Lady Helen woke up early on 8 September so she could get to The Earl early to prepare him for his discharge from hospital. When she arrived he was not in a very good mood. He was worried about being leaving the hospital and having to cope without all the excellent medical care. During his stay he had swung from complaining that the staff were all idiots who had no idea what they were doing to singing their praises and claiming that they were the most wonderful people in the world and bidding the doctors to please convey on his heartfelt thanks to all them all.
The Earl tended to overthink everything and worried about the finer details so L.H. spent the morning chasing the staff to do his bidding. “When are they going to take the stitches out? When are they going to change the dressings? What about my medication? Why aren’t they here to sort everything out,” He fussed and worried
You would have sworn that he was the only patient ever to have been in this situation and that these doctors, nurses and therapists had never prepared a patient for discharge before. But his wife humoured him and in her best/worst Italian asked the right questions and got the right answers. The medication was sorted, the therapy exercises explained, the stitches removed and the dressings were changed all in good time.
Although L.H. put on a brave face and reassured The Earl that all would be well she had her own doubts about how well she would cope without the professionals close by. He still had post operative pain, got tired easily and had dizzy spells. All this was to be expected but when one was far from home it was that much harder to deal with. And what would they have done without their guardian angel Filippo. He appeared at just the right time to help them check out and had his car waiting to transport them to their new lodgings. And so it was Arrivederci to the staff and San Leonardo which had been their sanctuary for almost three weeks. The ride through the Salerno traffic was hair-raising and because their hotel was on a pedestrian walkway Filippo had to park illegally and then helped them drag their luggage to Hotel Montestella.
Check in was friendly and they went up to settle into their room which was clean and comfortable with a nice enough bathroom and a view of the pedestrian street below.
The Earl was feeling a bit breathless and dizzy so lay down immediately while L.H. unpacked and then went out to get lunch. She took time out to have a chicken salad and a coffee and brought The Earl back his favourite take out – a chicken wrap.
After a rest and some food, The Earl felt well enough to find a barber and have a shave and haircut. What a lovely experience that was. It was just around the corner and the barbershop was classic – just like those from years gone by.
There was already somebody being attended to and when he realised that they were not Italian he spoke to them in perfect English. He knew all about San Leonardo and told them about its excellent cardio reputation. He knew the doctors and professors and said that Dr P was second in command there so they’d had the best that Italy could offer. Of course The Earl and L.H. has suspected that right from the start!
Then it was The Earl’s turn and what an excellent pampering he received.
The barber could not speak English but turned to L.H. and said something in rapid Italian – She did not catch what he was saying but thought he must be asking about what The Earl wanted and she told him to trim his beard a little shorter. He shook his head and took out his phone and dialed and she heard the word caffe. It dawned on her that he’d asked if they’d wanted coffee. She was right because a few minutes later a rather delicious looking young man arrived with a tray of real Italian style coffee. He ceremoniously handed them each a glass of water and then a tiny cup of espresso. What a delight.
The Earl told the barber that this had been his best experience so far in Italy. Flattered, the barber beamed from ear to ear.
Back in their room The Earl rested again and then at a about 5 L.H. went out intending to check out where the nearest restaurants were. Their hotel only offered breakfast. She thought it would be best to buy something from a deli and got some salami, ham, artichokes, baked aubergine, mushrooms and olives. But when she returned The Earl said, “No – I haven’t had a meal out for weeks. I want to go to a restaurant.”
“That would mean a walk to the Lungomare,”she said as she packed the provisions into the tiny bar fridge. “There are only bars and pavement cafes on the corso.”
The Lungomare was not far and the rain had stopped so he thought he could manage. They chose the closest pizza place and as it was only 7 o’clock it was not busy. The Earl had his first beer for 3 weeks and L.H. had a good glass of white wine. Her pizza was a Cicillian with tomato, cheese, aubergine and basil and his a Napolitano with tomato, anchovies and capers. Both were excellent.
That first day away from the hospital was a huge step forward. L.H. was confident that her husband was well on his way to recovery. It would just take time. He would see Dr P on the 12th and depending on how he was then, they would decide whether or not to take the train to Diamante.