La Traviata and the Italian Art of being ill Dramatically

Sorry I haven’t written any posts for so long. I’ve been too busy mopping up puke.

My little boy has vomited almost every day for the last three months. The house smells like a bleach factory, and I am buying new mops from the local hardware store so often that the cashier there thinks I fancy him, and am just buying the mops as an excuse to hang out.

Lately, he has started hiding behind the screwdriver display when I show up, and making his mum serve me.

I am trying to be calm about the situation although internally it is worrying me. The Sicilians are skilled at good at making a song and dance about illness – watch the opera La Traviata if you don’t believe me – so perhaps I should take notes?

My neighbour (Mrs. Sterile, in case anyone’s keeping track of the locals in this blog) made more fuss when her son banged his head and got a bruise on it than any cardiac patient I saw in the hospital in England having heart surgery.

Her son had been riding his tricycle, which tipped over sideways and made him bump his head on the ground. She fainted immediately, then came round and hyperventilated. Her son cried loudly, largely because he was scared by what his mother was doing, which meant he MUST be taken to hospital. The amount of hand-waving and Sicilian cries of desperation exceeded anything I had ever witnessed before. She was even slapping her hands against her forehead the way Arabs do at funerals.

All this over a bruise about one inch in diameter.

My husband and I were recruited as chauffeurs, since she and her husband were both too hysterical to drive. She did actually coerce my husband to drive up the hard shoulder of the motorway for about a quarter of a mile when we encountered a bit of a traffic jam, by throttling him from behind and pulling out some handfuls of his hair. I think he could have taken the throttling but it was the hair-pulling that convinced him, as he really doesn’t have any surplus to spare.

At the hospital, she fainted again. Once she had been administered to, she screamed and grabbed several doctors by the lapels of their white coats, getting dragged along the corridor since she refused to let go of them, asking them in floods of tears if there was any hope her son would pull through without major brain damage. Then she insisted they put him on a drip for 2 hours – which they did purely because she was disrupting the whole ER department and it was the only way to shut her up. Whilst this was happening, she got out some rosary beads and her husband and she prayed together, except that she couldn’t pray effectively because she was weeping so much. Eventually the hospital found a couple of strong porters to kick her whole family out.

The best part was that, a couple of weeks later, she arranged a special thanksgiving mass to honour Saint Rosalia of Palermo for rescuing her son from the jaws of death. She invited 350 of her closest relatives.

Well, last week she spotted be fetching my son home from school early. I have done that every day he’s been to school, since Christmas. I leave him there and then, sooner or later, the school phones me saying he has vomited, and will I come and get him please?

So, what did Mrs. Sterile say to me that day?

“Oh there’s nothing wrong with him! Look at how big and tall he is. He’s just fooled you into believing he’s ill, because he doesn’t want to go to school.”

His history teacher said roughly the same thing two weeks ago. She thinks he’s mastered the art of hurling at will, just so he can go home early when he’s bored with lessons.

No doubt my seven-year-old ordered himself some of this online...
No doubt my seven-year-old ordered himself some of this online…

I confided in her that I was worried in case he had something serious.

“Oh, I know just how you feel,” she said, adding reassurances that my son clearly had nothing and she knew this, being the mother of offspring with a REAL serious medical crisis. She then went on to tell me about when her daughter had a “lazy eye”, and had to do eye exercises for a year to correct it.

“It was awful. They told me she might have to wear glasses for the rest of her life,” the devastated woman concluded.

“That must have been terrible for you I said,” pushing my spectacles back up my nose slowly and deliberately. “You must be such a strong person to have got through it.”

If your child or pet suffers from squinting, you can order vision-correcting glasses for them online or in all good joke shops.
If your child or pet suffers from squinting, you can order vision-correcting glasses for them online or in all good joke shops.

Anyway, I’m signing off now.

I have to go down to the hardware store and take a really good, hard look at the screwdriver display.

33 Comments Add yours

  1. I am sorry. It must be so hard to watch him struggle. I hope those antibiotics do their stuff.


  2. I too hope your son recovers from this. Even if does not hopefully he will be as good a writer and parent as you are.


  3. You just reminded me, my driving license has expired too. Oh drat!
    How do we renew them while over here, without them getting intercepted by the postal staff on the way?


    1. Pecora Nera says:

      It is a nightmare.

      Plan A is tell large porkies to the DVLA in the UK and say I have been living at my UK address for the past 3 years.
      There is no plan B, however Plan Z is to convert my UK driving licence to an Italian one. I have spent another 40 mins with Signore Cretino at the local transport office. It is not going to well at the moment. I now have 57 days to complete this little task.


    2. I did convert my UK license to an Italian one. It took about 3 months and help of 2 lawyer friends to figure out exactly which public office could do it, and how. Eventually the man who did it wasn’t sure if what he was doing was valid. He simply stuck a micriscopic sticky label on the back with a serial number on it, printed off his computer.
      I’m now driving on a license which still has some validity according to the italian sticker but has long expired according to the actual original UK license.
      I’ve got lots of plan Z’s now, but no plan A at all, unfortunately!!!


  4. Thank you.
    I really appreciate these words of encouragement from you, and everyone else.


  5. A Hannibal Lector mask sounds EXACTLY what I need!
    And there I was, pathetically trying to find out where to order a pair of those ridiculous spectacles, so I could put them on next time anyone moans about their trivia, and tell them I have suddenly developed auto-inflicted exophthalmia (that’s the medical term for bulging eyeballs).
    But of course, psychotic cannibal is a much better way to go!!!!


  6. Hi Mary,
    How are you getting on with the Rife machine? Have you ben using it long?
    I hope you’re getting some improvement with it.


  7. decimawho says:

    How often do you go back to BCA, if you don’t mind me asking? I’m looking at going this summer and want to know the kind of financial commitment I’m making here… :/

    I’m so sorry to hear of your son’s illness as well as your own. But y’know, that goes without saying for us in ‘the club’. Argh. what a mess. 😦


    1. Hi,
      I’ve emailed you the costs etc.


  8. Monika says:

    Really sorry to hear and thinking of you and your son. You are so brave and seem to deal with this situation in the best possible way.


  9. Steve says:

    and there was me thinking you used artisitc licence, but wow, she is officially awarded the over dramatic badgeof the year.

    My sarcoidosis is very mild, visually I just have 3 marks on my skin. I was told that is was in my lungs but then I had a cat scan and they said it wasnt in my lungs. (whether it was there and left or was never there in the first place) I dont know.

    so because it is mild I dont take medication, if I get a flare up ill go for some tests and that has been twice since 2008 (when I was diagnosed), but yeah I worry about it sometimes as it can get worse for no apparent reason.

    I hope your boy finanlly manages to overcome it.


  10. Ha ha! I liked the dramatic chipmunk!
    I’m glad your sarcoidosis is not too severe.
    My doctor did tell me that all auto-immune diseases are helped by taking vitamin D, which apparently keeps the immune system balanced and on the right track. He told me to take the usual adult dose of 2000 IU daily, and It has been keeping my auto-antibodies at a much lower level than before I took it. For what it’s worth.


  11. Thanks for these really good ideas.
    I need to start feeling a bit better myself to be able to find energy for this, but I’ll definitely keep this is a plan for when I get some improvment in my own health.


    1. Jules says:

      I’m sorry you are not well and without energy, I hope it is sunny on the west of the island, if so, sit outside and soak it up, get lots of oranges, bananas and tomatoes to boost your spirits. Let me know if you want help in setting up a charity, I’d be happy to help.


  12. So sorry to hear this awful news! This disease is quite common here in the US. Have you been to England with your son for treatment? If not, there is info on CDC in US regarding this disease. Or Google the Mayo Clinic and see what they say. I will keep you and your son in my thoughts. Diane


  13. Tisha says:

    Ugh! I’m so sorry to hear about your son… and then on top of it that you have to deal with people flippantly waving it off like it’s pretend. I would have throttled a few neighbors by now! Best wishes and I hope your son recovers. 😦


  14. Hi!
    We have been including probiotics all along actually. The doctor was most emphatic that nobody can take long-term antibiotics without taking high dose probiotics throughout the treatment.

    I’m glad to hear your son is quite healthy these days. It’s heart breaking to see a child ill all the time, but at least a healty adulthood is some compensation.


  15. Our Adventure in Croatia says:

    Hi, I am very sorry to hear this. In our blogs we use so much humour, nobody really knows what’s behind every bloggers “real life” – thank you for sharing with us all your predicament and situation. Sounds like you have been through a lot of difficult times, I have not heard of lyme disease, maybe I read of someone else’s having it in a blog, but don’t really know anything about it, how one gets it etc. I hope with time and treatment your son will improve, it seems you are doing all you can and are very well informed and you’ve probably read many papers etc on the subject, I think it’s always a lot harder when you see little kids being unwell. Research and medications improve all the time and so we can only look up.


  16. alouhela says:

    I’m sorry your son has to suffer. I’m an adult and can barely handle the battle with this bug. Your son is blessed to have you as his supporter and defender!!!


  17. So sorry for your pain. I will keep your son in my prayers. I fear so much for our medical future. Not enough research is being done to develop new antibiotics and in the U.S. Tetracycline hasn’t been available for two years! We need to understand that antibiotics are more important than growing eyelashes or viagra. What a nightmare.

    If you’d like to do a post about this on my own blog, I’d love to host you. Please use the contact through my website if you’re interested.

    Big hugs.


  18. Thank you!
    We are both improving slowly, so I’m hopeful the summer will go far better than last winter!


  19. Hello!
    I’m really glad to hear you’ve got got 3 members of the family cured – it’s so encouraging to hear about success stories as sometimes, especially when you’re in online support groups, it seems as if nobody ever gets cured! Obviously they just drift away and get on with their lives once they heal.
    The binders idea sounds interesting and very important. I’ll ask my doctor about that issue. thank you for the advice. 🙂


    1. Catherine says:

      If you haven’t seen it already, you might find this article useful, written by our LLMD


  20. cave76 says:

    Not Youvegottobekiidding, but she’s at the same forum and where I heard about this. 🙂 I don’t have a blog but “may” in the future. Thank you for giving me permission to re-post.


  21. cave76 says:

    I’ve been aware of Limu for several years after investigating their claims extensively.
    It’s MLM (MultiLevelMarketing) at it’s finest. (That’s not a compliment.)
    The owners of it have profited from the selling of it to the unaware who believe the hype.
    “a few years ago […]the FDA forced the maker of Royal Tongan Limu to destroy approximately $2.7 million worth of the stuff because of unsubstantiated health claims.”
    The quote above is from Dr. Weil’s statement where he said that the present claims are ‘toned down’ a bit since then. He went on to say:
    “I can find no evidence that limu will do you any good at all.”


  22. Cave, that info does not surprise me at all.
    My own reaction, once I had looked up Limu and found it is just seaweed, was that you cannot cure an antibiotic-resistant multi-organic bacterial infection with any kind of aquatic vegetable.
    If only!!!!


  23. Karolyn Cooper says:

    That was a very moving, honest and useful post.


  24. I completely agree with everything you say.
    This is similar to my story, Infected when I was 7 and bedridden for a number of years.
    Luckily I am functional since taking matters into my own hands and keeping symptoms less severe with the right supplements and diet.
    I hope you find some info here that helps you.
    Sending you love and I hope 2015 will be better for you.


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