Insomnia strategy?

The bad nights continue, even with the new sleep medication . It can take me over an hour to fall asleep after taking it, and  I wake up after little more than an hour, conscious of various aches and pains, particularly in the right (not – as yet – opelrated on shoulder).  I’m kept going by the kindness of the night nurses and their readiness to give me calming verveine tisanes.Cthe two physios have been putting their heads together and clearly think I should be given another pain killer, and they would like to be able to put anti inflammatory patches on my shoulder.  But, they warned me, diagnostics and treatments had to be decided by the doctor; there is clearly some concern that the physios opinions are not properly listened to by the doctors.

I had a routine medical visit this morning, accompanied by Lucie, who warned me not to mention the patchCes.  I could see her face as the very nice – doctor examined me and prescribed yet more physio for every problem part – the fingers, hand and wrist on the left which are hurting and not working well, my painful knock, and the right shoulder.

of course when he examined my right shoulder, there was no special pain.  It is only when I lie on my back I explained, but obviously it did not help the case. Lucie, a bit desperate, tentatively suggested patches.  But no, he firmly said continue medication for the time being, and physhio of the problem area.

when we got out, Lucie was not happy.  How could hard pressed staff find the time to do all the extra work expected.

Bad nights

Not a good period.

After Thursday night’s nightmare, I talked to my physio and she agreed it was worth dropping the painkiller Topalgic (Tramadol) which I was taking in addition to large doses of Paracetamol, in case this was the cause of the nightmares.

Friday evening I began to feel my shoulder more. I was not sure whether this was the reduced medication or overexertion, but ice packs though the evening seemed to help. But….. I could not get to sleep. Finally, at three am I rang, and Amandine gave me another dose of euphytose, and I slept – for three hours.

Saturday I felt under the weather all day, the shoulder throbbed in the evening, but not excessively. Once again I had a bad night. Neither the sleeping pills nor euphytose worked. Finally, at four am the night nurse gave me a Vervaine tisane and some more euphytose, and again I managed three hours sleep.

As you can imagine, after three bad nights I’m not in brilliant shape. The nurses have reported these problems, so tomorrow I will see the doctor. First I have to get throughout another night 🙂

The aide soignante (nursing assistant) who dressed me this morning was very (too!) sympathetic. She was convinced that wearing the thoraco, plus only being able to sleep in one position is the cause of the problems.

Looking on the brighter side, Kate’s beautiful cape had its first outing. I made myself go for a walk this afternoon. Actually it was so warm I had to carry it over my good arm most of the way!

I then went for a coffee and got talking to Frederic (the chatty guy in a wheelchair), one of the few people with whom I can discuss politics. After I had ranted on about Cameron and his dual obsessions of immigration and bashing the poor, Frederic was equally gloomy about France. Like everybody here he regards Hollande as a failure and is convinced Sarkozy will be back as the so-called centre candidate. His rant was about France’s ridiculous deployment of French troops abroad, particularly in Africa.

Next day

Brigitte told the doctor that she thought my problem was a complete lack of sleep rather than any particular problems with the shoulder.  The doctor has prescribed a stronger sleeping pill rather than restoring the Topalgic, which could just be the cause of the nightmares. (I joked I would rather have nightmares than not sleep…)

Christmas present from Kate!

I have been moaning to everybody about how difficult iy was to find a cape which could be warm enough for winter and accommodate my thoraco.  Endless searching on the internet proved fruitless.  But look at what arrived in the post today :


Inside lining
Inside lining


Quite the poshest winter coat I have ever owned.  It will last me for years, long after the thoraco is a bad memory.

Thank you Kate – for this and for the regular FaceTime sessions with the family.

Another nightmare

Midnight.  I had been asleep for an hour when I woke  with a start, trembling and hyperventilating, once again fleeing from murderers. This time I sought refuge in what appeared to be a hospital but turned into a temple for a sinister religious sect: every time I rushed to a nurse crying for help, she morphed into a grinning, evil creature.  I escaped outside, sought help from a man with crutches – who used them to try and push me under a train.

OK there are elements of my current surroundings, but I have never been afraid of hospitals, rather they are unfortunately a familiar element in my life.  So, is it medication or my thoraco?  I will try to see the doctor about this.

Anne’s last day in the clinique

My new friend and meal companion, Anne, has made such good progress  (she had torn anterior cruciate ligaments in her knee  -the result of skiing injuries 14 years ago) that she is going home tomorrow (though she will continue to have daily physio for months).

This is wonderful news for her, but very sad for me.  I have only known her for a short time but we get on really well.  I look forward to seeing her again, and meeting her husband, Jean-Luc, when I’m mobile again.


Luckily my other lunch companion, Pierre – a really nice and interesting man – is still here.  Fingers crossed we get pleasant new table companions next week.

The current ‘rééducation regime

I’m now well into the second – ‘active’ phase, when I have to work at getting mobility back into the tendons and muscles (nobody can explain to me how much damage was done at the time of the operation or before, with the long period of my shoulder not functioning properly).

We start with the excellent pool session each morning, when we go through various routines to move the shoulder in all directions.  I can – sort of – hold my arm up in the air for a few seconds, touch the opposite shoulder and – almost – touch my chin. So far I have completely failed to put my hand only hip or swing it beside my body.  And moving my arm behind my back is a dim distant hope for the future.

Morning and afternoon I have sessions with two different physics with a slightly different emphasis.  In the morning Lucie concentrates on moving the arm smoothly in various directions.  In the afternoon Brigitte is working on the movements I have already tried in the pool.

The morning session includes time sitting with electrodes only shoulder, the aim being to stimulate mobility in the muscles.  In the afternoon I have a session on this machine which rotates my arm from 90 degrees to 160 degrees:



Sessions always end with 20 minutes sitting with an ice block on the shoulder.  We also get given ice after supper, and whoever we feel it would help calm shoulder pain.

I now have only ten days of the dreaded thoraco left.  After that I enter the third phase, hopefully increasing mobility even further. Then physio sessions back home will last for months to come.

Meilleurs voeux

We were offered another special meal at lunch today, to celebrate le Nouvel An.


The French are punctilious about greeting everybody with a “Meilleurs voeux” or “Bonne année” for days – no weeks – after the new year.  After 13 years of living in France I still find it difficult to remember this routine.  You can imagine, in a clinic, with dozens of patients, and new staff on duty three times a day I have had several lapses,  I have been touched too by receiving phone calls and texts from several ex-patients, in the early stages of struggling on their own at home.

In contrast, the French don’t normally send Christmas cards and they are tickled pink by my collection on the window seat.  (For those who have sent cards or emailed messages and who have not received a reply, milles excuses and I have appreciated them all.)