Imagine traveling overseas on business. Upon arriving in Italy you hurry to your hotel to gather your thoughts for a lecture you are delivering that evening and prepare for several key meetings the following day. Thinking it’s your nerves you start digging through your bags for some antacids to settle your stomach. But then your spouse, who is traveling with you to take in some of the sights, notices you are out of breath and sweating after climbing up just the one flight of stairs to your room. Oddly insistent she demands you sit down. You protest claiming you don’t have time to relax. “Sit down, damn it!” she screams running to the hotel telephone next to the bed. Dialing she comments, “You are pale as a ghost. I think you need to get to a hospital.”
Stunned by her reaction you sit down retorting with a sarcastic chuckle, “I’ll go to my doctor when we get home. Besides I have to be delivering my lecture in an hour.”
“You won’t be delivering that lecture tonight, honey. You are not well.”
A taxi drops you both at the nearest Italian hospital where the only one who speaks even broken English is the nurse. After the initial exam the emergency room doctor explains through the nurse, “It is good you come here . . . very lucky to be alive.” You wonder if there was more to the doctor’s comments or if it just takes more words to say simple things in Italian.
Your life has changed in an instant. Now you can no longer exercise your freedom, coming and going and doing the things you planned on doing. You are lying on a sterile gurney in a cold hospital room at the mercy of a doctor you don’t know, who can’t speak your language, in a faraway foreign country.