Sunday, November 1, 2009

Viene L'Influenza

The dreaded influenza has hit Florence. Everyone has been talking about this for 2 months. It's the great topic of conversation in Italy. In the streets, on the news, in the schools. Everyone has been afraid of "L'influenza". And now I am sick as a dog and afraid this could turn into pneumonia.

I didn't believe it could get "me". Because I was already sick for 10 days in September. I thought that was the worst that it gets. After that, I figured that I'd be immune to anything else that's going around.

The country has been offering vaccinations to only the very young, the very pregnant, and those on the verge of dying, because they don't have the capacity to treat the general population.

It started out with a sinus infection, congestion and headcold that I blamed on second-hand smoke. I was at Cynthia's and it was obvious that I was in trouble. I was afraid of infecting her children, and so were they. I feel so guilty and hope that they will not catch this. It then became a cough. The cough got worse. Then the burning sensation in my throat. I tried so hard to make excuses to Cindy "It's just an allergy". But Cynthia knew too well. She got me out of there, back to Florence, and I know that she was only concerned that her children would not become infected.

Then on came the fever. I was delirious and couldn't move out of bed. The congestion made it to my lungs and I could feel my lungs were filled with fluid. At this point I was petrified. The only thing left to do, was to get to the doctor. I threw on some clothes and started walking down my stairs, when I realized I couldn't even do that. It felt like a brick was stuck in my chest. I could hardly breathe, and could hardly walk. I slowly made it back up the stairs with great pain and weakness. I cried and wished that there was someone to make me a chicken soup.

I called a friend who told me "Non ti preoccupare, Barbara" (don't worry). This is a very liberally-used, "cure-all" expression which is the polite way of saying "Shut up, don't complain, stop lamenting, things could be worse, have a glass of wine".

So, I called another friend, who gave me the emergency phone number for "La Guarda Medica". This would probably be the equivalent of the American "Department of Health". They answered right away and asked for my symptoms. I explained. The man told me to go to the pharmacy and to buy "i pacchi aspirina da mille e fluido boiron sciroppo" and to call back in 3 days if I haven't improved. Asprin and a plant-based cough syrup.

I opted for the chicken soup. I just had to have it. If I could make it to the pharmacy, I could make it to the market. So I walked slowly, bought a small chicken, some pastina, carrots, an onion and celery. I came home and made my soup.

So here I am, hibernating and trying everything to clean out my lungs. Rest, patience, chicken soup and a glass of wine.