Wednesday, June 11, 2014

French Adventures; the Hopital

Since I am lazily catching up from a lovely trip to Paris and prepping for one to Italy, I have yet to recount the ER room visit and subsequent surgery on day two of life in Mont-de-Marsan

Second day in les Landes; everyone and their brother, and their cousin, is at our house. They have all popped by this afternoon, with children, grandchildren, it is a beautiful day and there are 30 people in my front yard. Despite the fatigue pulling at my eyelids and each and every muscle from traveling for the past five days,  I can handle this. This same family has stocked my cupboards and refrigerator, so I smile and serve juice, mint syrup with water, muscat wine, port, pretzels, crackers. I break out my American candy stash for the kids. 

The only ones who declined to partake were the police officers..
.they were there to take notes on a break-in and graffiti of the factory/workshop adjoining the property. Nothing was stolen, just repainted. It looks like kid stuff. 

Speaking of kids; two of mine came running to me at what would be the point of no return in this long day and quietly said; "Mama, Charles needs you in the kitchen. He's cut himself." It was the quiet that worried me. I took one look at the small, sliced-open thumb and told him to hold tight and follow me. 

"Could you please move cars so I can leave? I am taking Charles to the ER. Stitches." I did not yell or scream, just held onto the morbid calm and need for action that had taken hold of my brain. A cousin and nurse, Marianne, confirmed what I knew; "go."  My father-in-law, sick and sniffling, was already in his car waiting to drive us, Duncan came too, feeling so guilty he could hardly stand it. Thierry rode shot-gun, I held onto the cold washcloth around Charles' thumb, and his brother told jokes to distract him.

To the inevitable question; "what did you do?" came the reply; "Duncan and I wanted to make dinner for everybody. We were cutting tomatoes for a tomato salad for the first course." It was only later, the next day, in fact, that someone remarked that it was his right hand that had been cut. He must, therefore, be left-handed. No...wait a minute, "how did you do THAT?" He had scratched his left hand with the knife first, so he decided to switch hands. Right.

We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 pm. My little guy went in to surgery at 11 or so. By that time, Charles and I had played every game on paper we could fit onto my dwindling supply of business cards; tic-tac-toe, hangman, etc. and every word game he knew and some we invented; name a red fruit for every other letter of the alphabet. "I just want to go home," had become his favorite refrain.

The ER had gone from a calm waiting room with four people sitting around to a typical inner-city mess of a place; firetrucks arriving with stretchers, not a seat to be had, tiny babies in their fathers' arms, veiled mothers of toddlers, a whole tribe of traveling folk. 

An ambulance driver walked up to us and asked us to follow him. He took us upstairs, dropped us off at the door to the surgery ward, rang the bell and left. The doctors walked out and had no idea what to do with us. Charles had on his street clothes (blood and dirt and all), and was not in a bed. A nurse came huffing and puffing around the corner 10 minutes later from peds with a bed; the elevator was out and she'd had to take the long way around. The super-kind, cheery doctor and her colleague left with him and promised to take good care of him. 

Aaaaargh. Agony. I was not sure how much French my munchkin was understanding at that point, he was so tired, and a little scared, and now alone.

The surgeon met us as we were heading down to his room, and let us know he would be doing exploratory and, if needed, corrective surgery for a suspected severed tendon. A surgery intern had given the first diagnosis under a local anesthesia. Now, at 11pm, the big guns had been called in. I did not know if this was supposed to reassure me. 

By 12:30, we were called to the recovery hall. "Two tendons and one nerve," was the total damage. Charles was doing well and would be in a cast for 3 weeks. I had a great chat with the nurse anesthesiologist, while my son dosed in and out of wakefulness, and then he wheeled him up to his room, the long way round, the elevator was still out. The nurses set up a cot for me and we watched tv until we both fell asleep. The room in the children's ward was painted with a scene from Arabian nights, beautiful. Pain meds were given on time and breakfast was served to both of us. The nurses and doctors were kind and solicitous, and Marianne came for a visit, bearing comic books. 

We were able to leave in the early afternoon. A nap seemed like a really good idea. Who was I kidding? All the child's horses and all the child's cousins (and aunts and grandparents) were back again. I stayed in bed until the noise drove me to rise. They are my family and can be counted on through anything. Now that they have seen us and been brought up on all of the news, they take turns stopping by...and I spend more time at my in-laws' house. Charles is well, but sad about this weekend's trip to the beach. He'll have to stay out of the water and be careful not to get sand down his cast. As long as his tendons heal;  prayers and thoughts welcome!

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