Allergic to Tramadol

For three days I have been suffering from nausea and a general feeling of malaise. All yesterday I had a really bad headache and stomach ache and felt so out of sorts that I could not do anything. I attributed much of this to the continuing insomnia.  There is a limit to how long I can exist on less than three hours sleep.

Last night I began to wonder in an irrational sort of way whether last year’s post-op gastric traumas were going to be repeated. Then, at 4am (less than three hours before the rest of the world wakes up – yippee) I realised I was feeling a bit better and actually dozed off.

This morning it was a new nurse on the rounds. I told her I had not been well yesterday, but she knew already. Good to  know they note a patient’s general condition even though I had said little other than I felt nauseous.  I added that I had not taken any Topalgic (the local name for Tramadol) since yesterday morning. Could this have been what made me feel so very unwell? Highly likely, she said, there are patients with strong reactions to Topalgic. At present the pain level is much better, but if necessary she will give me an alternative to Topalgic.

what a relief  I’m still not quite recovered but it presumably takes time for the traces of Tramadol to disappear

At least this time I did not have hallucinations; I still have memories of the dreadful nightmares after my first shoulder replacement. Unfortunately I did not note the name of the painkiller that caused them.

Architects should be patients or nurses

This hospital does not aspire to be beautiful, with its brutish concrete blocks  and miles of faceless corridors.  But you would expect it to be efficient – a brand new building opened this March.

After one week’s stay I can list some minor but extraordinary defects. First the good things: the rooms are large – mine is twice the size of last year’s – with high ceilings which add to the sense of space. Second, there is a cafe on the ground floor, with a pleasant outside space, where I’m about to go for my mid-afternoon break.

The bathroom, however, is totally lacking in imagination. There is, for example, a minute space for a hand towel in front of the basin, but no rail for bath towels or bath mats  the only hooks are two minuscule plastic affairs virtually impossible to hang clothes on.  There is no seating, not even a folding seat in the shower area for frail patients, and as I noticed today when having my first (sort of ) shower, no safety rail on one side (the side with my functioning arm).

I battle all the time with the loo roll dispensers: the paper end disappears into its  innards and as it is on the right side I struggle to get my left hand in  to trap it. An aide soignant pointed out that the loo is too close to the wall, so hip replacement patients for example have difficulty negotiating the space – and there is only a safety rail on one side of the loo. (Even le Vigan had a pull down rail on the second side).

Perhaps the worst feature is the bedroom door, which  undoubtedly conforms to fire safety regulations: it is large, very heavy and self closing (with a loud clank).  The nursing staff invariably wait for it to close at night, to prevent the loud bang waking everybody up.  I find pulling the door open to get out a challenge so  imagine how impossible it must be for frail old patients and their families. The physio said it was difficult when he was helping people to get to the corridor to practise walking, and pointed out there was no mechanism for keeping the door open when wheeling in a patient in a bed or wheelchair.

if I’m kind to the architects I could say they were not involved with these finishing details, but whoever it was, even the plea of cost saving is not a satisfactory excuse.

It reminds me of a story my mother turned. She used to do some work for two friends of hers who were architects and they offered to take her on as a partner because she was so good at spotting the practical hitches in their designs. I reckon this clinic needed to employ my mother .

Washed by a male Afghan nurse

I  have just been washed  [not very well] and dressed by an aide soignant – moslem – from Afghanistan.

We talked of course about politics. And he  enthused about the English (i did  not  bother to correct him and say British]. His views seem to be based on British patients he has met.  I pointed out that this was perhaps an unusual sample  as we had chosen to live in another country. He agreed.

He came to France about 20 years ago. Why France, I asked. His brother had been a French teacher and I think that there were links with France therefore. But he had to learn French from scratch.

When I said that one of the only  remaining decent countries was Canada his eyes lit up. Ah  yes he said, he has a cousin who lives in Toronto and is for ever urging  him to emigrate to Canada. He speaks no English and his cousin speaks no French so they talk in Farsi and Urdu. Wow, polyphonique, I exclaimed. He smiled with pleasure.

He thinks he will stay in France, because of his pension, but has retained the family house in Kabul. Just in case.

Slow improvements here

i didn’t sleep well – what’s new? But I needed no significant painkillers. This morning Marion Bertrand, my surgeon, said I should feel free to wiggle my fingers and gently move my arm within its sling. What a contrast to the eight weeks immobilisation last time!  I feel optimistic this will be a different and more rapid recovery.

The main emotion today has been boredom. That’s a good sign I suppose.  I don’t really feel up to reading so I have listened to an awful lot of radio four. I can’t watch television because,  surprise surprise, the Wi-Fi service is absolute rubbish. If I turn my back on it for a minute I find I have been disconnected, and even when connected the rolling ball shows  that the Internet signal is too weak to be used.

this morning as the aide soignant  helped me wash and dress I remarked that I had found the old Clinique (Where I had my hip done two years ago)  more ‘familiale’ or cosy. She quite agreed, “this place is like a factory and you are no longer our patients,  you are our customers”. The cold and efficient hand of market forces strikes again.

  1. The only entertainment this afternoon was a visit by the physio.  He did some gentle but painful movements of my arm and showed me moves I could safely do. Relax a little, he urged, but then acknowledged this was not easy.

The world has gone mad

never mind the minutiae of my latest hospital stay, let’s focus on something much more catyclismic: victory by the unmentionable Trump!

we are entering a dark, dark period in history, with the world dominated by egoism, fear, hate, racism, populism—every ism that we should dread. Worse, it looks as if this dangerous lunatic will have unfettered power with the support of both houses.

my heart goes out to my American friends. They must feel as physically sickened as I have been since the Brexit referendum. I’ve just had my daily visit from my surgeon, who is equally stunned. I mentioned thinking of taking out French nationality. “Attention,” she said, “il y a Marine le Pen!”

i know. There is nowhere one can escape this global wave of populism.

Anaesthetic wears off

Today was a bit more difficult as I had expected. The local anaesthetic was wearing off, so at seven I was given some relatively mild painkillers.

Then came a much needed wash to remove the Betadine. All a bit of a strain, with me standing in front of the basin while the aide soignant efficiently washed and dressed me

This ended rather suddenly when I said I felt faint. I sat down – and fainted. The next I knew a group of people were helping me back to bed. Not at all well. I was then given morphine which I can now ask for pretty well on demand. So far I haven’t needed any more.

This afternoon a physio came by who remembered me from my hip operation two years ago. He gently manipulated the arm which,although painful at the time has had no lasting effects. I was much reassured by his calm and authoritative manner and I’m optimistic that recovery is going to be much faster this time

Errant pea

I have survived Day one.

I would not wish to repeat the operation I all the hours I spent in the salle de réveil afterwards

I am now in a room by rmyself. The highlight of the day has been the challenge of eating meals when almost horizontal and with the use of only my left hand. Eating a meal with peas was particularly interesting. I wait to see where the missing P has gone.

The local anaesthetic is now wearing off so I am not looking forward to the night.
Ps di dictated into my phone. No Wi-Fi yet so I cannot use my iPad. Anyhow, too difficult while lying in bed.

Hospital admissions

Well, here I am, in the Polyclinique St Roch, waiting for a nurse to come and register me in the system.
First impressions of the actual hospital not brilliant. It is brand new (opened early this year), pristine clean, and totally lacking any charm. I almost miss the hot, ramshackle overcrowded hospital I was in last year. It did at least have interesting paintings everywhere.
The rooms are all two- bed. My heart sank when I saw this, but I have a charming neighbour. Françoise is probably older than me, turns out to come from Monoblet (the same commune as Deborah, my partner in crime in l’hôpital du Vigan in 2014). I knew immediately she had an interesting past, and yes, she was an academic – a specialist in Indian history – and she and her husband (also a medieval historian) lived for several years in India, in Punnar.
An  aide soignant has now passed by, to give me my minuscule gown for tomorrow, plus a bottle of betadine for the head to toe disinfectant showers this evening and tomorrow morning.
Now a nurse has come, to collect my various paper and X-rays. One annoying thing: they are going to redo the blood tests which caused so much grief. Apparently they have to be done under 72 hours from the op time. So why did I have to go through all that??
Anyhow, so far the people have the charm the building doesn’t.
I still await visits by a technician to do the blood samples and the anaesthetist, who will tell me the time of the op.
So for the time being, we play the waiting game. Very boring. I think we are both looking forward to supper, as a diversion. Meanwhile I’m luxuriating in the continued use of my right hand .


The  blood test passed without incident. The anaesthetist (a young woman) came to say I would be the first: I will be woken at six and operated at eight tomorrow morning. Poor Francoise has to wait till mid-afternoon  Mme Bertrand, my surgeon,  was the next visitor  she wanted better X-rays,  so here I am down in the X-ray department (which took me ages to find in the absence of staff or signposts).

Signing off now. Early start tomorrow.

My hospital addresses

In about an hour the taxi/ambulance will arrive to take me to hospital in Montpellier. Twenty four hours from now I will probably be in no fit state to write – with left or right hand.  So I’m going to give the hospital addresses here, so I can just point the growing number of enquirers to this page.

First I go to the Clinique St Roch for the operation on my shoulder.  I expect to stay there for up to a week.  I then move on, hopefully, to the Clinique Maguelone for the rééducation and expect to be there for at least two months.

Here are the addresses and links to the web pages.  I’ll add room and phone numbers when I have them.  I certainly do not expect visits the first week and only thereafter if really you are already in Montpellier for other business.

Polyclinique St Roch
560, avenue du Colonel André Pavelet
0 826 888 882* (*0.20€/min)

Centre Maguelone
845 av. Georges Frêche
34170 Castelnau le Lez
tel : 04 67 14 79 79


Diversionary tactics

I should be working full-time to preparing the house for several months’ absence, during which the bathroom will be a building site while Stephen does major modifications to the shower.

I have been piling boxes of stuff into the spare room, writing lists of tasks for various people, redirecting my mail . And of course I have had endless last minute medical and dental events, including a crown coming out after the dental checkup, having to go to Ganges to get compression stockings in my size (another saga – I won’t go there now) and having to take two trips to the local blood laboratory to get the various blood tests required by the anesthetist.

Blood tests are another ongoing saga: I have thin veins which apparently collapse as soon as the needle is inserted.  On my first trip a woman tried without success, in three different places. At one stage the boss’s mother (also qualified but now very old) came in to find what the trouble was (the queue was mounting in the waiting room) and had a go as well.  At one stage I sat with both arms stretched out, fists clenched, with a woman having a go on either side.  Eventually they admitted defeat and I had to return the next day for the boss, M. Pages, so fill the little flacons.

In between, for relaxation, I have been carrying out a much delayed computing task: starting to transfer my whole photo collection from Aperture to Lightroom (for those who don’t yawn as soon as I mention computers).  I have now transferred photos from 2009-2016 and put them on a flash drive in case I am up to cleaning up the collection in the months to come, with only my left hand operational of course.  What I find amazing is that so many photos (I won’t go into how many thousands) fit easily onto a gadget smaller than my computer mouse.fullsizerender