Italian Health Care or How to Pee in a Parrot

In the interest of blogging, I decided to book myself in for a little operation. Nothing too drastic but fun enough for my little blog. On hindsight I should have gone river rafting.


Medico Competente! I wonder where the incompetent doctors are?

The conversation with the consultant went something like this:

I will make an incision from here to here.

I really don’t want to know.

I will then insert this piece of mesh.

Please don’t tell me anymore.

Then I will stitch you here, here and ….

At that point he produced some coloured markers and drew lines and little dots for the stitches on my tummy.

Doctor, you really don’t need to tell me, because I will be asleep through the operation and I don’t do pain or enjoy hearing about the pain you are going to inflict on me.


This picture was hung in the hospital reception.

The day of the operation arrived quicker than I had hoped, a mere four weeks after the consultant had drawn squiggly lines on my tummy, I found myself  sitting on the edge of a hospital bed with a hospital gown made of tissue paper and not a single nurse who looked like Jennifer Androne from the publicity photo. If I wasn’t so scared I might have complained.

Fourteen years ago in the UK I had an operation on my nose and throat in a vain attempt to stop me snoring (I still snore) In that hospital they knocked me out before I entered the operating theatre, very civilised.  This time they wheeled me into the actual theatre while I was still awake, the anaesthetist started ripping the tissue gown so he could attached wires and tubes to me, my heart rate went up another notch or two. Pretty soon I was nude and all I could do was helplessly watch nurses and orderlies waltz in and out and stare at the naked scared Englishman.

Pecora Nera, your heart rate is a little high. Hmm so would yours be if you were me.

My consultant walked in and asked me to sit on the side of the bed and lower my chin to my chest whilst pretending to hug a woman. I will admit it took me a couple of minutes to translate and understand his bizarre request.

Sorry doctor but why?

Because I need to give you an epidural.


No, I must be asleep.

You can sleep if you wish.


As easy as ABC. I love the good advice to relax

Had I not been naked and attached by wires to various machines I would have walked out. Seriously, I did contemplate walking back to the ward. Meanwhile the  heart rate monitor was peaking off the charts.

I actually didn’t feel the epidural, and as I laid down it was really strange, my legs felt really heavy and I couldn’t move my toes.


I felt like I was on a Texas execution table as they strapped my arms down.

He stuck a pin in my toe, can you feel this?


Good. He then pinched my leg. Can you feel this?

No doctor I can’t, but you are not operating on my feet or legs, I pinched my tummy, you are operating here and I sure as hell can feel this.

That was the  last thing I remember, apparently they decided it was far easier to just gas me and get it over with, either that or I fainted.

I came round just as he was knotting the stitches and admiring his work.


Finally  the Englishman has stopped complaining.

Mrs Sensible was waiting for me on the ward. She helped me pee in a bottle and I decided I had had enough of life and went to sleep.

Later that evening I asked one of the dragons nurses how I was supposed to visit the toilet, (I was attached to a drip which unfortunately didn’t contain grappa)

She said and I quote. “fai pipi nel pappagallo”

Pee in the parrot!!


Meet Joey the bedpan

Everyone knows pipi is pee and I know pappagallo is parrot because I teach animal vocabulary in the schools.

I repeated “pipi in pappagallo??

She produced a bed pan, PIPI IN PAPPAGALLO!!

Who knew parrots were also bedpans!

At about two in the morning, I had the urgent desire to pee in a parrot. It took me 10 minutes to pull myself into a sitting position on the side of the bed and another 5 minutes to find and grab the parrot by its neck. Just as I was ready, I watched in horror as my pants slipped down to my ankles and as I tried to save them they slid onto the floor. Well good bye pants….

Laying back down was really hard, whatever I attempted hurt. I did consider just sitting where I was until the nice orderly came on duty. But I was not sure the sight of a naked man perched on the side of the bed, holding a parrot by its neck would impress her.

Why didn’t I ring for the night nurse? I didn’t want to disturb her reading.

Big book of torture

The night nurse’s book.

Italy is renown for its exquisite food, let me tell you, their hospitals are not.


Italian hospital food, brodo and mashed potatoes.

Day one they gave me a small bowl of brodo, which is minestrone without any vegetables or bits floating in it.

Day two they produced brodo and a side dish of mashed potatoes.

I understand the reason for this diet, patients are always very keen to go home to a slice of pizza.

So thank you for the E-mail asking what I thought of Italian hospitals. Does anyone have any other bright ideas?








28 thoughts on “Italian Health Care or How to Pee in a Parrot

  1. I had a “piccolo intervento “ a few years ago and was similarly horrified during the lead up and completely humiliated at several points after. Like when the two male nurses ripped my tissue paper gown off me after the procedure and then did an ECG whilst I lay exposed. They wondered aloud why my heart rate was so elevated. Doh!

    There there’s the mammogram. Quite different from Puritan-influenced America, 😱

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I hope, that you are feeling better and home now Pecora Nera. Hospitals can be challenging places to stay in, no matter where in the world we are.
    Thank you for sharing your experience spiced with your usual wonderful humor 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  3. You want suggestions, for the entertainment of your readers. How about having a root canal with the dentista? That could be a barrel of fun.

    This makes me glad I didn’t hang around to have surgery on my shattered elbow and shoulder, in Naples.


  4. I think you should complain to the hospital on the grounds of mis-advertising and misrepresentation – their poster suggested you would be attended to by the lovely nurse Jennifer Androne, but she was nowhere to be seen. 😉
    On a serious note though – it doesn’t sound like a fun experience at all. I hope you don’t have to repeat it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What an experience in the a not so wonderful hospital setting. It seem that one would be heavily sedated in ones room but. alas that is not how it works in my neck of the woods either. Being a patient at any time when you must put on those God awful hospital gowns is indeed humiliating. I have been in the ER and first thing the nurses instructed was to remove every last shred of decency- everything that covered my modesty. Actually is because they really like to destroy every vestige of ego. Just kidding. It really is because they and the docs need to work on and have room to attach tubes and wires to our naked bodies, unencumbered. By now I hope you are on the road to mending fully. I always like you posts that are filled with sarcasm and humor.


  6. Hope you’re on the mend after the trauma of Italian hospitals😬
    This reminds me of the joys of being pregnant in Italy including being asked to drop my pants at any moment and the fun of everyone passing by to look at my girly parts including the cleaner.😨 All part of the charm of il bel paese 😉
    All the best to yah😘


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