by Melinda Gallo

Freddo allo stomaco

I always thought that prendere freddo allo stomaco (getting a cold draft on your stomach) was an old wives' tale. I've heard people say that you should cover up your stomach after you eat because it could cause you digestive problems. I never really knew what happened until we went to dinner Saturday night with my suoceri (in-laws). In the restaurant, the air conditioner was on very high while we were having dinner and suddenly my suocero (father-in-law) wasn't feeling well. He got so bad that we had to call an ambulanza (ambulance).

I had noticed a few things that my suocero did that surprised me once our dolci (desserts) arrived: he looked at me as if he couldn't see me and then held his head. He's quite tan, but suddenly looked pale. It wasn't until he almost fainted that Alessandro jumped up to stand next to him to make sure he was OK. I feared that he would lose consciousness and fall off the chair.

My suocero is an incredibly strong and healthy man for his age, and I had never seen him show any signs of weakness. He even had a minor surgery earlier this year and was released from the hospital early because he recovered so quickly.

The moment my suocero mumled, "Non vedo pił nulla. I can't see anything any more," I felt fear bubble up inside of me. "Chiama l'ambulanza. Call the ambulance," I told Alessandro. I hadn't understood yet that he might have preso freddo allo stomaco. Only a few moments earlier, I had asked the cameriere (waiter) if we could turn off the air conditioner because it was too cold for him.

My suocera (mother-in-law) wasn't as worried as Alessandro and I were because she said that he just had a congestione (congestion). I insisted that he be looked at by a doctor just in case it was something more serious because I never really believed that getting a cold draft on your stomach after you eat could cause such physical problems.

Within a few minutes, the ambulanza arrived. One doctor and five other people came in to check up on him. My suocero was wearing a tovagliolo (tablecloth) that the restaurant owner gave him because he had sweat through his camicia (shirt) and giubbotto (jacket).

While the paramedics and doctor were talking with my suocero, the two tables of people in our room watched and listened intently. I felt so protective of my suocero that I moved behind him so that they couldn't see what was going on. I understand that people are curious, but their staring made me quite uncomfortable.

The doctor checked his pulse while a couple of paramedics took his blood pressure. The doctor was concerned because his heart rate was so low that they decided to take him to the ospedale (hospital). It wasn't until later that we found out that my suocero's pulse rate is very low because he's so active.

Luckily they took him to Santa Maria Nuova, located behind the Duomo so Alessandro and I could walk there after dropping off all the gifts the owner of the restaurant gave us: two bottles of wine, a bottle of prosecco, and two packages of cantuccini (biscotti). Not only did the owner shower us with gifts, but he also gave us a large discount on our conto (bill) and invited us to come back for a complimentary dinner.

My suocera opened the door of the pronto soccorso (emergency room) at the ospedale for us. I was surprised it wasn't busier because it was already past 11pm. We were told that we had to wait a couple of hours because of all the tests that they wanted to do on my suocero, so we sat there and chatted.

Every time someone new came into the pronto soccorso, we found ourselves listening to the conversations between the nurse and patients. One Spanish girl had a rash around a bug bite on her leg, a Polish guy had a pain in his jaw, an Italian girl fell off her bicicletta (bicycle), one woman had a panic attack, another guy had an allergic reaction to something he ate, and paramedics brought in an American girl who wasn't feeling well after drinking too much alcohol.

I was most intrigued by the American tourist who was accompanied by her two girlfriends and a foreigner who didn't speak Italian or English that well. The friends explained to the nurse that the girl drank a bottle of alcohol and two cocktails. After the guy escorted the two friends out of the ospedale, leaving their girlfriend in the ospedale alone, the nurse made a few comments the foreign guy probably slipped the girl something. She said that almost every night a foreign guy drops off a drunk tourist at the pronto soccorso.

Finally at almost 1:45am, we heard the nurse call out my father's last name. We all jumped up when the nurse walked toward us, "Vuole la sua camica e il suo giubbotto. He wants his shirt and jacket." Alessandro and I giggled because we know how much he didn't want to be in the ospedale and certainly couldn't wait to get out.

All the results were positive and my suocero was in great spirits. We put them in a taxi to take them home even though my suocero wanted to walk home. While Alessandro and I were making our way through the streets to get back to our place, he made sure that my stomach was covered because the temperatures were a bit cooler. After seeing what happened to his babbo (father), I will certainly be more careful myself because I don't want to get freddo allo stomaco.

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!