International SOS did not get back to Lady Helen within the promised three hours. When the Earl phoned L.H. the next morning she had no news for him. The Earl went straight into stress mode. L.H. feared he would have a heart attack and ruin all the good care he had received. His mood dived from cheerful to depressed and to make matters worse he’d had an injection in his stomach which bled like crazy. “I called a nurse to look and he looked at it, prattled something and then just walked away. Nobody cares if I bleed to death!”
“I don’t think it’s anything to worry about,” said L.H. “It’s just that you don’t understand their words. I’m sure they said – ‘this is perfectly normal My Lord’ – only it sounds like ‘I don’t care’ to the untrained ear.”
The Earl was not amused. “You have to get me out of here,”he whined. “If they can’t stop the bleeding from a simple injection imagine what will happen when they open my chest! I will die on a foreign operating table. I want to go home!”
“Don’t be silly, Darling.’soothed L.H. “You’re in a First World country, in the best heart hospital in Europe. You’re more likely to die if you get on an aeroplane in your condition!”
“Well I’d rather die in my own language, and it will be cheaper too!” he sulked.
It was, of course, the worry of how much all this was likely to cost that was really causing the melt down so L.H. turned herself inside out to get answers from their insurance broker, International SOS and The Hospital. Finally the broker got through to I.SoS who then called L.H.
She was not at her best when the call came through and certainly not in the mood to answer in polite tones irrelevant questions like “How are you Mam?”
“My husband is bleeding, stressing over money and threatening to die – not that fine at all I’m afraid!” came her rude reply.” The young man didn’t miss a beat and continued to be pleasant and polite. “I am so sorry for your troubles, Mam, and for the delay in getting back to you. Please just answer a few questions. ” She responded to questions that had already been asked and then said, “I gave the previous consultant this information. I am going to email it so that you have it on record.” He continued in the politest of tones, “That won’t be necessary Mam but by all means do so if you if makes you feel better. Thank you for your patience – we shall get back to you shortly.” She responded that they had better do so very quickly and to have one of two solutions – 1 – All expenses in Italy would be covered or 2 – they would pay for a medic to accompany The Earl on a jet back to South Africa to have his surgery there!
Her Ladyship could not believe it when they did indeed reply later that afternoon with Solution 1!
Earlier she had messaged Filippo, told him of The Earl’s despair and asked him to visit. He messaged me to say “Superman is on his way. Do not worry.” Then when he arrived he spoke to the doctor and then messaged her to come to the hospital as the dottoro wished to speak her.
So she, The Admiral and The Captain arrived before visiting which was strictly from 6:30 to 8. L.H. told reception in her best Italian that the dottoro wanted to talk to her and he allowed them to proceed to the fourth floor. The Earl was looking much happier. Filippo had worked his magic.
The doctor could not have been more charming. He spoke perfect English. He told L.H. that she need not worry about insurance – “In Italy, all emergency treatment is free.”he said, “Even if you are not a member of the European Union.” L.H. told him that her medical insurance would be contacting the hospital. He shrugged and said. “Yes I have spoken to them. I told them the Earl was too ill to fly and that the surgery must take place here. You will not be billed and there will be no forms to fill in.” This is also what I.SoS had told her so she decided to leave it to the hospital and I.SoS to decide who paid what!
The doctor then explained that the Earl would need a double bypass operation. They needed to wait another day or two so that the blood thinners could work out of his system and after the operation he would need to be in hospital for two weeks. So all in all he would be in San Leonardo for 18 days.
L.H. was relieved to see The Earl’s complete change of attitude. He was in excellent spirits and chatted happily to his friends for the rest of visiting hour.
Seeing him happy caused Lady Helen to relax too. So their holiday was over – well it could have been worse – It could have happened in the middle of the African Bush. He could have died! But instead, It Happened in Italy – near an excellent heart hospital with amazingly competent staff!