Piccolo intervento chirurgico

26 Oct

The hospital is quite far from our home, but a wonderful private driver, Maurizio, who first took us from FCO airport to our new apartment last May, agreed to do the honors and drive us to the clinic — and home again at night. It’s about 18 miles (28.8km) one way. That is not far by American standards, but it is quite far by Roman standards, nearly to the beach at Ostia. In late morning traffic it took us an hour.  It’s possible to go by public transportation, but as this was not to be a day at the beach, a private driver (autista private) it was.

In the U.S. we’d arrive before dawn, having fasted the night before, which I did. My doctor said I could arrive at the luxuriously late hour of 11:00AM because my blood panel had been done prior. And I goaded him into letting me have my caffè (or two) as the anesthetic would be only local with an optional sedative. I was opting out of the sedative (I hate that out of control feeling), so caffè va bene.

This is a private clinic, 100% devoted to cardiology and vascular medicine. Private clinic, private patients (read: private insurance), scheduled elective and non-emergency procedures. Molto tranquillo. No chaos, overhead speakers, elevator music, or rushing about, and very few patients from what we could see. After stumbling through admissions with our limited Italian language, where there seemed to be some challenges in entering information from the insurance company’s letter of guarantee, we were sent to another floor where a nurse greeted us with a hearty “Good morning!” Great, I thought, I have an English-speaking nurse. This will be easier. That, however, seemed to be the end of her English skills because in the room I got a stream of Italian. Here’s a partial  clip:

Nurse in Italian: Change into pajamas and wait here. Rest.

Me in Italian : What pajamas?

Nurse in Italian:  Your pajamas.

Me in English: Good thing I packed a set. (Nurse shrugs.)

Me in Italian: Then what?

Nurse in Italian:  Wait here; Surgery is in the afternoon. (It was now about 11:30.)

So Ric & I pass the time reading, talking, with occasional interruptions from nursing staff for minimal health history and information. (I still have not filled out a form, but I signed a couple that said if anything goes wrong it is all my fault.)

This experience certainly stretched my Italian skills. There is a game called: Is-My-English-Worse-Than-Your-Italian-Then-Let’s-Use-Italian-and-You-Can-Struggle. Often the Italians I encounter understand more than they speak, just as I understand more Italian than I speak. (A variation of the game is If-The -Other-Person-Doesn’t-Know-I-Speak-insert language-I Won’t-Have-To.  First person to speak in the other person’s language loses. I usually lose.) Fortunately my doctor speaks English perfectly and I adore him. He lived in Houston for 3 years and taught at UT Medical School. He’s fabulous! But he was not there for all the pre-op  procedures, so there were some “Moments In Communication.” A cardiologist came in to interview me and we had some amusing misunderstandings. There were some funny questions. Why on earth would a cardio need to know when I started il ciclo mestruale? I am frickin’ almost 60 years old! What happened at 12 or 13 seems irrelevant at least to me. Also, what do I eat? Did she mean today? Yesterday? No always, every day, what do you eat? Should have brought my weekly menu plan. Ric managed to mention vino and caffè. She spoke about 3 words of English, one of which was “pee pee.” However, la dotteressa cardiologa redeemed herself when she asked my current age, was surprised, and told me I carried my years well. God bless her!

So the procedure – removal of congenital varicose veins (Grazie Mamma) that had become quite painful – was to be under local anesthetic and mild sedative. After all the waiting it would take only about an hour. During a pre-op Dopplar-Ultrasound I reiterated to my doctor that I didn’t need nor want the sedative. I was perfectly tranquillo; my blood pressure was great. However, my tranquility, hanging around in my own cute jammies, was spoiled when the nurse came in and gave me the “gown” for surgery. It was a paper, diaphanous dark green that provided “coverage” of a sort yet  exposed everything. It was woven, soft, and sort of mesh-like. I told Ric: “That sedative is sounding better.” Oh, and after I climbed into this hideous excuse for coverage, they took my blood pressure again and wondered why it had spiked. Hello!! I am mezza nuda here on the gurney! Tranquillo is out the window!  During surgery they simply ripped holes in the paper to accommodate leads to various devices. Charming. There was a lot of “exposure.”  (Mind you my last “surgery” was eye surgery in 1988, and for that I only had to remove my eyeglasses.)

The procedure was fine if extensive. Under considerable pressure from the surgeon and the anesthesiologist, I did accept un po’ del sedativo, but remained awake the whole time, listening to the banter of the 30 or so people in the operating room. (OK, not really 30, but Lord, there were a lot of people about for my “minor” intervento!)  I was able to respond, comment, and even laugh a little.  The team was very attentive and efficient. But when they took me back to my room, the two male nurses kicked Ric out and simply ripped the flimsy paper gown off me, slapping ECG leads on my naked self, which was made all the more amusing by the fact that my legs are bandaged from my feet to 3 inches below my groin. When one of them tried to help me back into my pajamas like one would with a two-year-old, my Type-A-self kicked in. “Faccio io!” (I’ll do it myself!) They backed off.

Two hours after the procedure, I was cleared for take-off, and the charming Maurizio was there to whisk us home through evening traffic. Yup, another hour. I’ll close by saying, it’s a damn good thing I brought pajamas with me.

This is my view the morning after while laying in the recliner. At least I have pretty toes.  The bandages go all the way up. All the way. They come off Wednesday and I will have new legs and be able to roam in Rome once again.

22 Responses to “Piccolo intervento chirurgico”

  1. Sharon November 2, 2012 at 14:52 #

    Buon Giorno Laurel,
    So glad everything went well with your surgery! Wishing you a speedy recovery so you can get out and about in the streets of Rome. Looks like you got “toe-bama-care” with those ten little piggys – tooo cute! I do love your posts and I agree with everyone that you are a gifted writer…reminiscent of Erma Bombeck!
    Ciao Bella!


    • gooddayrome November 3, 2012 at 08:18 #

      Thank you Sharon. I blush at your compliment! Now if I can only learn how to be funny in Italian. 🙂


  2. Janet Tabbal October 28, 2012 at 10:57 #

    Oh Laurel…I really do think you missed your call, there’s a journalist inside you! “Amusing” would be an understatement for your account! We’re thankful all went well and are praying for a quick recovery. BTW, I too inherited vv.

    With love,
    John and Janet


    • gooddayrome October 28, 2012 at 11:12 #

      Dear Janet, Thank you for the compliment. I seem to have provided the weekend’s amusement for many of my family and friends. If you need your VV done, I can recommend a great team in here in Rome. I’ll come along and be your interpreter. Maybe you can take an Italian medical vacation. 🙂

      Love you too!


  3. Kim October 27, 2012 at 21:31 #

    I love reading about all your adventures! Glad there were no complications. Hope Ric is doing well too. Love, Kim


  4. foubar October 27, 2012 at 16:39 #

    The Mummies wife speaks! I’m jiggy with the toes though! So will you be trick or treating this year…LOL. The orderlies must of been ugly for you to NOT let them help with you jammies! Hope you are doing better. Say yo to Ric.


    • gooddayrome October 27, 2012 at 16:44 #

      Ciao John! The problem was, the nurses were too darn cute. 🙂

      Doing well, but no T or T for me. They don’t do that here anyway, although there’s a party at the Embassy for employees’ kids. That was last night for convenience. We get a holiday this week, though: Thursday is all Saints Day and everyone is off. Big religious day. I love the fall holiday season! There are three in November alone!


  5. Anita October 27, 2012 at 03:16 #

    Pretty toes! 🙂 Hope your recovery is fast and you are soon back on the streets of Rome 🙂


    • gooddayrome October 27, 2012 at 04:55 #

      Thanks Anita! Glad I had my toes done because clearly that is off the agenda for awhile now….

      Looking forward to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball on Nov 10. My floorlength dress will cover the evidence. 🙂 Say hi to the boss. Semper Fi!


  6. beavertonmemoir October 26, 2012 at 22:05 #

    Wonderful toes! You are an excellent example for those of us who need to have this procedure done and have put it off. Alas we will not get to enjoy such exotic circumstances. I particularly loved the dark green paper gown. Does NOT seem to fit
    with what I think of as the Italian sense of style. But maybe this is from the Spring 2012 collection. Versace?
    Thanks for this!

    Gayle Seely


    • gooddayrome October 26, 2012 at 22:23 #

      Ciao Cara! When you cannot roll over and canoodle with your sweetie, it’s time for the surgery. Funny that I could walk all day long with no pain (well maybe a little now and then when I over did it) but I could not lay on my side in bed without throbbing pain! Looking forward to trouble-free sleeping and wearing attractive sleepwear! (It was defintely not Versace. I think maybe something from the North Korea Collection.)


  7. Will October 26, 2012 at 18:58 #

    A fun read, and I’m glad your recovery is going well. You have a really engaging writing style … maybe there’s a book on your horizon?


    • gooddayrome October 26, 2012 at 19:01 #

      Thanks Will. I had to “lay it all out” the way I experienced it. Not too many photo ops, though, this time. See you soon!!!


  8. Carolyn October 26, 2012 at 18:08 #

    Good Morning , Laurel! I do hope you have good books and kitty love around you to recoop in your recliner over the weekend. You can pay Ric back for his nursing care after you’re back on your feet with your pretty toes. I never ever go to the ending of anything I read til I get there. I must admit, the thought occurred to do just that with this blog from you! I wanted to know all turned out OK as I was laughing my way thorough your message. I didn’t skip ahead! Take care. Love ya, Carolyn


    • gooddayrome October 26, 2012 at 18:12 #

      Thank you Carolyn! Always good to hear from you! Luckily I am not confined to quarters. Although I cannot walk my usual 7 km per day, I can get out and walk “some.” I have used this as an excuse to make Ric wait on me, though. Love, Laurel


  9. Jill Waldron October 26, 2012 at 17:53 #

    Oh Laurel, I miss you SO MUCH! I’m dying laughing (yes, at your expense) in my office this morning! BTW, I have the exact same color on my toes. Just had them done yesterday so you are the trend setter here! Wishing you a speedy recovery and if I may give one piece of advice….I had the same surgery last November….WEAR THE COMPRESSION STOCKINGS! They may not be sexy in any COLOR (seriously!?) but they will make your life and your legs much happier! Hello to Ric! XO, Jill


    • gooddayrome October 26, 2012 at 17:59 #

      Grazie, Jill! I have been wearing those sexy hose as much as I can since it cooled off. (No way no how when it is 36 degrees Centigrade — about 97 degrees Fahrenheit!) There actually are some “sheerer” ones on the market that look more like tights and make me feel less like my Grandma. 🙂

      Hi to *your* Rick, too!


  10. Diana October 26, 2012 at 16:20 #

    Terah took the words right out of my mouth. 100% of what I was thinking. And the first thing I noticed were your beautiful toes. I loved your pre blog and have been looking forward to this one. You didn’t disappoint me, you brought smiles to my face. Hope those legs heal fast so you can get back to exploring Italy.


    • gooddayrome October 26, 2012 at 16:29 #

      Buongiorno, Diana! I almost didn’t post this, but there was such good material. 🙂 Hopefully this is my only Italian surgical — or ANY surgical — experience for many years to come. I am always glad to know you are out there laughing with me. Love,



  11. Terah October 26, 2012 at 15:44 #

    Oh, How I LOVE your stories! You delight me in every way! So let me know what the recovery is like. I’m so glad your toes were pretty since it is your view for the next few days! Gracia, Bella! (did I get that right?)


    • gooddayrome October 26, 2012 at 16:00 #

      Ciao Terah! I thought the experience too priceless not to post. Everyone at the clinic was wonderful, but my side was bound to be funny in any language. I have total faith in the people that helped me, I am glad to say. Many of my colleagues and friends here were shocked that I would do this in Italy, but I actually think I had a better experience here than I would in the U.S. ( and it is “grazie Bella.” ) Love, Laurel



  1. Rome, Italy « toemail - January 1, 2013

    […] My toe picture is from a post-surgery experience and accompanies my rather amusing story. […]


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