Monday, October 29, 2007

Sick in Sicily

A quick Google search has revealed that Tachipirina is a brand of acetaminophen, aka Tylenol. This is important to know because this is the pill that a couple of hours ago turned me from a feverish zombie into a tired, sick, but relatively human feeling person. This is a good drug.

The professor got me this Tachipirina--he wanted me to take it before bed, but when I told him my fever had hit 39C he told me to go ahead and take it immediately. The professor has been taking good care of me. The last time I ran a fever was in college, I think. Over ten years ago. Whatever this is seems to have really gotten on top of me.

Last night, after an ill advised trip downtown that nearly killed me, and dinner at a Chinese restaurant I forced myself to make it through only because I didn't think I could cook anything for myself, I dropped by the professor's, told him and his wife I was feeling really sick and asked if he could take me to the doctor the next morning. He offered to take me immediately to an emergency clinic, but I told I'd be fine waiting until normal office hours. He advised me to really pile on the covers so I could sweat it out.

So this morning I tried to drop the kids off at the bus stop and see them off, but the bus never came, for reasons that aren't exactly clear to me yet, and then I met up with the professor so he could take me to see his doctor. The doctor was only a couple of blocks away, in a regular old palazzo off of Corso Italia--an easy walk, even for sickos. This was the professor's private doctor that he goes to. We walk in and there is a waiting room. There is no receptionist, no check in, no appointment. You just keep track of who was there before you and when they're done it's your turn. Many people as they entered would ask who was last, so they only had to remember that they were after that person. I asked the professor how the health system worked, and we didn't get into a long discussion, but I basically understood from his brief breakdown that regular doctor visits, like this one, are covered by the state. Visits to specialists and lab work is subsidized but not free. I'm not sure, but he may have been referring to private doctors, like the one we were visiting, since hospital visits are free. Medications require a copay. I remember from reading the news that the state experimented with completely free drugs a few years back but found that people were stockpiling medications they didn't really need just because they were free, so they brought back a copay system. I don't know a lot and may have misunderstood something, but that's it, basically, in a nutshell. The professor let me know that for purposes of accounting he was essentially person who was sick, since I wouldn't really fit into the system as a non-resident.

When we had determined that it was our turn, we entered the doctor's office, which really was more like an office, office than what we would think of as a doctor's office. Possibly there was an examination room of some sort through some other door, but here we just came in and talked to the doctor while he sat behind his desk. He listened to the symptoms, listened to my chest, looked down my throat, normal doctor stuff, and then wrote us a prescription for an antibiotic and told us take Tachipirina before bed if I had a fever. And then we were off. The professor has been very kind, fetching medicines for me, as well as water. I've found that with a 102F fever, standing up and walking is a real chore. Going downstairs one whole floor to the professor's house was exhausting. I was in no shape to leave the buidling. When the kids got back from Taormina, R made a delicious vegetable soup that really hit the spot. Tachipirina (aka Tylenol) has kicked in, helping me to feel much more human again: my temp is only 99F. (My "normal" body temp is actuallyusually around 97.5 or so, a whole degree less than the "normal" 98.6.)

Tomorrow will be another stay at home today, but I'll try and give the kids some pointers for things to go see and do around and about in Catania. I hope to be back on my feet again, soon.