| SIZE=4>By now I had started to feel woozy and unwell. I feel light-headed and off-balance, I’m running a temperature, and my vision has gone double, which worries me. I managed to Skype my doctor in DC (yes, she actually took my call and spoke with me!); she suggested I have my vision checked right away. So on Tuesday we climbed the Qafe Thanes (Chaf Tah-nus) pass in the cool of the morning and made our way to Fier, a large city on our route to the Albanian port of Vlore, where we’ll take a ferry to Brindisi. All the doctors at the American Hospital are on vacation, but the state public hospital is full of helpful doctors. With a bit of English and some Italian, we communicated our concerns and two young doctors consulted with an ophthalmologist, who checked my eyes, and a neurologist. I still don’t feel well, but we are satisfied that I’m okay to continue until we can get to the EU health-care zone.
At Vlore we checked into a nice, air-conditioned hotel, where we napped most of the afternoon, emerging after dusk to share a good pizza and returning to sleep the night in comfort.
Our ferry crossing from Vlore, Albania to Brindisi, Italy was smooth and comfortable, just about four and a half hours. Heading directly to the old center of town, we quickly got a reminder of Dora’s impressive size—she is not built for maneuvering through narrow streets in medieval-era city centers-- and ducked into the first hotel parking structure we found. The Hotel Orientale is a gracious, smoke-free place with friendly, professional staff and great plumbing, and a lavish breakfast buffet. All of which is especially nice because it has been Jim’s home since Thursday night while I’ve been a patient in the excellent Ospedale Perroni.
On Friday morning I felt unable to continue travelling without a diagnosis and treatment plan for my symptoms, so we presented ourselves at the emergency services entrance; just nine hours later I was admitted to the hospital, after a full blood workup and CT scan and a consultation with a lovely, English-speaking neurologist, Dr Alessandra Bellacosa. Friday, August 10 was a day of waiting and resting, but by day’s end Dr Bellacosa announced I would have an MRI early the following morning, and then consult with an endocrinologist. All came about as promised, and we had a clear “normal” reading on the MRI by noon, along with a diagnosis and treatment plan from Dr Antonio Caretto, endocrinologist.
Saturday morning I felt better, much steadier on my pins and with less pronounced double vision, and today (Sunday, August 12) I feel even a bit better. I am set for discharge tomorrow afternoon, and then I think Jim and I will try to enjoy a few hours in Brindisi (which turns out to be quite beautiful) before we turn Dora north and finish this trip. Our first stop should be Lanciano, about four hours on, where our friend Linda Perez is doing her own researches into retiring abroad.
I am posting from our room at Hotel Orientale--discharge went smoothly this afternoon (Monday, August 13--happy birthday, Loren!)and we paid not a single Euro for all the care, tests, etc!