick it up on the ramp as I was exiting the plane. The flight was smooth. We arrived in Philly and I had to only wait a few minutes for my bag but we were at a different concourse than our connecting flight to Rome so it was a sprint to the next gate. But we made it about ten minutes before boarding. At first we thought we were lucky getting the bulkhead seats but quickly realized the 4 bathrooms were in front of us, people just walked through our stuff to check the availability of said restrooms and we were not allowed to have much with us because there was no place to stow it! So for 9 hours lights on and doors slamming! On the other hand my pain was escalating. So I was glad the bathrooms were near. Soon there was nausea involved!
I was happy to land in Rome! We went through customs which involved a passport check only. We retrieved Carly's bag of winter clothes from the baggage carousel and found a sidewalk cafe to sit and wait for Carl who was coming to meet us from Viterbo. Hugs- we've missed this girl! We walked to the train station and found an airport shuttle that would take us to our hotel.
Our hotel room wouldn't be ready for about an hour and a half so we walked several blocks and sat on the Spanish Steps.
We sat and absorbed Roma. As soon as we could we returned to the hotel and all laid down for naps since sleeping on the plane was not in the cards. The girls did some research and discovered that the pain of appendicitis starts in the center of the belly and moves to the right side which is what my pain did. And, of course, pain is the last thing that happens so medical attention becomes urgent.
So about 6 pm we took a taxi to Policlinico Umberto Primo Pronto Soccorso. Blood tests, an ultra sound and surgery by one am. Molly and Lindy went home and Carly (the Italiano speaker) stayed with me! I awoke naked and writhing in pain. But they kept the pain meds going for the next two days. Still no gown.......
Well, they have changed things up here at blogger. I sure hope this works like I think it will. I hope that this is separate from the card postings. It is Nov. 4. We will pick up Lindy (who is coming down with a cold) at 6 am for our 8:40 am flight to Philadelphia and then on to ROME !!!!! I have been packing all week but I am not over packed as we are using carry on bags to eliminate that chance of lost bags. Carly is so excited she can hardly stand it. I hope she is excited to see us and not just for the sharp cheddar cheese that we are bringing her!!! Which brings me to a worry about the cheese making it through customs!!!! Of course there is candy and Ranch Salad dressing packets too!! She would love to have a rack of Dr. Pepper but that would just be silly! Wish us luck! We have added all of Rick Steve's audio tours to our iPods and we have his maps. I am just giddy...................
We made it thru The ticketing process which involves a a kiosk and your passport. The TSA went smoothly and I was forgiven my lack of sophistication in knowing what to remove and just how to fit it in the bins. We are about to board.