Would you be a casualty of the Italian hospital service?
A personal visit to the outpatients department in Foligno
Since moving to Italy, I have had occasion to visit our
local hospital on no less than four occasions (twice to the outpatients
department); they have all been memorable in their own way.
When I arrived in Italy, I brought with me a classic case of lymphedema -
something which my doctor in Britain had chosen to ignore thus allowing it
to get so well-established that it is now completely untreatable. That said,
the effects of the illness can be alleviated (or exacerbated) and it was due
to some of the less pleasant effects of my ailment that lead me to the
outpatients department of our local hospital the first time.
At the time of visiting outpatients, both of my legs had ulcerated - which
means that they had burst open and a constant stream of acidic fluid was
issuing forth burning the other tissue and causing further ulceration as it
ran down my legs. On top of that, it was the fly season and both legs had
become infected. It had got so bad that if I didn't soon do something about
it there was a very real possibility that I might lose one or even both legs
to gangrene. We went into the Casualty Department of the new hospital in
Foligno one afternoon late in summer 2005, checked in as outpatients and
took our seats for the obligatory wait.
Finally I was called but, instead of receiving any treatment for my legs
(which were so painful that it had taken me quite a considerable time to
hobble on down the corridor to the outpatients treatment room), I was
questioned about my weight and whether I had 'always been heavy'. More
doctors appeared from nowhere and very soon the room was crowded with
myself, my wife and about 10 of them. Not one was interested in helping me -
most stood around laughing and pointing like I was some travelling freak
show. Despite having legs which literally stank of decaying flesh, I was
dismissed with a lot of grins and sniggers and without ever having had any
treatment - not even a saline clean up of my ulcers.
I stormed out of the hospital only to be met by a gaggle of the
aforementioned doctors hanging around the car park seemingly enjoying a
'post-coital' cigarette (NB despite their knowledge of the damage it causes,
most doctors here smoke like chimneys).
Fortunately for my plight, my wife managed to flag down a 'home-visit' nurse
but that is another tale and not to be mixed with this one about
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