(click on pictures to enlarge)
My cast was removed on Friday after close to a month but I have to continue using crutches for another two weeks to keep the weight off my injured foot. I can’t describe how wonderful it is being able to take a shower without arranging chairs to prop up my leg and to sit on, or being able to go out by myself. We take all these things for granted but now I’m reminded that being able to walk is in itself something to be grateful for.
My local hospital, Ospedale Santo Spirito in Sassia on the Lungotevere, where I had my cast put on, is the oldest in Rome. It was originally a stopping place for Anglo-Saxon pilgrims visiting the Vatican. In 1198, Pope Innocent III turned it into a hospital in particular for the poor, for women and for orphans. Abandoned babies at that time would often be thrown into the Tiber. Pope Innocent III had a foundling wheel, constructed such that mothers could anonymously leave their children inside a drum which could then be rotated and received on the inside by caregivers. The wheel is still there and is the first of its kind in Rome though thankfully, no longer in use.
The Santo Spirito complex is large, spanning a whole block. The old part is very beautiful with a couple of courtyards lined with frescoes and with mosaic floors. The clock in one of the courtyards is also very unusual with only six numbers on its face and a lizard (symbol of death and resurrection, I’m told) for a hand. I think the six numbers represent the times of prayer, matins, vespers etc. It wasn’t until the Napoleonic wars that Italian time was replaced by French time of 12 hours with the day starting at midnight.
Anyhow, there is also a modern hospital within the complex and the Orthopedic Dept. has a good reputation which was lucky for me as I just went to the nearest Pronto Soccorso (ER) when I realized that there was something seriously wrong with my foot. The health system here, though public, is more complicated than we are used to in Canada and basic payments have to be made for tests and visits. The payments can be claimed upon filing of taxes and reimbursements are income based. When I was in ER, several people who appeared to have broken bones arrived by ambulance or escorted by police. I subsequently found out that if one falls as a result of a pothole, the city is responsible and shoulders the bill. However, the police or ambulance have to be called by way of establishing proof. Between, tests, treatment and mobility aids, I’ve spent around 300 EUR. I do have an Italian health card but I didn’t know to call the police when I fell and even if I had, it would likely take years and mountains of paperwork to recover the cost. Since last Friday was the day after Republic Day, a public holiday, many staff had taken the day off in order to have a long weekend. Waiting time was unusually long and as you can see in the photo (with my foot in the foreground), people were falling asleep with boredom as the waiting rooms are very basic and there are no magazines or newspapers on offer. I took the opportunity to read about Santo Spirito on Google. It also houses a historic and very interesting medical museum which will be the subject of another post when I’m mobile enough to visit museums again.