Ill in Italy – The 911

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Here concludes the most stressful week of my semester so far!

Not only was Monday the first day of midterms, but also the day I somehow managed to contract strep throat. Thankfully I didn’t miss any exams, but it was definitely a struggle to get through everything….taking a test was the LAST thing I wanted to be doing (talk about bad timing!) I had a high fever and my throat was swollen to the point where it was too painful to swallow even small sips of water. I owe a huge thanks to my roommate Allison for helping me figure out what to do in this type of situation. Part of the application for Temple’s study abroad requires that all students enroll in HTH Worldwide Insurance Services prior to departure. We all received a benefits and medical insurance ID card, which has our name, certificate number, and emergency assistance numbers for both inside and outside the United States. On Tuesday, my symptoms had reached their peak, and I knew I needed to see a doctor. My roommate first called HTH and simply asked how I could make an appointment with a clinic. HTH explained that they would send me an email, which they already had on record from the study abroad application, and with it would include a guarantee of payment for any appointment made with Aventino Medical Group between the 26th and March 3rd. They gave Allison a number and address for the clinic as well. However, when I called Aventino, the only appointment with the specialist available for that day was at 4:00, and I had a midterm at 4:45. The specialist would only be there that day, and was there the day before, so that didn’t look too promising. Not to mention the clinic was located near the Circo Massimo subway stop, and using public transportation was the least appealing. Frustrated and ill, Allsion decided to call Temple Rome’s school number for me and inquire about more clinics. She spoke to Manuela Proietti, the assistant to the Dean, who gave the phone number of another reliable doctor, but when no one picked up, Allison called Manuela back and explained that this verged on a medical emergency. Manuela then suggested that she could have a doctor make a house call in 30 minutes. THIS WAS THE BEST NEWS I COULD’VE EVER EXPECTED TO HEAR. A house call? How old school! I didn’t even think that was a possibility. And believe it or not, within 30 minutes, this tiny Italian man showed up at Room 81 carrying a leather bag and stethoscope around his neck. He checked my vitals and then wrote me a prescription for amoxicillin, paracetamol, and a throat spray. In Italy, there are pharmacies on almost every street corner. They’re called “farmacia” and they’re marked by flashing green medical cross marquees above their door. Farmacias are different than drug stores in the U.S. because they only sell medicine and fill prescriptions. Toiletries and other body products are found in supermarkets or dollar stores. You simply take your doctor’s note to the counter and a pharmacist takes your order and rings you up. It’s easy! Unlike in the U.S., you don’t have to drop off a prescription and come back later when it’s filled. And even if you haven’t been seen by a medical professional, you can still buy over the counter drugs and the pharmacists are there to help you find what you need to get healthy again!

No one wants to be sick in another country, but when it happens, it’s important to know and understand the country’s health care policy so you can get the help you need right away! I never anticipated coming down with something that required medical attention, but it happened and I’m glad I had this experience in case any future emergencies ensue! But let’s hope this is the only and last time I have to miss out on enjoying my time in Italy. 🙂

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