Friday, July 24, 2009

Introducing the Locals...

First, let me tell you that it took me being in the hospital to finish this blog. I’ve been here for three days and decided to take advantage of my boredom by finishing this blog that I began about a month ago.

I have had some stomach issues for the past 18 days and decided that I either had a very long-term flu or that I might need to consider something else was going on since I had no fever, chills, or nausea. I went to the doctor on Tuesday and she sent me directly to the emergency room. They admitted me after running a series of tests and I am still here sitting in my bed with my new best friend – my IV buddy Giorgio. He follows me everywhere. He’s a little on the thin side but tall, just like I like my men.

The health care system is much different here than in the States. First, Italy has a National health care system and there is no fee for my stay here. The hospital is exceptionally clean and the staff are very professional. Of course, the language barrier continues to be interesting.

After leaving the emergency room, I was wheeled into a room with three other women. The nurse turned on the light to position my bed even though everyone was sound asleep. After she left, I looked around for a gown and when I couldn’t find one, I walked to the nurse’s desk and asked for one. She looked at me very strangely and indicated there were none. When I continued to pester her for something to sleep in other than my dress, I was given a paper/fiber robe. When I realized it was much too hot to wear, I slept in my underwear. The next day my friend brought me a nightgown.

My friend, Serenella, informed me that in the past, patients even had to bring in their own toilet paper and silverware. They now have a huge roll of toilet paper in each bathroom which has come in handy since I spent the first few days in the bathroom. There is also soap, but no paper towels to dry your hands. However, did I mention everything is cost-free?

My doctor is very nice and speaks some English. He explained that unlike in the States, they keep the patients here for as long as it takes to diagnose the problem correctly. I have had ultrasounds and many blood tests and have been given many samples to be tested. I don’t know what’s next except that I want to get home.

I share a room with three other women. There are no privacy curtains and no visiting rules, so when the nurse or doctor comes in to speak with a patient, all the visitors are asked to leave. It was a little uncomfortable for me to be in the bed next to a woman who needed her diaper changed…sigh…I began doing my pelvic floor exercises immediately and then as new patients arrived, I realized there is another difference here. They don’t use catheters so diapers are the alternative for patients who can’t get out of bed. Boh!

Visiting hours are all day. Most family members come in and out all day long. Many family members are here from 7:30 in the morning until 9:00 at night. They take a break during the lunch hour as the nursing staff ask them to leave, but other than that they stay right next to their loved ones. It is very comforting and helpful for the patients to have so many friends and family nearby.

I have had a few visitors. I have an Australian friend, Sandy, who has been exceptionally helpful and a godsend. When she found out that the doctor told me to go to the hospital, she immediately came and got me and my dogs and took me directly there. She has had the girls ever since and is spoiling them rotten. They’ll probably forget I even exist. She has brought me everything I need from home and has come to visit me every day at least three times. This morning she called and told me to look outside my window as she was in her car with the girls so I could see that they were okay. It was very cute.

My friend Terry stopped by a few days ago and brought me a word search book. I’ve spent many hours completing them and am almost finished with the book.

My landlady Antonella called this morning because she noticed the apartment had been dark for a few days and asked if I was okay. When I told her I was in the hospital, she said she would be right here. Little did I know that she and her husband were in Garfagnana which is many miles away. When she told her husband Filiberto that I was in the hospital, they dropped everything and came straight here. She said she cautioned Filiberto to slow down as he was speeding the whole way.

All the original patients were discharged yesterday and I had the room all to myself. Today, three new patients were admitted and two have gone to surgery. The third is waiting patiently for her turn. No one is allowed to eat or drink anything but me at the moment. I am own a terribly bland diet that consists of potatoes, rice, carrots and apples. Boring! But, until they rule out what the issue is I’ll live with it. Oh yes, and they provide silverware now, too.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime, here’s my original blog:

I have been in Lucca long enough now to really get to know the locals. It’s very difficult for me to rush anywhere as every time I take the girls out for their walk, I get stopped by at least 4-5 friends for a chat or for them to pet the girls.

Gianfranco is an elderly guy who walks with his sweet little wife who is on crutches. He absolutely loves the girls and calls them “bellini” (beautiful little girls) every time he sees them. They love him as well and wag their tales as he stops to pet them. Gianfranco’s wife is no longer walking with him which saddens me deeply. He is getting thinner every time I see him and I worry about his and her health. He was very proud for me to ask him, “posso fare un fotografia?” (literal translation – is it possible for me to make your photograph?).

Sandra and Cesar own Miraglia Gelateria which is my all-time favorite place to go. I actually have to stop going because it’s so good that I’ve been eating it daily. Not good for the waistline. The girls love them, too, as they always stop whatever they’re doing to pet and love them and give them biscottini (little cookies). It’s the highlight of their day. They both drag me along at a fast pace when they see Sandra and Cesar so they can get/give them some love.

Marco – what can I say about Marco? I met Marco when I first moved to Lucca. He is a partner with my other Italian friend, Luca, and he is a dream. Sorry all you readers…he’s already married to Margherita and is not available. Marco was instrumental in helping me find my wonderful apartment, helping to find my friend Terry her apartment and taking me everywhere I need to go that’s outside of town. He always has a ready smile and baci (kisses) every time I see him.

Margherita and Ilaria are sisters and own the local vintage store. I met Ilaria back in September 2005 when I had the pleasure of touring her lovely home. Both of us didn’t realize we knew each other from that experience until a few months ago. As mentioned previously, Margherita is married to Marco. They had me over to their home for a wonderful Italian meal back in November. Margherita isn’t that fond of dogs and calls the girls, “tarponi” which means little rats. She did stop to pet them one day which took us all by surprise. We made such a big deal of it, though, that she hasn’t done it since.

Ilaria, on the other hand, absolutely loves Ginger. She doesn’t mind Ginger’s constant kisses and encourages them. She likes Ruby, too, but is crazy about Ginger.

The construction guy stops to say “ciao” to me every time he sees me. He is my neighbor and also has a Beagle who is very scared of other dogs and looks sideways at us when we pass. He works very hard doing various construction jobs and I see him carrying huge bags of concrete into and out of his truck morning and night. He always has time for a rather toothless smile. I am sorry to say that I don’t remember his name.

Principessa is a stray dog that lies on the road where I ride my bike every day. I don’t know her real name but she’s such a sweetheart that I named her “Princess.” She never acknowledges me but I always tell her hello as I pass.

My little students Sylvia and Valentina are little sweetie-pies. They are really smart and show up for class with a smile on their faces. They’re on break for the summer but I look forward to seeing them again in the fall.

I hope you enjoy watching the video and finding out more about my new friends.

A dopo…(until later)


Chip said...

Hi, Marlene!

We're so sorry you're in the hospital! Here's hoping they find out what's wrong soon. Have the authorities tested Sandra and Cesar's gelato? Well, it's a possibility ...

All is well here. I am very busy with writing projects. Mike's job is being "reorganized" thanks in part to the state budget crisis, so he is looking forward to a new assignment, though he doesn't know what it will be yet.

What's the temperature like there? It's been 100+ every day for the last two weeks, and we are both VERY tired of the heat. It's only July but we're ready for it to be November!

Hope you feel well soon!


Chip & Mike

Anonymous said...

Dear Aunt Marlene,
I sure hope that you are doing better!! Any news on what is going on? I love your blogs and once again it has whisked me away!! Viviendo la vida dulce! (living the sweet life-Spanish...LOL) MISS YA!!HUGS