If at all possible, I would strongly advise against getting tonsillitis while in a foreign country. It’s miserable in a multitude of ways.
The other day, I was experiencing really bad throat pain. Of course, I assumed it would just go away, but when it didn’t, I decided to look at my throat to see what it looked like. Well, it looked like it had been taken to by a weed-whacker. So naturally I jumped to the conclusion that I had cancer. I desperately tried to contact my mom while googling pictures of tonsil cancer. (Oh my gosh that looks exactly like my throat. Okay, I’m dying here. How much does it cost to ship a dead body overseas? I wonder if my insurance covers that.)
My dear mother, who is also a nurse, told me that I needed to see a doctor. Even though I had come to peace with my doomed fate, she insisted that I go. The next morning, I sent out on a journey to the hospital, about 15 minutes outside of Orvieto, where I live.
Apparently, the hospital is not the most popular destination, so there are only a few buses spread throughout the day that make a stop there. I had checked the website the night before, and I thought I had the correct times for the bus departure, but no. The schedule I referenced was 5 minutes off, so I missed the first bus. I had to wait 45 minutes for the next one, so I sat on a bench, wallowing in my misery. Finally, the next bus came. “questo autobus va a il ospidale?” (my broken Italian). “Si” (a weary response from the busdriver).
So, after a bumpy 15 minutes, here we are at the hospital. A large, pale mustard yellow building in desperate need of a paint job, surrounded by overgrown grass and weeds. I walked in and somehow managed to track down “pronto soccorso”, basically the emergency room. Although I had been assured that the nurses and doctors would speak English, alas, they only spoke “un poco”. A little. Again, I put to use my elementary Italian. We were able to communicate enough for him to understand my situation. After filling out some paperwork, I was made to wait in a small waiting room with 6 other people. After about 5 minutes, the nurse called out an elderly couple and I. To them, (in Italian of course), he said something along the lines of “this girl doesn’t speak Italian, she needs to go here, please show her where to go”. And so, this is how I became adopted by a sweet Italian couple for the day. I followed them around like a sick puppy, and they led me through stairways and hallways, to different information desks, talking to different nurses, shuffling my papers, while periodically checking back on me, and smiling encouragingly. Speaking in that universal language called kindness.
They brought me to a small hallway with a little door, where we sat and waited outside. When I was called in, I walked into a very small, white room. The doctor instructed me (in English!!) to sit on the stool. “So you have pain in your throat?” “Do you have any allergies to medications?” “Do you have a fever?” Yes, no, no. “Open your mouth” he looked at my throat for about half a second. “Tonsillitis!”, he proclaimed, scratched out a prescription on a piece of note paper, stamped and signed it. “Bye-bye!” he waved, and that was that. “grazie, arrivederci. (I don’t have cancer thank you Jesus)”. I walked out of the room, and was greeted by the sympathetic smiles of my new Italian caretakers. I’m pretty sure I looked as sick as a felt. Again, I followed them around, as they led me out of the hospital. We were able to have a small conversation about why I am in Italy (thank you Rosetta Stone). Of course, they ended up knowing my chef, Chef Lorenzo. I’m convinced he knows literally everyone in the town of Orvieto.
I thanked them, gratefully (grazie mille!!), and walked back to the bus stop, this time carrying my precious prescription for antibiotics. The pain of my throat had prohibited me from eating or drinking for the past day and a half, so at this point, I was so tired and weak, I felt like getting back home would be impossible. Okay, maybe I was being a little dramatic, but I didn’t feel great, let me tell you that.
Of course, when I finally got back to Orvieto, all the pharmacies were closed for the afternoon break, so I couldn’t get my meds until later that evening. But eventually, the shops opened back up, and I was able to get my prescription filled.
Now I’m on the mend, taking an antibiotic pill every 12 hours, and eating lots of soup.
PS: Shout out to my awesome parents for sending me Honig soup from the bakery earlier that week, because it’s saving my life now. It’s funny how there’s an ocean between us, but my parents are still somehow saving my day. I love you guys.