Not everyone is back yet

The city is filling up with locals again, but not as many as I'd thought at first. The mercato is a little busier, but mostly all I've seen are tourists. I rarely see tourists at my mercato because it's a little out of the way. But, seeing as though there are only two mercati in town, it makes sense that they come and visit it.

This morning I decided to go to the doctor's for a visit because my temperature has been a little sporadic. I feel fine, but I assumed I should get checked.

When I signed up for the national health care program, I picked my friend Yoshie's doctor who works in a studio medico (office) in Piazza Santa Croce. She told me that she liked her medico (doctor) because she was very nice and caring. Two characteristics I definitely wanted in my medico especially since I didn't have many pleasant experiences with my mom's doctors during the last two years of her life.

I packed a book in my purse and mentally prepared myself for a long wait. The last two times I've been there, I've had to wait at least an hour or so.

I arrived at the outside door and hit the campanello (door-bell). Within a few seconds, someone buzzed me in and the door unlocked itself. I walked up the stairs and got to the door of the studio medico, which was closed. The last time I came, it was opened, so I didn't know what to do at first.

I noticed a piece of paper taped on the door saying that my dottoressa (female doctor) wasn't there and was being sostituita (replaced) by another dottoressa.

I could hear a woman's voice inside, so I pressed the campanello. I heard it ring inside, but the woman's voice continued talking. I waited about a minute and then knocked on the door, hoping that I was not being too insistent.

The dottoressa opened the door to the studio medico, which looks more like an apartment with a large sala d'attesa (waiting room) with two separate rooms that serve as each doctor's studio medico. She told me to sit down in the empty sala d'attesa and closed the door behind her to continue talking.

At first, I was surprised to be in the sala d'attesa alone and just sat there looking around at the books on the shelf. The last time I was here almost every one of the fifteen chairs was occupied. I listened to the people milling around the Piazza Santa Croce and eating out on the terrace of the restaurant downstairs. It felt almost surreal to be sitting in a studio medico next to one of the most beautiful and famous churches in Italy.

After about ten minutes, the campanello rang again and I didn't know if I was supposed to get up and let the possible paziente in or not. Usually when there were other people there, someone would get up to let people in. The dottoressa opened her door and hit the button to open the downstairs door and opened the door to the studio medico a little bit.

"Venga pure," (Come on in) she said. I was surprised that no one was in her office and then I realized that she must have been on the phone.

The dottoressa was very engaging and warm. I told her what was troubling me and she told me, "Sono tutti malati in questa stagione." (Everyone's sick in this season.) It surprised me since the sala d'attesa was empty, but I believed her. A lot of people I know are having odd symptoms due to the drastic temperature changes. I told her that I think I have a slight fever, but she didn't check me.

We talked a little bit even though I felt a little guilty with someone else waiting in the sala d'attesa. The phone rang and she told the person that he/she should come quickly because "c' gente" (there are people). It was a little past noon and the dottoressa was supposed to be there until 1PM. We were almost done and there was only one other person in the sala d'attesa, so I'm sure she could've handled two more pazienti before it was time to go. I wanted to laugh, but who knows, maybe some people talk a long time when they come to see her.

She took my documento per l'assistenza sanitaria (national health care card) and filled out a prescription to get some tests done. She quickly stood up to escort me to the door and I followed her. She opened the door and let me pass in front of her. I wanted to shake her hand, but felt that I should rush out so she could help the next paziente. I'm sure she noticed that I was a bit awkward at that point as she ended up patting me on the arm.

All in all, I was there all of 15 minutes; it was a definite record. Once September comes around and people are back in town, the studio medico will be busier, so I'm thinking maybe I should go for an annual physical beforehand.

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