Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Surgery, Italian Style

WARNING:  I'm not going to get into much female anatomy here, but this post does acknowledge the fact that I have girly bits.

Last week I went in for a minor surgical procedure.  They call it "Day Hospital" here.  Clever, no?

I was required to be there at 7 a.m.  I knew the procedure would last about 15-20 minutes.  Home by noon-ish???

Whooooah...hold your horses there, little lady.  That's not how we do things here.  To be fair, I don't know how they do those things anywhere since I've only ever had surgery in Italy.  A little bit of forewarning would have gone a long way to ease my stress, though.

So, by 7 a.m., the extremely large waiting area with a sparse number of chairs was pretty full up.  At least the chairs were all full, the waiting area was truly vast.  I was among the first group of 3 women to be called behind the security door.  We were assigned beds and told to put on our jammies (which we left in the car because we were thinking wishfully) and our fashionable anti-thrombosis tights.  I wore those from home since that's how I interpreted the pre-op instructions.  I nervously waited while Carlo ran back to the car for my backpack.  What would I do if they said they were ready for me and I wasn't ready for them???

No worries!!

Those tights, by the way, cost 30 euros and are not reusble unless I have another operation.  They are starkly white thigh-highs with a large hole situated above the toes so they can give a looky and make sure they're not turning blue, I guess.  It was somewhat entertaining watching my roommates trying to figure out which way they were supposed to go on.

Shortly after we were assigned beds, we were joined by another woman since there was a 4th empty bed, but no locker for her stuff.  One of my roomies let her share her locker.  I'm still pondering the locker set-up.  They all had removable keys, but what are you supposed to do with the key?  You can't take it with you to the operating room. 

In no time, everyone else was asleep but thankfully I had my Kindle to keep me occupied.  How can anyone sleep when they're waiting for surgery?  I could barely read.  However, I was just closing my eyes, when they came in to take away the first victim.  That was at 10:30.  She was in the first bed, but I was the first one to complete my paperwork and have blood drawn.  Huh?  An hour later, they came for the 4th woman, followed an hour later by the second one.  None of them had come back by the time they finally came for me, around 1:30.

By this time I was pretty nervous and hungry and thirsty, too!  I was not allowed to eat or drink since midnight the night before.  My head was starting to pound from the combination.  Probably the lack of caffeine contributed, too.

Up in the operating suite a nurse started slapping my right wrist to find a vein to insert the IV.  She slapped and slapped and it was starting to hurt.  She did apologize, but she also stuck a needle in anyway, even though she never found that vein.  Always a painful mistake.  Now, a week later, my wrist is still bruised and my right thumb doesn't have enough strength to hold a pencil to write.

She gave up and put the IV needle in my elbow instead.

Next my gurney was pushed into the actual operating room.  Of course my feet were sticking out beyond the end of it and got smashed into a huge rack holding a TV and various electronic equipment.  But that's forgivable.  It was probably near the end of a long day...a few people mentioned to me that I was the last one.

But here's where I get pissed off.  The surgeon and a couple of the nurses said I was going to get an epidural now.  Whaaa???  When given the choice the previous week at my consultation with the anesthesiologist, I emphatically told her I did not want an epidural, but chose general anesthesia instead.  So I told them NO spinale, I wanted generale instead.  Then they had the anesthesiologist (a different one from the consult) come in and browbeat me into agreeing to the spinale

My reasoning for choosing the general over the epidural is because I'm basically a baby.  I've had two epidurals and they were very painful going in.  I also didn't want to be awake for any of it...I didn't want to hear anything, smell anything, see anything.  I just wanted to wake up and have it all be done.

So I got the epidural and it wasn't that bad going in.  She used a slightly different procedure than the other times.  My legs got warm and sluggish.  Then they put up a curtain over my belly so I couldn't see anything.  But I could feel something poking around inside me that was quite uncomfortable and I said ow, or some such.  The anesthetist said she was going to give me a sedative in my IV drip.  That's the last I remember of my procedure.

So I don't really get what the sedative was for...  I mean, why not just give me the general in the first place instead of the other two combined?  I'll never know.

And another thing, way back months ago when my polyp was photographed and biopsied, the doctor who performed the procedures said he would also do my removal operation.   I also met with him a few weeks ago to go over the procedure and set a date.  Guess what?  I don't know for certain since I was asleep, but he wasn't the surgeon with whom I spoke immediately preceding the snip.

That doesn't really matter to me, but why the charade?  I'm not willing to put money on it, but I'm pretty sure I saw my original doctor walking around the non-op area of my hospital wing at one point.

What did rather surprise me was the number of people in the small-ish operating room.  There were the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and about 5 or 6 nurses, milling around, busy as bees.  Is that unusual?  I don't know.

After the snip, I was wheeled into the recovery room.  Again there were four of us, one of whom was my roommate from down the hall.  Another one just had a C-section.  Wheee!!!  When I could prove I could move my feet, they took me back to my room.  Not a good feeling, not being able to move your legs.

Back in my original room, all my original roomies were there in various states of recovery--some sleeping, some upright, most with a friend or family member accompanying them.  A nurse went and fetched my husband who had been cooling his heels for hours!!!

I lazed about in bed, not doing much.  My head hurt a bit and I was ravenously hungry, but other than that, I felt okay.  They brought in dinner for roommate #4.  I don't know why she was different from the rest of us, maybe she had a less invasive procedure.  She didn't want it and very kindly offered it to DH because he was looking pretty hungry, I guess.  He declined.  She was shortly thereafter called in for an exam and released.  Last in, first out!

After dozing on and off for awhile, the lady from Bed #1 and I were called in for exams.  The office had no chair in which to plop my rubbery bones while I waited for #1 to be examined.  I thought I was going to faint standing there thinking about how much my head hurt when I was upright.  I was finally called in for my "visit".  Never have I been so eager to lie down and put my legs up in stirrups.  I was deemed fit for release!

Waiting for me back in the room was the usual hospital fare of lukewarm, weak tea in a big plastic bowl and a couple packages of the dehydrated toast that is the breakfast of Italian champions, north and south.  Boy, did that "snack" bring back memories of my baby-birthing-hospital-stay days.

I dressed hastily after downing as much of that stuff as my headache would allow and we hightailed it out of there.

Getting home was a trip. I could not find a comfortable position for my head. We had to stop at least once to barf...maybe twice, but oddly enough, I don't remember for sure. I do remember the one time, though, that we had to stop. It was right in front of a Chinese restaurant. ALL the tea and toast came up.

Got home...had a bowl of soup, which didn't stay down long. Went to bed. Thankfully my head didn't hurt when I was lying down.

Friday morning I had a cup of tea and a cookie. Guess where that ended up? Luckily DH had to go to the local hospital that morning to get his allergy shot and the dr. knew about my surgery from his last injection, remembered, and asked how I was doing. He was kind enough to prescribe an injection for me that would stop the nausea!

Saturday morning, DH even called the EMTs to come and take me to the hospital or advise on what to do for me since I threw up my breakfast yet again.  They recommended that he just keep giving me the injections since they seemed to be working. For 2 days, I was getting jabbed in the butt twice a day. It worked, but I still couldn't eat much and my head would not let up!

Sunday I could keep down what little I ate on my own. Head still pounded and my only comfortable position was lying down.

Monday I was vertical the entire day and my head did not hurt for the first time. I also ate nearly normally.  However it snowed all day long (first snow of the year) and the kids were home from school for Carnevale vacation and absolutely chomping at the bit to go try out their new sled for the first time.  There was no way I could accommodate them and I felt rotten about it.  I was, however, able to take them out the following day for a few zips down the nearby hill.  Everyone was happy!!!

The silver lining of all this, though, is that I lost 5 kilos!!!

And the golden lining is that we didn't have to pay for or do any complicated paperwork for the entire hospital stay or the EMT visit.  God bless universal healthcare!!!

And, by the way, I'm not at all bothered Down There.  The surgery was never an issue with my post-op recovery problems.  It was just my damn head that wouldn't quit aching.  I talked to a friend yesterday who said she had the same reaction to her spinale.  I wish someone along the way would have warned me about this ahead of time.  I don't know that I could have done anything different, but we were pretty worried for a few days.

I'm still incredibly weak and my right thumb isn't right (no, it's not left, either).  I just wasn't expecting this kind of outcome at all.  This post-op recovery has really thrown me for a loop.  Live and learn, I always say.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Bike Culture?

Right after school ended for the year in June, I had to turn in some paperwork to the middle school my son will be attending in September.  It's a bit of a hike to get there, so I thought it would be good for the three of us to ride our bikes.  It was a good idea to a point.  There are some pretty busy roads to traverse on the way.  But...when we got there I was surprised to see the bike rack only had two slots, one of which was already occupied, and the other was completely covered by the overgrown bush next to it.  We had to make do with awkwardly locking all three bikes together and hoping for the best with all those dodgy-looking middle school kids loitering around.

I don't really know what the point of this post is.  It may be that I'm just complaining about the lack of bike racks around here despite the fact that people do a lot of bike riding, albeit the fancy, all-tricked-out-in-racing-gear type of riding.  It does surprise me, though, that there aren't better accommodations for bikes at the schools.  The elementary school my kids go to has zero bike racks!  When I went to grade school, I remember riding my bike every day the weather was good enough...until it was stolen...from school.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Memory Lane...or Renovations (Update--photos!)

The kids and I took a bus trip to our old neighborhood in Turin.  I took them to 3 of the parks we used to visit daily when we lived there.  Julian was totally underwhelmed by it all.  Oh he loved the bus ride, no doubt about that, but the parks were so much smaller than he remembered.

This chestnut tree used to be so much bigger!
The first park we visited was under construction when we moved away.  It's an old villa on a large, choice piece of land.  The city owns it now and the villa is a library.  Quite a while before we moved, they started construction on a new wing.  A large chunk of the park was blocked off for construction materials and workers, resulting in a large corrugated metal wall all around the work.  Julian remembers walking for "kilometers" along the wall to get to a playground that is now directly accessible from the front of the park.  He couldn't believe it was the same thing.

I'm happy to say the new addition is quite nice looking--mostly made of glass.  It's not very big or elaborate, it seems odd it took so long to build, but what do I know?  I'm also pleased that they've painted and made some repairs to the original library.  And, finally, they've really jazzed up an old outbuilding (maybe the garage) to turn it into a library for periodicals.  It looks very fancy.  I will update this site with photos when I get around to it.

Periodicals library
A new sculpture since we've been gone
Entrance to the library.  The rose bushes used to be bigger, too...really!

Within this particular park there is a merry-go-round.  I remember Julian riding it MANY times and I remember him begging to ride it even more.  The funny thing is, he didn't even remember it's existence!  He did remember plenty of other things about the park, though, so it's not like he was too young.  He was three and Veronica was 8 months old when we moved so I didn't expect her to remember a thing.  Everything was new and exciting to her!

We also visited a park where we probably spent most of our time since it was closest to home and right across the street from a grocery store I frequented regularly.  The park still had all the same toys in it, but they were in slightly worse shape.  Julian was kind of disgusted at the state of this park.  Admittedly it is small and there was not a single other kid there, but there are a lot of nice shade trees and plenty of benches in the shade, which is what really matters to moms!
I couldn't NOT go into my old grocery store.  I was pleasantly surprised that it had been updated in the seven years since we moved away.

We also took a peek at the highrise where we used to live.  It is being renovated!  The balconies are getting a much needed coat of paint.  The side of the building where I used to hang my laundry to dry is completely covered in scaffolding now.

We visited two other parks, one we used to go to and another one a little bit out of the way of all my daily meanderings back then.  Veronica had fun at every park, Julian not so much--he just wanted to move on, to see something else.

In the current state of the economy, I was very surprised to see that most of the businesses have stayed the same from when we used to live there.  There have been very few changes and there aren't any empty storefronts, which is really good.  I didn't see any signs of economic crisis, thankfully, and for the most part, things looked even better than when we left in 2005.  All but one of the playgrounds (the one we never went to) are a little bit worse for wear--same old toys as before, but the one least frequented had been improved a lot.  Maybe Julian would have wanted to go there more since all the toys were spaceship-themed.

I think once the kids are back in school, I'll take the bus there again and re-explore the old 'hood.  It's a direct bus and only takes an hour.  I did like living there except it was incredibly hot in the summer.  I can do without all the playgrounds...there's plenty of great shopping to be done around there!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Italian Footwear

I paid a visit to my doctor this week.  In times past, when I needed to see the doctor, I'd show up during his working hours, take a number and wait my turn.  It was usually a very long wait so I'd always bring a book with me.  Now, for the past year, or so, it's possible to make an appointment ahead of time.  There still exists the option to just go, take a number, and wait even longer.  However, I always make an appointment first, if I can.  This makes the wait much shorter so I don't usually bring a book.  In any case, one must always wait for more than a few minutes.  What to do while waiting???  I always end up staring at my fellow heel-coolers' feet.  I'm always amazed at the horrendous shoes women wear.  Most of the men wear what I consider to be sensible footwear, but the women...incredible!  Either they're meant to be comfortable or they're supposed to look fashionable.  It seems there's no middle ground for women.  I, myself, am perfectly guilty.  I have an ancient pair of canvas Supergas (kind of like Keds) that have holes over both big toes.  I find people always staring at my feet when I'm out and about, but they're so comfortable!  I like the color, too.  They're kind of a faded blue that's almost periwinkle and matches nearly everything in my wardrobe.

Another shocker about older Italian women is that so many of them have elephant ankles.  Why is that??  Maybe American women do too, but they cover them up with long pants.  Most elderly Italian women still wear skirts for some reason.  Could you imagine being in your 70s and 80s and struggling with panty hose every day?

But back to the Italian footwear thingy...I would be very curious to know how all these women I see wearing 3-inch wedge heels attached to 1.5-inch soles drive their cars?!?  It seems as dangerous as texting while driving.  Back in the day when I wore just regular high heels while driving my car, I'd always remove them first and drive barefooted.  Shoes styles today just aren't the same--they have numerous buckles and/or the tight, too-long jeans that fit snugly around them all the way down to a millimeter about the ground, I just don't think women take the time to remove their shoes and replace them when they get there.  They're in too much of a hurry to have their jeans properly hemmed, how can they find the time to re-harness their feet every time they get into and out of their cars?

Do I sound too much like a little old lady?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Here are some recent events that just keep adding leaves to the banana republic tree I call home.

Amanda Knox was released after spending 4 years in an Italian prison after her guilty verdict was overturned.  However, the Italian media stumbled over themselves while demonizing her after her arrest.

A few days ago, a German truck driver was trying to stay on course and on schedule, but due to trucking blockades throughout Italy to protest government imposed austerity reforms, things went terribly wrong.  She killed one of the blockaders after hitting him with her truck and is now in jail.  (She may have been released by now--I can't determine her status.  At any rate, it's a sad story.)

Captain Francesco Schettino cavalierly  wrecked a 450 euro cruise vessel, abandoned ship leaving at least 16 dead, many more injured, and yet more still missing, potentially caused an environmental disaster of epic proportion, put a cruise-ship's worth of crew out of work and I would imagine severely lessened the fortunes of the cruise company, maybe even the entire cruise industry.  It's pretty had to top that for all-around FUBAR-edness, yet Capt. Schettino is cooling his heals at home in Sorrento.

Where is the equal justice in all this?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rose Garden Conspiracy Theory

Nevermind the Kennedy assassination!  Forget all you've heard about 9/11 and the mysterious collapse of WTC7!  Here's a conspiracy theory I think we can all agree doesn't pass the "smell test".

I was listening to a recent (January 20, 2012, to be exact) podcast of Woman's Hour from BBC Radio 4.  One segment included a friendly debate over which flower was more well-loved, the rose or the orchid.  Weighing in on the side of the rose was horticultural historian Jennifer Potter who recently published an historical account of roses, appropriately entitled, The Rose.  She mentioned that she made a trip to the White House in hopes of seeing the famous rose garden during the last summer of the George W. Bush administration.  She was able to finagle her way into the garden but was warned there were only about 10 varieties of roses left, 5 of which were named after Republican presidents or their wives.  All of the roses named for Democrats had been uprooted. 

Whatever shall we read into that???  I myself can envision Dick telling Georgie which flowers had to go.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Happy new knitting!

I'm happy to say that I'm starting the year with knitting MY way and I'm feeling very happy with myself about it.  I'll explain by saying that I was in a 12-month knit-along last year wherein I had to knit a complete project every month of the year.  Each project had to use at least 300 yards of yarn and had to be started and completed within the month.  I thought it would be a lark, but it turned into a tyranny of one smallish completed project every month. (In hindsight I suppose that should have been obvious.)

Knitting a project of at least 300 yards in one month is a snap.  However, I didn't consider that I'd have to come up with something new every month, couldn't commit myself to any larger or more complicated projects on the chance that I might not finish in time, and ended up doing a lot of things I wouldn't have undertaken otherwise.

It was a good exercise in goal-setting, but I'm not very goal-oriented and I didn't really see the point of the whole thing except to win a big prize (of good-quality yarn, what else?) at the end.  There were also other opportunities to win throughout the year.  Big surprise...I didn't win anything! 

Like I always and learn.  At least now I can dig my teeth into some more challenging projects without worrying about screwing it up and having to rip it all out (been doing a lot of that lately), nor do any of these projects need to be finished along with the month.

I recently bought a pattern book produced by Burda for socks from around the world.  The first pair I'd like to try are a 2-toned Turkish design.  This will be a challenge since the pattern's in Italian, the socks are colorwork--never done colorwork socks--and they're toe-up with an unfamiliar to me cast-on and an after-thought heel.  Perhaps I'll blog further on these when I get around to making them.

Happy new year and happy knitting to all !!!