I'm not sure if it was the wind and cold that caused a roaring sore throat in me then, but whatever caused it, it was the worst I'd ever experienced. It was so bad I was sure I had strep throat and strep throat in a foreign country did not sound like a lot of fun. Going to the hospitale sounded worse, but go to the hospitale, I did. The experience ended up in my journal.
E. R. Pronto
It isn’t easy finding the Ospedale (Os pee dall ee) let alone the emergency room in Barga, Italy if you don’t read or speak Italian. We did finally find the hospital. And we thought we had found the emergency room too because we saw a sign with the icon of a man on it, an arrow and some Italian words--one which looked vaguely like emergency. But every time we followed the sign it led us out of whatever building we were in. After following those signs a couple of times we felt a lot like the Keystone Cops and gave up on it.
We decided to ask someone, who pointed in the direction of yet another building. We arrived at where they pointed but still didn’t see anything closely resembling an emergency room. With yet another inquiry and another person pointing to yet another sign, we finally saw the word Pronto; which is evidently their idea of emergency. (Incidentally, it is also the word used to answer the phone, and I am guessing it means “ready”.) However, I’m not sure the Italians know the meaning of the word!
One thing we did finally figure out was that the signs we followed at first were “Emergency Exit” signs. (That would explain it.) At last, we arrived in a bleak hallway and were actually met by a fairly young, cute—very cute—Italian doctore. With glasses propped up on his head, a tanned face and wearing blue jeans, he looked more like an Italian beach bum than a doctor. However, he was wearing a white lab coat and stethoscope. He asked me how long I’d been sick, and I told him more than four days. He noted that if I’d been sick that long I was probably going to make it. I replied that I was counting on it—and him.
It went down hill from there. He looked in my throat (not so bad, he said), felt my glands...Now I am feeling your glands and they are not swollen...and at last took my temperature, which was normale—naturally.
I never could figure out what he was looking for, since I could tell he didn’t think I was very sick. None-the-less I am guessing it was a syringe because he said he wanted to take my blood. Suddenly, he yelled loudly in Italian for the nurse, who was in the next room.
It was all less than professional--so much so--that now I was really starting to feel sick and wondered: #1 if they had a clean needle and # 2 if they knew how to draw blood at all.
He repeated again that my glands were normal, I had no fever and my throat didn’t look very bad. (What was he trying to tell me?)
Here I was practically slobbering on myself so I didn’t have to swallow, and the pain was keeping me awake at night! At the moment, I didn’t care if the month passed and I went nowhere but from the bed to the toilet, as long as I could curl up into a little ball and keep warm.
He suddenly announced he would take the blaud, and we would just have to wait until the results came back. In the meantime, there must have been 4 ambulances which came and went with sick people—all old. We waited....and waited...and waited. Finally, the results were in…”As I said, Madam, no infection.”
We went back to our little Italian home on the mountainside, and I started the antibiotics my family doctor sent with me, but which I hadn’t wanted to take without evidence of an infection. Within a few hours, my sore throat began to recede. Oh well, I guess it only took one day out of our month-long vacation...such is a day in dolce Tuscany.