04 January 2013

A Surprising December

It's a new year and a fresh start for projects already imagined and others still to present themselves. I am looking forward to meeting new people through their visits to our B&B in Val Chisone, but also people that I meet who present themselves through this blog or other various paths to our door. I started this blog back in 2006 when I had barely even heard of blogs, but had read that they helped bring traffic to connected websites. Ah ha, a way to help people find out our little known alpine valley before the 2006 Winter Olympics actually put us on the map. It's challenging to have people find you if they don't know to even be looking. Anyway, my blog originally was to focus on our surrounding area, events that happen here and reasons to visit with us here. Being a keen cook and baker, it didn't take me long to realize that food posts always bring more traffic than anything, so I included some of the recipes that I make along the way. I am not always the most disciplined recipe follower, more of a bit of this and that, so I find that my recipes are a slow process to write so I don't chronicle everything I make and often times I forget to take a photo...oops! Sometimes I even add in my personal experiences, but usually shy away from that as I want to stay focused on promoting this area. Today, I want to reflect on one of my very recent past experiences before moving on to 2013's new experiences,  as I feel compelled to speak my mind on this subject. As an American expat I am forever noticing similarities and differences in my two countries. It's just natural curiosity for me. I don't believe  either country is better or perfect but there are some striking differences at times on both sides that gets me a bit fired up a bit.
Pinerolo'a emergency entrance of the Agnelli hospital
Todays topic is  Italian health care, socialist healthcare at it's best.  Early in December I found myself experiencing some abdominal pains that I have been managing for quite a while as I had been diagnosed with gall bladder  disease. I didn't know before, but it seems to run through my dad's side of the family.  It was recommended for me to have the gall bladder removed, but I resisted, as I am a big believer in trying to heal my body naturally. So I embarked on a path to improve the health of my gall bladder and had quite a bit of success. Unfortunately, not enough, as I finally realized as the pain became less manageable. I knew it had taken a shift, but didn't realize what that meant exactly. On my merry way I continued, until it became apparent that things were not going in the right direction and something needed to be done. There were missteps on both my part and the national health organization  in that I missed my operation date and wound up in the emergency room in distress. I wanted to go home as the symptoms subsided while waiting, but Fabrizio wouldn't hear of it. Smart man. Anyway, the gall bladder was idling along while the pancreas became inflamed and threatened to create far more difficulties than originally diagnosed. Silly me.
Christmas tree on the surgery floor and lots of Panettone  for the staff.
So they admitted me to the hospital and began to treat me for the pancreatitis until it was safe to remove the gall bladder. It was a long 12 days. It was  good experience considering, as all the doctors and nurses were as dedicated and caring as any that I have ever come in contact with in America. I found that my Italian was better than I realized, learned a lot of new words, and had the notion reinforced  once again that caring and professionalism knows no language or any other barrier.
Who knew how delicious semolino soup, with grana Padano  cheese instead of salt could taste soooo good!

So what was different and why do I feel so compelled to write about this experience?  It is because the financial underpinnings are so very different. So vastly different. Socialized medicine in Italy means you pay little or nothing at all and the care is first rate. Free or affordable health care is a basic human right in Italy. Everyone on our floor was equal and receiving excellent care no matter what our economic status might be. That usually is the case in the hospital, but at least none of us were worrying about financial ruin. The staff worked very hard and I appreciate what a tough job being a doctor or nurse is anywhere in the world. i take my hat off to these under appreciated professionals. A heartfelt thank you from me to you!  I know there are probably many other people that can tell other stories, but this was my experience. I am sure that larger cities and other places feel the strain at times to be able to offer excellent health care, but our local system is excellent and I am very grateful.
New addition to our hospital
Our local Pinerolo hospital originally built with the support of the Angelli family, our areas patron saint, of Fiat fame and fortune, has recently been updated and expanded. I was fortunate enough to be in the new wing and it truly was a pleasant place to stay if you find yourself in need of their services. I have been intrigued since I have been living here about how you, the patient/customer are more involved and responsible with your own care on different levels. Pharmacies all have a licensed doctor that is able to prescribe needed medicines, often eliminating a doctors visit. Over the counter drugs are pretty much non existent and you will pay more for some of those types of medicine, but most prescriptions are quite reasonably priced.  There is much interest and support in preventative measures  for diseases like heart disease, diabestes and such sometimes hereditary predispositions. When you need to see a doctor you show up at one of their offices, that they keep regular hours at with your medical records in hand, no receptionists, you just need to see who is the last person in line and find your place in the queue. First come, first served. The doctor has their computer and all of your records are on file. When you need a test done the doctor gives you a computerized order form that you use to get your test done and then to use to pay the hole in the wall machine who gives you a receipt and change if you need it. The receipt then gets you  a copy from the staff who manage the records and make special appointments for you. Pretty efficient  in spite of sometimes needing to wait a bit. But hey, whenever I have gone to the doctors in the states, I have waited incredible amounts of time even with an appointment. No perfect system anywhere. America has great healthcare, if you can afford it or if you have a job with health care benefits. Those benefits are getting very difficult to obtain these days. Health care in America has become big business and for me that seems like the wrong direction to go. Italy has all kinds of economic woes, and I am sure health care is a part of it, but it isn't the main problem. and it is still considered a basic human right, so hooray for that. I know that the new health care reform is not a perfect piece of legislation and yet I think it is a step in the right direction for everyone in the states. I guess my point is please do not fear this change so much as embrace that all Americans may afford the health care that in my opinion is a basic human right. We are all in this together and need to find solutions that include for the greater good of us all. We all need to take care of ourselves and each other, because in the end, it's all that really matters. At least that is how it seems to me...Thanks for listening to my personal belief, that we all matter! And now on to a more healthful and prosperous 2013 for all!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart! 
Oh yes, I am fine and doing well.
  I had a quiet and wonderfully peaceful Christmas at home and a happy New Year with friends.
Thanks for asking, now you don't need to! Ciao Ciao....Marla

PS....the volunteer clowns were a nice touch, even for us old fogeys!


bogiedog said...

THank you for sharing that, Marla. People here have such misconceptions about "social medicine". We're also, of course, so happy that you are well and back to what you do best. Happy New Year to you and Fabrizio!

Debbie and Larry Re

Bella Baita View said...

Thanks Debbie and Larry, We are happy to be to looking after guests and enjoying every day!

Rowena... said...

I am glad that you are doing fine, and I also completely agree with you on the socialized healthcare that we have in this country. I had a stint in the hospital myself about 6 years ago, and was very pleased with how 'dealing with an italian hospital' turned out. Doctors and hospitals have always put me on edge even in the states, but atleast I don't have to worry about finances should I need serious treatment.

Sending you both some unseasonal warmth from the chestnut forest (it was 18°C this past Saturday!)

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

So happy to read that you are over the worst and doing well.

Such super healthcare. We do have good healthcare in the UK but it does depend on where you are, sorry to have to say this.

Take care x

Bella Baita View said...

Thank you Rowena, we are having unseasonably warm weather as well. Quite weird. they say when the moon phase turns next week we will have winter arriving. Just in time for some shoveling fitness!

Bella Baita View said...

Thank you Anne. I have a feeling health can widely vary, but happy that in our small community we have good care, very grateful.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Good to hear you are doing well. Happy New Year to you.

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