Computing tangle

I came back to a complete computing mess. First I had to sort out the cables for computer, display, printer, scanners, usb hub,speakers …. They had all been turned into spaghetti by the cleaners who prepared the house for my return.

Worse still, I found my whole website account, including blog, suspended. It turned out that the annual automatic payment had not gone through. Some problem with my credit card (but I had not received an email to tell me this!) I spent a large amount of time sorting this out.

Then I found that the usernames and passwords for various bits of my site, were not working. I had tried to tidy things up in hospital but have succeeded in making them worse. I now have to wait 24 hours before I can modify web or blog pages or use my email accounts. grrrrr. I wouldn’t mind except that I suspect that tomorrow I will yet again have to contact my service provider’s (very good) support service to find out which of the many user ids and passwords I have are the current ones!

I always tell the various people I help with their computers how crucial it is to keep a note of all login details – and to edit these when changes are made. Nw it’s my turn to listen to myself. Sadly my things got into a cobble when in hospital, not knowing which changes had gone through or not.

I stuck at sorting out the mess today, with several online chats with my internet provider’s very good support service and I’m almost there. The website, blog and email accounts are working again. Phew. (Spoke too soon – another 30 minute hiccup, when nothing worked and I lost this entry while saving, Working again, but I suspect I may fall behind a firewall again.)

Visits

Charles and Pierre came this morning, laden with a bottle of champagne and a host of tasty nibbles. We basked in the sun outside, which indoors the ramoneur was cleaning my chimney (wood gets delivered next week).

In the evening Joceline (my physio) arrived with a tasty meal of pilau rice and dahl, washed down by a good Minervois. Joceline is quite relaxed about me trying to drive the car to le Vigan (but no further) but was concerned that whatever happens I should not fall – no walks in the rain, take up Persian rugs, and be careful of spilt water in the kitchen and bathroom.

Recovering

I have been surprised at how drained I feel and how difficult I was finding it to walk around the house. As well as the new hip, the right knee and shoulder are reminding me they are next in the queue to be replaced. It was wonderful being in my luxurious bed although I did not sleep well that first night. So I spent much of the day resting and reading.

Going home day

This turned out to be exhausting. After finishing packing (one accumulates so much stuff after two months, passing from summer to winter), I had to make my first trip outside the hospital, a couple of hundred yards down the road to the bank to withdraw money to pay various people (I was down to five euros).

Then, after presenting presents to the nurses and physics and lots of handshaking and bises, I was driven home by a friend.

How wonderful to be back. It was a glorious sunny day and I saw for the first time the additional work Jacky has done on the area between the bassin and the house, in particular a wonderful schiste wall with seating built into it. There has been virtually no rain for several weeks, but the increased humidity in the air means that the grass seed Jacky sowed is sprouting up already.

The first photo is a view of the bassin as it was in the summer, then one as it is now, with the new stone wall visually linking the bassin area and the house. The bassin area can now be seen from any place on the house terrace, which will be lovely in summer.

Home tomorrow

That’s it. All staff have given the green light that I go home tomorrow at 1pm.

Deborah left this morning and now I can’t wait to leave this theatre, where already the characters are fading away as I look forward to stepping back into reality. I’m sitting here, with Bach playing on my computer, to shut out the stage outside.

It has been a salutary experience. Sad, funny, maddening and worrying (for the prospect of the future of health care).

I have just completed a questionnaire – lots of boxes to rate services and a tiny space for free comment, in which I wrote the following:

Commentaires et suggestions

• tout le personnel (infirmiers, aides soignantes, agents, kinés) gentil et accueillant; le meilleur des 4 étab de santé que j’ai fréquenté dans un an.
• bonne équipe kiné (merci en particulier à Mireille et Rosalyn)
MAIS
• insuffisance de personnel, surtout chez les kinés, par rapport aux genre de patients (beaucoup avec des problèmes mentaux ou/et physiques) .
• pas d’emails sur mon Mac, non plus skype (essentiel pour ma famille et amis de loin)
les repas ne me plaisaient pas- des légumes surcuites, sans goût, pas de nutrition
• manque de communication de la direction. Pas de réponse ni à notre pétition, ni à mon courrier. Pas correcte

Just some minor irritations for my last days here:-

I gave Margaret my bank card to get some cash for me and the number didnt work. I must have failed to update my records and of course I have not used it for over two months. I’m going home via the bank in the hope that my fingers will find the right one. If not I will have to go inside to get money and order a new number (which takes ages to come). Irritating, as here I use the card for all shopping except the market.

This morning a three-tooth bridge has also come out (another regular…) The dentist is away this week and given that 11 November is a public holiday here, I fear I could be eating soft food for some time. I am not allowed to do anything other than cement back a bridge until December, for fear of causing an infection in the bone graft and prothèse.

And my central heating system is so complicated that I have ended up asking the plumber to come and switch it on asap (a friend having failed to do so). The weather has suddenly cooled, the chimney gets swept on Friday, so until then I may have to rely on my – very efficient – paraffin heater.

I want out of here

Back upstairs after the afternoon physio I felt the first floor has got even madder than ever. We now hae the three lost wanderers: Madame 114, the fat lady who never stops talking, and the man who accosted Mme Lacombe. I have now seen him: he, weirdly, wears a cap, and unfortunately, unlike the other two is not confined to a wheelchair. Other people have now told me he has walked into their rooms too and I think there was an incident in the night where the staff had to firmly take him back to his own room. These are all medical rather than post-op patients, and we people coping with our knees, hips and arms would rather they were not around. At the same time, it is good that they are given the freedom. I would not like to think of them shut in a room.

But this, the poor food, the shortage of physio staff and my sudden leap forward make me want to get out of here sooner than the scheduled date, the 12th November. I’ve had enough. I need to get back to the real world. I’ve got cleaners doing the house tomorrow, and a friend turning on the heating and ready to collect me when I want.

Didier said he could see no problem. But now I have to go through the administrative hoops. I have apparently to make the request to a nurse tomorrow morning, who will in turn pass it on to the doctor. One complication is the payment for the ambulance in ten days, scheduled to take me first for scans and then to see the surgeon in Montpellier and then home. I don’t want to have to pay for this out of my pocket as it is a huge amount.

I also need to get some bits of equipment, like a lavatory frame and elevated seat, and a second grabber, for when I’ve dropped my first grabber. I remember this as being essential last time round and, given that this time round my right knee is knackered, following the usual routine for bending at the non-operated side knee and stretching the operated side leg behind won’t work. I’ll order the equipment tomorrow.

Almost there

As from today I can put 100% weight on the left leg. It’s quite difficult not compensating by leaning too much on the crutches. And then, during the morning the crutches were replaced by my walking stick. I felt a tinge of panic at not having support on both sides, but I’m getting the hang of it now. My hip feels heavy and tired and aches rather than being painful, although I find it helpful to sit on an ice pack by the evvening (as I’m doing at this moment!). I somehow think walking without a stick is going to take longer this time round.

Today I have also walked up and down some stairs (hanging onto the rail), stepped over some obstacles (to show I could lift my feet up), stood on tiptoe on a foam cushion (no hands), done the usual hour on pulleys (various movements of the left leg, suspended in the air by weights), and 45 minutes on an exercise bike!

But — I hesitated to ask for the usual five minutes on my left knee because I could see that many of the other 14 patients were more needy and there is yet again only one physio: Didier. Now it’s Mireille’s turn to be on leave and, guess what, no replacement.

In fact Didier found the five minutes, and while he worked, I expressed my opinion that the rééducation side of the hospital was too small to cope with covering absences (illness or holidays) not just of the physios but also the nursing staff upstairs. He agreed and said that the plans for a major development of the site above the existing hospital seemed to suggest that in future it would be just for old people, whether to some extent autonomous or whether actually requiring medical care. He had seen no indications of physiotherapy in the plans.

He reckons that in future the only rééducation centres will be in the big cities, and post-op physio will be much reduced, with greater reliance on people getting sessions with a local physiotherapist (as I do at present, with Joceline).

He presents a pessimistic picture of future health care in France which sounds scarily like the NHS system I left behind 13 years ago.