Day 68 - Injectables

18 February 2022

Shell’s finger getting worse.

Our last day in the shadow of Castel Sant'Angelo. Today we move to fresh digs. Our own balcony. A quiet place in the shadow of the Vatican. I can’t escape it. Breakfast. Pack the bikes. Ride 750 m.

We contacted about six consulates to see where we could get our COVID vaccination. Everyone responded with the exception of the Australian Consulate here in Rome. On consulates. Australia has an embassy in the Vatican. It does not help Australians. It has no ex-pat services. What does it do considering the Vatican has a population of 825? Imagine the cost?

“In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control, and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.” - Jerry Pournelle

On the Australian Embassy website, right next to the email address that does not respond, is a list of Doctors who speak English. Shell is on the phone and email and we have an appointment!

Grab some lunch at our now regular. Head off in search of heavy prescription medication.

The Doctor is American. Penn State. As a Nittany Lion fan, I see this as a positive omen. After all the shunt-around and impersonal service of the Italian hospitals, this feels great. She is caring, considerate, and extremely concerned. We are sent directly to a hospital for an ultrasound and we have a prescription for some antibiotics. She asks Shell there's someone who can inject them for her. Shell immediately looks at me. I am horrified that they are injected and that will be my job.

We hit the Hospital. Great views on the way. Take a number. A short wait, a few hours, and we have an ultrasound. The lady wants to do an x-ray. Been there, but ok. I decide to head to the Farmacia to get the antibiotics, syringes, band-aids, alcohol wipes, and hopefully half a clue on how to use it all.

The lady at the Farmacia is good. She has bad news. The medication comes in 1000mg doses. I need 500mg. I will have to measure half doses. I can handle that. She also tells me I have to mix the dose. What does that mean?

“It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to.” ― J.D. Salinger

I walk back. The x-ray is done. We wait for the images and I explain to Shell the meds. I start watching Youtube. I have a lot to learn in a short period of time. Images are delivered. Shell goes to the receptionist and asks for a digital copy to forward to the Doctor. There was some urgency here with a mention of Surgery at 7.00 am tomorrow if required.

The receptionist says no. Not just the word. Her tone. Her body language. We head upstairs to find someone less hostile. Looks like we need to take another number. I head to get one. There is a greeting desk with a couple of people. I explain to them what happened downstairs. They get on the phone. Conversation in Italian. Same response. No.

‘How are we going to get these to our Doctor tonight’

‘Maybe you could take a photo?’

‘They are x-rays. How can you hold a photo to the light?’

‘We can’t send them. We need to protect your privacy’

‘Send them to me then’

‘We can’t’

‘Who’s privacy are you protecting?’


‘You are protecting my privacy by not giving me my information?’


‘Our Doctor is expecting them tonight. There is a possibility we may need surgery tomorrow morning. They are also going to Australia for opinion. How are we expected to make all this happen?’

Shell arrives.

The lady is back on the phone. Another conversation in Italian.

We wait.

The arrival of the same woman from downstairs.

Conversation in Italian.

She will talk to the doctor. Which doctor? The doctor in charge of patient privacy?

We wait for another thirty minutes. I ask the lady what is happening. She tells me the doctor will send them through tomorrow morning. Familiar tune. Dismissed. Not our problem. We want you gone.

“I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

We walk home and grab some pasta on the way. I am dreading arriving because I have to do the injection. It is a mild night. The 3 km walk is pleasant. Grab some groceries and a Chianti.

Get home. Watch a series of Youtube videos. How to mix. Where to inject. How to inject. How deep the needle goes in. Intramuscular injection. All the way. I look at the needle. 32mm. I am going to need a second bottle.

No need for details. It all went fine. I missed my calling. I am a natural.



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