The Earl was delighted to have his Lady safely back with him. He bragged about his improved fitness telling her, “I’ve been walking up the hill without having to stop and rest. I think I’m Italy Fit now.”
Lady Helen was delighted to hear it but on their first long walk together she noted that he could no quite keep up with her. “I really was better,” he said “It’s just that you’re walking too fast!” And so she slowed down – she slowed down a lot!
On her third day back they set off to visit the Medieval Gardens. The Admiral and The Captain did not accompany them as they’d done it on their own on a previous excursion. They hadn’t gone far when the Earl had to stop. “I have a chest pain,”he gasped. Let’s rest a while. “I just need a few minutes” But the pain did not subside. Lady Helen began to worry. “This is worse than before,” she said. “I’m taking you to the doctor.”
“No!” He said. “I’ll be fine. Just walk slowly.” But even at a snail’s pace he could not cope so Lady Helen insisted they go to the emergency room. “There must be one where we see those ambulances parked just around the corner.” It was a minute away from where they were. The minute they arrived she rushed into the building and said to the first person she saw – “Mio Marito ha male petto” “My husband has sore chest” A woman who must have been a nursing sister was called and immediately ushered ithem nto a small room and indicated for The Earl to lie on the bed. A doctor appeared out of nowhere. He took his blood pressure and attached a heart monitor to his chest.
Lady Helen began to explain that she didn’t have their passports or medical insurance on her but she couldn’t quickly run home to get them. The nurse shook her head and just wrote down The Earl’s name. “No passaporto – no pagare” No passport – no pay” Was Lady Helen understanding correctly? She didn’t think so.
Then some paramedics appeared and started wheeling the bed out to the street. Lady Helen did not know what was going on. They prattled away in Italian to her and all she picked up was “ospedale” “ambulanza”
“You’re taking him to the hospital in an ambulance? But it’s just a chest pain!” They ignored her and indicated that she should sit up front next to the driver while a doctor and paramedic accompanied The Earl in the back.
As they screamed down the busy streets of Salerno, Lady Helen gazed in awe as the cars made way for the speeding ambulance. “How many euros is this going to set us back?” she wondered. She had no idea where they were going not how they were to get back. It was a 15 minute ride before they arrived at outpatients, The Earl was wheeled out and Lady Helen followed but was barred at the big red door and told – “Solo pazienti – aspettare qui” “Only patients – wait here.” She stared at the red door for a full minute before coming to her senses. She must phone The Captain. After two rings he answered, “Hello – Lady Helen – talk to me” But the words wouldn’t come – finally she managed to stutter out the story and he asked, “What’s the name of the hospital” “I don’t know,” Lady Helen cried.
Then held up her phone and called out to those in the waiting room – “Ospedele – nome – per favore” hospital – name – please” A young man approached and said, “San Leonardo”
“I don’t know how to explain how to get here,” said Lady Helen “But it’s not far by ambulance.”
“Don’t worry, ” said The Captain “We’ll Google it. Keep us informed.”
Lady Helen waited anxiously for half an hour but nobody came to give her any news about her husband’s condition. Finally she could handle it no longer and went to reception. The receptionist could not speak English. “Voglio vedere mio marito” “I want to see my husband” The receptionist sighed, picked up a phone, prattled a few words in Italian and then pointed to the big, red door. Lady Helen approached the door which was soon opened by a man who spoke excellent English. He allowed Lady Helen in and took her to The Earl. There he was looking perfectly comfortable and pleased with himself.His pain had gone, he was on a drip and he was feeling on top of the world. They’d taken blood and were monitoring his blood pressure and heart. “We have to keep him for a few hours and then we will discharge him.” said the man. “There’s no need for you to stay. Come fetch him later on.”
“Where do I pay?” asked Lady Helen. The man looked surprised. “Nothing to pay.” he said.
Lady Helen couldn’t believe it – they were not Italian citizens or even members of the EU yet as tourists the emergency treatment was free of charge. It gave her a warm, fuzzy feeling and a sense of relief that her Euros were safe!
Now she had to find her way home. She approached an ambulance driver and in her best Italian asked directions to the bus stop. He wanted to know where she was going and when she said The Lungomare, Salerno, he suggested the train instead. The station was a minute away and the ride there only 20 minutes. Nervously she found her way there, got help from Tren Italia personal how to use the ticket machine and then hopped onto the train. It was not necessary for The Captain and The Admiral to come to her rescue after all.
They did not discharge The Earl that day but kept him overnight. He caught a taxi home early the next morning and declared that all was well! It was just high blood pressure (200 over 100) and he needed to get his cardiologist at home to send him a script for the medication that he was supposed to be taking but wasn’t!