Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Doctor's Appointment in Italy...

Or, a more suitable title might be 'How long will the Americans be kept waiting before they complain?'

When I heard that there was a doctor's office out in town that offered 3D ultrasounds, I jumped at the chance to get one done. The appointment was set up through the Navy hospital's referral system, since the doctor's office didn't speak any English and we aren't good enough at Italian to make an appointment on our own. The appointment was set for 5:30 p.m. last night. I got directions, loaded them into our Garmin, and we hit the road with plenty of time to spare to allow for getting lost and traffic.

We amazingly didn't get lost, but had to walk up and down the street a few times to find the small, nondescript building that housed the doctor's office. My eagle eye vision spotted the 1/A and we headed up some dirty, dimly lit steps that were littered with cigarette butts and entered what can only be described as an old, rundown, "am I in a third world country?" doctor's office.

The air was stale, the A/C shut off, and pregnant women and what seemed to be their entire extended families lingered all around, fanning themselves with magazines to circulate some air. Token and I are so obviously American, so everyone stared at us, probably wondering what in the world we were doing there.

The office didn't have a reception desk, so we didn't know where to go and who to check in with, so we just grabbed a seat on one of the old lime green couches and waited to see what would happen.

About 10 minutes later, a short Italian woman, dressed in a white nurse's outfit (for real... down to the posturepedic shoes), who was at LEAST in her mid- to late-70s, came into the room with a Post-It note pad. She talked to one family of about seven (including, mom, dad, grandma, friend, other kids, aunt, etc.), and then headed over in our direction.

She asked us our name and Token wrote it down on her paper, and then she started barreling questions at us as we stared blankly, trying to string together the words "3D ultrasound, seven months pregnant, appointment at 5:30." The room at this point had fallen silent, as everyone strained to hear our attempt at Italian and figure out just who we were and what we were doing there. Either we satisfied the nurse's questioning or she gave up, because she gave us a flip of her hand and walked away.

We waited and waited.... and waited some more as people who had come in after us were whisked away to see the doctor. We concluded that seeing the doctor in Italy is the same as waiting in line here; whoever is the pushiest goes first, regardless of appointment times.

So, after waiting 1.5 hours, I made Token get pushy. His Italian co-worker knows everyone. Seriously. He's like the Mayor of Catania. Token got him on the phone and explained what was going on and was about to hand the phone to the nurse for what was probably going to be a great ass-chewing, when the nurse said something to us that Token translated was 'we're next.' But just to make sure, we stood smack in front of the door to the doctor's office, prepared to defend our place in "line."

Finally, the nurse escorted us into the office, and we kind of, somewhat talked to the doctor, although we thought he asked what we were there for and instead he was asking when I was due, so I think he was confused when Token wrote 3D Ultrasound on his piece of paper. Haha! He also seemed confused when Token wrote 15 October on his piece of paper, because he looked at me, then at my stomach and shook his head. Hm.

He ushered us over to the ultrasound machine and let me just say, I wasn't prepared for just how much I had to pull my pants down. At the Navy Hospital, you can still be somewhat modest, because really, all they need to see is your stomach. But here? Oh no. I might as well have taken my pants off completely. The doctor was also a whole heck of a lot rougher with the ultrasound wand thing than the U.S. doctors. With the U.S. doctors, it was all, "I'm going to apply a little pressure," which amounted to not much pressure at all. With the Italian doctor, to get the baby to move, he was shake my whole entire stomach violently. It wasn't pleasant. He showed us different body parts (it was like Italian 101! Eye = occhio, feet = piedi, brain = cervello, etc.) and printed out a bunch of pictures. Here are a few!

This picture makes me sad, because it looks like she's crying. Can babies cry in the womb? :::heads to Google to search for the answer::: Why, yes, it looks like they can cry! Interesting. Poor little girl. :(

I'll just pretend that she's rocking out to her own little song, because here's a shot of her hand, in a classic "rocker" pose. (and yes, she does have all fingers; we saw them)

The doctor liked the picture above in particular. You see, the 'hook 'em horns' hand gesture is extremely offensive in Italy. It's way worse than throwing someone the middle finger and I think it means something equivalent to 'your wife is cheating on you' or something like that.

The doctor spent about 30 minutes with us, and then the nurse violently wiped away the gel from my stomach (with scratchy paper towel - ouch!), we paid some Euro, and headed on our way. The whole process took 2.5 hours.

The whole thing is definitely a fun memory and a good story for the baby book, that's for sure!


Nancy G said...

Aww, but she's going to be so cute!! Looks like she has hair too!! You're right, it will be quite a story! Just stay with those American doctors from now on!! Keep healthy!!


Mom Br said...

What a little sweeheart she is going to be! I can't wait, but,oh yes I can. We don't want you having to visit the Italian doctors again!! :-) Love you all bunches!

dadone said...

"T", another chapter for the novel, love you three, dadone