Tag Archives: hospital

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.

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