Dealing with health issues in Italia

I’ve avoided writing about something for a while now and it’s time I begin to chronicle this new adventure (?) Last year I began to have problems with my right knee. I went to my doctor and she prescribed anti-inflammatories and icing. For a while it seemed to improve but took a nosedive earlier this year. We are very new to the Italian health care system so are groping our way along with many false starts.

We went back to our doctor and I asked for an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. Dotoressa Mommi wrote a prescription for an appointment. And said it was urgent enough to get done in 30 days. The only available doctor was in Deruta, about 30 minutes south of us. We visited him and he was frustrated that we had no X-rays or an MRI. All he could do is proscribe something which turned out to be pretty useless. We decided to go and get an MRI on our own and pay for it. If I didn’t want to pay I could have gone and asked our doctor to prescribe one and waited (again). So we went to a diagnostic center and I paid 126€ for an MRI. Not bad.

Armed with this we could make an appointment privately with a doctor of our choice. The only one we knew was far south in Spoleto. We visited him and he read the MRI. He said I need a total knee replacement. Sigh. We paid 150€ to consult with him.

Back we went to our doctor. In hindsight we could have asked this doctor we went to privately and he could have put us into the system and done the surgery. But we didn’t understand this at the time. Dot. Mommi explained it to us. And she offered to make an appointment for us with a good orthopedic guy in Umbertide. I prefer to not have to go too far for the procedure mainly because I would like it to be close for Luther to visit.

We visited the orthopedic guy yesterday. He was nice enough and even spoke a little English. But mostly it was in Italian. He too recommended knee replacement. Second opinions are good. So he gave us a form to fill in and email to the powers that be to schedule surgery. As always, everything in Italy shuts down in August. In this case last week in July to first week in September for non-emergency surgery. So we are looking at October-November for operation. Sigh. It is a long wait.

I guess my biggest worry is communication while in hospital and rehab. But on the bright side (?) I’ll learn more Italian. We are told it’s 5-7 days in hospital and then three weeks in in-patient rehab. Seems excessive by American standards…but in America it is all about the bottom line so they kick you out fast! For me, I’m thinking by the time I’m done I’ll be able to do the stairs here. Operation will be in the very nice hospital in Perugia, rehab here in Umbertide.

Since this is what I’m stuck with I am going ahead with plans that I was kind of worried about. We have a cruise on the Crostian coast in August and have a friend housesitting. I didn’t want to cancel either. I may be stuck in my stateroom but… Then we have friends in late September and another in mid October. This will mean I can just do what I can do and I and my guests will have to deal with it.

For my everyday life I stay mostly in the apartment. I descend and ascend the three flights of stairs maybe once a day. So far, so good. Hurts but manageable. The good news is knee replacements have generally good results and are not too hard to recover from. Crossing fingers it will be so for me and I will be good as new. This will be great! πŸ™‚

10 thoughts on “Dealing with health issues in Italia

  1. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Thank you Jed and Simone. I am going to try for a good attitude and look on it as a learning experience! πŸ™‚

  2. Jed

    Cara Nancy, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been compromised by the bum knee. But, I’m happy to hear you’re scheduled to get it fixed (in spite of the wait). Yet another real life adventure to share with other expats and potential expats. Healthcare is a reality that can’t be glossed over. Sending you our love and best thoughts. Jed and Simone

  3. CARLO

    Nancy, I know you will get through the operation and rehab very well. In the meantime, I think you should just piggy-back on Luther to get up and down all those stairs just as often as you need to! He can incorporate it into his exercise routine — ti would be good weight, balance, and agility training! (Just kidding!)

    We are already looking forward to spending more time with you and Luther. Thank you for talking to the folks at Calagrana for us. The very best to you and Luther, –CR

  4. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Great Mary! I will put those dates on my calendar! So fun for your niece. Will look forward to meeting her. I wonder if you’d like to stay at Calagrana? I will ask her what sort of accommodations she has for a small family group.

  5. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Shirley! Well, the windstar ships are not wheelchair friendly and have no elevators. They are small ships. I will figure out how to deal with it. If I can manage the stairs here at my house I should be able to on the ship. Just would like to do a few of the towns we will go to. Crossing fingers!

  6. Nancy Hampton Post author

    It is the way here in Italy. No rush as the bottom line is not important.

  7. royane mosley

    That time frame seems really out of line. a month in hospital or rehab! but you must be pain free, you have no choice. but glad you are off on the cruise

  8. Shirley

    Hi Nancy
    I am sorry to hear about the long wait for your surgery. In regards to your cruise, you can ask your travel agent and/or cruise line to have a wheel chair provided for you. We frequently cruise and many people use wheelchairs with very few problems. You can also request a cabin for special use. The ships have a limited number so request soon. These cabins have wider doors.

    Hugs Shirley

  9. Mary R.

    Hi Nancy, I’m very happy to learn that you have made these arrangements. Your fall visitors will understand. We have good news I want to share, we will be coming back to Italy in late May and into early June with our Niece Emily. We will rent an apartment in Umbertide on roughly the following dates, June 1-7. It would be great if you both were there.

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