The Pope, a Wonderful Italian Doctor and My iPad Saved My Vision

I just arrived in Rome on a 30-day vacation with my husband. Since we were a bit early in our arrival, our Bed & Breakfast owner suggested we take a walk to familiarize ourselves with the local area. So, we stowed our luggage and walked a few blocks to Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican. This was a Wednesday afternoon, so who did we see addressing a crowd of several hundred “pilgrims”? It was the Pope. We were amazed! I spent my early years a Catholic, and never imagined in my wildest imagination that I would ever see the Pope, but see him I did. (Reader: remember this incident, because it might be the linchpin to the rest of my story)

Later that evening I complained to my husband I was seeing a number of “floaters” in one eye…numerous spots and flashes of light. So, to figure out what might be going on, we broke out our iPads and began Googling, “eye floaters”. (Reader: the iPad is going to come in handy again for the next 30 minutes of this story)

Our search of the Internet concluded that my symptoms could be an indication of a retinal detachment. Our worry-factor began to increase with this new knowledge.

We needed to talk to our ophthalmologist back home, but we didn’t have a cell phone, and there was no phone in our B&B. We dialed up our doctor back home on Skype from the iPad (see how handy the iPad’s becoming?). Our doctor in Colorado recommended we seek immediate evaluation.

So, once again we break out our iPads and search on “ophthalmologist in Rome”. Our first hit was an English-speaking doctor’s web site. His credentials indicated he was a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Rome, had an office in Bonn, Germany and was an adjunct professor at Cornell University Medical College in New York. Okay, we found a good one! I tapped his Rome clinic’s address and in seconds Google Maps showed that he was 11 minutes away from our B&B.

However, once again, we had no telephone to call this doctor’s office. Not to worry! Break out the iPads and Skype the Rome doctor! We contacted this fabulous man at 6:30PM and told him of my symptoms. He wanted us to come to his clinic as soon as possible! So off we went on a harrowing ride in a Rome taxi during rush hour.

The medical part of this story is that our Roman doctor diagnosed a vitreous detachment in my eye that caused a tear in the retina. He suggested that either we terminate our Italian vacation and go home for treatment (but, we just got to Italy!!), or he could begin laser treatment that night to tack down the torn retina. The decision was quick, and easy –– begin the laser treatment tonight, in Rome! He worked on my eye until 10:30PM.

Four days later and three more laser sessions we were finished! Next came the office follow-up visits. One of which was inside the Vatican at our doctor’s “other clinic”. This was truly becoming a very interesting adventure. To get into the Vatican, we had to take our passports. Remember, the Vatican is another “country”!

Our Roman doctor insisted I have a follow-up appointment a week later in the town of Montepulciano, so he faxed an appointment request to the local hospital. I wasn’t sure I was going to see a doctor who spoke English, so I broke out the iPad once again and translated into Italian a description of how my eye was feeling. My appointment was at 11:30AM. I was seen by two doctors at 11:35!! Neither spoke English but both were impressed and amused at my Italian translation on the iPad. Apple to the rescue again!

I’m home now after 30 wonderful days in the Tuscany region of Italy. I’ve had follow-up visits with my Colorado doctor and the evaluations are that the retinal tear is healing nicely.

Our Roman doctor actually called me two days after I got home to see how my eye was doing. He is an absolute professional and very caring man. In our conversation, we agreed that maybe because I had seen the Pope on my first day in Rome, and because I quickly reached a doctor (via my iPad!!) willing and able to see and treat me that night, that my vision was saved.

I guess I have to thank the Pope, this wonderful ophthalmologist, Steve Jobs, and Apple for everything coming together while in a foreign country. I will always carry my iPad, or the Son-of-iPad whenever I travel again. And if my husband or I ever need eye care for a serious problem, we know the exact doctor we want to see…and he lives in Rome, Italy.

Bossart Della-small

Della J. Bossart

An architect is someone who plans, designs, and reviews the construction of buildings.

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