House Calls

One minute away, on Corso Vanucci is Farmacia Lemmi

One minute away on Corso Vanucci is Farmacia Lemmi

Signora Laura and Signor Antonio help us find the best lozengers, cough syrup, antibiotics, and nebulizers.

Signora Laura and Signor Antonio help us find the right cold medicine, cough syrup, and antibiotics.   They also rent nebulizers for 50 cents a day.  And Signor Antonio offers off-road adventure tours around Umbria in his jeep when he’s not working here.

A table full of Italian flu remedies

A table full of Italian flu remedies

We’ve been holed up in the apartment for days. Tom and Ray have missed a week of school.  It’s easy to feel vulnerable in a foreign country when you’re sick.  All the usual comforts are thousands of miles away. I don’t recognize the brands of medicine. I don’t know all the right words in Italian for our symptoms.  And we hadn’t even met a doctor.

Until today.  We dug up the number that Matt had found way back in August and gave him a ring.

The doctor answered the phone and listened to my attempts at describing everyone’s problems: coughs, sore throats, congestion, night sweat, fatigue, etc.  He concluded that we all have the flu and recommended a symptom reducer called Paracetamolo, and then asked me to call back in four days if we weren’t better.  So Matt ran across the street to pick it up.  Ten minutes after taking it, Ray had a stomach ache, Tom had a headache and I felt vertigo.  So I called him back to ask if this was all a normal reaction to the medicine.  He said it has nothing to do with the medicine and that these were all classic flu symptoms.

I kept asking questions.  He sensed my apprehension.  He finally agreed to see us.

There are several differences between doctor visits in Italy and the US.  The biggest is obviously the fact that Italy has a universal healthcare system; every citizen is entitled see a doctor,  and it doesn’t cost anything for an appointment.  And anyone, including an Italian, a tourist, or an undocumented immigrant, gets free emergency room treatment as long as he or she needs while in Italy.  Another difference is that doctors make house calls when a patient is sick.  So today, we didn’t even need to leave the apartment.

We liked this man a lot except for the fact that he closed his eyes when the flash went off and I was too embarrassed to ask to take another picture.  It does give him a very calm and reassured look though.

We liked this doctor a lot except for the fact that he closed his eyes when the flash went off. It does give him a very calm and reassured look though.

He arrived at our door with his satchel and notebook.  We took turns breathing for him while he listened to our lungs for signs of pneumonia or bronchitis.  After a few other tests, he recommended that we continue with the medicine and stay put in the apartment with lots of warmth until Monday.  Perugia is just full of the flu right now, he said.  He stayed for a little while and told us about his relatives who live in New York.   He will check on us again Saturday if we want.

In the meantime, I’m in pajamas on the couch listening to tiny, whiney violins playing in my head.  Italy is right out our door, but the energy to walk down and up the 89 stairs is too much.  To pass the time and escape the frustrations of confinement and isolation, we’ve been renting lighthearted movies set in modern Italy (but only those that are available on iTunes, which is very limiting).  Here are a few we’ve seen, in order from good to horrible:  Mid August Lunch; To Rome with Love; Under the Tuscan Sun; Eat, Pray, Love; Salt of Life; and Letters from Juliet (really dumb).  We’ve also watched all six of the Star Wars movies. (Scenes from Epsiode I and II were filmed in Italy.)

The prognosis is for three more days under covers.  Please send movie recommendations.


16 thoughts on “House Calls

  1. Hi Jill. I am sorry to hear your all so sick no fun anywhere , but away from home is extra tuff. Two movies for you if they can be found. First is really old, maybe 15 or 20 yrs. it is called “the big blue” I used to love that movie. It’s all about a guy who can hold his breath under water. Sounds dumb, but great. Next is a newer movie from the states. It maybe 5 yrs old. It takes place on a farm. The farmer always wanted to be astronaut. He and his family work together on his dream. A real feel good movie about hope and love and friendship. It is called ” astronaut farmer” or the astronaut farmer. Please watch them if you can find them. Take care, feel better, watch the movies, and e-mail me and let me know how you are.

  2. Hi guys!! Get well soon. Let me know if you want anything state side and i will express mail it to you, don’t be shy! Matt, the entire board is watching your posts and enjoy the pictures!

  3. What a crummy way to spend a birthday Matt!! I am so sorry that you are all sick and hope you are on the mend. Flu has hit hard throughout WA. as well although we have escaped so far. A house call visit in a small village (i.e. Quincy, WA.) but Perugia. I’m amazed!

    Take good care and if you can get “The Soloist” do. It will be on your ‘BEST” list.

    Love you,


  4. Oh my goodness!! I am sooo sorry to hear that the 3 of you are still feeling terrible. I must say that neither you nor Tom looked very good when we skyped – sorry. I hope the doctors meds will help the recovery process.
    OK, so on iTunes and here are some family movies we love:
    The Black Stallion
    Princess Bride
    Dispicable Me
    Cool Runnings
    City of Ember

    Hope this will help pass some time. Take care and we are sending all of you big hugs!!

  5. So sorry you are all so sick…get better quickly! It’s an old movie, but check out the trailers for the Big Night…it’s a classic that Frank and I loved. Directed by Stanley Tucci… Hugs, Joan

    • That’s so funny that you recommended Big Night! Matt and I just finished watching it less than 10 minutes ago. It was our afternoon movie. I would have to say that it might be the best movie under the category of “Italy/Italians/Food” ever made. I just loved it. Stanley Tucci is the best. But I also love the bus boy and the car salesman.

  6. Oh, you poor little thing! I am not up on family movies these days, but “I Am Love” is a good Italian movie for the grown ups! Or how about some American TV series like Downton Abbey, or Modern Family? Sending you Chia’s book, but with the Italian mail service, I may be there before it is! xoxo

  7. hey- sorry to hear it’s still dragging on. I am glad you liked the doctor. Maybe you could get him to swing by here?– Abigail’s on her 8th day straight in bed (with one small, unsuccessful trip to volleyball practice last Tuesday…It’s all about commitment to the team, baby…) And Mark has been valiantly fighting it for a week as well. Anyway… I have no movie recommendations since you know all my favorites and I get the rest from you. I just kind of wanted to comment. I like to see my words in print. And it’s always good to re-view “Between Two Ferns” for a good laugh. Always makes me think of you– makes it even funnier.

  8. UGH! so sorry you’re all sick, sending lots of love & good thoughts your way! I’ll email separately about next week Jill. But my suggestion is Cinema Paradiso. I haven’t seen it in years but used to love it! Xoxo

  9. So sorry to hear that all of you are sick! I currently have the flu as well, and I don’t remember a time when
    I was this sick. I feel like I’ve been sleeping for a week! I can’t imagine 89 stairs as my 12 to get the dogs outside wears me out right now. I just rented Crooked Arrows this morning. It’s a lacrosse movie. I haven’t seen it, but have heard many good things.
    I need to enlist your help when we are both better to start planning our trip.
    Get well soon! xox

  10. Oh, I hope you feel better soon. I read once (before I was a parent) that colds and flu in a family are good opportunities for bonding and nurturing. That is, unless the nurturers are really sick too – then it’s just an exercise in exhaustion. Thank God for house calls! Can you imagine sitting in an Italian hospital and/or doctor’s office right now, feeling as badly as you do? Yeah Italy!

    It’s not Italian in any way, but a movie we watched and liked recently on iTunes was Moonlight Kingdom… Hang in there!

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