Storms and more storms

it continues to be very mild – about 15 degrees. i have been hearing my frogs, which is not right for Novemver. But I have now lost count of how many grey, wet days we have had this month.

We had torrential rain during the night and this afternoon the rain became even More intense. The rain came on with even greater intensity. We have now had violent storms – thunder, lightening and waves of torrential rain – for four hours non-stop. The Herault was a fierce torrent as we drove back from Ganges and I would not be surprised if it and other key local roads did not close tonight. This particular rainstorm has affected the whole Mediterranean coast and hinterland, from Italy to Spain. i reckon France is having to adjust to climate change; in this part of the Cevennes it means more violent, tropical type storms, interspersed by long periods of drought.

Eye saga continues

I woke up this morning with very sore eyes glued almost shut.  off I went to Ganges again, this time paying for a taxi with my regular company – sad day when ambulance drivers all know the way to your house.

I saw a young woman standing in for the guy I saw last time, but equally friendly and efficient. She reassured me that my eyes were healing albeit slower than hoped for. She went through the various medications and when to take them and said firmly that I must resume my normal glaucoma medication however much it might sting.

All very satisfactory. I won’t get reimbursed for the 40 euro (special rate) taxi fare, but will get back the 40 euro consultation charge.

As I was in the Ganges clinic I called   on my friend Sylvia who has been in hospital for two days with a serious tummy bug, dehydration and low red fell count. She is still awaiting a full diagnosis, but was feeling rotten and in low spirits.

Then back home in another ambulance. As we drove through Le Vigam he asked if there was any shopping I need to do before he took me home. Very touching and the reason I always go to Thiebaut and sons (even though I know that their politics are not mine!).

Yet another ‘alerte orange’ for rain

This has been a depressingly relentless week of heavy cloud, mist and rain.  Once again we have had a night of heavy rain and more forecast for today.

What a year, with all those storms while I was in hospital.  The olive harvest has just finished and Jackie, who is largely resonsible for restoring the local olive mill, says this is going to be an awful year.  The local onions – for which this area is famed – are also not much good.  The surfeit of moisture means they will not keep well this winter. A similar story for most other local crops.

 

A morning in casualty

Can I have any more health mishaps?  Yesterday morning I applied the anti-nit lotion and – despite having my eyes closed – managed to get some in my eyes.  Thirty minutes frantic bathing in sterilised water and then more desperatel sitting under a shower for so long that, given my eyes were shut, I flooded the whole bathroom (and had to throw towels everywhere), I knew I had to go to casualty.

I phoned Tony Shepherd (he and his wife were due to bring lunch oer later) and asked him to drive me to Ganges.  There I found that eye casualties were treated by the opthalmologists not the Urgences. I eventually saw a young doctor (who was far nicer than my usual one) who confirmed that the eyes, (or eyelids – not quite sure which) had nasty burns, but that there was no long-term damage to the eyes.  He gave me a prescription for two sorts of drops and said it would hurt a lot for two days.

By the time Tony and Josie gave me lunch I was in quite a lot of apin and after they left collapsed in bed and, amazingly, slept for two hours.  I woke with the left eye completely glued up, but in much less pain.

Poor Margaret then had to drive me through torrential rain to the chiropodist.  Then I retired to bed again.  Thank goodness for Radio Four.

This orning, there are distinct signs of improvement.  The fact that I can see my keyboad, albeit for a limited time, is evidence. Fingers crossed that this will go on, as while the eyes are in this condition, apart from discomfort, I cannot take my glaucoma medication.

Friendships in rural areas

I had a very pleasant lunch with my friends Charles and Pierre (fellow guest was Pierre Paolichi).  We got to talking about who were our friends in Bréau and the local area and agreed that what we have is a lot of friendly acquaintances but only a small number of friends with whom one can have the sort of discussion that we had been having over lunch.

These friends tend to be – with some exceptions – non-Cévenols.  Charles listed half a dozen friends we have in common who are mainly (like him) originally Parisians.  I would add that this is perhaps why I also have so many foreign (mainly anglophone) friends: not only because we have a common culture and language, but also because we are able to talk about politics, literature or life from a similar perspective.

I suppose this is the downside to living in a remote, rural area rather than in a city. But the upside is that – trying not to sound patronising – although conversation with locals may be limited to the weather, health, or local gossip, this is a friendly place to be and I enjoy these many daily contacts.  Where in a city could one go down to the supermarket or market and bump into several friends or acquaintances as well as engaging in discussions with shopkeepers and traders?

It is also a symptom of age that it is no longer so easy to make new friends.  So with one or two exceptions my close friends are still those that I have gathered earlier, in the course of my life.

 

Doctor younger than my daughters!

I’m happy to have switched to Maëlle Dequand.  She must be about 30 and will certainly see me out!  More important, she is a really nice person and I feel totally relaxed in her presence.  She is keen on alternative medicine, so I go with the flow and accept her prescriptions for homeopathic remedies alongside convential medication.

Yesterday she prescribed an alternative remedy- Symphytum officinale (comfrey or knitbone in English)- for speeding up the setting of my bone graft.  It can do no harm and who knows it might help.

Less encouraging is her view that I would be unwise to have my front crown put back – even with antibiotics – before the graft is set, and suggested if I really wanted to go ahead, I should ask the surgeon first.  So I fear I may well have this horrible toothless gap over the Christmas holiday. (As to the more major work, extracting the tooth which supports a bridge and replacing it by an implant, I fear this is een further into the future, so I have to get used to eating only on the left side).

Final mauvaise surprise of the visit: when I told her that since leaving hospital my scalp had been a bit itchy, she look at it and said she thought that I might have had nits when in hospital!  Anyhow, I’m going to spend tomorrow morning dousing my head with anti-nit lotion and then shampooing several times.

Memories of hospitals

It’s two weeks since I left the Hopital du Vigan. When I was there I was not able, of course, to upload photos of my stay.  I’m doing so now, before my memories fade.

The first two photos are of the Clinique St Roch; the room is far posher than the ones I had in the hopital du Vigan.  Wasted on me, as I was not in a fit state to enjoy the room or the superior food. The third photo is the first case I had to avoid inappropriate movements of the left leg.  I had a similar, less encompassing on at le Vigan.

The following pictures are all from le Vigan.

Now I’m in that strange limbo land when I cannot do very much until the bone graft finally sets.  Amazing to think that a month ago I was still in a wheelchair.  Now I can walk without sticks in the house, but I’m not supposed to do much walking, so outside trips are limited, mainly to the supermarket.

I see my GP next week but then have to wait till I get back from the Christmas trip to London before I get another scan, see the surgeon and hopefully get the all clear to proceed normally, albeit with caution.

 

Indian summer

November can be such a wonderful month here: lovely sunny days and beautiful autumnal colours. Well, this year the strange October storms have made this a short and far from spectacular autumn. Still, I love the sharp light in the early morning and just before sunset. And there remain just a few golden trees (I missed the best when in hospital).

Even the insects seem a bit confused about what season we are having. Here is a huge Red Admiral which could not decide whether to hibernate or fight the window panes to get out.

Dental doom and gloom

I saw the dentist today. He agreed it is too soon after the bone graft to put back the front crown. The bridge that came out subsequently is even worse news – one of the roots will have to be extracted and probably replaced by another implant, so nothing before next year. Which means eating is getting more and more difficult! He did re-cement another wobbly bridge on the other side. But I think I’ll have to eat soft food for the rest of 2014. Luckily Christmas pudding is soft 🙂

Hip scan and surgeon visit

I had been feeling quite optimistic. I have been walking round the house without a stick, albeit somewhat lopsidely. Yesterday was the big day when I got my hip was to be scanned and the surgeon to review progress.

The scan timing was a bit fraught: they were running an hour behind schedule, and I risked not getting to Montpellier in time for the surgeon appointment. In the end they allowed me to jump the queue.

On the way to Montpellier I of course peeked inside the envelope for the surgeon. The scan images were incomprehensible, but I was a bit concerned by the accompanying text.


I registered that there is a band round the bone graft which has not yet ossified or become bone. (I have to admit I live in daily anxiety that the bone graft will not take, with unthinkable results.)

My surgeon, Mme Bertrand, (whom I continue to like very much), was much more reassuring. She said she was very pleased with the progress of the bone graft; it was just that the ossification was not yet complete, She showed me the bone graft on the image printouts and it is indeed a large area – bigger than the head of the femur itself. I’ve circled the bone graft and you can see the edges are still irregular and furry.


However, she said that given that the bone graft has not completely set, I must be very careful not to overdo walking on it: OK to go round the house without a stick, but no walks outside yet. This leaves me somewhat anxious about trips to the supermarket, dentist, hairdress etc., all of which are now becoming more pressing.

Mme Bertrand also confirmed that I should really hang on till December before having that wretched front crown put back by the dentist, though she agreed that cementing back another bridge, which has also fallen out, would probably be OK if I took antibiotics. (She sympathised with the knock-on effect that the loss of one crown is having on all my other teeth!).

More scans and another visit to Mme Bertrand in about six weeks, just after Christmas. (She seems relaxed that this may be early January, if I go to London for Christmas.) She also confirmed that when the time comes she will be able to do the second shoulder and right knee replacements. We both agreed I should give my replacement programme a little break if possible!