Story Time: Part II - my trip to the ER in Vatican City

Hey all! Before you get any further, make sure you check out my last post PART 1 of this story! Last I left you my friends and I were racing off in a small Italian taxi on the way to the hospital. My biggest concern was calming myself back down after my latest 'scene', while the taxi cab driver's only concern was making sure I didn't bleed all over his back seat. Valid, I suppose.

When we finally arrived at the hospital I was dazed and confused with zero idea where in the city I was currently located. At the rate our driver was flying and all the back alleys he took, I don't think anyone knew where we were. I quickly hobbled my way into the waiting room while my friends tried to explain my situation to the desk attendant. I was so thankful to be with a group of people who could try to navigate the language while I dealt with the pain. Conjugating verbs was not high up on my list of priorities at the moment.

I was at this moment that I realized I hadn't brought my insurance card with me. 


In my defense, I wasn't planning on stepping on the stem of a wine glass and bleeding out in the lobby of an Italian dance club, but they did tell me to keep it on hand at all times. My immediate instinct was to try to talk my way out of this situation, until I realized I didn't want to do any talking, let alone try to persuade a foreign hospital to treat me without proper insurance identification.

I wheeled myself up to the desk and when she asked for my card replied, "Non ho la mia carta di salute". After a few more stuttered responses I produced my drivers licenses, which she accepted no questions asked. She wrote down my name and age and sent me on my way. No fuss. 

After a few more moments of waiting I was called to the back. My friend, who had been helping me speak with the officials tried to come back with me, but was stopped by the nurse. I was the only one allowed in the back. I looked back at my friends with a look of pure terror. All I could think was, 'I hope to God my Italian is good enough to converse with this doctor. Or he at least knows a little English.' 

I hope to God my Italian is good enough to converse with this doctor. Or he at least knows a little English.

He knew no English. Perfect. 

See, one of the things I quickly found out while in Italy is that I had trouble conversing with Italians in low stress situations. I would know what I wanted to say, but as soon as the waiter or teacher asked me a question all knowledge quickly vanished and I found myself stumbling for what to say.  But when you're laying in the bed of a hospital room with a doctor and a nurse who knew zero English and no one around to help you, you have to help yourself. After my trip to Italy I would never consider myself fluent, no matter how well I think I speak or read or write. But in that moment, something clicked and I've never spoke better Italian.

I knew I had to communicate with the doctor or I wouldn't be treated correctly. I told him what had happened and he informed me he was going to stitch me back up. "Three stitches. You will get three stitches."

Only three? I can do that! Noooo problem. When I was seven I almost sliced my pinky toe off dancing around my bathroom. I can do three stitches! 

Except for the fact that the doctor used no anesthetics. There was no shot to numb the pain and slight tugging every once in a while. There was the shooting pain of a needling slicing through an already exposed and sensitive gouge in my foot. Three times over. 

Now you may be thinking, "God Rachel, don't be such a baby. It's 2 in the morning. I'm sure you're still drunk from the bar." Well think again, because I was perfectly sober when that needle starting stitching me up. Stepping on the stem of the wine glass was less painful than actually getting the stitches. 

So I did the only thing I could think of-- I tried to distract myself. There I was, laying on a hospital bed while the doctor stitched up my wound and the nurse anxiously watched to make sure I didn't try to escape. I did what I do best-- talk. I talked allll about myself. Those two individuals know enough about me to write a memoir now!


But I was so proud of myself. Not because I was able to talk for an extended period of time. My boyfriend will tell you I can do that in my sleep... literally. But I was proud of myself because I told them all of this information in Italian. I concentrated on how to formulate my thoughts into a foreign language in order to take my mind off the searing pain at the lower end of my body. I really didn't want to kick the poor doctor in the face. He was trying to help me, after all.

After the horror of stitches was over, I was given a prescription to an antibiotic and given detailed instructions on how to take this medication. I'm not going to lie and tell you I understood all that medical jargon coupled with the medication names. I honestly understood very little about the prescription I knew I was going to have to take in order to stop any infection. My hope was that it was your basic penicillin and I wouldn't have to really worry about it.

I was quickly released and we were back in a taxi on the way to our apartment.  I can't tell you the relief it was to be in a car finally on my way to my bed.

I gazed out of the window of the cab rushing by a wall I groggily remembered from earlier in our weekend adventure. And that's when it hit where I was. I was in the Vatican City. I was blocks away from the Pope and the most beautiful pieces of artwork I have ever seen.

I got stitches in Vatican City. Can I put that on my resume?

If the answer isn't yes I'm going to be very disappointed. 

The next week passed as you would expect. I had, naturally, lost my prescription in the taxi on the way back to my apartment and had to tell my teacher that not only did I semi-drunkenly step on the stem of a wine glass, but that I also lost the prescription, so I needed her help in obtaining a new one.

That was a fun conversation.

I don't know why I didn't say this before, but for all intents and purposes I was of age both in Italy and in America when this event happened. I guess I should have made that disclaimer before I got this far.


Within the day I was properly treated with antibiotics and ready to hobble my way through the streets of Italy. I learned how to take the bus because our apartment was a solid half hour walk from the school and I really couldn't hobble that far the first few days. By the end of the week I was once again swimming in the Mediterranean. I bought waterproof bandaids and hoped for the best.

I remember treading water and constantly bringing my foot to the surface like a doofas to inspect the security of said bandage. One leg extended to my face while the other was furiously overcompensating to make sure I didn't drown. An interesting sight, I can assure you.

For the rest of the trip I did everything I would have done normally. I visited Venice and Florence. Walked more than I should have, swam, and went to more dance clubs. Only this time I went with my trusty Keds on and not strappy sandals. I still to this day have no idea why a dance club would give out wine glasses. I guess it is Italy, so I shouldn't be too surprised.

Now, I look back on that crazy night with a bit of awe and humor. I even have a small scar where the puncture wound once was. It acts up if I walk on it the wrong way, but now it's a physical remembrance of my time in the beautiful country of Italy. I honestly would have bled out if not for the friends I was with and for that I am forever grateful.

I still can't believe a year ago today I was in Italy. It seems like a lifetime ago, but I can remember it like it were yesterday. I will never forget that night and the wonderful memories I made on that trip. Arrivederci Italia. Fino alla prossima volta.

Rachel Lynn


  1. hahahaha- I got stiches in Vatican city- what a great and funny article- thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much! It was so much fun to write about. Even if it was a little crazy at the time.

  2. Oh my gosh, going to the ER is bad enough, I can't even imagine going in a foreign country! Glad everything turned out okay and it didn't completely ruin your trip!

    1. It definitely wasn't ideal by any means, but it didn't ruin the trip, thankfully! It just forced me to be creative at times when it came to the things I wanted to do. :)

  3. Oh my god! This story gave me chills. But I LOVE how you incorporated humor within it. It's the beat way to tackle miseries isn't it?

    Noor | Noor's Place

    1. I'm so glad you like it! :) I always try to incorporate humor in most situations I find myself in. Especially if they're stressful. It helps to take the edge off things. Just my personality, I suppose! :P

  4. Oh my gosh, what a crazy story! Good for you that you were able to keep yourself calm throughout the pain of getting stitches - I literally would probably have passed out, haha. That's great that you're able to find the humor in a stressful situation like that... humor makes hard things easier to bear!

    Stephanie |

    1. I probably would have passed out in any other situation! I'm usually a huge baby when it comes to pain, which is why this instance was such an anomaly .

  5. I've always bee afraid of having to visit a foreign hospital, mostly because visiting an ER in the US would be stressful enough, I can't imagine not knowing the language and trying to navigate an ER! When I was in Senegal I became so dehydrated for long enough that they almost took me to the hospital, but their last trick to help me keep in water worked and I dodged that bullet. I'm glad that at the end of the story everything worked out and you were able to complete your Italy trip and do everything that you had planned. :)

    1. I was fortunate enough to know enough of the language to get by, but any other country I would have been a goner! hahah I couldn't imagine going through that ordeal in Senegal! That's so fortunate they finally found a solution that worked for you.

  6. God, I had the chills reading this! I like your sense of humor and how you can put it in even in your bad experiences. :D

    1. Thank you! :) I usually try to find the humor in tough situations. Keeps things interesting!

  7. These statue looks wonderful , thanks .