In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

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In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Gala Placidia on Wed May 18, 2016 10:46 am

First topic message reminder :

I should have said Lucca's health services, as most of this took place in this province, but there was also involvement by Pisa Hospital, so I would keep it regional.
Last Tuesday, having just arrived from home in Spain, my husband suffered a serious brain stroke. He was talking to the plumber about some work, when suddenly he collapsed, his right side paralyzed. Fortunately, the plumber is a huge guy who immediately realized what was going on, even if all this was sudden and without warning. He sat him on an armchair, started yelling for help and we got neighbours and everyone coming. I was not much help. I literally froze. My neighbours took over and in less than 10 minutes we had two ambulances with a doctor at the door. They rushed him to Lucca Hospital with my neighboring dragging me to her car and following them. I was still under shock. Emergency services worked frantically, made many tests, questioned me about his health, got in touch with Pisa and sent us there to see whether a special treatment within the first 4 hours was advisable, as they are the specialists in that field. For several health reasons, the treatment was not advisable and he was returned to Lucca. He never lost consciousness, which was good, and he was stabilized, although his condition was critical . He was then sent to Sub-intensive care and today he is being finally transferred to Barga's Hospital where he will start his rehabilitation in their special unit that practices the Grimaldi Method, which is widely acclaimed. Our Spanish doctors have advised to keep him there for as long as necessary as "he could not be in better hands" and to transfer him, even in an air ambulance, could jeopardize his incipient recovery.
I am happy to say that his face is now perfectly straight, his speech has dramatically improved and he starts to feel both right arm and leg and has even moved them slightly. He is also in great spirits.
I can only praise the work of all health professionals for whom I feel the deepest gratitude for everything they have done and will keep on doing.btheir standards are second to none.
My neighbours, people we know from Bagni di Lucca, our plumber Gian-Luca and the local taxi driver, Marco, who drives me around at any time, day and night, are all great people and I will always be deeply in debt with them.
If anyone has to go through such an ordeal, I guess that this region is the place to be. 
I thought that you would like to know.....


Last edited by Gala Placidia on Wed May 18, 2016 11:29 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Typo)
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Hazy on Fri May 20, 2016 6:43 am

Apologies, I should have said to ask for Cardioaspirin 100 mg.

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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Admin on Fri May 20, 2016 8:01 am

So sorry to hear about your husband Gala. How distressing for all of you. I'm very happy to hear he is getting such good care. I have always found the healthcare here to be excellent and far superior to the UK NHS.
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Gala Placidia on Fri May 20, 2016 4:21 pm

Thank you Hazy and Admin. Yes, it will be a matter of time, I guess.
In his case, he had all kinds of checkups prior to coming to Bagni and everything was right. The doctors said that it was time for him to resume normal life after his heart operation. He has been on the low dose Aspirin for a long time now.
I guess these things do happen no matter how careful you are; however, the important thing is to have capable and efficient health services around you to help you to get back on your feet. And this is what we were very lucky to have. Plus the help and support I am getting. Looking after the carer is very much needed...


Last edited by Gala Placidia on Fri May 20, 2016 8:25 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by numerouno on Fri May 20, 2016 8:48 pm

YUHi Gala. Really sorry to hear about your hubby. Wishing him all the best and respect to the plumber and your neighbours too. Should you wish to do a little bit of fund-raising for the hospital, I'll only only too pleased to donate a few €s. xx

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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Gala Placidia on Sat May 21, 2016 4:51 am

Thank you numerouno. I am happy to inform that he is slowly getting better, although this is going to be a long road...
As for fundraising, I am afraid that I have a handful with this, but it may be a good idea in the future. Lucca's San Luca's Hospital is a very modern one and they seem to be very well equipped, although I saw in the paper that they are looking for financial partners. Barga's San Francesco is much older and I noticed that some of the wheelchairs, etc. need to be replaced. This does not reflect on the excellent work that doctors, nurses and physiotherapists do. Sometimes, to have the best equipment does not mean that you get the best care.
But it is an idea... Thanks Very Happy
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Gala Placidia on Wed May 10, 2017 8:44 am

It is today one year since my husband suffered his stroke while we were in Bagni di Lucca. Since then many things have happened and I thought that it was appropriate to update the information.
In June, we were told by the doctors at Barga's San Francesco that, according to the Italian Health Authority rules and regulations, patients could only stay in the rehabilitation hospitals for a maximum of 40 days although, in our case, they were willing to extend the stay for a week or so taking into account our circumstances. They suggested that they would provide a hospital bed and other aids to take to our home and that an ambulance would pick up my husband daily to take him to rehabilitation for as long as deemed necessary. I immediately realized that our house was not the right place to take him as it has 4 levels and lots of steps and stairs everywhere. Our daughters had come from the States and they suggested that we could rent a more suitable place, but I thought that it was better to repatriate us because health services in the Basque Country are excellent. Fortunately, I found out that our car insurance included assistance while we were travelling and repatriation in cases like ours. After much bureaucratic procedures, which are a real pain when you are having a medical emergency such as ours, our insurers decided to transport us by air ambulance, accompanied by a doctor and a nurse. Together with friends, family and the insurance we arranged with the San Sebastian University Hospital to be transported and admitted there in their Rehabilitation Service. We travelled on the 24th of June 2016. The insurance also covered the towing of our car back to San Sebastian and everything went well.
My husband stayed in hospital with daily rehabilitation until the 17th of October and then, he was sent home to continue his rehabilitation 3 times a week, and they were transporting us by ambulance to do all that.
At the end of March, the doctors told me that my husband had reached a plateau and there was no visible improvement and for this reason, they were discontinuing his therapy. I could continue it at private centres, but I will have to pay for all that.
I arranged for private therapy twice a week at a local clinic, where he was originally operated for his heart problems and I must say that I am very happy with this arrangement, even if it is a costly one. His movements have improved and, although we know that he will never be the same again, we are hopeful that he may regain some mobility.
Our home looks like a mini hospital nowadays. I had to buy a therapeutic bed with a special mattress to prevent ulcers. I employ a full time carer or "badante" who also helps with household chores. I have all sorts of medical chairs and gadgets.
Basically, the stroke seriously affected the left side of his brain and caused hemiplegia on his right side. Not only paralysis, but also loss of sensitivity and general balance. His head was not affected and he can speak normally in 3 languages. It is mainly his movements that are affected. And we do not think that he will be able to walk... ever... at least not functionally. He goes from his special bed to a wheelchair or a special medical chair to take him to the bathroom or shower. It is very hard work. I try to take him out as much as possible and he enjoys going for coffee and tapas to the local bars and meeting with friends and family.
For me, it is non-stop and not sleeping well at night as your are constantly checking on him. But he feels happier at home and this is what counts.
Unfortunately, our daughters have been living in the States, although they come at least twice a year. On the other hand, our youngest daught with her husband and baby girl, our only grandchild, have managed to get transferred to Sweden as from July and they will be much closer, which is a blessing.
As for the valuable numerouno advice, I could not organize anything, because I was too busy and I knew that we would not stay there, so it was impossible to organize a proper fundraising effort. But I did something myself. The room where my husband was had no TV and all the others only had very old ones. So I bought a new TV and had it installed in the room and donated it to the hospital so that other patients will benefit from it.
My final comment would be that I am very grateful to everyone in Italy for their help. My advice would be "never give up". The neurologists and doctors at Pisa and Lucca hospitals told me that his case was so serious that his life was in real danger and that he may not pull through the first 72 hours. And that the damage sustained will mean that his rehabilitation would present lots of challenges and that he would never walk again. Well, we have gone a long way. His right side is getting more mobile and at least his transfers from bed to chair are much easier as his trunk has been given more tone and strength through physiotherapy. We do not know how our brain works and recovers from damage like the one sustained, but we should never give up on hope and keep on working.
Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts.
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Admin on Wed May 10, 2017 8:59 am

I'm sorry to hear it's been such a horrible time for you and your family. I'm very happy to know he is making some progress and I'm sure he's in great hands.
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Gala Placidia on Wed May 10, 2017 9:30 am

Thank you Admin. We do what we can, but it is rewarding to see any progress in spite of the odds.
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Angela Fuller on Wed May 10, 2017 11:29 am

Gala, thanks for the update, I am pleased to hear there has been some improvment and hopefully it will continue even if slow progress, progress none the less.  You must take care of yourself as well as OH.  It will be an uphill struggle and you need to keep your strength as you well know.  Good to hear his transfers from chair to bed are getting better, one step in the right direction.  Massaging OH's affected side as you well know may help to, something you are probably doing...Take care and look after yourself
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by lancashire lass on Wed May 10, 2017 5:03 pm

It's good to hear from you Gala, thank you for the update, I am sorry to hear how difficult things have been for you both but pleased that there has been some progress. I will be thinking of you when we arrive in Bagni later this month.

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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Lisa C. on Wed May 10, 2017 6:06 pm

Gala,

I am so sorry for the ordeal that you and your family have had to endure.  This must have been a very difficult year for you.  I was pleased to hear of the progress that your husband has been making and hope that he continues to improve.  You are always in our thoughts.
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by ghiro on Wed May 10, 2017 7:43 pm

A dreadful year for you Gala but the situation appears to be improving.  Long may it continue to do so.
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Flip on Thu May 11, 2017 12:08 pm

Glad to hear things are getting more positive fro you both. Bagni misses you I'm sure.
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Gala Placidia on Wed May 17, 2017 10:23 am

Thanks very much Angela F., L.L., Lisa, Ghiro and Flip for your kind words and support. Yes, it is very hard, but we have no options in these cases. My advice is to take good care of yourselves, as stroke is on the rise throughout the world... perhaps because we live longer than our ancestors. At least it is good to know that there are some excellent healthcare specialists and workers in Italy who are able to help.
And one last piece of advice. Do not travel without a good insurance policy that covers assistance while you are travelling and repatriation.
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Re: In praise of Northern Tuscany health services

Post by Vicino on Wed May 17, 2017 12:51 pm

Gala,

I've kept quiet over the last year regarding the lack of your insight to the world, but I have been very concerned about your welfare. It seems like you have been through a disastrous time.

My thoughts are (and have been) with you...............

buon fortuna...........

V
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