It Happened in Italy – The Last few days in Salerno

Apologies for skipping  a day or two of Nablopomo. It’s been a busy few days in the the lives of The Earl and his Lady and internet has also been tricky.

14 September

The Earl managed quite a good walk down the Corsa Vittoria Emanuel and had his daily gelato but was exhausted when he got back and had to rest.


Lady Helen popped into an archeological museum and then took a very long walk along the sea front.  It was a beautiful day and there were quite a few people swimming at the harbour and at the beach.


15 September
For the first time since The Earl took ill they  had to wait to see the doctor. Fillipo collected them at 1:30 and they were 15 minutes early for the appointment at 2. The receptionist said she was sorry but the doctor was operating. Please would they  wait. No problem but it was 2 hours  before he appeared! It had been an emergency and the poor man looked tired. But The Earl took strain too. But it was worth it – Dr P and his colleague who had operated on The Earl checked him thoroughly – electrocardiograph, blood pressure ultrasound everything.   All was fine.  The all clear was given to fly home on 18 September

It was 5 o’clock by the time they left the hospital and Filippo took them to his favourite coffee shop and insisted they try a pastry or two.


Delicious Italian Pastries

The Earl had a cappuccino and L.H. her usual Americano. Filippo could not get his head around this adding boiling water to ones espresso idea. She tried to explain that it gave her time to savour a longer drink. He asked her to pour some of her Americano into his glass – not a good experience for him. He turned up his nose in horror.


His Expression tells it all!

After this he took them for a drive up to the castle so that The Earl could see the view – but it was closed. Anyway the view from the road was great. But all the activity of the day was a bit much for The Earl so he had a long rest when they returned to Montestella. L.H. wanted to get him a take away for supper but he insisted on going to Pinocchio’s on The Lungomare at 8. Good wine, excellent service and wonderful food. L.H. had Octopus salad and The Earl had pork cutlets served with a vegetable platter and there was plenty of Italian bread on the side too.


The Earl outside Pinocchio’s

16 september

L.H. went to Salerno Centrale and booked their tickets to Roma Termini.  She wanted to leave at 9:50 but the ticket man said if she left at 9:15 they could get the tickets at a discount so she went for that option. He also booked their connecting train to the airport.
She then emailed SalaBlu and organised wheelchair assistance at Salerno and Roma Termini. She got an immediate response. They would see them onto the train and help with the luggage and meet the train in Rome and provide help to the connecting train to the airport. They had already organised wheelchair support at the airport. Although the station was only a short walk from the hotel, she organised for a taxi to take them with their luggage. The less stress for The Earl the better.
It was overcast in Salerno that day  and it rained a little. The Earl did not feel like doing much so they just took a short walk and sat down at a pavement cafe to have some lunch. L.H. had a glass of wine -she really needed the alcohol – but The Earl only drank water. Coffee was also an essential nutrient for stressed out, abused, care-giving wives.
She knew he didn’t mean to be abusive – he was in pain, homesick and worried that he would never recover. Her mind reading skills had improved but they were still not good enough for the invalid. So she took the abuse and drank!😂


Her Ladyship let alcohol help her cope!


The Earl was grumpy

NaBloPoMo November 2016


It Happened in Italy – Italian Nails

Before coming to Italy Lady Helen had had her nails done with acrylic overlays. They lasted very well but it was now time for a fill or even a fresh set to be done. She searched the Internet for a nail bar In Salerno – nada! All she got were reports that in Italy they don’t do acrylic and even gel was rare. And there was no mention of a nail Salon anywhere in Salerno.  Reception were no help either.  She considered removing the overlays herself but could not find the acetone needed to help do the job.

Then after visiting the medical museum she wandered down a narrow alley and peeped inside a window where she spied a nail technician in action. O Joy – she popped in – “Mia unghie?” she said and showed the young girl her deteriorating nails.


Deteriorating Nails

“Si – tre” – she pointed to her watch.   “Venticinque Euro.” Three o’clock? That soon? Indeed she would be there. €25 would be worth it.
She returned at the appointed hour and only then did she notice the grubby towel and nail ovens covered in dust. The technician grabbed her hand and attacked the acrylics with the buffer then used a mini sanding machine till she winced when it got too hot.  The girl giggled and was only slightly more careful. Then she started the gelling and to set it one had to place ones nails in a mini oven to bake. Lady Helen had had this done a few times and never had it been a traumatic experience but after a minute she pulled her fingers out and yelled “Caldo!”(Hot)   The girl giggled again and indicated that she should put her fingers back in. Lady Helen tentatively obeyed and it seemed to have cooled but this went on a few times during the session.  L.H. knew that a fancier salon would have been three times more expensive so she endured the slightly rougher treatment and hoped for the best. The end result was perfect so the tiny bit of rough treatment was worth it.


Nails after

While all this was going on an ugly/cute little dog parked himself at her feet right next to her camera and guarded it throughout the treatment.  The Italians love their dogs and many take them to work. Even at their hotel there was a dog at reception.
The nail bar was also a parruchierre (hairdresser) – not very modern but it was quite busy so couldn’t be that bad.  The sound system pounded out Italian rock and everybody was very laid back. You’ve gotta love the Italians.


She came upon a promising salon


It looked okay


The technician turned out to be not that bad!


The guard dog!


It was also a hair salon

While she was exploring she also found a little hole in the wall establishment which had rotisserie chickens. She told the singnor that she’d return to get one after the nail session – he indicated that he would be closed but she could come after 5. Of course – not open during siesta time!   She did return and he had her hicken waiting for her!
So dinner was delicious pollo and insalata with plenty of olives and buffalo mozzarella
a glass of vino di Bianca for L.H. and a cold birra for The Earl.


The delicious stay-in meal.

And the Good news – SoS International rang to tell her that their hotel accommodation would be fully covered by their insurance and they would also pay the penalty on The Earl’s changed air ticket – but not on hers!    “I fail to understand their logic,”she said to The Earl. “Do they expect me let you fly alone so I can catch the original flight with the Gooselinis?   Go figure!”  But she wasn’t too annoyed.  It could have been worse.

NaBloPoMo November 2016


It Happened in Italy

11 September 2016

Filippo kindly invited The Earl and Lady Helen to visit him in is home, a lovely apartment on The Lungomare.  What a privilege when one is a tourist to be invited into the home of citizen of the country one is visiting.  And what a lovely home he had.   His wife although she could not speak English was and made them feel very welcome and her Itaian coffee was to die for. They spent a couple of hours with them and then The Earl felt tired so Filippo took them back to the hotel.


Stunning View over the bay


A lovely enclosed stoep


Nicole chatting to her daughter

At 4 ish The Earl felt like a walk and so they went down to the gelateria for ice cream and then walked to the Lungomare and sat on a bench enjoying the passing parade.   The Earl managed to get by without any dizzy spells.


12 September 2016

After his four day stay in the hotel The Earl realised that would not be well enough to travel to Diamante or to go on any excursions near Salerno. “I think we should go home on Tuesday,”he said.  “Check the internet for flights and change our tickets.”  Lady Helen did all the research but did not make any bookings.  “We’ll see what Dr P says about flying.” she warned her husband. “You can’t just decide you’re going to get on a plane and fly home when you’re in your condition.”  And she would have to be the one coping with an invalid on a long haul flight!

Filippo kindly took them to his appointment on that Monday afternoon.   The surgeon who operated was there too. They were pleased with The Earl’s progress but would not allow him to fly.
Dr P said to book a flight for the 19 September and he would like to see him on the Thursday before departure. The Earl could not understand why he had to wait so long before he was allowed to fly but Lady Helen was relieved.  “It’s a long flight, my darling, and you need to be strong enough to handle it. Just rest now and make sure you’re ready to fly next week.

She did some further research and then got their travel agent back home to organise the changes in their departure date and the organisation of wheelchair assistance.
Just the trip to the hospital and the consultation had exhausted him so after Filippo dropped them back at the hotel The Earl took a nice long nap.

Lady Helen went off to find some coffee and a snack. She was delighted to find a pavement cafe that served a good healthy salad containing lettuce, tomato, olives, tuna and cheese for only C3. It was the best salad she’d  had in Italy.


The Earl was dying for a steak at supper time. 300g fillet was €18 but it came with plenty of French Fries.  It was three times as much as he would have paid in South Africa but he said it was worth every cent. L.H. had a delicious pork chop for €9. It came with a few slices of Italian bread.  When she said “pasto delizioso” the waitress looked at her blankly. She had to repeat it three times before she understood her accent and only then did she beam in delight. “It must be my flat vowels,” said Her Ladyship to The Earl.  They both laughed.

NaBloPoMo November 2016


It Happened in Italy – Lungomare and Wall Art in Salerno

The next few days were difficult.  The Earl’s expectations of himself were too high.  He expected that he would be well enough to sightsee and take ferry trips and perhaps even make the long train trip to Diamante after a few days.  But he was still in pain and tired easily and this made him demanding and grumpy.  Even  brief walks exhausted him. And so he spent a lot of his day sleeping or watching Italian Television.  Lady Helen offered to download Netflix movies for him but he refused to watch them. The pictures were enough, he said, listening required too much concentration.

The Earl was not an easy patient and Her Ladyship had little talent with nursing the sick and the old. Give her a hyperactive class of unruly children and she would cope with a smile on her face and happily come back for more.   But with her ailing husband she had to exercise extreme patience. She would, therefore, see to his needs and then at least twice a day take to the streets of Salerno for long, stress relieving walks. She soon knew the city intimately and she never tired of The Lungomare


Family fishing outing in the harbour


Perfect place for paddlers


Not many people swim on the beach due to pollution – signs warn one not to swim

There were not many birds in the city but the gulls were beautiful and not shy to take advantage of free titbits from anyone who cared to feed them.


Walking the narrow streets of the Old City gave Lady Helen  great delight as she admired the amazing wall art.


The Earl did make an effort to get out a little every day but at an extremely slow pace and only very short distances.   His favourite thing to do was to stop and have a gelato.


NaBloPoMo November 2016


It Happened in Italy – St Giorgio Church

The Earl was keen to get well as quickly as possible but the pain was debilitating and he tired quickly.   L.H. warned him to pace himself and not to overdo things.  “Rest is what’s needed,”she said, “With plenty of rest you will heal.”

Hotel Monesella served  a good breakfast and on the first morning there they went down t 9 to see what was on offer.  They were happy with the typical continental fare of cheeses, cold meats, muffins, pane, pastries, croissants and coffee.   But there was also what the Italians thought was an English breakfast – scramble eggs and tiny Vienna sausages. But the eggs were cold and not very nice at all!  They decided to stick to the Continental!

Boredom set in half way through the morning and so they took a very slow stroll to a church not very far away.   It was quite an effort for The Earl and they  had to stop a few times on the way.  Lady Helen wanted to go back but he insisted on continuing  and they enjoyed the spirituality of the beautiful San Giorgio church which dated back to the
ninth century.


St Giorgio  is a beautiful Baroque church and has many frescoes by Fendinando Sanfelice

The Earl had a good rest in the afternoon the at half past six, Filippo called for them at the hotel and they went to the Lungomare for supper.  The Earl made the walk without a hiccup.  But on the way back he had another dizzy spell and they had to stop and sit at a pavement cafe until he recovered and then they made their slow way home.



They had to find a place that served chicken wraps as that is what The Earl was craving.


Thank you for your kindness Filippo

While the three friends sat and enjoyed their meal and conversation a flower seller appeared. Filippo kindly two beautiful roses and presented them to Lady Helen.


What a lovely gesture and what a perfect evening though L.H. was a little concerned that the excursion had exhausted The Earl.  She was worried about the dizzy spells and planned to call the doctor about them the next day.

NaBloPoMo November 2016


It Happened in Italy – The Best Italian Experience Ever

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.


The Stitches were removed

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.


View of Corso Vittorio Emanuele

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.


A Proper Barber Shop


Real leather reclining chairs

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.

NaBloPoMo November 2016


It Happened in Italy – Last Day in Arechi

The next few days in the hospital went well.  The Earl continued to make good progress although he got tired easily and needed long afternoon naps.  He would be discharged on the 8 September and he and L.H. would stay in a hotel in Salerno until he was well enough to travel.  They were grateful to Dr P who using his own cell phone made reservations at Hotel Montestella on Corso Vittorio Emanuele.  It would be close to everything including the station and should anything go wrong there would be somebody on duty who they could call.  It was a perfect solution.

On her last daily walk in Arechi it was slightly drizzly but still pleasantly warm. L.H. explored the Marina a little bit more.

The dolos is a concrete block resembling  sheep knuckle bone and  weighs up to 20 tons  Dolose are used in great numbers to protect harbour walls from the erosive force of ocean waves.  Lady Helen wondered why one stood like a monument in the middle of the carpark.


There was a sign showing where pedestrians should walk.   She found it amusing that the illustration used was a pair of high-heeled shoes. But of course Italian women would wear heels to explore a marina!


The gate to the  little beach she’d found the time before was locked!  Do they not allow people on the beach on a rainy day in Italy, she wondered.

beach-lockedBut she did find a restaurant on the boardwalk and ordered an Americano.


The friendly staff at Arechi Marina


A perfect setting in which to relax

A rather attractive young man asked her in Italian if she was from a boat.  “No barca – Mio Marito e in San Leonardo.  Cuore operazione. Io cammino qui.  Siamo a Salerno per vacanza. Mia casa e Sud Africa.”
(No boat. My husband is in San Leonardo. Heart operation. I walk here. We on holiday in Salerno. My home is SA)
Her grammar was all wrong but she was proud of her sentences until he burst her bubble by replying “There are nice boats there.” In perfect English
She told him all about her husband’s wonderful boats and fishing abilities and he was duly impressed.

L.H. was glad of the company of Patricia and Paula .    They had a  fun girls’ night out at a place they discovered just a few minutes walk from the hospital. Good food, amazing Italian wine, great company and cooling rain. The manager insisted they take an umbrella trusting that we would return it the following morning.


Girls’ Night Out




Singing in the Rain

Patricia had to get back to Ireland and left the same day as The Earl was discharged. Her visit had indeed come at just the right time for L.H.

It was a lovely last day in Arechi.  She would always remember it with fondness.  And perhap visit again – but hopefully not for a medical procedure!

NaBloPoMo November 2016


It Happened in Italy – Meeting a New Friend

Family and friends were far away and yet because of the internet The Earl and Lady Helen still felt cared for because of the constant flow of messages by email, on Facebook and Whatsapp.  Lady Helen was grateful for the instant contact she had with friends and family because of the miracle of modern technology.  She had calls from her darling aunt in Australia, her best friend since childhood in England, her closest friend in South Africa, her beloved sister and brothers in Cape Town and England and as well as from a friend she hadn’t seen for years from Tenerife to mention but a few.  How could she not cope with all the positive vibes been sent into the ether from all the Facebook messages from almost everyone she knew.   A niece in Spain offered to do whatever she could.  A nephew on a yacht anchored in the bay at Salerno messaged to say he wished he could come ashore to give her hug but unfortunately was on duty and moving off the next day – but it was the thought that counted! And of course there were the messages and calls from the kids and grandkids that really cheered the old man up.

At the end of each day since checking into San Leonardo’s Hospital Hotel  Lady Helen was exhausted and content to return to her single room and enjoy her simple supper, chat online to one friend or another, write a daily email to close friends and family and then drop into bed.  Yes she spoke to the other guests – all Italian – but the conversation was stilted. Then one evening while waiting to ask the receptionist for some change to put into the coffee machine, she realised that her Italian neighbour was checking in someone from Ireland.  Her neighbour’s father was in the cardiac ward and his girlfriend had just arrived to share a room with Paula.   L.H. was delighted to make contact with another English speaker and the two soon became friends.

4 September 2016

As The Earl was so much better there was very little L.H. needed to actually do for him.   So she started going to the hospital a tad later.  She went to the cafe for breakfast the day after she met Patricia and got a take away coffee for The Earl and stayed with him until lunch time. Then she went to the canteen for her own lunch.  Patricia was there and joined her at her table.  She told her about her partner, Mimo who was on the 6th floor after a triple bypass and would be coming down to rehab on Monday or Tuesday.   He and The Earl would meet – he spoke English so The Earl would have someone to talk to other than Her Ladyship. Mimo’s daughter with whom she was sharing a room had gone to Naples for the day.  It was great having somebody to chat to in English!  After lunch they went to visit their respective partners.

At about 4 L.H. decided she needed some air so left The Earl and went in search of Arechie’s sea front.  She’d asked about a beach but the nurses didn’t seem to think there was one.  But there must at least be a harbour because she could see boats from the hospital window. Well she followed her nose and crossed over several streets until she came to the Arechie’s soccer stadium, crossed another busy road in front of that and then saw some people with beach towels and picnic hampers who must have been coming from some sort of swimming area.   She said, “Buon Giorno, Dove spiaggia?”  Good Day – where is the beach?”

“Marina Ingresso ci, ” They pointed down the road in the opposite direction to where she was heading.   So she made her way there and passed through a gate and after crossing a car park and following a walkway next to the road she came upon a rather lovely little beach.  It had lounges and umbrellas and a little gelateria where you could sit and order refreshments if you wished.  Okay so the sand was black – but it was a beach at last!   She then took a walk down the promenade and took photos of the boats.  There was a river next to the marina too.


The Marina Beach


The River


Lots and lots of yachts

It took her about 15 minutes to walk to this place and it was another 15 back and even at 5 o’clock it was hot.  So she had a shower when she got back and then went back to see The Earl.  He wanted a gelato but the cafe was closed so she got him a Kitkat from the dispensing machine instead.  Very naughty for a man with a heart complaint!

She met Patricia going up in the lift and the latter suggested they go for a drink after visiting.   There was a tiny bar very close to the hospital and when they got there at about quarter to nine they were the only two patrons.  It was after all a Sunday.   L.H. was surprised it was open at all.   It seems that they don’t have laws against serving alcohol on Sundays or after certain hours – but often places are just closed on Sundays.

The lovely thing about having a glass of wine in such a place is that you get complimentary snacks too – and it’s all you need if you’ve had a main meal at lunchtime.


They had a rather nice Italian sausage – almost like salami but with a nice chili bite to it, some cheese and bread with Avo and some other spread.  All rather delicious.


It was really lovely to have this “girls’ night out” with a very interesting Irish lass.   After two glasses of wine each and learning a great deal about each other they made their way back to their spartan rooms!

NaBloPoMo November 2016


It Happened in Italy – Physiotherapy in Italian

Before the Italian Doctors would discharge The Earl, they insisted that he should spend some time in their rehab facility.  This would, of course, all happen in Italian.  So down to Piano Zero he went. He still had a private ward separated from his neighbour by a curtain so not quite so luxurious.  And the view was not as good either.   Each day he would have at least three sessions of physio with qualified and student therapists. There was very little English spoken or understood so Lady Helen brushed up on the names of body parts and words for instructions she thought The Earl would need to understand.  Stand up, sit down, bend your arm, breathe in, breathe out etc.   She was then equipped to serve as interpreter during all his sessions.  The therapy was excellent.   His pulse was checked every few minutes and he was asked if he was dizzy or had any pain.  L.H. was glad she’d been diligent in her study of all the terminology as most of the time she was able to help her husband answer the questions. Of course Itranslate helped too.  The trouble with this app though, is that it is slow and if one mis-types a word it won’t give an accurate translation!  Lady Helen’s accent and pronunciation were not perfect and there were some confusing and funny moments.  On one occasion the nurses needed to help The Earl into a chair. Lady Helen saw that he was in pain and  called out – Mela, Mela thinking she’d said pain, pain.  But when they stared at her with a question mark on their faces she realised her mistake and said – No I don’t want an apple – Male, male.   The nurses burst into fits of laughter.


This gorgeous girl was the only nurse who could speak English – and she was Polish!

The word for cough was learnt very quickly as it formed a large part of the therapy. “Aspirare, espirare, tosse” Breathe in, breathe out, cough.”


See the look of concentration (and fear for the coming cough) on the Earl’s face

Oooh and it was so sore!   But The Earl was cooperative and worked hard with his therapists – he wanted to get well sooner rather than later!


Perhaps he should take up ballet now.


The amazing staff – Nurse, Duty Doctor and Physiotherapist


Student Therapists doing their thing


Student doctors


Anything to keep a pretty girl happy


Expressing his appreciation!


The teacher – “Ha fatto bene”  (He did well)

The Earl made good progress and while he was in rehab the days were busy. All the therapy exhausted him though so he slept a lot between sessions.   Lady Helen was sure to take breaks and would take long walks around Arechi or take the train to Salerno to buy airtime or do some sight seeing.

On one such trip she’d returned to the apartment to pack up all their belongings in preparation for the time when they would have to move out.  On her way back to the station she stopped at a coffee shop and sat down to enjoy a croissant and Americano. The tables were all taken when two Italian signoras and a bambino came looking for a place to sit.  L.H. invited them to share her table.   How lovely to discover that one of them could speak English! Not the bambino. She couldn’t even speak Italian. No, it was the friend of the mama. She was an English teacher and interpreter! She asked L.H. where she was from and how she was enjoying Italy.     “Wonderful of course except that my poor husband is in San Leonardo recovering from heart surgery.” She told her new friend.


Lady Helen still keeps in touch with Svetlana (centre)

She was very kind, gave her ladyship her card and said if she could help in any way she was to call her.  Lady Helen doubted she would need to but it  was heart warming to know that she cared!   The friendly company,  excellent caffѐ and wonderful English conversation improved Lady Helen’s mood a hundredfold. She returned to San Leonardo fortified and ready to face the language struggle again.
NaBloPoMo November 2016



It Happened in Italy -Recovering on Piano Sei

Lady Helen was still in a dead sleep when the ringing of her phone awoke her. “What have they done now,” she answered in a panic.
“Nothing at all,” answered a cheerful voice,  “I just saw a missed call and wondered what you wanted.” She breathed a sigh of relief – that missed call was from the day before when he’d had his roaming  switched off. Lady Helen
The nurses had got him up and allowed him to go at his pace with no with no pulling from them. They weighed him and washed him and all went well.
She decided not to go up to the ward until she was sure that the grumpy cleaner had done the floors and just as she was leaving to have breakfast The Earl messaged ,   “The coast is clear – you can come now😄”
So after her coffee and croissant she went straight there.  “Buongiorno,” she called to the duty man and marched confidently toward the lifts.
“Singnora!” He called. “No”
She went up to the desk and said, “Mio Marito ha una camera privata. Posso andare”
My husband has a private room. I may go up.
He wagged his finger at her and shook his head. She smiled politely as he picked up the telephone and prattled away in rapid Italiano.  Then he put it down and without a word waved her on. ” I told you so,” she said cheekily in English.  He just glared at her and shrugged his shoulders. And that was the last time she had any trouble from the reception staff.  They all greeted her politely and sometimes even asked how her husband was doing. And when she saw the cleaner she made sure to compliment him on his floors,  “Pavements pulito!” Even he had the grace to smile.
“Come stai Mio Marito?”  she would call to the nurses (How is my husband?)
“Bene!” would come the cheerful reply. (Well!)
Filippo visited every day being able to have a conversation with someone he could understand always cheered The Earl up. What a lovely guardian angel he was.


The Earl had a great view from his ward window


It was fun to watch the helicopters taking off and landing on the helipad

Once the staff understood that she would be allowed in the ward all day they became used to her.  L.H. tried not to get in their way and they soon realised that she was more use than nuisance.  The Earl was too sick and impatient to use his ITranslate App but L.H. had learned some Italian before leaving S.A. and used her app effectively.  And so she served as an adequate interpreter between patient and nurse or therapist.   All the doctors they met could speak English.  None of the nurses could  except for one who was actually Polish.
Each day a team of nurses and student doctors along with a teaching doctor would come to examine The Earl.  At the first examination a nurse asked L.H. to leave but the doctor insisted she stay. Some of the procedures were unavoidably painful but they allowed L.H. to hold The Earl’s hand and he was very brave.  The doctor always gave her feedback and asked her questions about how she thought her husband was coping.  The care was in fact extremely good.
For the first few days L.H. had to do a lot of ‘nursing’ but after a while The Earl  was able to  walk down the passage on his own, sit at the table for his meals and get up with just a little bit of assistance.



Even in hospital, Italian food is good – too much for The Earl to manage in the beginning.

He remained on the sixth floor for five days and then was transferred down to the rehab ward where he would have intensive physiotherapy.  More on that tomorrow.
NaBloPoMo November 2016


It Happened in Italy – Coping in a foreign language

Although it had been nine days since the first ambulance ride through Salerno followed by another three days later which led to hospitalization and a double bypass operation, Lady Helen still found it hard to accept that her husband was really ill.   The Earl seemed so well those few days before surgery but now he was weak and reliant upon her. She knew he w0uld get better and that he was receiving excellent care but it was just so hard to see the strong man that she always relied upon for so much being so vulnerable.

On the third morning he rang his wife and was almost in tears. “Why aren’t you here?  They’re killing me!” L.H. marched over to the hospital with her boxing gloves on. She walked across the cleaner’s freshly mopped floors.  He yelled some profanities at her but she didn’t care,  “Bastardo i pavimenti ! Mio Marito ha male!”   In other words – bugger the floors my husband’s in pain.

The nurses had “rukked”him into a sitting position which caused the pipes to pull and hurt his chest. He’d asked them to let him get up slowly on his own but clearly they had not had the patience to try to understood his words and followed their lifting training to get him into the position they wanted him to be.

L.H.  told the nurses to please be gentle and to do things slowly.  “Gentile e lentemente per favore!”   (Gently and slowly please) The Earl was in a great deal of pain and said he wanted the doctor so she insisted they call him.  They glared at  her and told her in Italian that it was normal to have pain after surgery but she insisted, so one of them complied.  The duty doctor was there within minutes! She didn’t think that would have happened in South Africa.

He spoke excellent English. She explained to him that The Earl wanted to get up on his own, at his own pace and would he please tell the staff to comply with his wishes.  He, of course, tried to be diplomatic and said it was because they didn’t understand English and thought they were doing the right thing.  “Yes, I know,”said L.H. “And we really appreciate everything. We probably wouldn’t have had better treatment in our own country,  but he is very upset and if the nurses just let him do things at his own pace he would be more cooperative.”   He examined The Earl and gave him more pain meds then spoke to the staff.  They glared at L.H. unhappily and pussy footed around her for the rest of the morning.  She in turn did not want to alienate them so thanked them for all they were doing for her husband.  It was a while before they smiled at her again.
She left for half an hour and when she returned a nurse was busy taking the tubes out of The Earl’s chest.  The nurse indicated that she stay out.  She asked The Earl if he was okay and he gave the thumbs up. “It’s okay,” he said, “He is not hurting me.”   Then a whole team arrived and had a party in the ward. They kissed each other in the continental way and greeted each other like long lost friends. This included the duty doctor.   They shut the ‘grande porta rossa’ (big red door) and L.H. was not even allowed to peep in.


La grande porta rossa – Chiusa!

She was feeling a bit miffed when one of the operating doctors arrived. He was politeness personified and asked her how things were. “Mostly good,” she replied “But they won’t let me in and I don’t know what’s going on.  The language is a problem.”  She also told him about the earlier rough treatment.   He chatted to her for a long time and was very reassuring.  He said that  The Earl would not be able to travel for at least a month.  This meant they would not be able to go to Diamante to join their friends after he was discharged.  They would have to spend the rest of their holiday close to the hospital in Salerno.
The surgeon then went into the ward and after a while L.H. was called in to answer some questions about medication, allergies and past illnesses etc.
After this The Earl settled down a bit and the nurses left them alone until lunch time.  L.H. fed him a few spoons of soup – his first food since the operation.   He then decided that he would sit up and with her help and not a bully nurse in sight, he got himself to sit with his legs over the side of the bed and he finished his soup on his own.

L.H. then went to have her own lunch and brought him back a gelato al limonate which he managed to eat half of.  A sure sign that he was on the mend.


Feeling a little better

L.H. was only going to spend a day or two at the hospital hotel but it became clear that The Earl was not going to cope without her so she booked in for longer and in fact ended up staying for the duration of his time in the hospital. She would arrive after breakfast, stay till lunchtime, take a break for an hour or two and then return till after evening visiting time. The Captain and his Admiral visited at the allowed times and moved on to Diamante when their time in the Salerno accommodtion was up.  The Earl would be in hospital for almost three weeks and then he and L.H. would stay in a hotel until Dr P gave the okay for him to fly.

NaBloPoMo November 2016


It Happened in Italy – The Day After Surgery

Lady Helen slept fitfully and woke up early the day after the surgery.  Dr P phoned her at 8 o’clock.  The news was good.  The operation was very successful and The Earl was still in recovery but would be moved to the sixth floor later that morning. She could come and see him at 11 o’clock.    He then allowed her to speak to her husband.

“Hi my darling  – bring me some chocolate gelato!” he pleaded. The doctor’s voice could be clearly heard in the background – “no, no! Lemon Gelato only!”  A clear indication that her Earl was better.

She wondered if she would have any problem getting past the mafia at Ground Floor Reception as she had every other  day since he’d been in San Leonardo.   So she prepared herself for battle and practised the Italian sentences for “Dr P says I can go up to the sixth floor to see my husband.  Phone him if you don’t believe me”.  At said time she approached the desk with a look that she hoped was intimidating.  She prattled off her sentences. He eyed her suspiciously, picked up the phone and she heard him bark off the query to whoever was on the other end of the line.   Then he pointed to a chair – ‘Sedersi li’ — sit there. —‘Dr P sara venire’ — Dr Panzo will come.
So she waited a minute or two and then the great man himself escorted her to the hallowed halls of ‘Piano Sei’.  The Earl was in a semi-private ward and when he saw her he observed the  emotion on her face and said softly.  “Please don’t cry!”
Dr P said – “Everything is going to be alright.  Your husband is making a good recovery”  But there he was with tubes coming out of his chest and in his neck and nose and looking so vulnerable.   But his colour was good so she knew she needn’t worry.


The Earl looking good after surgery

Gelato, though, was not an option!  All he could do was have tiny sips of water.  It was nil per mouth for the rest of the day.  The staff were told very firmly that she could stay for a while and that The Earl would be moved later that afternoon to a private ward and once there she could come as often as she liked for as long as she liked.  The staff did not look happy but didn’t dare contradict the Lord of the Ward.
She stayed for 40 minutes and then left The Earl to sleep.

She’d discovered the way the lunch vouchers worked and got an excellent lunch which included fish, vegetables and pasta for just five euros.  She could have had pane (bread) too but it would have been just too much.  The water was also included in the price.

He was not a happy chappy when she returned at 3:30. A bully nurse had hurt him when they moved him from the semi to the private room. They’d been rough with him when they put on his pajamas and he was full of anger and frustration.  His chest hurt and he was coughing painfully.   Of course to he who is full of tubes and not feeling great all these were major problems. LH. spoke to two of the staff in very poor Italian and told them that he was upset and to please be gentle and that one of them had hurt him.  They looked surprised but certainly go the message. L.H. was sure they were all very kind and caring and just doing their job.  He’d asked them in English to please let him sit up on his own but they hadn’t understood a word and probably thought he’d said please help me up. L.H. also suspected that The Earl was experiencing a bit of post operative depression.  Nothing was right.   She didn’t hold the water cup to his lips correctly, she didn’t straighten the bed properly, the tubes were definitely not working properly and she was please to call a nurse to sort it out.  A wonderful male nurse came to to the rescue and spent ages trying to explain how everything worked and that put The Earl’s mind at rest.  As a noble electrical expert he needed to know how things worked.


A rather dishy nurse.

Some things did cheer him up though.  Chantal and Jeremy put a smile on his face with their hilarious Whatsap voice message.  Princess Lolz’s favourite daughter message had him asking her to bring him over a roast leg of lamb. Granddaughter Shannon brought a twinkle to his eye when she sent a message from boarding school filled with hearts and loving get well words and he even joked with Tommy by replying to him with these words – Sorry I can’t fish with you at the moment – I left my finger lappies in Cape Town!
L.H.  was exhausted after spending four hours with him even though he slept part of the time.  She was relieved to get back to her room to have her solitary meal washed down with a yogurt tub of wine.


NaBloPoMo November 2016