Treating a sick baby in Italy

Besides a few snotty nose episodes, Eleanor has been the picture of good health. We took her to the doctor before we set off on our big adventure and packed her little first aid kit feeling like model parents. Thinking we had everything covered.

I tend to be a worrywart by nature and Dan is the level headed one telling me to stop overreacting every time Eleanor sneezes. So, when Daniel started to panic about Eleanor’s fever I was sure we had a problem.

Our happy little lady continued to smile and wave at everyone despite a fever of 39 °C, so it was hard to determine how sick she really was. Doctor Google said wait five days before seeing a doctor, the local pharmacy in Sorrento reiterated that recommendation so we waited it out.

Day five happened to coincide with a flight to Sardinia and Ellie was burning up. She was so hot she was burning my skin as I held her. She babbled in her sleep as though she were delirious. She looked bad, so bad that the Italian lady sitting next to us on the flight told us in broken English to take her to a doctor. To say we felt like the worlds most useless parents is an understatement.

The fear that comes with a sick baby is intense. Factoring in the whole ‘don’t speak Italian thing’ and you’ve got yourself one shitty, stressful situation! When we arrived at our hotel we asked the reception for a doctor but tourists in Italy must go to emergency so we rushed to the local hospital. No one spoke English. No one would see us. We’d walked 20 minutes in the heat to be turned away.

We found a pharmacy with English speaking staff and they directed us to a children’s emergency hospital 5km away. Once we figured out where to go, the experience was much more positive. The doctors were so kind and patient with us as we tried to explain what was wrong in extremely broken Italian (compliments of Google Translate) all we needed was Eleanor’s Australian passport, thanks to the reciprocal agreement.

Poor Eleanor has Bronchitis, an infected ear and an infection in her throat and we are lucky that a dose of antibiotics will have her better within a week.

We have learnt a valuable lesson, there is no such thing as too much preparation when it comes to the health of your baby. We should know how to call for help when something happens. In this instance we had time on our side but in a true medical emergency our fumbling could have had big consequences.

Who to call

  • Your travel insurance company can direct you to a doctor
  • The Australian Embassy (39) 06 85 2721