Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gym quest 2.0

Well now that my knee is out of service till further notice and I can't run, I figured it would be good to do some sort of low-impact exercise, so I decided to test out L'albero e la Mano. They offer "yogilates" (sounds like a smoothie, yummy!) and pilates mat work.
They don't offer a free trial class, it's 15€ for a single lesson or 70€ a month PLUS a 50€ initiation fee. Really pricey considering how tiny this place is and how limited the schedule is: there are no Saturday or Sunday classes, even Friday has slim pickings and they close in the summer. In any case, I decide to fork over the 15€ and give it a try.
Maybe it's just me, but if I'm doing an activity that is new to me, I need to see the instructor perform the movements and/or be given vocal cues so I can understand and follow along. In my experience, the instructor usually demonstrates and explains the movements and then if somebody is doing them wrong, they use the "hands-on" approach. Mr. Creepy Instructor seemed to prefer the "hands-on" method, moving me around as if he were my puppet master instead of explaining a single thing. Apart from making me slightly uncomfortable, it was also completely unhelpful and counterproductive. At one point, he was moving around my stiff limbs without uttering a word as to what he was trying to do so I just said to him "Maybe you could verbally explain what you're trying to make me do instead?". He seemed rather perturbed by this but I'd honestly had enough at that point and had no intention to continue being manhandled. Learn how to teach, buddy. If you can't show or explain the movements, then you need to find another job.
Apart from the creepy instructor, the class was lame. There were 4-5 of us, everyone showed up late and it all seemed so half-ass to me. No thanks, I'll pass. I may as well just buy a DVD and do these things at home.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"We Delivery" 2

Well, well... somebody has listened to my suggestion and has starting offering delivery! The service costs 2€ or is free if you spend more than 30€.
Not bad, good work T-Bone Station "The American Steakhouse".

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Oh well, so much for the A+++++ I gave Rome the other day. Today I give Rome a C-----!

Today I had an appointment with an orthopedist at a public hospital to figure out what is wrong with my knee that's been aching for months (time to put me out to pasture, huh?). But wait, before I start rambling about today's appointment, let me tell you about the steps I had to take to reach this point: First I go to my primary care physician (free visit) and explain the problem to him, then he wrote an official request for an MRI. I had to call the CUP toll-free number to book an appointment for the MRI (51 euro) in one of Rome's public clinics. I totally lucked out and got an appointment in a week's time ONLY because someone had cancelled their appointment, otherwise I would've had to wait till SEPTEMBER or pay more and use a private clinic. Miraculously I got an appointment quickly but the only downside was: the clinic was hella far. I managed to get a ride out there and assumed I would be given the test results immediately. HAHAHA, little did I know that it took 4-5 business days which meant I had to go back to the clinic in bumblefuck Rome in order to pick them up the next week. I actually asked the technician if they could email me the results or send them with a courier, he laughed at me and said "Come back in 4-5 days".
ANYWAY, once I picked up those test results I had to bring them back to my primary care physician (free visit) who then wrote out a request for a specialized visit with an orthopedist. I called the CUP toll-free number again to book this appointment and lucked out again, I was scheduled to see a knee specialist at a public hospital in San Giovanni in a week's time. Yay!

Now back to today. I go to San Giovanni, and manage to pay for the visit (25 euro) after waiting only 15 minutes! I go upstairs to the sports medicine section and within 10 minutes they called my number. NICE! I go in and the doctor asks what my problem is. I start explaining the various types of pain I've been feeling in my knee all these months and he chuckles saying "Oh, sounds like the end of the world!" I smile politely, not entirely sure what he meant by that, and continued explaining the situation. I hand over my MRI results -which although written in medical mumbo-jumbo, specifically state that the meniscus and the ACL are intact- and he says "Let me check your meniscus and ACL". Uh, okay. He starts bending my knee and says he hears it clicking, I inform him that my knee has ALWAYS clicked. He bends the other knee (the one that is perfectly healthy) and points out the clicking sound. Uh, okay... Diagnosis: he says my kneecaps are congenitally defective because they tilt outwards. Okay, but why do I have immense pain in one knee and just recently? He mumbles and bumbles all sort of stuff and ends by saying I need to strengthen my quad muscles, undergo a treatment of anti-inflammatory drugs, and if it still doesn't get better I need to have an operation.
I am sitting there in a daze, so blown away by his brusque manners, his eagerness to get rid of me, his approximate diagnosis, his lack of in-depth explanations, his unwillingness to discuss or answer the few questions I had, his wise-ass attitude when I asked him to write down the specific name of the muscle group he said I needed to strengthen, in fact I'm so blown away by this ridiculous and surreal situation that my mind goes blank and I freeze up. I stop asking questions, I just stop speaking. He hands me back my test results, paperwork, and this scrap of paper which simply reads "potenziamento vasto mediale" (strengthen the Vastus Medialis), and says "You can leave now". I felt just like Ralphie in this scene.
I walk out of the room in a daze, walk all the way to the bus stop in a daze, get on the bus in a daze and after 5 minutes my head goes into overdrive with all the questions I wanted to ask. Does "muscle strengthening" mean I have to go to physical therapy? If so, for how long? Why didn't he say physical therapy then? What the fuck does anti-inflammatory treatment mean? Do I just take some ibuprofen? Do I need injections in my swollen knee? Do I need to take steroidal meds or cortisone? And for how long? Why has my knee suddenly started hurting? Are there any activities I should avoid? The list of questions whirling in my mind is endless but unfortunately, I can't go back and even if I did, I have a feeling the doctor would brush me off and just try to rush me out of the door again.

Incredible, I don't know what happened to me, I am usually always on guard and prepared to dig until I get what I need but this time I was so taken aback by his flippant behavior that I just shut down. Unbelievable.

Well, at this point, I'm going to do what most Italians do: use connections. A friend of mine knows a good knee specialist who could sneak me in during his public hospital visits, so instead of going back to my primary care physician and getting another request for an orthopedist visit, and then calling the CUP to schedule an appointment, I'm just going slide right under that red tape limbo bar and do as the Romans do.

Damn, maybe my experience the other day was a dream as Italian Postcards wrote. In fact, my tonsils don't hurt any more. Hummm.....

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I'm sure you've noticed that I often bitch & moan about Rome, but not today! Brace yourselves for a positive post:
This morning I woke up with burning tonsils the size of tennis balls (wait for it... the positive part is coming) and hurried over to the nearest pronto soccorso- which is now actually called "guardia medica". I walked in and was shocked to see nobody in the waiting room! Score. I filled out the form and was quickly sent in to see the doctor, who was nice, efficient, and thorough. She handed over a prescription for antibiotics for my tonsillitis (who gets tonsillitis in the summer?!?).

With prescription in hand, I walked to a pharmacy around the corner which I thought was open on Sundays only to discover it was closed (wait for it... the positive part is coming) BUT they had a very clear and concise list of the pharmacies that were open on Sunday. The best part is, not only did it list the pharmacies (which they've been doing for several years) but also reference points!! So if the pharmacy happens to be located on say Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, which is a fairly long street, you could look at the reference point and know where exactly it was. Since I don't have an iPhone (yet) this saved me from having to wander up and down Corso Vittorio Emanuele II to find the open pharmacy. Well done, Rome. Today I give you an A+++++

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


For the past 4 days I have been trying to fill out the complaint form on Trenitalia's website and for the past 4 days, after almost reaching the end of the long process I've received the "your session has been timed-out" message.
Now I may not be the world's fastest typer (I'll admit it) but I'm certainly not the slowest so I can only assume the website is screwy OR RATHER that particular page just happens to be screwy. I can only imagine all the complaints Trenitalia gets so it wouldn't surprise me if they disabled the page every now & then.
Have any of you recently used the trains at Fiumicino Airport? When I landed in Rome last week, I strolled into the Fiumicino Airport train station to find two incredibly long lines of people waiting at the ticket machines. NOTE: the station is only equipped with four normal machines (in addition to two very strange old skool machines that nobody ever knows how to use... and they were both out of service anyway) and two of the four were broken. I was blown away by the total chaos and even more blown away by the fact that half of the "ticket stamping machines" were broken as well. Way to welcome people to Rome, as soon as you land you're already faced with annoyances and inefficiencies! Really Rome, you need to get your act together ASAP. You make a horrific first impression...