Doctor in the house …really.

Note: Before reading, know that I am fine now! So no worries, famiglia!

Credit: Heather Ayvazian

I think the spirits of offended Patriots fans set out to slay me after all my Superbowl heckling and boasting.

Earlier this weekend, I had a mild cough and was sick Saturday night with a low fever. Some of my housemates were feeling blue too, so we figured it was just a bad cold or quick bug going around. (After all, it has been extremely cold here). Sunday night I was feeling quite well, but yesterday I suddenly went very downhill.

My first class on Monday was one of the longest classes of my life. I spent about 10% of it taking notes, 20% of it wondering when it was going to end, 30% of it coughing, and40% of it strategizing the least-obnoxious timing of my coughs and analyzing how annoying and disgusting I sounded to everyone in the room. By my evening cooking class, I sounded like a choking old man when I coughed, and like a chain smoker of 40 years when I tried to speak. At least I don’t need a voice to make a damn good tiramisu. One of the groups made soup, too, and it was the most glorious bowl of soup I’ve ever consumed. After two hours of my struggling vocal cords unable to audibly project words to my peers, I had this brief but magical post-soup window when my voice finally came out and I was able to rejoice GOOD JOB TEAM SOUP for everyone to hear 😀

"Persian Queen:" Down comforter-style

After a meeting that followed this class, I walked home with my 4 layers of clothing, winter coat, and scarf. FA FREDDO. I’ve been wrapping my scarf around my face to block the wind and stay warm, but it kind of makes me feel like a gang member. I’ve decided to name this gang the Persian Queens (a sisterhood clan of the Latin Kings), porque we only show our eyes. The Persian Queen insignia works with down comforters as well.

By bedtime, I had looked up the English-speaking medical services provided to us by the university, and planned to attend their walk-in evening hours today to get control over this cough. After the first few hours of coughing instead of sleeping, I reset my alarm to make the morning walk-in hours instead of my class. (Oh, the guilt nerdy students must face for missing a class). 5am was approaching and I still hadn’t slept because I could not. stop. coughing. I was getting extremely cold again too, adding layers and layers of nearby sweaters to add to the Persian Queen look. Thank goodness I was too lazy to pick those sweaters up off the floor, I thought.

Still cold, still coughing. The Patriots are punishing me, I kept thinking. Muffle the cough in the pillows so Heather doesn’t wake up. And eventually, Oh my God, I am going to pee my pants from coughing too much if I don’t go to the bathroom. After a brief motivational speech to myself (I’ll pass on sharing this thought-process in verbatim), I slowly walked myself down the hall to the bathroom, and took some Ibuprofen when I got in there, since I could now clearly tell I had a fever. After only another minute or so of standing/coughing, I suddenly found myself profusely sweating and starting to feel very lightheaded. Ooooh boy, ok, deep breaths, I thought. My body was an oven–a spontaneously combusting oven. (If that is anything like a hot flash, then I am so, so, terribly remorseful for all the times I’ve poked fun at any relatives overcome with a hot flash: my day will come).

All of a sudden, I was overcome with a feeling that I have only ever felt once before–that time I passed out while donating blood. Oh, no! I thought. I leaned over the counter in front of me and tried to calm down. The rest of this incident is pretty blurry to explain, but also pretty scary. I will tell you, though, I am a CHAMPION. I fainted twice but still managed to a) not fall to the ground or clunk my head and b) make it right around the corner to Chelsea and Ella’s bedroom door and bang loud enough for them to hear. I hope they don’t think this is a trespasser, was somehow a thought that crossed my mind. Apparently when Chelsea woke up though, she said “Liz?” just knowing–which is still giving me goosebumps.

My poor housemates must’ve been horrified, but man were they champions too. Before you knew it, I was seated in the hallway with a cool towel on my head, stripped of the extra layers, drinking a cold glass of water, and finally breathing in a calm way. My mind was no longer panicked, but instead thinking about what a jackass I am for causing such a commotion at 5am. Chelsea got Heather, and we took my temperature to try to get a sense of what we should do next. (Thank you, Chelsea’s mom, for packing all the medical supplies and thermometer). At this point, the fever was only 102F, mild, which made me feel relieved that it wasn’t severe enough for emergency attention. It didn’t feel severe anymore either, and I had just taken that Ibuprofen. We did pull out the handy-dandy orientation booklet, though, to look up more of the medical services options. Apparently, we could do a home call at any hour and have an English-speaking doctor come to our home for a fair price with the international medical insurance plan we were mandated to enroll with. I suddenly felt very thankful for what I had originally felt was over-preparation for medical-related stuff by our university. Since I couldn’t sustain a voice, Heather made the call for me, and within 30 minutes we had a doctor arriving in my bedroom.

This was the first time I’ve ever had a doctor come to me in my home, so it was a very interesting experience. He was an Italian man, probably in his late 50s, and wore glasses and a scarf, leather suitcase in hand. “I feel like I’m in an episode of Little House on the Prairie,” whispered Ella. I thanked the doctor (with my pathetic little voice) for coming at such an hour, and was surprised that we skipped any paperwork and got straight to business. I told him what happened that night, how I felt then, how I had been feeling the past few days, and about my history of bronchitis. He did the simple checks. “Hold out your tongue and say ‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah’.” “Aaaah–[coughcoughcough],” I tried, then tried again. Weak, but doable. He touched around my neck asking if it hurt, and it did not. Then he stood me up, facing Ella and Heather, and started with his stethoscope on my back. To my surprise, and probably to Ella and Heather’s shock as well, he lifted my shirt right up above the boobs. I couldn’t help laughing, which luckily turned into a cough to disguise my discomfort. “Sorry,” I mouthed to my friends, who sat holding back smirks at this awkward view of me. The doctor concluded that it was not pneumonia, and that it is an upper respiratory infection, which he explained to me a little further. He asked me for my allergies and prescribed me several prescriptions, thoroughly explaining and writing out the instructions (since the packaging would be in Italian). He then told Heather and Ella where a nearby 24/7 pharmacy was and answered their questions, and he took my medical insurance card information. Then he wrote me a note to the university to excuse me from class FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE WEEK, telling me to stay rested here and stay warm. Finally, we paid for the visit (“we” meaning I had no Euro on me so my friends had to spot me–as if they hadn’t done enough for me already), and said good bye to the good doctor. He commented on the wine bottles on our shelves. “We gotta try the Chianti while here,” I said. “Ah, of course,” he agreed. “Italy’s finest products are its food and its wine.” Then he added, “And the boys.” Heather and I laughed. “It is true!” he said. “Boys are a fine product of Italy–well, some of them.” And on that note, doctor took off.

So, Ella and Heather kindly ventured out to buy my prescriptions for me. Apparently it was an interesting experience of talking between a dark window where you could not see the person you were talking to, but could make the exchanges underneath. The pharmacist was apparently English-speaking and very helpful, and the process didn’t require any wait. In no time, they returned and I was medicated. I was also exhausted and could tell I’d be able to fall right asleep. I said to Heather, “I am going to PASS THE HELL OUT. Get it? :D” (Ok, too soon).

Heather knows just what to post on my Facebook page to make me feel better 🙂

After sleeping and having the meds kick in, I already was feeling better than overnight. No fevers throughout the day either, and I shouldn’t be getting any, but am still taking Ibuprofen just in case. I do sound like a chain smoker, but I don’t have to go anywhere to be judged about it! Today consisted of naps, homework, watching young Mary Kate & Ashley movies with my housemates, and cooking a simple but delicious homemade vegetable soup. (And when I get completely well, I will definitely be cooking some delicious thank-you house dinners for my amazing housemates, who I would in-a-heartbeat help out just as they helped me out too. I can’t thank them enough). These next few days will also consist of sleep, homework, reading Lord of the Rings, and making soup. A cat’s life, basically. The medications have already helped me today, and I know that with the continuation of them and a few days of solid rest, I will soon be ready to continue my adventures in Italia!

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6 comments on “Doctor in the house …really.

  1. […] as I shared in my last post, I’m house-bound for a few days until I get well. But even within il casa, there is plenty of […]

  2. Nana and Grandpa says:

    Hi Elizabeth, Im so sorry to read that you’ve been ill, but it sounds like you have a handle on it now.When I was in Italy some 35 years ago I too became sick with the thing. Uncle Lennie took me to see La Dottoressa ala Farmacia, which turned out to be a pharmacist in a pharmacy. She gave me an expectorant that helped somewhat but I really needed a antibiotic. Things have come a long way since then. I’m glad you were able to see a REAL doctor. Elizabeth, reading this over, I see I left out the word ” same” between “the” and “thing” but maybe we should call it “THE THING”.Hope you feel and get better real fast.Love, Nana

    • Liz J says:

      Hi Nana 🙂 I was actually telling my housemates the other night about that story of yours, and how your advice was “Don’t get sick over there!” But yes, thankfully things have come a long way so I have a handle on THE THING

    • Liz J says:

      P.S. Mom just told me that you have a cough too 😦 …Get well soon, Nana!

  3. Aunt Marianne says:

    So glad that you are feeling much better, Elizabeth! My goodness! You don’t have to experience EVERYTHING while you’re there! We would be fine with one less delightful story! You are an amazing writer. . . actually much better than your aunt! Hmmm… and, the reference to the hot flashes? Ah, now you know. Just think. . . something to look forward to in your very distant future. Yep, that’s how they feel! Keep getting better~ no more hot flashes allowed!
    Love, Aunt Marianne

    • Liz J says:

      Thanks, I really am getting better with these medications and rest. Getting sick definitely wasn’t on the Italy agenda, but at least it’s all under control. And thank you for the compliment–but do not even try to compare against yourself! I love your stories 🙂

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