We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Back home, catching up

It's been over a month, the worst is behind me and I am home recuperating. I had no access to my computer the entire time or I would have been blogging religiously, as this was some experience! Unfortunately, no computers allowed where I was, so I wrote on paper.

What I will attempt to do over the next several blogs is record my last month. These are times I never want to forget. Not sure how I'll blog in reverse, but I'll give it a shot.

First, though, HUGE THANKS, to all of you who keep up with my little adventures for emailing me during this ordeal. It was amazing to hear from everyone, and the little notes and emails kept me going on some tough days!

When I posted last, I described the days of going to give blood in preparation for surgery. A week later I was to check into the hospital, so that's a good place to pick up.

I was scheduled to check into Ospedale Civile here in Venice at 8:00 am on November 15, have tests during the day, with surgery set for the morning of November 16. I had been told ahead of time to bring a suitcase of personal items like pajamas, underwear, and toothpaste, and also two important items: stampelle and monocollante. Stampelle are crutches. Monocollante are these very thick stocking/sock- like things which you must wear to reduce the possibility of blood clots after surgeries like this.

For both of these items we visited our local farmacia. Our farmacista has been fabulous, so we knew she'd be able to tell us where to go for these things. Fortunately, she handled it for us. She had stampelle, Mike purchased a pair for 30 Euro. She told him she needed to make measurements of my legs, so I had to return laster that afternoon. I showed up at the farmacia, she took me behind the counter and proceeded to measure around ankle, thigh, calf, and whole leg measurement. She got on the phone, made an order and told me to return the next day, with 42 Euros for each of the socks (you must have one for each leg). Done. Little did I know then that these sock like things were going to have an important role during the next month! More on that later.

With my bag packed, stampelle and monocollante included, on the morning of Nov 15 Mike and I left the house at 6:30 am to catch the #52 boat to Ospedale. Wouldn't you know it that morning, because of fog, the 52 wasn't running! So, we caught a 42 for Fondementa Nove and walked the remaining distance to Ospedale, which caused us to be about 15 min late.

Being late didn't seem to matter, even after we ran around several floors trying to find the right place. We eventually located the waiting area for Orthopedia and rang the bell. No one came.
A few nurses went in and out, I spoke to each one explaining I was here to be checked in and no one seemed to know what was going on. We continued to wait. After about 2 hours, a nurse finally came and told me that there were no beds for me available that day, I would have to return tomorrow, but first had to go have x-rays taken. A nurse came, took me off to x-ray, and left. When the x-rays were completed, I walked myself back to Orthopedics, told the nurse I was finished, and she said "go home, be back here at 7:30 am tomorrow". I had expected to meet the dr. who would perform the surgery that day, and told the nurse this. She said, "ok, talk to the dr, he is right there. " OK. In my halting Italian, I asked the dr a few questions. He opened my file and handed me a 3 page document I had signed earlier which described all the complications possible with a surgery like mine. What I had wanted was a little explanation of what would happen during the surgery, not what could happen as a result of it. The nurse handed me a form to sign, which essentially was giving my permission to be released overnite, and off we went home.

To be honest, I was relieved to be sleeping at home that night. It took alot of the nervousness away for me.

The next day, we repeated the trip to Ospedale Civile and arrived in plenty of time. I rang the bell at Orthopedics. This time, a nurse came right out for me, and ushered us inside. She explained that I was first in line for surgery that day, there still was no bed for me, but there would be one by the time I came out of recovery. They had me change into a hospital gown, and the nurse put a few drops of something into a little plastic cup for me. She said this would relax me some. She was right. Whatever was in that cup was perfect. My fear and nervousness were miraculously gone, and I was on that gurney ready to go! Mike had my bag and stampelle, he was going off to wait in the waiting room, and I was wheeled off to surgery- feeling quite happy. There were alot of days after that I wished for more of whatever those magic drops were.


Anonymous said...

I am very happy to see you are in better shape now and would like to wish you a complete recovery.

karen said...

Condorcet-Many, many thanks!

Rob C said...


We're glad to hear you have overcome!
It's awkward when one of your 'essential reading' bloggers disappears (especially into hospital) , what do you (the loyal follower) do?

Anyway, Merry Christmas from one(albeit temporary) Venetian to another.


Dianne said...

Karen, Happy to see that you are almost recovered from your surgery. Of course, it is just your luck that there is acqua alta eccezionale these last couple of days.

karen said...


Grazie, grazie, grazie! I am absolutely touched by your kind words!

Where in Venice are you? Enjoying all the water this week?

Buon Natale!!!!!

Rob C said...


We're right out in Guidecca, we've always stayed right near St Mark's before but found we get much more apartment for our € out here :-)

Just off to Lunch at La Caravella andthen off to visit relatives near Treviso tomorrow.


karen said...

Rob, I am sure you are getting much more value for your Euro on Giudecca, especially if you are here for a longer period.

If you are ever in Campo Santa Margharita and want to meet for a coffee, let me know! I've had face to face meetings with tons of people who have contacted me through my blog. It's always a pleasure for me!

Enjoy your Christmas lunch, and how lucky you are to have family close by!
Auguri a tutti!

Yvonne said...

Oh, I'm so glad I decided to check out your blog today! Welcome back, you have been missed.

After the start you described, i can hardly wait for the rest of this epic!

Baci e abbracci, pilgrim! :-)

Yvonne said...

Rob C, Karen said it's OK to get in touch with you via her comment page.

I'd really love to hear what you folks thought of staying in Giudecca, especially at this time of year.

Please send me a message at ytab36 at hotmail dot com Grazie!