This morning I had a rendezvous with my surgeon, Mme Bertrand, in Montpellier. I had a pleasant journey down – insofar as one can when lying horizontal in the back of an ambulance. The driver was called Bruno, his dad who was sitting beside me is the older brother of a friend, Daniel Thiebault. The Thiebauts are an old Serres family, so we exchanged jolly gossip about local characters.
As we approached Montpellier we discovered the local hospital hadn’t said where the rendezvous was. I rang her office and was told it was in her cabinet. And oh, by the way, the lift is broken. Like the Cevennes, the Montpellier area has had two dramatic periods of torrential rain (see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2775273/Natural-disaster-forces-4-000-people-evacuate-Montpellier-half-annual-rainfall-hits-popular-French-tourist-spot-hours.html ) so it is virtually impossible to get anything repaired.
Not to worry, said Bruno and his dad (who must be at least 65). I protested unsuccessfully that I was not a little Cévenol and I didn’t want to be responsible for them collapsing. The trolley was left at the foot of the stairs and I was transferred to a minimalist chair. ‘Let’s hope they are decent straight up stairs,’ said Bruno. No such luck. Behind a heavy fire door (difficult for them to keep open while carrying me) was a narrow winding staircase. Even though we were only going to the first floor it seemed to take an age and I felt vulnerable – though not half as vulnerable as I felt on the way down. (Pity this wretched hospital wifi won’t let me put up my photo of the descent.)
The actual consultation was very short. Mme Bertrand was pleased with the progress as shown in the x-Rays and said I could now start putting weight down on the left side.
That was the good news. The bad news is that this is a careful, progressive stage which will take another month – longer if there is any pain. Then Mme Bertrand will look at scans of the hip and graft. And then presumably I will need at least a week or two of standard rehab. So we could be well into November before I get out.
I suppose I have to just grin and bear it, as the alternative would probably be life in a wheelchair. I think it is this prospect which made me over anxious when this afternoon I put my left foot down for the first time in five weeks. That is, I stood on the toes of the left foot, but most of my weight was borne by my arms, holding onto the parallel bars.