I want to start out by apologizing for my lack of posting lately. I’m sorry.
[Note before we start: I hope you like the pictures of me. My mom likes to laugh at my pain so you have her to thank for that. I still love her though and she took good care of me so I’m not mad. Well, maybe a little. 😉 ]
Over fall break I was taken to the emergency room in Venice via water ambulance. Also, I was in Venice for three days and ended up in four tiny boats. I am terrified of tiny boats and sick. It was not pleasant.
Anyway, three days before break I went to a doctor in London and found out I had a
minor chest infection. I got an inhaler for my asthma and an antibiotic to take in the morning. Four days later and I was in Italy, struggling to get to our hotel in Venice with all of our bags, coughing and dying from the constant and increasing pain in my right lung area. Since we got into Venice late we stayed in a hotel by the airport and transferred to our new hotel that we would stay at for three nights the next day. On the way there my grandmother, who had the only correct directions to our hotel, left her phone at the airport hotel. She left us with her big checked duffle bag, my carry-on and backpack, and my mother’s checked bag, carry-on, and backpack. We were sent to fend for ourselves and find our hotel in Piazza San Marco.
It turns out San Marco is a huge area in Venice so instead of getting off the water taxi at the San Marco stop, we should have gotten off at Academia. That would have put us across one little bridge from our hotel. Instead we stood for half an hour on a crowded boat, were annoyed by a porter who we had no money to purchase to help with our bags, and about six little bridges away from where we needed to be. We had no actual idea were our hotel was, no cash, and giant, heavy bags. At this point I am dead on my feet and my mother is about to pass out because it’s almost one p.m. and we hadn’t eaten breakfast or dinner the night before. Also, people would help me with my bags (a checked bag and a carry-on, the same as what my mother had) but not her when we went over bridges.
I couldn’t breath and we finally just stopped to rest and eat at an overly expensive restaurant. However, it was pretty, waterside, and I had the best minestrone soup I have ever had, so worth it for our situation. We then let my grandmother find the hotel (which she did with no problem since she had the directions after getting her phone back), drop her single carry-on and backpack off, and then find us. It turns out we were only about ten minutes away from our hotel by then, but given the multiple little alleys and bridges, it was good that we waited.
After finally getting to our hotel I was helped with my bags over the two tiny stairs and my mom was left to fend for herself by the person who gave us our extra keys. I still have no idea why people weren’t as apt to help her. After getting to the room we took a much needed nap that had me feeling a little better. That is when I made the mistake of walking back over to where we were earlier by San Marco Square to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. My mom goes to a Hard Rock and collects a cup from almost every place she goes, so it only made sense. I could barely stop coughing enough to breath and the pain in my side was worse again. However, during the meal, and the alcohol and cough medicine I had to dull the pain (I do not suggest ever doing that), I was in better spirits. I was feeling ok-ish.
I wasn’t ok. While exiting down the stairs I coughed, big and loud and painful sounding, before freezing. The pain in my side was so bad I felt like something was trying to break out of my chest whenever I coughed. I couldn’t move or breath without it hurting to high heaven. I ended up crying outside, unable to get a few feet from the restaurant, let alone our hotel. A nice man who worked there took us a street over to a police station that theoretically should have had a doctor. When they were closed he left us on the steps to go back and call someone. We didn’t see him again, but a few minutes later the station opened.
We ended up with four guards, two in police uniforms and two in military looking dress, guarding us on the steps as we waited for the ambulance. People walked by with the weirdest looks, probably thinking we were under arrest. We think it was just so the EMT’s found us. Especially since, if left to our own devices, we wouldn’t have been able to even call emergency services. We didn’t know the right number, couldn’t speak Italian so ended up handing the phone to one of the officers, and the cherry on top: we didn’t have a clue of our location.
By this point I was no longer crying as much or having a panic attack so I wasn’t coughing every two seconds (only every five). However, I was terrified that I was this miserable and the EMT’s would say I wasn’t bad enough for the hospital. Luckily, after a quick check of my heart rate, breathing, and symptom overview, they were adamant about taking me to the emergency room. I wasn’t quite as adamant when I realized we were going in a little boat.
When we reached the ER I ended up waiting in a high-backed, odd version of a wheel chair for two and a half hours. It was quite strange since I was put into a perfect line with the other patients waiting to be seen. At one point a Italian rocker-looking guy with personal security also stopped in front of me and said “Ciao.” We think he must have been someone recognizable to the youth of Italy. Especially the type of youth with blue hair and an artfully ripped shirt.
When it was my turn to be seen I was given an IV, oxygen, and a nebulizer with a steroid in it. I went from hating to loving the doctor sticking needles in me. It turns out the MD I saw in London should have given me twice the amount of antibiotic I had and a nebulizer or at least an inhaler with a steroid in it to help my breathing. I also had far more than a minor chest infection. I had a serious, lingering since a few months ago, chest infection aggravated by asthma with a cough I never should have flown with and pleurisy. My cough was so bad that it caused my pluria, a thin paper like layer wrapped around my lungs, to become inflamed, causing immense semi-untreatable pain. The only way to really get it to stop is to rest and get better.
[Side note: when I got back to London I got a better doctor who prescribed me the right inhalers and a medication to help open my lungs more so I can actually breath. So not all doctors in London are incompetent and I hold nothing against them.]
We ended up leaving the hospital at around 3:30 AM. The hospital bill, which was far less than it would have been in the US with the ambulance, IV, medication, and chest x-rays, was paid via kiosk. We had to get one of the nurses to help us anyway though since it was all in Italian. We were also almost stuck there like a couple + elderly mother/mother-in-law that we were waiting to be seen with earlier. Apparently none of the taxis were running when they called and the hospital had a service to take the more elderly patients home. When the nice man whom had even bought me a water earlier in the night to help with my coughing found out they wouldn’t take my mother, grandmother, and I as well, called and negotiated with taxi services again.
If it wasn’t for him we would have been stuck at the hospital all night instead of finally (4:15 AM) getting back to our hotel. Even though I needed to go in another small boat it was actually pretty cool since our hotel had a water entrance. I never thought a hotel would have a water entrance, but since Venice roads are waterways it makes sense.
I spend the next few days we were there in the hotel, then in the cabin on the cruise ship. I missed most of the ports we went to on our seven day cruise including the amazing tour we had in Athens, Greece. I did however get to see an overview of the Olympia’s ruins of the first Olympic games (I could only walk in a little bit before needing to stop) and got to eat and drink traditional Greek cuisine and see traditional dancing at a farm our tour went to. Beyond that, the only other time I got off the ship was for an hour and a half at one of our Croatia stops. All we did was have lunch and walk around the streets and little markets slowly for half an hour. That, like the evenings where I would go to eat, walk around the ship a little, and act more normal, made me ten times worse. It didn’t help that the following day we had to get off the ship.
The one really nice thing (other than the time I spent with my family and the food at the three nice restaurants we went to on the ship + the martini bar – don’t judge me I was in pain and it was only one night-) was when I got my hair done with my mom. It became a purple-ish blue color and the bottom has a shorter, designed shave. My mom, since she was allergic to the die on her head, also got parts of hers shaved shorter or cut. I decided to match in solidarity. However, her hairdresser butchered her hair and she had to have someone fix it when she got back to London since instead of leaving right away they stayed an extra week to take care of me. That brings me onto the rest of our story.
Although I was getting a little better with the ten days of antibiotics, morning steroid, and twice a day nebulizer, the mini-outing at our last port, eight hour wait at the airport, and flight back to London, put my pleurisy back where it started. I was coughing more again, could barely move after the plane ride, and was completely exhausted. I ended up missing class the next day, going to the doctor again, and spending the next week at my family’s hotel. Thankfully I was able to get a doctors note getting me out of classes.
Now, almost a month after my hospitalization, I am still coughing some, my pluria still hurts when I move certain ways (especially when bending down), and I can’t walk a lot or go upstairs without my breathing being affected. Apparently serious illness on top of a busy city that smokes when you have asthma and are allergic to cigarette smoke isn’t a great combination. It turns out the difference in air, smoke pollution, and particles in London compared to Florida, made my asthma a hundred times worse than it has been since I was a child. And since I wasn’t old enough to remember the feeling of bad asthma symptoms and am used to sickness being more physically visible, I wasn’t taking care of myself properly.
Long story short, I was seriously ill and am now slowly recovering, but much better. This is why I haven’t been updating you. All of my energy has been going into recovery or catching up on the school work I missed which was a lot, given it was only a week. Now I am getting closer to finals and then winter break.
Coming up should be a list of the courses I am taking next semester, my thoughts and feelings on them (mostly worry), accompanied by a review of my classes this semester and some information on some fun holiday things after they happen in a few weeks. So keep an eye out and don’t forget to check out my Instagram because I just posted some pictures of a Beauty and the Beast themed tea I went to with my friend. This was the first time I wore my new red, cat-eye contacts.