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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Fate Bene Fratelli - Part 1

The transfer from Ospedale to Fate Bene Fratelli in Cannaregio may very well have been one of my most Venetian experiences ever.  It was scheduled for 5pm on November 21, but the boat was late, it was more like 6:30 pm when two paramedics with a wooden wheelbarrow type chair arrived at my room.  I wish I had a photo of the chariot they use.  Literally, it's a wooden chair, with two long wooden handles attached to it. You get sort of dumped into the "chair", and they haul you off!  In my case, getting me settled into the chair took a little bit of doing, as my left knee wasn't able to bend.  What the paramedics did before we took off was to attach my right leg to the end of the right side handle using a nylon strap so it was hanging down from the handle. For the left leg, instead of dangling it under the handle like the other leg, they sort of tied the leg directly to the handle so it didn't move as they wheeled me.  And then we took off.  One paramedic handled the ride from my room to the boat dock and I just hung on for dear life, in absolute amazement. We zoomed through hospital corridors and out the door at the Emergency Room exit, where the ambulance boats all dock. 

At this point, before I knew what was happening, the two paramedics lifted the chair up and they climbed up onto the duckboards (high water platforms) that were lined up from the doorway down to the dock.  One of them explained that a few hours earlier there was Aqua Alta!  Glad I missed that.  We got to the boat, where there were 3 other men.  My paramedics lifted me up over the side of the boat, still in the chair, handed me off to the other 3 men who put me down into the boat, and pushed me through two doors into the covered inside part of the boat, which looked to me just like an ambulance.  One of the paramedics who had come from my room also rode in back with Mike and I. 

The ambulance boat then took off, with blue lights blazing.  I was annoyed it was too dark out to get a good look at where we were going. I could tell we were riding parallel to Fondamenta Nove for awhile, then turned left onto a smaller canal.  About 15 minutes later they pulled up along side Fate Bene Fratelli.  The whole getting me into the boat routine was reversed, I was lifted up onto the street, still in my chariot, then wheeled inside by my two paramedics, followed by Mike.  The paramedics did some check-in procedure with the man at the desk, and I was told we would have to wait a little bit, they weren't ready for me just yet, but someone would be down to get me shortly. 

While we waited, my poor left leg was in major pain.  One of the paramedics kept asking me how I was, and I kept telling him I was in pain.  He bent down to his knees, unhitched my left leg,and cradled it in his arms, trying to make me more comfortable than to have it strapped to the handle of this chair gizmo.  In about 10 minutes, a guy arrives with a wheelchair for me.  The object was for me to be transferred to the wheelchair and the paramedics could leave.  Unfortunately, this particular wheelchair didn't have any attachment to it that would allow my left leg to be out straight, and I couldn't bend it.  Bottom line, the wheelchair wasn't going to work. So, my two paramedics wheeled me to my room, unhitched me from the chariot, and lifted me into my bed.  The one who had held my leg in the foyer downstairs  told me he was sorry for my pain.  I thanked him, but I sure hope I run into him again someday so I can thank him again.  I will never forget his small kindness.

So- here I was in my new home for the next 3 weeks. Room 123.  The nurse, a guy named Antonio, did some additional paperwork with me and then asked if I was hungry.  YES!  He arranged for some dinner to be brought to me, and then he proceeded to show me how my automatic bed worked.  What? an automatic bed? The whole bed goes up and down, the back elevates, and so does the foot.  Have I gone to heaven?  I don't have to ring for a nurse to arrange the back of the bed here?  This is good.  Also, the bottom of the bed had this little hood like thing on it, designed to hold the bedcovers off of your legs. This gizmo proved to be one of the greatest little comforts imaginable!

When dinner arrived, it was very good, another pleasant surprise. 

When we first learned I'd be moved to this facility, Mike and I made a little joke about the name Fate Bene Fratelli.  We called it Fate Buono Fritelli instead, which translates to Make Good Fritelli.  This is particularly meaningful to me, as I love the Venetian treat, the Fritelli, which is made only at Carnevale time.  Essentially a Fritelli is a donut, stuffed with things like zabagone, crema, or, my favorite, ricotta with pinenuts and raisins.  Oh, this is one heavenly little treat!  Fate Bene Fratelli, on the other hand, means Make Well Brothers.  Great name.  And I can tell you that over the next 3 weeks, I had first hand experience at how well they did with that. 

Note: Thanks, Yvonne for sending this great photo of Fate Bene Fratelli.  I took a few, but this one is much better.


Mary Ann said...

I can't begin to fathom what it must be like having surgery as extensive as yours in a foreign country with not complete knowledge of the language. You are definitely a hero. I hope your recuperation goes well and you have a wonderful New year. I really enjoy your blog, just wish you would post even more.

Yvonne said...

Oh, how I wish there was a photo of you in that transfer chair. The fellow who cradled your leg and showed such warm concern sounds like such a nice bloke.

It was so good to find more posts here, on New Year's Day. :-)

karen said...

Thanks, Mary Ann!!! It was a bit daunting, but I got through it, and my Italian improved greatly after 3 weeks inside Fate Bene Fratelli!!! I wouldn't recommend this as the ultimate way to learn Italian, however. I promise I will blog more in 2011!!!!

karen said...

Thanks, Yvonne. Yes, that guy was something. Even Mike made the comment after that this young man's mother raised him right. I agree! And wasn't I lucky to have him on my boat that night?