The First Time Medical Interview
As it turned out, I was admitted to an Italian hospital in an emergency without knowing the name of the disease, the length of my stay, or anything else, and I spent the morning hooked up to an IV overnight.
Then a female doctor who seemed to be the doctor in charge and a group of nurses lurched into the room and began to question the patient. Palpating the abdomen, there was clearly a strong area of pain, and I instantly contorted my face and said “Ouch!” and she said “Male?” and kept pressing on the abdomen, moving hand after hand from one to the next, while asking me something in Italian.
During the interview, the mysterious word “male” came up so many times that I didn’t understand the meaning of the word, and I asked her “Male?”, she said “Male!” again, holding her stomach and told me the meaning of the words with a look and a gesture.
It was then that I first learned that “male” means “painful” in Italian, and subsequent interviews were made much smoother with communication thanks to learning the new word “male”.
And then she asked me what I’d been up to and what I’d eaten and what medications I’d taken in the last few weeks. Of course, I can’t remember everything I’ve eaten in the past few weeks, so I told her as much as I could remember anyway, and she continued “Have you ever eaten any raw seafood in Japan recently before coming to Italy? Did you have sushi or something?“
To be honest, unlike in Italy, eating raw seafood in Japan was so commonplace that it didn’t remain as a special memory for me, so I answered, “I don’t remember exactly what I ate, but I might have eaten it in Japan.” I replied, then I showed them the medicine I had on hand.
When I told them that each of the medicines was an herbal stomach pill and the painkiller ibuprofen, she pointed to the ibuprofen and asked, “How much of this are you taking?”
I said, “I’ve had headaches since I was in elementary school and I’ve been taking them a lot ever since.” So she said with a serious face, “You shouldn’t take this medicine continuously and frequently for a long period of time, so please stop taking it.” Then she wrote something down in her chart and the interview was over.
The over-the-counter ibuprofen, which is not considered such a problematic drug in Japan, seems to be treated differently in different countries, and I learned for the first time that the antipyretic painkillers, which can be hard on the liver, are not safe for me, especially in my current state of jaundice.
My first hospital food was white
For the past few days, I had been sentenced to fasting and survived on IV fluids, and my body was getting thinner and thinner, but after the X-rays, I had to take with an empty stomach, Doctor said, “You must be hungry, right? Eat well!” And finally, the first hospital food was brought in front of me.
The moment the whole white, sludgy, baby food-like mystery food came out, it never looked good, but I was so hungry that I hurriedly grabbed a spoon and brought it to my mouth.
The slime on the right had a texture like porridge in Japan and didn’t taste much, but it smelled like grated pasta, and the ingredients seemed to be something wheat-based rather than rice. Unlike Japan, Italy’s staple food is not rice, but bread and wheat, so I’m sure it’s the Italian version of porridge. And, as expected, it tasted bad.
And the slime on the left was a rather loosely finished mashed potato. For a healthy person, even these mashed potatoes would have been inedible, but for me, starving at the time, these slightly salty, lukewarm mashed potatoes still tasted and smelled better than the wheat-based slime I had just eaten.
Next time you want a decent taste! For some reason, I assumed the green cup was definitely yogurt, and for some reason I had a visual illusion of what was in the green cup, so I hurriedly opened it and ate it without checking the label on the lid.
I coughed for a moment at the shock of finding tasteless and odorless ricotta cheese in what I thought was yogurt with an absolutely stable taste, and then I took the ricotta cheese that I had swallowed with such force and put it to my cheeks, regretting my rash decision and action, but at the same time, I realized that ricotta cheese was a stand-alone product, to begin with. It’s not something to be eaten with, but rather with a minimum of salt and pepper, olive oil, honey, etc. to make a “good ricotta cheese”, as I have seen firsthand.
In the end, I couldn’t swallow it right away and gulped down the ricotta cheese that had been waiting on my cheeks, along with what little water was left, and said, “I’m sorry…” and gulped down the cup of cheese. And I felt my low survival spirit and the sweetness of the fact that I would leave it behind without eating it, even in such a state of starvation.
And the last remaining cup with an illustration of an apple on it was a fruit puree made of 100% apples. It really was so much better than I had imagined, and I felt really glad that I had saved this one for last, and if anything, I felt like I could survive a little bit longer with these five purees rather than the other five.
If you’ve ever been in a hospital, you might understand that the only thing you look forward to when you’re there is food.
Because I was hospitalized in a foreign country, my close friends in Japan couldn’t come to visit me, and of course, there was no such thing as Wi-Fi at the time, so although I had a computer and a cell phone, I couldn’t use the Internet, and my laptop to escape from the daily anxiety of life became a mere game console for solitaire.
For me, living such a boring life, eating local hospital food in a strange land was the only interesting and enjoyable time I had. In the end, the only thing that interested me was eating local hospital food in a strange land.
Since I’ve been in the hospital, last night I had a mysterious fiery morsel! Having only picked a slime set meal, I quickly became hungry again in no time at all, and all I could do was drown this hunger and somehow fall asleep until the sunrise after dinner.
And when morning finally came and the hospital corridors were busy with a flurry of activity, I heard a rattle and the sound of a cart being pushed. When I heard it, I said, “Finally, breakfast! ” and I was so happy that I wanted to satisfy my hunger as soon as possible, no matter how bad it tasted.
Then an Italian grandmother came slowly pushing a cart to my room. Instead, she pushed a modest little cart with only two pots and cups on it.
When I was dazed and wondering if it was some kind of morning temperature check, the grandmother in the cart looked at me and waved a small paper cup “Caffè o tè? ” and came to visit me.
My brain was filled with “What is ‘caffè o tè’…?” and I nodded my head, and she never gave up after that and kept asking me to repeat that mysterious spell “Caffè o tè? She kept repeating, and spoke to me over and over again slowly than before when I couldn’t understand.
I’m very grateful for the ability to slow down and talk to me, but I’m not going to slow down and say “Caffè o tè”. I couldn’t understand the meaning of the words, so I only tried the “caffe” part, which was the only part I could hear and understand, for now.
Then she said, “Caffè, caffè!” and handed me a paper cup, smiling, in a very good mood, although she mistakenly thinking that I understood the meaning of “Caffè o tè” finally.
As I expected, paper cups were filled with fairly strong coffee, typical of Italy, and she placed a small sugar and plastic spoon and paper napkin on my table and waved with a smile.
I spent the rest of the morning sipping the coffee I’d just received, excitedly waiting for my breakfast to arrive, thinking “this is like an Italian morning aperitif, and I’m sure the food is coming,” but even then, it never appeared in front of me, and I spent the rest of the morning wondering if my breakfast had been forgotten.
The story of the first time in my life I thought I was going to die in Milan, Italy (All Vol. 08)
Vol.07 Hospital Food Diary in Italy