Last time I wrote I was in Viareggio finishing my finals...my last day there, Tiff and I went to the beach, got massages (on the beach for only 15 euro), and had a nice dinner. The entire day, I had a strange pain in my back, which I attributed to my backpack--a pinched nerve or something. The next evening we headed to Florence, to meet up with Paolo the following day. We checked into our hotel in Florence, went to dinner and crashed early. My back was still hurting, but I had been carrying my heavy pack, so I assumed thats what it was...
The next morning I woke up, still in pain. I tried to tell myself it was all in my head, but it was getting worse by the minute, and it had moved from my right lower back to my right lower abdomen. Finally it got so bad that I told Tiff I needed to go to a doctor. We looked up english speaking doctors on the internet...and both that we found were on holiday--till September! By this time it was so bad, and it was a Saturday, that we decided to go to the nearest hospital. On the way there Tiffany called Paolo to tell him we would not be able to meet him at the train station, instead, we would meet him at the hospital. He knew immediately that it was bad when I did not get on the phone (I hurt too bad to talk). We got to the hospital and did our best to explain the problem to a nurse (thank God Tiffany speaks Italian). They checked me in, and put me in a waiting room with an old woman who was sobbing. Apparently she fell and hurt her arm. And, apparently she is a regular at the hospital...the nurses all knew her by name, and everyone kinda gently ignored her. I think more than medical attention, she just needed some attention in general...so I held her hand for a minute, and Tiffany spoke to her about the US.
After about an hour of waiting I finally saw a doctor. I (through Tiff) explained my symptoms, and the doc did some karate chops to my back and stomach. She then told Tiff to leave, that I would be getting an ultrasound and some x-rays. In the meantime they stuck an IV in my arm and started pumping some really good pain medicine into me, that made me nice and loopy--in moments I became fluent in Italian...even if I was the only one who could understand.
The hospital was not as nice as hospitals in the US, but Italy is known for its great healthcare, and the doctor seemed to know what she was doing. The weird part was waiting to be taken to get my tests done. I was put in a room with about 5 other people with various ailments, and there were no curtains between us, like in an American emergency room. So I could see the old man filling his bedpan, the woman talking to God as though he was right there in front of her, and another man, who was in so much pain that he paced back ands forth and groaned nonstop. Seeing sick people does two things to me...makes me more scared and makes me feel more sick. So I tried to not let my mind run away with itself as I waited for the nurse to call me (the pain medicine helped keep me calm).
I finally went for the ultrasound and x-ray. The woman who preformed the ultrasound saw some interesting things in my kidney, which she told me the doctor would explain. So after 2 hours of testing, the doctor, Tiffany and PAOLO come back to explain to me what was wrong. You can imagine my mortification, Paolo seeing me for the first time in weeks, in a wheelchair with an IV in my arm, practically drooling (not really), but definitely a little out of it. He translated that I had passed a kidney stone (not sure when, either earlier that day, or the day before), and my kidney, bladder and everything in that general vicinity was really inflammed; I was shocked, because I had not felt the stone when it came out, and I have always heard that they are excruciating when they pass. But the doc said it was likely a couple of really tiny ones that wreaked havoc as they made their way through me. She gave me some more really strong pain medicine, an anti-inflammatory and an antibiotic. She also said that when I was sick in Lecce (throwing up) was likely when it started.
The next two days I didnt do much except sleep and drink a ton of water...and Paolo, the angel that he is, did not leave my side. He kicked into doctor mode, and made sure I took my medicine on time, drank lots of water, rested, etc. He made me lunch, rubbed my back...was an absolute saint. We debated changing the Morocco plans, but I did not want to change my trip again, and I felt better each day, so despite not seeing much of Florence except the hospital and Paolos friends house, I was ready for Morocco 2 days later.
We are now in Asilah, and the town is amazing. It deserves a blog all of its own, so I will try to write again tomorrow--about Casablanca, Asilah, traveling with Paolo, the emotional rollercoaster of starting to fall in love again, and the closing of one chapter in my life and the beginning of a new one...its terrifying, wonderful, sad, exciting...all at the same time. But Paolo is so understanding, he allows me to feel all that I am feeling without being nervous, overbearing or jealous.
Is this really happening?
Oh! And I will also write about the muslim beaches. It is fascinating to see women swim in the ocean completely covered, even their faces...