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Jul
28

Flights to Rome-and a free hospital stay

italian hospital

italian hospital

When you’re booking your LA to Rome flights, the last thing you’re thinking about is getting sick in Rome.

In face no one wants to see the inside of a foreign hospital, but often, especially in my case, I’ve seen way too many. Once when my brother jumped on a cheap flight to Rome and drove up to visit us in Italy years ago, as soon as he got to out house near Genova he decided it was just a great time to clip into a coma.

hills over liguria

hills over liguria

He did not consider the fact that we lived on what the Ligurians called “Cruze” which are tiny windy lanes along a mountain overlooking he sea where cars are not allowed. While they are positively beautiful to live (ours overlooked the bay before Portofino) they are often over a mile long and incredibly narrow. They were a favorite hiding spot of the Resistance.

italian paramedics

But ambulance drivers don’t really dig it all that much. Anyway, they came and with a stretcher they carried him up and down hills for over a mile, while I chased after him. Off to the main state hospital in Genova and then on to the first of two brain surgeries he had while here on vacation.

genova hospital

genova hospital

That was 10 years ago. It unnerved me  when the doctors came out of surgery smoking. Call me crazy, but I dreamed of the antiseptic clean of a Cedars-Sinai or Sloan-Kettering.

meet your doctor

meet your doctor

After the public hospital in Genova, we moved to a private clinic in an old villa. The villa was fantastic. I mean like a four-star hotel. I stayed there with my brother and every morning we feasted on cappuccinos and focaccia, wine and risotto for lunch and pasta for dinner. All served on lovely plates, silver trays by nurses who giggled and waited in line to give my brother his bath. When we left, he had more numbers than had he stayed and gone to a bar every night.

But he was not cured. It would take months and months of operations before that could happen. Not even in LA could they put him back together.

private clinics

private clinics

Which brings me to yesterday. It was pouring here, absolutely pouring. July, right? We went for a run in the rain and when we came back, my 6-year old was having a tantrum about something he wanted. He’s high-strung and tightly wound. but then he said “I can’t breathe.” Now that’s a scary phrase. “My lungs,” hurt he added.

After calming him down, taking a shower and having warm milk, he seemed fine. I thought he was getting a cold because he had a cough, but no fever.  We were set to visit a friend in his country house in a rural area to swim and have lunch. My son said he was fine  but when we arrived, he ran a few feet and once again said he couldn’t breathe.

la villa

la villa

After eating 3 plates of homemade trofie with pesto that was so good, so light in a country home that was over two-hundred years old, we left our other three children to swim and play and we went to the nearest emergency room. Our son who was wheezing feel asleep in the back, I watched his chest puff up and down in rapid, totally unusual movements. I was scared. Ever since my brother I have never ever wanted to see the inside of another Italian hospital again.

emergency room

emergency room

But we hit the jackpot. This hospital in Tortona was better than any Cedar Sinai experience I have ever had. Because the town is small there was no one there. They whisked us straight up to Pediatrics and within minutes (without even asking to see ID) our son was with a doctor who saw right away that his bronchial tubes were almost all blocked. They gave him an inhaler right away and within minutes he could breathe again.

winnie pediatric ward

winnie pediatric ward

They told him how cute he was, how brave, they could not have been kinder. They told my husband and I that it was exactly like an asthma attack when all bronchial passages shut down.

But our son does not have asthma. Allergies then?

Nope, never, none.

Hum…. They made us stay overnight in a great room with a little library of children’s books and our own bathroom. They said it would be too dangerous if he got another attack in he middle of the night. They continued treatment every three hours. No one knows what caused this. The other doctors who came in to check him marveled at how his lungs could almost completely closed when he does not have allergies or asthma.

nice nurses

nice nurses

Then they said it can just “happen.” One day you can be walking down the street in a new place, and bam, your allergies can all of the sudden start.

Italians like explanations like these a lot. Don’t get me wrong,  the doctors are good but they talk in weird ways like he got  a “colpa d’aria on the neck” which means he got too much air on the back of his neck. Now, I’m not surgeon, but things like this bother me. I’ll take streams of technical stuff I can’t understand over colpa d’aria sul colo any time.

But the service, the kindness, the lack of red tape was something that I will always remember. They asked for nothing, no gold card, bank accounts, insurance, mother’s social, nothing. They just took my son in and got him to breathe again. They gave him a clean room, a piece of chicken and carrots and told him how great he was.

Now that’s something you can put no price on and I am forever grateful we took him to this Italian hospital.

roman hospital

roman hospital

PS. My husband did say though that had this happened in Rome we wouldn’t have been so lucky.

Hence, the moral is to concentrate on learning and exploring in order to nourish our limitless minds than on passing a test for the sole purpose of cheap websites that write papers for you a career

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