I am insulted. And indignant. And slightly annoyed. I am not, however, surprised. When you live in a place like Italy – or rather when you live in the greater Milan area – you get used to being judged for your appearance, pushed out of the queue at the fish counter, harassed from a distance of precisely half a meter by the car behind you and forced to dodge the “doggy doo doo” that decorates every urban pavement. After a while you (almost) get used to it, put it down to experience, and get over it because, at the end of the day it’s not personal. People are what they are, they behave like that with everyone and you just can’t take it to heart.
Being humiliated by your own GP when you go to them for advice is another matter, and this is what happened to me last week. I needed to see the doctor anyway, and since I had to request a referral to get some blood tests done (which had been suggested by my Gynecologist), I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone. You see, here in Italy the system is as badly organized as they say it is. Going a little off-topic now, but I went to my Gyno to have a random annual check-up and we discussed the fact that I’m starting to maybe-possibly-sort of-think-about-starting-a-family-at-some-point-in-the-not-too-distant-future (before anyone starts getting excited!), so she ‘prescribed’ some standard blood tests, reminding me that I would, however, need the referral from my GP in order to actually get them done. A 120 euro an hour specialist is evidently not enough to physically refer you to the lab, so I paid my bill, left and, a few days later took myself off to see my new (and therefore never previously visited) GP. It was all going so well – the 12 people waiting to see her when I got there had dwindled to just a couple within an hour (the last time I visited a no-appointment doctor in Italy it took 3 and a half hours to be seen – this is how many of them operate). I took my turn, discussed the current problem and then pulled out the note from the Gyno listing the blood tests she wanted me to do. “And why do you wish to have these tests?” she asked, taking no prisoners, bearing down on me over her glasses like some kind of scary school teacher. “Because I just turned thirty and we were thinking we might look into having a family at some point soon, and I thought it best to make sure…..” “How long have you been married?” she positively snapped, cutting me off in no uncertain terms. “Ummm…..errrrrr…..I’m not married…. I….. ummmmmm…. live with my partner”. The woman gave me such a look it still haunts me a week later. She literally looked me up and down for 30 seconds, before pulling herself together enough to tell me that my Gynecologist has no idea what she’s doing, these tests are not the right ones, why do I even go to her, etc. etc. No querying my family history, my medical background – nothing. Great first meeting between medical professional and new patient. NOT. Ask me personal questions so that you’re capable of managing my health, Dottoressa; keep your personal marital status issues to yourself! I repeat, I am insulted, indignant, but not particularly surprised. Just another day in paradise!