Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hospital Visit

by LeAna Crowley 
A trip to Urbino was planned for the Gonzaga group. This particular morning was very hard for me to stand up straight. I felt weak, nauseous, and it was hard to breathe. I knew very little about the landscape of Urbino, but I knew I could not climb any hills. Deep inside myself I understood that I could not go on this unique trip with my classmates, but instead would have to go to the hospital for a diagnosis and medicine.

When I entered the hospital I tried to make sense of how to navigate my visit. Like an emergency room or clinic visit back home, there was a room to wait. An emergency worker came over to ask me why I was there. I held my chest and coughed. The man asked for my hand, then placed an oxygen meter on my finger. In Italian, he said I was not in a dire situation. I waited for maybe a half hour.

I was asked to walk past a set of double doors to the actual doctor’s office. Immediately, the doctor introduced herself. She asked me in Italian to explain my symptoms. Even though I don’t speak Italian, I instinctively understood what she was asking me. Again, I put my hand on my chest, breathed in and started to cough. From there the staff of specialists took my blood to be tested, gave me a breathing treatment, and took an x-ray of my chest. In between these tests, I waited either curled up in fetal position or slouched in my chair asleep. Waiting is the same in the United States. After 4 hours of waiting, I was diagnosed with beginning stages of bronchitis. Thank God.

The most surprising part of my hospital visit was payment for my care. As I walked up to the billing office I wondered how to use my health insurance, and asked myself how much credit was on my cards. I was thinking my visit would be in the thousands. To my surprise the billing clerk said my charge was 36 euro. My mind could not accept this price for all the tests that were run. Then I thought maybe 36 euro was my co-payment and I would receive a bigger bill. It was an even bigger surprise when I was told there would be no charge for my antibiotics at the pharmacy or farmacia. Medicine is included in the price! A doctor’s visit has never felt so fortuitous and light. I am thankful for my hospital visit in Italy.