Day 9 After the Fall
Post-surgery, Jay immediately seemed better. No doubt the dull roar of pain had subsided somewhat, now that his pelvis was stabilized (in fact held together by two titanium plates and screws.) The next morning, he was actually hungry and I nipped down to the cafeteria to get him proper coffee and orange juice and a croissant.
He also looked better, except for his cracked, bleeding lips and the huge iodine stains on his sides (I could not see the bandages as they were underneath him). I did not give him a sponge bath because of the electrodes attached to his chest. These ran to the (toy) monitor, which often seemed to go on the fritz, showing a disturbing flat line. But since Jay was awake and talking, I had to trust the nurses, who laughed and indicated the monitor was a piece of junk, no point having it…yet they did not unplug it.
A doctor-like person of the non-Panti variety came to check on Jay. I speed-dialed Becky in Florence to translate (what I would have done without Becky and Sandy, I cannot imagine). The doctor confirmed the surgery had gone smoothly, no surprises, and indicated that if all went well Jay could be sitting up and able to fly home within the week. Though relieved that all had gone well and boosted by the prospect of getting home, I felt a bit uneasy given what I had read on the internet – about the idea he’d be able to sit up and be ready to fly so soon after surgery. Still it made me wonder if I might not be able to survive on my own until we could leave.
It was a weird situation. I did not want to worry Jay by sharing my concerns, but they dominated my thoughts. I had not told him about my breakdown the day before, or about my wanting someone to come over and help me. Jay was a bit more wakeful now (at least until they gave him more antidolorific) Over the next few days, I started to read to him and sometimes we did crossword puzzles from a book he’d brought…or rather mostly I read him the clues and he solved them (I am hopeless at crosswords). It was a relief to see him in better spirits, but I also felt increasingly restless cooped up in that small sweltering corner of the hospital room.
In the early afternoon, Giorgio appeared again. He grinned and hugged us (well, me, Jay was still difficult to hug). With help from Janet on the phone he got us to understand that he had been to Citta and indeed the police there did seem to have a report. Now he just needed copies of our passports and our authorization; then they would give him the report. I raced back to La Collina and persuaded my hosts to photocopy our passports, then we wrote passages indicating our willingness to have Giorgio collect the report and affixed our signatures. He explained that he would return there on Monday and we should have the report in hand by that evening. This seemed very satisfactory to all of us (or at least our cheerful expressions suggested as much!)
I found myself longing for exercise. I’d been more or less trapped in cars and hospital rooms for over a week. I wanted some air. So late that afternoon, I set out from La Collina and walked away from the hospital, along a narrow road that might have been a driveway. It led to the residence the English-speaking orderly had recommended to me, where the parents of children with cancer stayed. It was a multi-storey building with a large terrace and some sort of café. I saw neither parents nor children.
Opposite the residence was a large park, clearly designed for children.
I wandered in and became completely enchanted. It combined massive gardens, many with large signs describing the plants (an educational garden, I guessed), little bridges, fountains and walkways, wide open areas with tall fir trees, between which swung child-sized hammocks, some for reposing, others for sitting.The shade offered by the tall firs and a breeze rushing up from the valley cooled the area. Pens contained all sorts of animals: rabbits and exotic birds and goats and sheep – a kind of petting zoo, I gathered, though I did not enter the pens. Elsewhere there were playground roundabouts and slides and little houses, reminiscent of Goldilocks, and a lovely amphitheatre build into the hill, with mosaic steps.
Because of the breeze, I could jog around without even working up a sweat. Going at a brisk pace, I covered the circumference of the park in about half an hour. Below it, I saw vegetable garden plots where people worked, and beyond that, up the next hill, the skyline of Perugia. It was still, quiet and beautiful. Just the restorative I had needed, far from the concrete jungle of parking lot and hospital.
Returning to La Collina, I realized it too had extensive grounds, apparently used for parties and receptions. Dozens of white plastic tables and chairs stood stacked by an open tiled area. Beyond that were lounge chairs, more gardens and at the very back a truck with “catering” on it.
I returned to the hospital to fetch Jay supper from the cafeteria. I’d become quite adept at the simple phrases required to order food: uno, due, per favore, caldo, freddo, grazie, espresso, pizza, birra. Fortunately I could also point; most items were housed in glass cases. The folks behind the counter were generous with bags and soon I discovered that salt, pepper and small sleeves of olive oil could be found on the “condiments”. I brought Jay some roasted vegetables and a salad with buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and arugula. He asked if I wanted some, but I was saving my appetite for La Collina.
I had another lovely dinner, watching the sun set on beautiful old Perugia. By now Danieli and I were old friends. He understood I had a limited appetite and brought me half servings (I have a feeling I still got charged for the full serving, but the ristorante was so reasonable, I did not care.) He served me lovely wine and made a great show of anointing my salad at the table with just the right balance of oil, vinegar and salt. He told me about his life, travelling the world and working in high end restaurants and hotels. He seemed unimpressed when I told him I was program director of a chefs school. I’m not sure he always understood me. He spoke very fluently and at great length, but seemed to enjoy talking more than listening. It suited me fine.
Back in my room, I fell prey to anxiety again. I felt so grateful to Giorgio for racing around trying to get the damned police report, but I worried that our claim would not be approved, as I continued to run up bills at La Collina and faced the prospect of needing to stay for some undefined time yet to come. I became obsessed with needing company. I called Mike again and suggested a couple of friends who I thought might act as calming influences. I could fly them over. Mike said he would investigate.
Later he called me back. He’d had no luck, but had decided he would come on his own. I felt badly about him leaving Hannah, but euphoric at the thought of having him with me. Mike was a seasoned traveller, could negotiate his way from Rome to Perugia, and had a super clear calm head on his shoulder. His presence would stabilize me, give me a break from the constant hospital visits – and provide Jay with a much needed change of visitor!
I fell asleep with light flickering at the end of the tunnel.