An endurance test

Today has been grim. Bad news delivered in a crass way.

I got a call from the assistant social, asking me to see her.  Normally this is part of the departure procedure, so I went down armed with my mutuelle papers, ready to do battle. And indeed she said that as I was due to go home in about a week she wanted to establish my domestic circumstances. She also mentioned the plan for daily rééducation at the hôpital du Vigan (where I was two years ago with my hip). There was no point rehearsing yet again with her the absence of rééducation facilities in le Vigan, and the total inadequacy of the hôpital, so I decided to wait for my afternoon appointment with the doctor.

Doctor Belhassen confirmed that the surgeon could not see me before the end of January.  Meanwhile, he said, regrettably there was no more they could do for me: they could not work out the cause of the pain – which he said was evident and real – and sadly so far my post operative recovery was one of those small numbers not succeeding.  He could not justify keeping me here while there was no more he could do for me. Pretty brutal, eh?

The first thing I got out of him was that if the surgeon, Marion Bertrand, said that rééducation should continue, I could come back to the centre.  So it was a question of what happened to me over the next few weeks until I see her. He asked me if I knew anyone in Montpellier.  When I said no, he suddenly came up with an idea: there is apparently a maison de repos (for the elderly of course….) somewhere in Montpellier and he thought it might be possible for me to have a room there and to be brought here for half day sessions by VSL (the ambulance taxi system) .  He rang, leaving a message, so perhaps I will know more tomorrow.

Talking to two friends afterwards I said how ridiculous it was that this potential alternative for the next few weeks would cost the state as much as keeping me here (particularly as the centre is currently far from full).  We all agreed the reason was almost certainly statistics: this way the centre can keep up its high standard of people leaving after rééducation – even if they have to come back later!  I’m beginning to come across several returnees, including a woman who left a week ago and whose broken leg has broken again.

Im resigned to having far more shoulder problems in the future than hoped for.  But even if I cannot play the cello again, I must be able to drive.  I hang onto the fact that my first shoulder replacement was slow to recover and maybe miracles will happen in the next month or two. lets hope that Marion Bertrand can wave her wand .


Shoulder: no change

Friday’s scan apparently showed no fractures or dislocations. I’m now waiting for the surgeon to return from holiday. The doctor here does not want to take any further action without a second opinion.

In the meantime I continue to have relatively little discomfort when immobile, but sudden sharp, random knife-like pains when I move my right arm. All ‘active’ rééducation is still suspended; instead the physio gently moves and massages the shoulder and then twice a day I float around the pool, allowing the water to move my arm, but not doing any active exercises. Bad luck that all this happened over the holiday period.

Bonne année?

The ‘ Happy Christmas’ cards have now given way to the francophone ‘Meilleurs Vœux’ messages. But in both cases I detect a universal doubting.

If you put aside our shared delight in family and in particular in grandchildren, my friends everywhere want to draw a veil over 2016. And there is not much hope or optimism behind the wish for a better 2017.

Here in my enclosed hospital world, how often I have listened to fellow patients catalogue the traumas of 2016 – Syria, Brexit, Trump, the ‘attentats’ in Berlin, Paris, Nice….. and then consider with foreboding  and resignation the forthcoming French elections. The old world has come to an end they say, all change is now global and not for the best.

We may differ on whom or what to blame, but we can agree that 2016 has been a turning point in history.

Another road traffic accident victim

Once again I’m impressed and humbled by the fortitude of those whose bodies have been wrecked on the road.

A young man (weeell – approaching 40?) has joined our meal table. Covered in tattoos and wearing a baseball cap above his limbs encased in white plaster, he is turning out to be an articulate and forthright conversationalist.

He is a policeman – one of those who gets called out to attacks, thefts or car chases. His current wife is a municipal policewoman (explaining the organisation of the police in France is another whole subject). He has been hospitalised 13 previous times for injuries incurred at work – fractures, broken noses, sprains…. – but this time he was off duty.

His car was hit by a driver in an oncoming cabriolet taking a corner badly and hitting him head on. (The driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, was killed instantly.) His wife was in a coma for five days but is now back home; he had major damage to an artery and multiple fractures everywhere. His life is not out of danger, he faces a long uncertain future of operations, with possible paralysis of one arm, and both their lives in the police as well as a private life dedicated to sport is probably over. And although well insured they face years of legal hassles to get compensation

Every time he talks of the accident he repeats at least they are alive, and thank god his 15 year old daughter was not in the car. His eyes light up when he talks of her, and I can see why when I saw the pretty girl pushing his wheelchair round today.  At least he seems to get many visits from current wife, ex wife, daughter and many many colleagues.

Interesting footnote on choice of cars. He told Marie Laure that she probably owes her life to having been in a Smart car, which he reckons to be one of the safest small cars on the road. And he says if money were no object he would always buy a German car for safety in accidents.