There was a small area at the bottom of the window, exactly at eye level, where I could see out, watch the not particularly interesting side of the road panoramas fly past. I was bemused, somewhat, as they say. Look at that high grass, those telephone poles, the square blocks of untended trees (perhaps olive trees), a nondescript building here and there. Not much of a view of Tuscany to take with you, wherever you are going.
It was cramped, my legs too long for the trolley, had to bend my knees a bit for the doors to be shut. The paramedic was chubby and was sweating, but she was nice. She told me her name. I can't remember it. She was fighting my adipose insulation to find a vein somewhere in my arm. Left, right, it didn't matter. I had them veins well hid! Something went in painfully and eventually some fluids started dripping in. (I am 30% bruised by area on both arms now). One of the fluids going in was morphine. Nice. It didn't even touch the sides, as they say, but nice.
I was calm. Unnaturally calm, you might say. Those were tough minutes, or should have been, but I was almost smiling. Maybe part of the sense of relief I had was due to the unassailable position I held, that this was not the end. Just a bit of chest pain. No collapse. No clammy sweating. No shortness of breath. Just a tightness, an interior tightness that is hard to describe. There was no elephant sitting on my chest, it didn't feel like that, it just felt like a bad back, but in the middle of my thorax. It was instantly worrying, but not threatening. Know what I mean? No? Neither do I.
There was also a touch of the SEP feeling. Whatever happened to me, it would be someone else's problem from here on in. I would be completely out of it. Something of the feeling I had when I left school and vowed that I would never attend church ever again and finally convinced my sceptical friends that I was unequivocably and inveterately atheist. All those pin-headed angel problems are not mine anymore. And so now. Porn on the hard drive? Meh. Weird porn on the hard drive? Meh. Three thousand books that nobody would want? Shrug. (Hey those Patrick Whites are all 1st Editions!) Burial arrangements: where, how? Surprise me.
However as I watch the concerned faces on Isabella, Danijel and Vicky disappear as the door to the ambulance closes, I sigh and I shrug. Guys, I didn't want to do this to you. To leave you in the Tuscan holiday idyll lurch like this. Shit, I feel my pockets, I have the car keys. These are problems I don't want to leave behnd. They are 60km from home. Danijel has not got a licence. The rental car is in the carpark, but I have the keys... My stuff is in our place (near Incisa Dell Arno - or something like that) and nothing is packed and we were to move to Volterra next day and OMFG...
But I am calm. There's nothing I can do, why fret overly?
I was calm, too, at the top of the tower, the tower we had all agreed not to climb. But I passed the gate to it as I left the chapel and museum (at least a dozen ugly renaissance baby Jesus's) and I just thought, hey, it can't be all that bad. And besides the cardiac stress PET scan I had last week was normal. It can't be that high. But it was, and higher. I made it: legs fine, breathing fine. I took a few photos and then the tightness began. It didn't go away. I sat down and waited. It didn't go away. It didn't get any worse. I thought, well, fuck them carrying me down 54 metres inside a 14th century, tight fit stone tower, I'm going down mysef as far as I can. If I feel faint, I'll sit down. I didn't feel faint at all. I started sweating heavily, but it was 36degrees and I had just climbed up the top of a mother-fuckin'g big tower. When I arrived at the reception, I told them to call a doctor. And my friends, call them please - the tall Bosnian hippy-looking dude, the small Chinese girl sketching the piazza, another one fast asleep on a stone alcove in the shade. They were found. Amazing.
Soon enough the ambulance ripped into the gelatteria (the best in the world, two of the shops proclaim) crowds, pistachio ice-cream fying, and took me away.
*insert Solzenhitzen's Cancer Ward*
So here I am, looking from the patio of my Sienna hotel, feeling fine, apart from the back cramps I'm gettting whilst typing on this awful chair, and looking at the Tuscan twilight panoramas with a shot of grappa.
And I do care. Mostly.