“Stay positive”

How right I was to say that the war was not over. Yesterday I saw Dr Belhassen to discuss the report from the surgeon, expecting that the words “récuperer l’autonomie avant la sortie” would have done the trick.  Autonomy for the surgeon meant the ability to raise my arm 90% and thus be able to drive.

Instead, Dr Belhassen launched immediately into an interrogation as to why I had not followed up the phone number he had given for someone who could provide lodgings if I wished to continue rééducation here.  I said that first I had thought that this was the work of the Assistant Social not the patient and anyhow, that information had predated the surgeon’s report.

He replied, in his usual energetic excitable fashion, that there was no way the centre could keep me on for an open ended time.  He tried ringing the number he had given, only to discover that the lodgings were not available till March. So he said he would sign for another two weeks, but he was dubious as to whether I would reach this target by then.  He then dealt me the blow that stunned me: I should start making practical plans now for living with limited mobility.  He added hastily that this was looking at the worst scenario, but he was not at all sure that this operation could be regarded a success and I needed to come to terms with this.

I pointed out that after the month of obligatory ‘reeducation passive’ the following month had also been mainly ‘passive’ because of first the scare that I might have had a pulmonary embolism and then because of the tendon/muscular pain which they had not been able to explain.  It was only  the last two days that I had really been able to embark on ‘active’ rééducation (in particular strenuous exercises in my twice daily pool sessions and my brief but good exercises with the ergo-thérapeute). Dr Belhassen denied this, both implying that all reeducation is in fact active, ie one is moving the shoulder to some extent all the time, and anyhow, there was a limit to what I could do even now because of the continuing pain.  I pointed out that I was prepared to work through the pain barrier, if necessary with additional pain relief, as suggested by the surgeon.  But this particular appointent had reached an impasse; I left feeling pretty shattered.

My two friends here (both road accident victims, each here for a year or more – my third friend left yesterday, walking stiffly with a spine held in place by a metal frame) were horrified and angry.  Catherine suggested that we tried the place where her sister stays while visiting and Alexia, the animatrice and friend of Catherine’s offered to ring them for me.  This is looking promising: this is a house run by Catholic volunteers mainly meant to provide accommodation for families visiting patients in Montpellier hospitals, but also accepting people receiving daily treatment, provided they can dress themselves (which I now can).

On Monday I’m going to ring my mutuelle (my complementary health insurance) to see if they will cover this and the cost of the daily taxi to and from the centre (the house is about six km away and public transport is too difficult).  I reckon the bill for lodging and taxis could be for about 1000€ for a month.

At supper my friend Marie-Laure reminded me how much progress she had seen me make over the last few weeks.  At the end of December I was eating with my left hand only, now I’m cutting up my food myself and even managing (with some effort!) to get a soup spoon to my mouth.  Ignore Dr Belhassen, she urged, think of the progress you are making and stay positive.

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