My kids couldn’t be more Italian

Posted in Ancona, family, kids at 4:16 pm

Around 3 PM this afternoon Heidi called me to say that the water was out. I got home around 4 PM, checked with our upstairs neighboor who said she didn’t have any water either, and called the water company. They played a recorded message saying that they were aware of the problem and things should be up and running around 8 PM.

Later in the evening, Chloe and I were driving around and she was asking when the water would be fixed. She stopped mid-sentence and asked, “Dad, if we don’t have water, how will we boil pasta?!”

Couldn’t be more Italian, could she?


What my kids think about me

Posted in family, kids at 7:26 pm

Wednesday of this week was Father’s Day here in Italy. And my kids made little cards and wrote me a letter. Here’s what they said:

Dear Dad:

Here are a few little things about you that I will always remember.

When we watch a movie together, three seconds after the film starts you forget all about it and fall asleep. When we go to the Auchan or Obi, when we leave you always ask if we can go to McDonalds. Every Sunday you make breakfast. And you play on your computer. And you help me with my homework. And we play Xbox together. Sometimes you and I go shopping. You are the dad that all of the kids would like to have!

You’re the best dad in the world!

I love you very much!


Dear Dad,

I like it when you go outside and go hiking and sometimes you take me with you. And also when we play together.

Or when it’s Sunday and you make pancakes or the best french toast in the whole world.

It makes me laugh when you wake up early in the morning, and you’re so tired that you seem mad.

I also like it when you take me to the cheap seats and we watch Ancona soccer games.

You really are a great dad.

I love you very much.


Naturally, this was all in Italian. But no matter what the language, it really made my day.

Aww … shucks …


Finger Bump

Posted in Ancona, health care at 10:51 am

I’ve written several times about the health care system here in Italy. Our first big experience – the birth of our youngest – was fairly positive. There were some obvious differences, but the price of approximately €0.00 made the learning curve worth it. It seemed to be similar to what we experienced in America, but decentralized. You are responsible for more of your care, your record-keeping. There isn’t really a central location or doctor that coordinates everything.

So we’re now facing our second experience. I have a bump on my finger.

Eww a cyst!

Eww a cyst!

It’s not a big bump, but it kind of hurts. So I figure I’ll talk to my main doctor about it. He’s a great guy – very laid back. But I’m learning that he mostly just writes prescriptions and sends you to specialists. His office is about 8′ X 12′, there aren’t any nurses (only a morning receptionist), no billing, no appointments. It’s basic health care boiled down to the bare necessities.

He agrees it should be removed. Since it’s on the skin he gives me a prescription for an dermatologist appointment.

I make the appointment and find out the doctor sees patients at the city hospital. And there’s a wait of about eight weeks. I wait and show up and pay the €16.50 only to be told that my little bump is under the skin. I need to get an ultrasound and go see a surgeon.

Back to the primary doctor. He gives me a prescription for an ultrasound and a surgeon. I go to the office to make the appointment. They tell me there’s an spot open in Castelfidardo (about 35 minutes away) to see a surgeon. The ultrasound will take about three months and I have to go to Loreto (about 1 hour away). I ask if I need the ultrasound first, and they told me to ask the surgeon.

So I head to the appointment, and he tells me to leave since I don’t have the ultrasound.

More waiting. Then I decide to call about getting an ultrasound done privately. There are two systems here – the private, cheaper system that involves long lines and lots of headaches, or the private system, which is more expensive but generally easier. I call to see about changing my appointment to a private doctor. And to my surprise, there’s an appointment available in three days here in Ancona for €65. I take it, she prints out pictures of my finger bump, types up this fancy report, and I remake the appointment to see a surgeon.

And today was my appointment. I showed up, paid €16.50, and waited to go see him. They call my name, I sign a paper, and the doctor looks at the bump. And then quickly dismisses me. Apparently they coded my appointment wrong. I need to see a surgeon who works on hands. He’s a general surgeon, not a hand surgeon. I sat there, kind of stunned that I had wasted another morning on another fruitless appointment. The good news? He’s not going to charge me for the visit!

I was struck by a comment he made. He said that if we were in “some place like Africa” he would remove the bump himself without any problem. But since we’re in Italy “we have a better system.”

Really? I’ve been trying to get a tiny cyst removed for about five months now. I’ve been to offices all over the place and no one seems to be willing to help a foreigner understand a system that Italians struggle with. I’ve learned that most people just pay extra to see private doctors to avoid this mess. And sometimes I get nervous as to what might happen if something really serious is wrong someday.

We’ve got good doctors here, but it seems like they are covered in layer after layer of bureaucracy and apathy so no one seems to get anything done.

But hey, at least it’s cheap, right?