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I’ve been in the U.S. for three weeks now and have my son and my mobile office in tow. We are staying until early September. Unfortunately I have not been able to write because of a “run in” I had two weeks ago with the blade on a food processor while making pesto. My mom called the emergency room to get a quick estimate on what it would cost to get 3 to 5 stitches (she’s a nurse so in these situations she calls up and speaks the lingo). Are you sitting down for the shocking total? After all was said and done, it would have cost anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500. The stitches themselves would have been around $350 – $500 but then you add in the doctor’s fees, the nurse’s fees, the “after hours” fees (though it was 6 p.m.) and the “room charge fee” and suddenly that turns into the world’s most expensive pesto. I do have emergency travel health insurance, but I wasn’t sure if “Cuisinart disaster due to user error” was covered in my policy and didn’t want to risk having to pay out of pocket myself. My mom decided to perform triage on my thumb and “butterfly-ed” it to stop the bleeding. Nonetheless, healing has been going slowly and I’ve been saving my thumb for work purposes or short tweets and Facebook status updates. I removed the last of my bandages today and while my poor thumb is certainly not healed, I think I’m almost there. I even went so far as to make pesto yesterday with the same food processor. This time I took the blade out with a fork and not with my hand. In my defense, the one I used here is a bit different than the one I have at home, and doesn’t have the same sturdy knob to pull the blade out. Lesson learned! I hope to be back blogging sooner rather than later. I have lots to talk about!

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Reminds me of one of those off-track betting places in New York City. Minus the drunken gamblers and other shady characters. The scent of desperation is the same...

I spent my morning here yesterday. It’s the hospital where I gave birth. The first time I walked into this place, I was carrying a cup of urine in a plastic farmacia bag and had no idea where I was supposed to go from here. The informazioni desk was closed. Anything you must do in the hospital here (and you must do many things in an Italian hospital that you’d do in your regular doctor’s office in the U.S. during a routine office visit) can’t be done until you check in and pay upfront in this big room. You take a number out of a machine that has cryptic instructions written on it, such as “Press one for tests and visits that may or may not be covered by the regional health plan.” There’s even a line to take a number and you can feel the impatience of the people behind you who just want to get their numbers and then go stand and wait under the digital boards until its their turn to wait some more.

The very first time I came here, it was too much pressure for a hormonal and nauseated pregnant woman.  I hightailed it out of there, chucking the bag of urine in a trash can. The pregnancy experience later became a book (or I should say manuscript as it wasn’t technically published in its entirety) and can be read about more in-depth here.

Anyway, yesterday I was here and since I have been half-naked in corridors throughout the place, I sort of felt right at home. That is until I got to my appointment and got a 30-minute tongue-lashing from the doctor who was supposed to perform a test on me and couldn’t do it because my primary care physician hadn’t written the correct thing on the referral. It was pretty much the equivalent of a “t” not having been crossed in medicalese, so it was my primary care physician’s fault not mine. “I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at the situation,” said the doctor who pointed out that both she and I had wasted a chunk of our morning and I had paid for a test that couldn’t be performed. Sigh.

So what did I do? I sat down in this big room feeling dejected and watched the numbers tick by as I ate a disgusting granola bar I’d bought at the supermarket the day before. I had bought it because the name me laugh. It was called “Mokaccino,” which does not sound like something that would normally appeal to Italians. Italians don’t even have a “k” in their alphabet though using English spelling sometimes makes things “cool.” Slathered in cheap milk chocolate, there was nothing “mocha-” or “cappuccino-” like about this granola bar. And because my breakfast was so lacking in inspiration and healthful properties, I had to fantasize about the things I’d cook later on to redeem myself. When life gives you lemons…

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