Day 4 After The Fall (cont’d)
By now Scarlett and I were pretty familiar with the hospital but we entered uncharted territory on our journey to find The Administrator, hustled along by the Head Nurse (HN) who radiated irritation (her stance and manner virtually shouting that she had no time for such nonsense!) And The Administrator shook her head, shrugged her shoulders and apparently informed the HN it was her problem, she had to get the report from the doctors. Of course this delighted the HN no end and we practically had to run to keep up with her on the return to the Orthopedic Trauma ward. Had we lost her, we never would have found our way through the maze of corridors. The HN’s final admonition to me was that not only did I need to clean up Jay’s room (now I’m maintenance staff!) but she did not want to see me on the ward in the morning again. I felt I’d made a true friend.
By the time we got back to Jay’s room, the Mafia boy had been discharged. I was relieved. A short time later nurses wheeled in a man in his thirties wearing a cast from his waist to his mid-thighs. I assumed there had to be a few holes in that cast for … er … relief, but it looked horrifically uncomfortable. He was in great discomfort and his parents hovered, talking loudly, of course. They fiddled with the air conditioner. Yes, there was something purporting to be air conditioning in the room, which moved the sluggish air ever so slightly. However the only time the room cooled at all was in the evening when nurses opened the windows. In the morning, the windows and blinds were shut against the fiery sun and a whisper of air from a unit high above the door kept the temperature in the room probably a full degree cooler than outside (39° rather than 40°).
So, the new arrivals had no luck coaxing cooler air from the AC unit. Sweat dripped off them, especially the poor man in the cast. The father asked me in sign language where I’d got the little battery-operated fan blowing its small breeze directly at Jay’s head.
“Canada,” I said with an apologetic shrug. This briefly sparked some interest as they acknowledged, likely, that Canada was far away and foreign.
The father seemed distraught, as though his son might expire from the heat – and truly, it must have been hellish inside that cast. I offered up our second fan (which I generally had blowing on me and Scarlett). They responded as though I’d bestowed the riches of the kingdom upon them, bowing and scraping in gratitude. I felt marginally amused to see the father fanning himself as much as his son. All in all I felt Jay’s room-mate situation had improved. The gangster had been replaced by a man whose parents were now in my debt.
Mid-afternoon, I remembered that the insurance company needed Jay’s permission to talk to Aaron. I called them and we went through the charade of Jay croaking out his permission. Honestly I had trouble seeing the point of this procedure. I could have put anyone who knew Aaron’s name and birth date on the phone. Who do they think they are kidding/satisfying with these telephone authorizations?
Then I called Jamie so he could speak to Jay. Still no news from Carla. Again Jay rallied to chat, though it took an immense effort. His lips were cracked and dry. I went to the cafeteria several times a day to fetch acqua natural; he drank litres of water. After a short conversation (my cell phone minutes – the expensive ones – were running out) Jay closed his eyes again. He still wasn’t eating anything worth mentioning; it worried me to see him so diminished.
I waited in vain for Dr. Panti, then went back down to the doctors’ office to ask when he might be coming. They consulted and said, “Tomorrow.” I thought I might scream.
“Not today?” They’d said he’d be here today, I’d seen the schedule and been told they might do surgery the day after tomorrow.
They shook their heads.
I speed-dialed Becky and this time she picked up. I asked if she could get some clearer idea of when I might see Panti and what the plan was, whether any further test results had come through.
Via translation, and much passing back and forth of my phone, I gathered that Dr. Panti was indeed the one who would call the shots around Jay’s surgery, that he was vastly experienced and knowledgeable, but also very busy. There had been emergency surgery today so he was still in the operating theatre and was not now expected on the ward.
I asked Becky to tell them I wanted a second opinion and needed approval from the insurance company. The doctor nodded, seemed to understand this but also indicated, again, that Dr. Panti knew best and I should talk to him.
“Well I wish I could!” I snapped at Becky.
“Maybe you can see him tomorrow,” said Becky.
I apologized for my short temper and rang off.
As we left the hospital late afternoon, I spied a sign “Hotel 50 metres” with an arrow pointing off into the extensive parking lot. (Two small mercies of the Ospedale Santa Maria della Misericordia: no parking fees and no prohibition against using cell phones in the hospital.)
“Can we follow the signs and see where they lead?” I asked Scarlett. (We had some other errands to run. I needed a new SIM card and Scarlett wanted to stop at a mechanic to see about getting her tail-light fixed.)
“Of course,” she said.
We drove to the other end of the parking lot. Down a short lane we saw the guesthouse, “La Collina”.
Beyond it lay the mini-courtyard with flowering shrubs and benches. It felt quiet and remote from the hustle and bustle of the hospital and the highway.
I popped in to reception. Yes, a young woman assured me in English, they had rooms with air conditioning and wifi. The guesthouse looked simple but could not have been more ideally located. A single room would cost only €40 per night. There was an outdoor restaurant.
I took a card and leapt back into the car, much encouraged. On the drive home we agreed I would move to Perugia on Wednesday, the day Jay might have surgery, the day before Scarlett’s friend arrived from England. We’d both be relieved to see the end of the daily two-hour round trip.
When we reached Scarlett’s mechanic, we learned he was not the actual guy who might fix the tail-light. We sat in a café with cold drinks while the mechanic called the guy and reported back that we should return tomorrow. Then we stopped to buy me a new SIM card, which would work in Perugia but not at Scarlett’s house. Typical. And we had to go somewhere else to put money on the SIM card, which would become operational … tomorrow.
Back at Casa Lauro, I checked email to learn Carla had given birth to a great big bouncing baby boy named Charlie! Hooray! It had been a long labour but mother and babe were doing well. Good news at last! I could hardly wait to tell Jay.
Another email, from a doctor friend of the family, contained invaluable advice: contact the Canadian Embassy. I felt like slapping myself up the side of the head. Why hadn’t I thought of this? The Embassy existed to help Canadians in trouble! I found the contact info for the Embassy in Rome on the internet, recorded the phone number and fired off an email detailing our challenges and passport numbers. I would call in the morning, from the hospital.
Terry, a friend in Stratford, had written she was trying to find someone local to help us. Her sister Janet had lived in Perugia and still had friends there. Janet had sent out messages and hoped that soon we might have someone on the ground who could give us advice, interpret, etc. This all seemed like good news. However the insurance company was still asking for reports from the hospital and the police. I had no idea how I would ever manage to extract this info. But I would try again … tomorrow.