by Melinda Gallo

I risultati sono pronti

After dropping off my sample at the punto prelievi/analisi (samples/analysis laboratory) almost 9 days ago, the risultati (results) were finally ready to be picked up today. The last time I was at the punto prelievi/analisi, I read on a sign that they only give out the risultati between 11:30AM and 12:30PM. In big print underneath, it said, "N prima n dopo." (Not before and not after.)

Before I could pick up the risultati, I had to pay the bolletta (bill) at la Posta (the post office). On my way there, I bought a magazine to read because I knew the wait would be long. I arrived at la Posta at about 10AM and got a number. After waiting an hour, my number came up and I paid the bolletta within only a few seconds. It was a little early to go to the punto prelievi/analisi, but I decided to walk there anyway.

When I arrived, there were already about ten people ahead of me. Because of a few people making comments about waiting for them to begin, they actually started calling out numbers five minutes earlier. When my number got called, the same man, who talked to me the first time, was there to give me my risultati. I think he recognized me because when I handed him my payment slip and receipt, he smiled up at me a second time.

"Mi dispiace. Deve pagare un po' di pi," (I'm sorry. You have to pay a little more) he said. He added up the amount and wrote it down for me on a piece of paper. All I could think of was how if I go to la Posta, I'll never make it back in time.

"Se torno alla Posta, non posso arrivare prima che chiudete." (If I return to the post office, I can't arrive before you close.)

"Lei pu andare all'ospedale Santa Maria Nuova e pagare l. Basta andare al punto giallo per pagare un ticket." (You can go to the Santa Maria Nuova hospital and pay there. You just need to go to the "punto giallo (yellow point)" to pay a ticket.)

As I walked down Borgo Pinto toward via Sant'Egidio I debated whether I should go to the ospedale or to la Posta. In the end, I went to the ospedale because I had never been in there before and it was worth a try. I thought it certainly can't be worse than la Posta.

I tried to follow the signs inside the ospedale, which pointed in multiple directions and eventually led me to a locked door at the end of a short hallway. I walked back to the front and asked the woman behind the glass window written "Portineria" (Front desk). She didn't look up at me as I rattled off my question to her, "Dove vado a pagare un ticket?" (Where do I go to pay for a ticket?)

" nel corridoio il punto rosso" (the "punto rosso" (red point) is in the hallway), she said and pointed behind her.

I was a little confused as I didn't know it was now a "punto rosso" and not a "punto giallo" that I was looking for. I walked down the hall again, but didn't see any signs for the "punto giallo" or "punto rosso" and I didn't want to walk into the pronto soccorso (emergency) area by mistake. I asked a woman who was walking toward me and she kindly pointed to a red machine that was a few feet behind me. I was expecting the "punto giallo/rosso" to be a woman behind a counter like a cashier.

I watched one woman use the machine to see how it was supposed to work. It seemed simple enough, click on any key to start, select the type of payment to make, enter in an amount, and insert the money or Bancomat card. It wouldn't take my amount, so I had to pay a few extra cents to get it to work. The machine spit out a long receipt, which I took back with me to the punto prelievi/analisi.

This time when I arrived, there was no one there. The same man smiled at me and said, "Mi dispiace ancora." (I'm sorry again.) I assured him that it was OK. He handed me the risultati and I walked back down Borgo Pinti toward my house.

I opened the risultati, but couldn't understand anything. I remembered that my dottoressa (doctor) was back from holiday and would be in her office until 1PM, so I walked to Piazza Santa Croce.

It was noon when I arrived at her door and got buzzed in. When I entered, the sala d'attesa (waiting room) was full. "Chi l'ultimo per la dottoressa?" (Who is the last one for the doctor?) I asked when I walked in. After a brief conversation between two patients, I found out that I was after a young German woman.

After 40 minutes of nothing happening except the arrival of even more patients, I asked the man next to me, "C' qualcuno con la dottoressa? O da sola?" (Is someone with the doctor? Or is she alone?) He told me that there was a patient in there, but I couldn't believe that it was taking so long.

When my turn came up about an hour and 45 minutes later, I walked in and greeted the dottoressa and said, " da tanto che non vengo a vederLa." (It's been a while since I came to see you). She smiled, shook my hand, and said, " meglio cos." (It's better that way.)

"Non sei esperta di computer?" (Aren't you a computer expert?), she asked me. I was surprised that she remembered anything about me at all since she must have hundreds of patients and I had only been to see her once about 15 months ago.

She explained the risultati to me and told me that I need to take antibiotici (antibiotics). That seems to be the standard remedy for just about everything in Italy as all my friends constantly tell me that I need to take antibiotici whenever I get sick. She wrote up a ricetta medica (perscription) and handed it to me.

She asked me a few questions about myself and what I was doing these days. I talked with her like I would a good friend. She's actually the only doctor I've ever been to who uses "tu" (the informal you) instead of "Lei" (the formal you). I didn't want to keep her too long since there were many other patients for her to see. But, she didn't rush me out or make me feel like I had to go. She sat back in her chair and spoke to me calmly and genuinely seemed interested in me.

I left the studio medico (doctor's office) feeling content that my dottoressa is so caring and wonderful. I'm happy that Yoshie told me about her last year when I was looking for a medico di famiglia (family doctor), which I had to list on my Italian health card.

I didn't go to the farmacia (pharmacy) until later in the afternoon because it was closed by the time I got out of the studio medico. I handed the woman at the counter my ricetta medica and she placed a small box in a bag and slid it over to me. "Tutto a posto." (Everything's in order), she said with a smile. I hesitated for a brief moment and then remembered that the Italian healthcare system would pick up the tab. Some things are hard to get used to as the last time I had to take antibiotici was a few years back, and I paid about $100 in the US.

After a long morning of walking around and waiting, I was happy to have seen my dottoressa again, and I felt that she really cares about my health and well-being. I don't want to get sick to see her again, but if I do, I know I'll be well taken care of.

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