Score 1 for Italian Healthcare
I have plantar fasciaits. (misspelled) (Look it up on WebMD if you want the full explanation). It means my feet hurt! It feels like someone has driven a hot screw up through the flat part of the bottom of your heel. And periodically they tighten it, sending spasms of pain up your leg. The other symptom is in the morning when you get up or after you have been sitting still for a while, your feet are like little bricks. They will support your weight but will not flex and move. Stretching exercises help. Surgery helps. Orthodics or custom insoles help.
Some of you know I had surgery on my right foot 4 months before we left. It took a while but my right foot is in fairly good shape. I bought my last pair of orthodics in the states in December, 2006. They have a life span of about 18 months. When I stood in my doctor’s office paying $400 for them (because of course, my $800+ a month health insurance policy did not cover them) I said something along the lines that I hoped that the next time I needed these I would be in Italy. The receptionist and I agreed that for $400 in Italy I could probably get custom made shoes. Well, I lasted as long as I could. It was finally time to replace the orthodics.
Several months ago I went to a orthopedist. He did not even look at my feet, he did listen though. He said I needed to go to a “Orthopedia Sanitaria” and gave me vague locations in Arezzo along with a note prescribing insoles. Driving around in Arezzo looking for someplace with only the vaguest of ideas about what and where is not really something I will sign up to do. But at Thanksgiving on the way home from our friends outside of Cortona, we passed a small pharmacy and Orthopedia Sanitaria in Fratta, the town where the big, new hospital is. A few weeks ago I persuaded Ben to ride back over there with me.
In the states, the process for getting these custom insoles was having plaster casts made of your feet, waiting 4 weeks, making another appointment, coming back, paying money and finally getting them.
This is what they look like. I have at least 4 pairs of these. At $400 a pop you think I was trashing these and not moving them?
Here, I wandered in to this small pharmacy. The young man tried to sell me off the rack ones (you know, Dr Scholls). Thank you very much but no thank you, I need custom. He was a little unsure and made a phone call. Then he worked out that I needed to stand in the foam box, give him my info, doctor’s note and they would be ready in a week. I have finally learned to ask before committing myself, “so how much is this going to cost?” 80 Euros. 80 Euros??? What a deal. So I stood in the foam box.
It was like soft sand. That is how the impression was made. Last week I went back and picked them up.
Much more colorful huh? I am still getting used to them and my left foot still bothers me but the right one feels great. There is always a period of adjustment when you get a new pair. If the left one still hurts in January I might go over to the big city of Camucia where these were made for an adjustment or possibly see the orthopedist again. But they are definitely better than the ones I have worn out. So in December, 2006 when I stood in that doctor’s office in Virginia I was not that far off. 80 Euros and 1 week is so much better than $400 and 4 weeks. Italian healthcare 1 American healthcare 0!