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Latest news from Italy

It’s about time we told you what’s happening here in Italy. Everything has depended upon Massimo getting in shape for the bone marrow transplant procedure; having a battery of tests and antibiotics to clear up infections before he can be admitted…..hopefully in the next 10 days or so.

But we have ensured we’ve made the most of our free time in between blood tests, MRI scans & electrocardiograms!

Tracy did a trip to England, visiting friends & family, and doing a little shopping.

While Tracy was in London Massimo was undergoing test after test, one particular batch of bloods taken resulted in 50 different tests being done! He was more or less having a test every other day. Since then he’s contracted a sinus infection which is proving a bit tough to shake off . He has the sensation of being under water all the time. A change of antibitioc may solve that one. Tomorrow we return to Genova for a 3rd visit to hopefully get a final decision on admission to hospital.

His sister, Loretta (the hallowed donor) has been a great help with medical visits and arranging appointments. We’ve also become good friends with the local pharmacist, haemotologist and GP, a real necessity as the beaurocracy here is without doubt without end!

We also found a great apartment in a suburb of Genova, called Nervi to move to very soon for up to 6 months. It’s on the 4th (top) floor of a block (with lift of course) and a view of the sea & mountains towards Portofino. It’s only 6 minutes walk down to the sea, port & restaurants of Nervi. Importantly as we have no car with us, the bus stop is a few steps away and 20 minutes by bus to the hospital for easy daily visits.

Nearly every day we walk around the local area, there is a fantastic walk of about 2 hours in total from here where Massimo’s parents stay, to the lake (Lago di Viverone) It was formed at the end of the ice age from the remains of the glacier which created the Aosta valley. It’s truly beautiful and full of holidaymakers enjoying the sun & watersports.  Last week we joined an evening cruise on the lake with ‘aperitivi’ (a loose term for drinks & canapes) The sun has been shining almost constantly since the first few days here in early June when it was still rather chilly.

Days in Torino (usually designed around hospital visits!) have been spent wandering the streets & window shopping and along the river. We saw a really great film exhibition at the Mole centre about Martin Scorsese’s films. Since then we’ve been gathering as many films & ,of course, comedies as we can so Massimo can keep himself entertained in hospital.

Massimo’s sister, Monica works in a hospital in Torino (a very useful asset when needing medical tests) and she arranged a dinner with a doctor colleague of hers and Marco Braico, who had a bone marrow transplant 10 years ago and is fighting fit. He wrote a book about his experiences which Massimo has just finished reading. Unfortunatley it’s only available in Italian at the moment as he can’t find a publisher. It was a privelege to meet Marco and a very positive demonstration of how well people recover from this procedure.

A trip to the moutains was something in the plan, and we maanged to fit that one in recently. We had been told about La Gruba by Monica and decided to spend 2 nights there to walk the mountains at around 1500m and up. The weather wasn’t playing ball, in fact in rained most of the time but only lightly. We were able to take the cable car from Gressonay up to 2400m, and walk down with only a little rain affecting us. What was evident though, was that even walking downhill without much effort in thin air was hard for Massimo as he is aneamic.

We’ve also had a few visits to the medics with swollen ankles & feet being the subject of the day…..a common happening for Massimo which only diuretics keep in check.

Melania, Massimo’s niece works as a doctor in a paediatric hospital in Torino, and was fortunate to arrange an emergency visit for him yesterday for a scan of the sinuses. The comedy element was apparent when it was remarked that this was a very large child in such a hospital, to which Massimo remarked he’d aged 30 years while waiting in the queue.

Sense of humour is very much of use in our situation, and we trust it will continue to keep us sustained through the hard time coming up. Without making too much  of a link here, Tracy plans a serious diet & exercise regime while Massimo has his treatment! You may not recognise her when  she returns to Cape Town (now that would be funny)

Food has been a recurring theme of our travels, of course it has to be, given our professional interest, and Massimo has been told by those in the know that the diet will start in hospital, so ‘keep yourself strong now’

This clearly means sampling as many local delicacies as possible in a short time!

Follow us in Twitter where we often publish photos & more news: @MTwillbeback

Buon appetito

Massimo & Tracy

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