On Being Diabetic in Italy, or, I just want my Insulin!

[Week 13] Why does this expire in a year, when my employment contract is for three?
[Week 13] Why does this expire in a year, when my employment contract is for three?
Saying that Italy is bureaucratic is perhaps the understatement of the century. I’ve written about my permesso di soggiorno adventures and the fight to get my tessera sanitaria, but this experience is a whole new level.

I’m diabetic, and I’m dependent on insulin and metformin to stay alive. This isn’t an exaggeration, during the months that my blood sugar remained dangerously high, I’ve felt time dilate. Looking back, it was quite scary but now I know what medicines I need and all I need is to actually take them. You would think now that I have my tessera sanitaria, my assigned doctor, and a whole package of lab test results and prescriptions from my Philippine doctor I’d be home free, right? Wrong.

According to my Italian doctor, who mercifully speaks perfect English and is incredibly sympathetic, there are three further steps I need to take:

1.)    Go to my local ASL (again!) and apply for an “esenzione ticket.”

2.)    Request the ASL for a referral to a diabetologica. Said diabetoligica will, I assume, confirm that I am in fact diabetic and give me a schema terapeutico.

3.)    Return to my doctor with both these items, and afterwards he can write me my prescriptions and I can finally head to my pharmacy to get my medicines.

Update, 8 November 2013: This seemed simple enough, but my experience with the ASL is that nothing is as it seems, and this was proven right when I went there earlier today and was told the earliest available appointment was the 19th of December at 12nn, all the way in Trastevere. They had originally wanted to book me in for next February, before I rather urgently waved an empty insulin pen around. I appreciate the earlier date, ASL people. It’s not entirely your fault that the entire system is backlogged.


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