Ezra Raphael Ailment Tour: Europe '15

Would you like to hear some of the things I've learned to say in Italian?

Mio figlio ha un rash.

E rosso e irritato.

Penso che mio figlio è allergico alle lenzuola e detersivo.

Ezra, our first night in Florence. 

Ezra, our first night in Florence. 

We've been in Florence for five days. We haven't been to the top of the Duomo, but I've been to the farmacia about twelve times.

Ezra has had one issue after another since the day we left Philadelphia, when he slammed his own thumb in the car door. At the time I didn’t think much of it, his thumb wasn't broken and was only a little bruised. When he complained of bad pain I thought he was just being his dramatic self. By the time we landed in Barcelona, his thumb had transformed into a fat purple pustule of a digit.

Black Thumb kicked off the Ezra Raphael Ailment Tour of Europe '15. Here are the highlights:

·      He threw up on the plane, and into a Barcelona trash can once out of the taxi.

·      In Barcelona, he developed a rash – most likely viral and most likely connected to the vomiting, which I initially thought was motion sickness. Diagnosis care of pediatrician father-in-law, recipient of many photos. This bullet brought to you by What's App.

·      When we buy him new sneakers in Barcelona, I noticed the callus on the inside of his right foot had grown. Suspected old sneakers. Hope new shoes will solve problem.

·      Black Thumb finally burst in Paris, thanks to the agua caliente soaks.

·      On the overnight train from Paris to Milan, Ezra develops a rash in sensitive area.

·      Once in Florence, rash discomfort makes it difficult to walk or enjoy anything, including fireworks by the Arno. He begs to stay home, Maxon wants to see the fireworks.

·      I carry him as far and as often as I can to the Arno and back, and pretend it's a cross fit workout. In my ear he declares, "I hate Italy!"

·      Pharmacist helps solve rash problem with anti-itch cream. Rash clears up by the end of the day. I foolishly think the worst is behind us. Book trip to Chianti wineries.

·      Foot callus now the circumference of a nickel and white on top, like a miniature snow-capped moutain growing on his foot. It starts to itch and bother him. Back to pharmacy.

·      Other areas start to itch – the sides of his legs and on his arms. Seems like dry skin, which he gets back home. Back to the pharmacy to buy baby wash for the bath and Aveeno lotion, which I apply regularly throughout trip to wineries.

·      New rash develops on his neck and shoulders, then his belly. Back to the pharmacy for medicated anti-itch cream.

·      Itching all through the night. Nothing helps. I suspect he's allergic to the sheets and laundry soap. I  put him in the only clothes I have left that haven’t been washed – a pair of my pajama pants and Radiohead shirt.

·      Buy hypoallergenic laundry soap. Wash every sheet, towel and article of clothing.

·      Stop at pharmacy for an antihistaminico and Xanax (grazie, Italy). Pharmacist suggests seeing a doctor and writes down the information for the ospedale pediatrico.

·      Try to bathe, medicate and soothe son again. He continues to protest baths, medicines and creams like a mental patient with paranoid delusions.

·      Lose my shit.

Seeing doctors in foreign countries is something I've been told to avoid unless it's an emergency. His red, blotchy, bumpy, scratched up body is looking like an emergency to me. Maxon, who has been cooperative and patient every time we visit a pharmacy or stop to medicate his brother, also needs a break.

The kind woman renting us our flat through airbnb makes several calls and walks us to the doctor at the clinic in the center of town, Dr. Smorlesi. He takes one look at Ezra and says he's dressed all wrong and needs 100% cotton clothing. The king of the soccer jerseys did not like that news, nor did my travel budget.

Our farmacia goodies

Our farmacia goodies

Dr. Smorlesi examined Ezra, approved the antihistamine we got earlier, told us to buy Cetaphil to bathe him, gave me a perscription for a topical steroid cream and another oral medication. He told me to wash all the clothes and sheets in the laundry detergent I bought that morning. He told Ezra to avoid tomatoes, strawberries and other foods that might agitate the rash. He also checked out Ezra's foot, said it was probably a wart and could wait until I get back to Philadelphia to have it removed. He gave me his cell phone number, took 50 euros and sent me to the pharmacy across the street.

Seriously I have blown my travel budget AT THE PHARMACY. 

Of course I don't want Ezra to be uncomfortable, of course I want it all to go away. I don't want him to hate Italy or the vacation either, but I gave him the room to vent and hate it all he wants. I do believe that suffering and hardship like this – especially away from everything familiar – is good for all of us in the end.  

Maxon stepped up and showed us how supportive and responsible he could be. He never complained once, hugged me when I broke down and was compassionate with his brother. I am mad proud of him.

Ezra started taking care of his own body – getting bandages for his callous/wart/wartcallous, keeping it covered and learning how to apply his own medicine. Without my prompts, he's been heeding the doctor's advice about the foods to avoid – and not eating pizza is challenging in Italy. Two days later he is rash-free and back to his old self, talking about how much he loves Italy. I am mad proud of him.

With everyone healthy it was back to sightseeing – we visited the Synagogue of Florence and the Jewish Museum, which is absolutely beautiful and completely unpopulated, unlike the crowd waiting to see Michelangelo's David. We got in the suck-it-up-and-wait-for-more-than-an-hour line for those who don't buy tickets in advance. While we waited, the boys played with squirt guns I got them (best 2 euros I've spent so far) and we spoke with the people in line, including a woman who was a nurse in New York.

And then, right as we're about to get inside to see the David, Black Thumbnail finally falls off. I hope it's symbolic, that it signals the end of Ezra's many ailments. The nurse offers us a band aid to cover up Ezra's now naked thumb.

"Do you have any antibiotic cream?" she asks.

Ironically, it's the one thing I don’t have.

"You should probably stop at the pharmacy and pick one up. Just to be safe."

Jennifer Raphael

Philadelphia