A Day at the "Hospital"

Yesterday I had surgery here in Florence, Italy. I had to have a sports hernia repaired-a nagging little injury that resulted from preparing for the Florence Marathon last November. My wife and I had debated whether to get the surgery done here or wait until we were going to be in the States this summer. I had actually met with three other physicians trying to get a clear diagnosis and in the process found out that the total recovery time was around 10-12 weeks–meaning that I could do very little exercise until August. So we decided to press on and get the surgery done in Italy. I am home now and resting–trying to get over the initial pain of this procedure. But it was the experience itself that I thought was worth blogging about.

First, the surgery was done at the Villa Cherubini (pictured above)–only in Italy would you have surgery done at a 250 year old villa. But what we didn’t know is that this was totally a private “hospital”. You see in Italy we have socialized medicine–meaning that you go through a system of making a request and waiting for a response of when and where the surgery will eventually take place–this can be a six month wait. We decided to speed up the process a little and got a referral–but not knowing that it was totally private–and therefore instead of being free–it cost a pretty euro to get this thing done. Word to President Obama and Hillary Clinton–there is a reason that private practices and hospitals have become a thriving industry here–completely socialized medicine doesn’t work very well–even the Italians flock to private medical clinics and hospitals to get things done in a more efficient manner. But we were still caught off guard–misplaced expectations.

Trying to get surgery done in two languages was a lot of fun too. At one point I was asked if I was allergic to any medicines–I said, “Yes, I have allergies–tree and grass pollens.” That received a very strange look from one of the physicians. Eventually it got corrected–but you hoped your less than stellar Italian got the pain location right and that they would make the incision in the correct place.

Two different men came in to shave the area of the incision–always embarrassing. Two different women came in to check my blood pressure. Then the anesthesiologist came in to describe how conked out I would be while they took care of Mr. Hernia. I told him I wanted to be more out than alive. He was really nice and cheery–I suppose you want a happy anesthesiologist. Then a priest came in to bless us. He was quite large and seemed to have a really horrible toupee on. He came in while the anesthesiologist was in the room–and he wasn’t sure who the patient was–so he told my wife and I that we were both “covered.” That was comforting.

Finally the moment arrived for me to be wheeled into the operating room–my doctor showed up who was going to perform the surgery, Dr. Batigniani–he has been great about everything and really nice–and came highly recommended. Still I felt compelled to remind him where the pain really was–I didn’t want a great scar for nothing. An hour later I was recovering and watching Camp Rock in Italian on TV with my wife in our private room. It was only about 2:30–but we had to wait until 7:30 to be released. I did get an awesome Italian meal at 7:00–only in Italy would you get a really good meal in a hospital–food is a passion here.

Finally we were back in our casa around 8:00 p.m. They were so nice they even let me leave without paying–the administrative offices had closed for the day. I was home in time to watch the European Championship of Soccer between Manchester United and Barcelona–Barca won 2-0.

In all reality I am a hospital wienie. I have really only had one other procedure done my whole life–and that was 30 years ago. So all in all–to do this in another country and in a second language was a decent experience. God is faithful and we are grateful!

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