Saturday, 28 November 2015

Slow progress.

It's a very British reaction when something untoward occurs, simply pretend it never happened. Hence the popularity of the astonishingly annoying phrase, 'Keep Calm and Carry On'. We all know if we trip over a kerb or walk into a lamppost the instinctive British response is not to say 'ouch' or rub the sore bit, but to glance around nervously in the hope nobody noticed. So faced with one half of the party being unable to walk we still headed to Camping Scalambri simply because we had pre-booked it, planning to visit Casa Montebano, of TV. fame. On reflection, quite why we continued with this I am unsure, not only would Gill's injury have prevented us visiting the Casa, but also yesterday's storms had strengthened, and nobody in their right mind would have gone walkabout by the sea in the freezing squally showers and frequent thundery downpours. 

However, our stupid stop-off in Camping Scalambri proved fortuitous. The owner's brother-in-law happened to be a local pharmacist, and after a couple of phone-calls, the ever-so-helpful receptionist solved a real conundrum for us. The hospital in Noto had given Gill a set of instructions about further treatment - after three days, remove the tight elastic bandage and replace it with a fancy looking knee support - the sort you see joggers wearing. What the doctors seemed a bit vague about was where exactly you purchased one. When we asked they simply said, "Oh you can get them anywhere." Really - at a tobacconist kiosk, a garage, the guy by the roadside selling aubergines out of the back of his Ape? It turned out that there are specialist 'medical aid' shops in most Italian larger towns selling mobility products and other general medical items apart from pharmaceuticals. The people at the campsite were really helpful, they tracked down the address of the nearest in Ragusa, about 25kms away, phoned ahead for us, and even took a photo of the brochure with a picture of the device, and texted it to the shop. 

When we put the address into Google maps, Via Fuca, the 'Medical Supporti' shop seemed to be down a side street - not Maisy friendly. After I had made a few puerile comments about it being where you go if you Fuca your knee, we hatched a plan. We would park the van as close as we could, then I would walk to the place and get the item. Like most of our brilliant plans, it was inspired, but did not work. We found a handy discount supermarket car-park about half a kilometre from the shop, and off I trotted with GPS in hand. It was easy enough to find, well signposted off the larger street, but in a small cul-de-sac with a tiny car park. I had pre-prepared a small speech in Google translate. In fact they were expecting me, and one of the white-coated staff spoke some English. They needed Gill as the item had to be exactly fitted to the circumference of her knee. 

So, back to the van, man-up and deal with the now manic lunchtime rush hour and squeeze Maisy down the narrow side street. Luckily the place had three disabled parking bays outside the shop. I parked across all three and a rather handsome young man in a white coat appeared with a wheelchair to wheel Gill into their treatment room.

They did not have the exact same item as shown in the doctor's brochure, but found a similar one. In fact it must have been the deluxe model, possibly styled by Gucci - it cost 150 euros! Hopefully, we will get all but £60 of this back on our medical insurance. It does strike you just how comprehensive the NHS 'free at the point of delivery' promise remains, even after all of the recent squeeze on funding. It's something we simply take for granted, but most places in Europe have a mixed system where state cover is topped up by private insurance schemes.

No, they did not fit the support on the wrong leg -
but tested it for size on  the uninjured knee before removing the hospital bandage.
After a stop-off at Conad to buy groceries we headed for Camping Scarebeo at Punta Braccetto, our final destination. We stocked up for a week realising that we were unlikely to want to move the van once we settled. Hopefully there will be a local shop, otherwise it's a 6km bike ride back to S. Maria Camerima if we  need a litre of milk. Ends of journeys are always a bit odd, like a kind of sad goodbye. Gill in her Gucci leg strap has added a whole new set of complications, and a touch of the bizarre to the experience.


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