Sunday 21 October 2012

Pain relief in Italy

Finally, after 50 days of being bedridden with nuts and bolts holding my broken bits in place, on the 10th of October I paid a visit to the horrid hospital and had my iron rods all removed. Bel bambino did too so now one hurdle is over and it is almost time to begin the next - the rehabilitation road to recovery. Our hospital experience obviously had some hurdles as you cannot think that our visit would have gone smoothly. First my private ambulance arrived 1 hour late after fake claims of traffic but in reality I think they forgot until I called to ask their whereabouts. Bel marito had already gone ahead in the car with bel bambino since he had to be lightly sedated to have his iron rods removed.

Once arrived in the hospital we went to the orthopaedic ward and took our number and just had to wait.   Things here in Italy work a lot on who you know. If you know someone then things go your way, if you don't know anyone then you have to wait a long, long time. Thankfully we know someone. No, don't get it into your head that we are chummy with the local mafia or anything like that. Bel marito's cousin is a very high up doctor who knows all of the medical profession and had already helped us numerous times when we had problems in the hospital. Our sister in law's uncle is also one of the orthopaedic doctors in this hospital so at least we were given a little bit of attention. This public hospital, well this ward of the public hospital as I have said before is rather bad. Word is that it's going to close down soon...I hope this is true. And it was bad the day that we were there.

Thankfully the nice doctor who had removed the iron rods in my leg the week before was there again to remove the iron rods from my hip. He saw us waiting in the corridor (you couldn't miss me lying in my ambulance stretcher bed just occupying space in the corridor) and came over to chat. I had been led to believe that the removal of iron rods which are deeply wedged into you hips can be painful to remove without some sort of pain relief. Pain relief is not big in Italy, even in the maternity ward there is no such thing as gas to numb the pain of child birth and epidurals can be requested but are never guaranteed. I had to ask numerous, millions of times for something to numb the pain in my broken ribs since I couldn't even breathe properly when I was on the orthopaedic ward. I didn't want hard drugs, just paracetamol and only got it when after being refused by the entire nursing staff my sister in laws uncle came in and swiftly told them to give me one!

That morning, whilst waiting in the corridor I asked the doctor if I could have pain relief and he said I could be gently sedated while the rods were removed - the same they were going to do with bel bambino. I was so happy that I calmly waited for news. They told me I had to wait for a space to become available in the operating theatre and I was more than happy to wait. Bel bambino was not with me as he and bel marito were having problems of their own. They had been sent for more, unnecessary x-rays and then the nurse lost his entire hospital file. He came up to see me briefly, started to cry obviously when he saw his mummy lying on a strange bed in the strange hospital hallway and then cried a lot more when the nurses and doctors started yelling in front of him about the lost paperwork.

Once bel bambino was whisked away the nice doctor came and told me that sorry, I could not be sedated as there was no room in the operating theatre so I was going to have my bolts pulled out just like that. I had been envisioning my pain free rod removal procedure so you can imagine that I was, ah, let's say a little worried about the pain to come. It was not the doctors fault as the chief who was the one who had done my operation, who is a little odd I guess you can say, refused to let me have pain relief since he said that I would feel no pain so there was no need... When I said I was worried it was an understatement as I started to cry like a crazy person in the corridor and had to be consoled by my ambulance driver. (Here when you pay for a private ambulance they have to stay with you the whole time as who else is going to wheel the ambulance bed around the hospital? Luckily I had already had these two ambulance men before and they were young and not bad looking either which always helps.)

Since I was crying like a mad woman and since the doctor knew the people who I knew he kindly offered to pull out the rods immediately. I was number 21 after all and he had only just finished with number 4. I was given dirty looks as he ushered me into the room but who cares! The nice ambulance man let me hold his hand and the nice doctor tried to distract me making me talk about Australia. I am sure the ambulance man lost feeling in his hand and when it came for the last, most painful rod I had to also grab the hand of my sister in laws mother who had accompanied me to the hospital. I probably scared all the people waiting outside of the door with my screams. I was rather controlled though as didn't want to scream, but a few little yelps escaped my mouth. Before I knew it we were done and it was time to leave the hospital iron rod free.

I called bel marito who was with bel bambino. His visit to the day hospital to be slightly sedated didn't happen and he too had to have  his leg rods yanked out pain relief free. Can you believe it. A 20 month old baby with iron rods in his leg, iron rods which had been there for 50 days, had to have them removed without being sedated...without ANYTHING. They gave the same excuse about there being no room in the operating room and poor bel marito had to help hold a screaming bel bambino down.

Finally though, we got home bolt free. Here you really, really have to try and look on the bright side. Now what's next - I thought.


Aloma said...

So glad to see an update but what an experience! Will this accident delay moving to Australia?
Hope things will go more smoothly now

Webwanderer said...

Hi Leanne,
I have been reading your Blog on and off for a couple of years now. It is so interesting. I was born in Messina 53 years ago and left Italy in 1966 with my parents to make a home in Australia. I have never been back, but I have become very curious and interested since reading about your adventures moving back to Italy. I have toyed around with the idea of taking out a dual citizenship, but have discovered that to reclaim my Italian citizenship I will need to actually live in Italy for a minimum 12 months before I can make application.

My intent is as I get close to retirement to buy a small place in the south of Italy and use it as a holiday home to escape the winters in Australia. Do you think that would work? There is some very cheap property for sale in small Italian villages. Would you think it would be safe to leave a home in Italy unoccupied for most of the year? I have heard stories where people break in and squat and then you can't get them out.

Anyway, glad to read you and bel bambino are on the mend. It was so tragic, what happened to you both.

You remind me so much of my cousin, you both have the same temperament and you look like her too.

Best regards from Australia,

Anonymous said...

Is it Ok to post a link to your blog onto my facebook page? I too have been reading your blog for about two years and this story is so eye opening.
I am an American woman, and lived in Sicily,1993-1997 near US Naval Air Station, Sigonella, my husband is retired USN.
From Italians I heard so many stories like this. In the US everyone is thinking that free medical care is going to be a dream, one just goes in and everything is taken care of for them, and whenever someone else pays, they dictate how things are going to be. I posted it, since the blog is public but then thought maybe I should ask.
This is long, but the stolen car entry, so very familiar as well!!

Rachel said...

I'm so sorry for the horrible experience you've had! Hope you're on the road to recovery with the little one.

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

HI Aloma,
We are still moving!

Hi Webwanderer,
I think if you buy a place in a small town and make friends with the locals then your house will be safe. If you buy something in the country away from other houses I would be hesitant, as with any country it could be unwise in my opinion since no one can keep an eye on the place. If you have an apartment or something attached to another house then the neighbours will look out for you as it is in their best interest. Best of luck!

Hi Celeste,
Bit late to reply but sure you can link to my blog :)

Hi Rachel,
Thanks and yes, slowly we are on the road to recovery.