The Business of Living

I awoke very early this morning with serious stomach pains. My whole left side was in such pain and it hurt to even touch it. Ugh. We have been so busy with other things, like living and working, that we haven’t established a relationship with a Dr. And finding one that speaks English – my preferred medical language in this situation – will prove a challenge. I already know that.

So I didn’t go. I just sat here all day. Yes, I Googled possible symptoms and learned I might have some things that would kill me very soon. Or things that will resolved themselves in a matter of days. Some things recommended no food or liquid orally. Others recommended that I do nothing but drink gallons of water. So I did the only sensible thing on a Friday and I went to sleep.

I slept for many hours today and now that I’m awake and it’s past 5 in the afternoon on a Friday, the time when 90% of the world gets sick (the most inconvenient time) I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have sought medical attention earlier. Pretending this is going to go away quickly isn’t a strategy that is panning out for me right now.

This is the first time since we’ve come here that I’ve felt truly insecure. Medical things tend to do that. When my daughter and I were walking the Camino, she had an allergic reaction on an early Sunday morning in Melide. That was very scary trying to find an urgent care or emergency room to stop the flaming rash from her neck crawling all the way to the top of her head. We got her some prednizone and the Dr. at the ER was very nice.

It’s harder when it’s your kids. If one of mine had awakened with this I would have moved heaven and earth – dialing 112  (911 in the US) or shouting for help in the street if need be – to get them medical attention. But for myself? I tend to take a more laiz-a-fare attitude. But then I thought ‘If I was in the US, would I go to a Dr.?’ and the answer is YES! I would have gone first thing this morning when the office opened. It’s a Friday and if this gets worse it’s an expensive ER visit. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $1200-$1800 for them to look at me in a hospital on a weekend back home.

But I have health insurance here. Full coverage and yet the language barrier is stopping me. I know its because I’m afraid I’ll have the same experience I had in Milan when I dislocated my shoulder and broke my wrist, and the orthopedic surgeon was the spitting image of Mussolini. I think he went the University of Mussolini where they shave the Dr’s heads and teach them to twist broken limbs and shout at patients in Italian. It was like being in the triage in the TV show MASH, only the Korean war tent hospitals in that show seemed better organized.

So, I’ll just wait a bit longer and drink more water. Maybe when I wake up tomorrow I’ll feel better. My fever will be gone, this raging headache will have cleared up, and I’ll be able to stand up straight without pain in my stomach. Between now and then, perhaps more sleep might do me good. There have only been a few, but it’s moments like these that even with as broken as some of our systems and institutions are in the US, I miss knowing how to navigate them. How to communicate what I’m feeling, ask questions and understand the response.  But for now, I’m getting off WebMD, crossing my fingers, and going to sleep.

2 thoughts on “The Business of Living

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