Useful vocabulary when in hospital

Pappagallo:   parrot or urine bottle

Padella:         pan or bed pan

These are two useful Italian phrases when you are stuck in an Italian hospital. You learn the phrase “pappagallo, per favore” quite quickly. You try to avoid saying “Padella, per favore”. But when you are on your back in an Italian hospital for 12 days then sooner or later you ring the bell and when the nurse arrives you say it.

29th October I was in the middle of the olive harvest when I fell from the ladder. My back hurt and blood was pouring from my head. My back had hit the ground and the ladder had hit my head. Rinaldo, who was with me, helped stem the blood and I managed to walk back to the house. My back hurt but not too much and I thought a cup of tea and a rest would resolve everything. A couple of hours later my afternoon English Class arrived and I was severely reprimanded for not going to hospital immediately. So I was driven to the “Pronto Soccorso” (Accident and Emergency) in Fossombrone. A couple of hours later after a “Lastra” (an x-ray) I was admitted into hospital with a fractured vertebrae and with 7 “punti” (stitches) in my head where the ladder had hit.

Being wheeled into the ward we passed a side ward where there was an obviously sick old man with some family members beside him. As we went past I said a thankyou that I was not in that room. But as we reached the end of the ward someone shouted out “numero 2” and the trolley went into reverse and I ended up in the bed next to the sick old man and his family – next to Renato and his daughter Rosanna. 

Soon after being put to bed Rinaldo arrived with pyjamas, a towel, a cup and  knife, fork and spoon. People bring their own cutlery when in hospital. Family members or friends are encouraged to come at meal times to help the patients eat. So members of my English Class, Thomas and Erica and Bill were always there at meal times to help me eat.  The food was acceptable. Breakfast was coffee and a brioche or bread. Lunch and dinner were three course meals: pasta, meat course and dessert. Unfortunately the pasta course was often “brodo” i.e. small pieces of pasta in a stock. Best eaten by throwing away the stock. For dessert “mela cotta” i.e. baked apple was served at least once a day. It’s meant to be good for body as it is easy to digest.

A normal day was: tablet before breakfast (7.00 a.m). This was to stop an upset stomach when you take the pain killers served after breakfast. The man selling newspapers arrived at 8.00. Anytime between breakfast and the mid morning visit of the doctor the nurses would arrive to give me a bed bath, and tidy the room. The doctor arrived and was treated with great respect by all. It seemed to me that the doctors in the Accident & Emergency and the doctors in the ward had forgotten to smile. They were very stern. The only one who smiled was the “primario (Department head): perhaps because he had arrived. Lunch was served at 12.00. Afternoon I received an injection to help prevent blood clots while staying in bed. Dinner was served at 7.00.

So not much happened during the day and time was spent reading, sleeping and chatting. One became institutionalised very quickly.

As I said I first shared the room with Renato. He died 3 days later.  There was a single room in the hospital but it was already occupied and so he had to share. His last night was difficult as his lungs began to fill with fluid and breathing became more laboured. In the following morning the nurses twice drained liquid from his lungs but at lunch time his heart gave out. Throughout the time he was in the ward there was always a family member or a carer with him. His daughter, Rosanna, had been with much of the time and was there at the end. Although sharing the room with a dying man was not one’s first choice Rosanna’s presence meant there was some company for me and we helped each other through the day. When Renato died his body was removed very quickly and within 30 minutes the bed was taken by Paolo. Paolo had a problem with his foot but was mobile. His wife would arrive soon after the doctor’s visit. After the visit the doctor is available for consultation by family members. Paolo’s wife made sure she was kept informed of everything that was happening or likely to happen. Paolo was a very typical male from the Marche. Reserved, gruff and not much small talk. Then once I had a “busto” i.e. corset which allowed me to move around he asked if I wanted to go for a walk. This was the first time I had seen the hospital. Some of the wards had been closed and it had a slightly “down at heel” feel. However, my room was kept clean and all the staff had been incredibly friendly and arrived immediately I rang a bell for help.

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