Being sick is never fun, and having to navigate doctor’s offices and new processes for sick leave while sick definitely isn’t easy, when the rules and requirements are all a little different. And being sick in Italy, or at my work at least, requires a doctor’s certificate for sick leave to be processed. And so this is the story of how on Tuesday, when I was battling a stomach bug and all I wanted to do was lie in bed, I set out on a quest for a doctor’s certificate and gained my first ever ambulance ride and a five hour stay in the pronto succorso (ER) instead.
Waking up to feeling a little dizzy and faint isn’t such an abnormal thing for me, so some time was spent assessing how I actually felt. Was I actually sick or would my light-headedness go away with some breakfast. Did I have a stomach ache or was I just tired, etc, etc.
I had two (mini) breakfasts, a ready-in-an-instant muesli, followed up by some porridge. I tried sleeping some more. I cancelled my private English lesson. Then I threw up. I considered things some more and decided my head was too swirly to survive a train ride to Trento and four hours sitting upright in a chair, so I called work to cancel that too.
Which was fine, except they needed the aforementioned doctor’s certificate to process my sick leave, preferably issued on the same day. Which would have been fine, except the doctor I am signed up to is only open for an hour on Tuesdays. At the inconvenient hour of 8.30 in the morning, and it was already midday. (On my to do list for next week: find a doctor with better hours.)
Before borrowing a car to drive to the hospital (a trip that Matt was going to have to attempt to do: I am the better right-side-of-the-road driver, but I wasn’t in a position to do so), we decide to chance an appointment at another, much closer, doctor’s where I am not registered. I actually felt fine during the five minute walk it took to get there, which raised all those guilty feelings I have whenever I take sick leave. Like, am I actually sick? And yes, actually I was, and I collapsed in the waiting room. I was covered with a blanket, and a drip/IV/I don’t know medical terminology was stuck in my arm to give me some fluids. They knew I wasn’t a registered patient here, so why have I come? From my position, lying flat on my back on the floor, I explain that my doctor’s is closed. That I can’t possibly go to work like this and I just need a certificate for work. But I’m not a patient here, so this is not possible. An ambulance is called for me instead, and I am packed off to the hospital anyway. Where, I am told, I will be given the certificate on discharge.
I obviously don’t understand the system very well here, and it is likely the same everywhere, and it is my own fault for not investigating opening hours when I chose a doctor, but not allowing patients to visit other surgeries when their own doctors are unavailable, and with the hospital being the only backup seems a little inefficient to me.
At the hospital three bags of fluid are drained into me over the course of the afternoon. I’m sure they helped in my recovery, but spending hours at the hospital was what we had been trying to avoid. And despite those IV drips and the sips of water I was having, the fact remained that I hadn’t eaten anything since the breakfast I had vomited up, so when they let me go at 6 pm I was still rather shaky on my feet and kept taking breaks in the corridor on the way out. The doctor who had discharged me spied me sitting on the floor, and asked if I needed to go back to the hospital bed. Nope, no thank you.
We nearly left without the doctor’s certificate after all that. I stayed on the floor while Matt tracked down the doctor to obtain it. Such a star.
And then we were out and free, and able to go home. I did manage to vomit one more time, the fault of an acidic orange drink that Matt bought from the hospital cafeteria, its liquidity quickly running through the paper bag and into the hospital garden (oops). Not the best way to repay their care. However, the residual sugar gave me enough energy to sit upright in the car the whole way home and climb the stairs without having to sit down once, so I guess it was a win.