Time for another visitor, our son Adam, we had arranged to meet him at Carcassonne and take him to the coast for a weeks R&R.
We took him to Collioure and he dropped quite lucky with the weather, as we were able to visit the beach most days (after a cheeky beer O’ Clock of course.)
I’d had kidney pain for a few weeks and it was starting to get worse, so when we dropped Adam back at the airport we decided it would be wise to get it checked out at Carcassonne hospital.
The next three days are lightheartedly summarised below, but before you read it, I’d like to make it clear that the A&E staff at Carcassonne and the Urology team at Clinique Montreal were superb. The treatment I received was first class and I will be writing to thank them for their care when I return to Blighty.
By the time we got to the hospital I was virtually on my knees with pain, those who have had a kidney stone will appreciate where I’m coming from, those lucky buggers who haven’t can be reassured that it bloody hurts (a lot!)
Debs led me to the reception and when it was our turn, purposefully stepped up the the mark and announced “Mon Mari est mal de Calculi Rein”, well that’s what she practiced, what came out in the stress was Mon Mari est mallard (my husband is a duck!) we could see the confusion on the receptionist’s face as she obviously thought, this is a hospital, the vets is down the road love.
Anyway, she gave us a form, took our E1111 details and sent us to the waiting room.
Triage next and this guy spoke English, we were on a roll. (Well actually I was rolling round now)
Do you have pain? (He’s being serious right?)
1 to 10 how bad?
“Follow me” – “you go away” (to Deb)
I was shown to a bed in the A&E section and given a fetching white gown, there were no curtains in the room which contained about 10 beds of fellow patients and a waiting area for the walking wounded.
Do I strip here and put the gown on? I’m not too shy, but getting arrested for indecent exposure in a foreign country isn’t on my bucket list.
The nurse reappeared she would obviously advise – I was right, she tugged my t shirt and announced “OFF” waved the gown in the air “ON” ah right just the top bit then. I was starting to attract a bit of attention by now due to my obvious lack of common sense (you can just tell, can’t you?)
Anyway, I got the gown on and layed on the bed just in time for the second nurse to arrive with the blood kit. He was fully kitted out with needles (large), wipes, blood sample bottles, cannulas, saline and those all important pain relief drugs. Thankfully he spoke a bit of English, unfortunately his vocabulary included the words “boom”, “explosion” and “vein” all in the same sentence. I understood what had happened and the words “don’t worry I’ll try again”.
If he thought needles hurt, he’d never had a kidney stone.
The guy in the bed opposite didn’t understand a word, but I did notice him looking away on attempt 2 (he was next!)
I was finally sorted, with pain killers being dripped into my non exploded vein and I was a happy chap.
Nurse 1 then re-appeared, with a sample bottle and some bleach type wipes.
“Pee pee, after, this” (pointing to the wipes)
“Oui” (see what I did there?)
She pointed to the loo and off I went
Now, at the loo I had a dilemma (well several really)
“Pee pee after this”,
What did she mean??
Pee pee – then wipe container with bleach to keep her hands clean?
Pee pee then wipe my hands on the wipes?
Pee pee after wiping Mr Mick with bleach?
Clean the loo with bleach after pee pee?
I went for all four (in case she checked the loo after)
This was no mean feat as I had to hold the saline drip bottle and associated pipework, the sample bottle, its lid, the bleach wipes, the wipes tub/lid and of course Mr Mick.
Obviously the shorts had to come down as well, which unfortunately were the “oh so easy when you’re one handed” button flies.
So with the drip bag between my teeth and the Sample bottle balanced on the bleach wipes tub in one hand, I had a free hand to drop the shorts and do the business. (Hoping it wasn’t actually bleach)
In my eagerness to comply, I’d forgotten to lock the door and at the crucial point, shorts/pants around my ankles, a bleached Mr Mick in the sample jar and me unable to open my mouth due to it doubling as a drip bag holder, the door opened.
I didn’t look who it was, but heard the ooh la la and the door slam shut. At what point would this embarrassment end? (Unfortunately, not for a good while yet)
I bleached the jar and the loo with the wipes and was feeling quite pleased with my efforts. That was of course until I saw the drip pipework. I had let the bag get lower than the cannula and my blood had filled the pipework including the drip cup part. No problem, I’ll hold it up high and let it flush the blood back in to my arm.
Problem, there were 2 bags (saline and drug) whilst I had some saline left, the drug bag was empty. Solution – go back to the nurse with an empty wipes tub (I made a decent job of the loo) a full sample jar and some trendy red pipework. (and an apologetic puppy dog smile)
I tried not to make eye contact with any potential Mr Mick spotters on my way back through the waiting room, but were those French sniggers I heard?
I was ushered into a room out of the way my double pipework was upgraded to a single bag model and Debs was allowed in.
Don’t do drugs kids
The door opened and a porter appeared “scan”
Off I went on the trolley to the scanner (have to say I was impressed by the speed stuff was happening)
Into the scan room I went, loads of French instructions from the female scan operator led to my now standard reply “pardon, je ne parle pas bein Francaise, parle vous anglaise?”
And of course the standard reply “non”
she tapped the bench – I shuffled over
She demonstrated arms above my head – I put my arms above my head.
She shook her head and layed me down (apparently this was a scan, not a Mexican wave)
Now put your arms up you buffoon (the look said it all)
The drip was placed in my hands, and determined not to ruin my new pipework I concentrated on holding it higher than my arm. I may have had my tongue out at the time (as you do sometimes)
It was at this point she realised that I still had my shorts on. To be honest I was starting to get the impression that she’d just about had enough of my scan procedure incompetence, however a swift tug would get the situation back on track.
She was so swift though, that she managed to yank “the lot” down in one fell swoop, I have to accept that this was partly my fault as I have lost a bit of weight hadn’t fastened them properly due to only having 2 hands, and I had stealthily lifted my backside off the bed to “help her out.”
Now I know medical staff have seen it all before, but I’m sure the last thing she was expecting to happen was for her to be stood over me, face in my bits, with my undies in her hands around my knees. I was under the influence of medication so didn’t bat an eyelid, but I saw her walking away shaking her head.
Breath in – don’t breath – breath in – don’t breath etc etc and the scan was over.
The porter came in to take me back to the treatment room and seemed surprised to find me flat on my back, arms in the air with my pants around my knees and my tongue out.
Anyway I was wheeled back into the treatment room to find Debs waiting –
“how did it go?”
“Er, ok I think.”
“Pull your bloody trousers up then”
Those are my insides – ignore the poo, that white dot in the middle is angrier than it looks
Time for the doctor’s briefing, we both listened intently hoping to catch the odd word each and therefore get an idea of what was to happen to me.
Between us we managed to work out that the kidney stone was stuck and I was to be transferred to another hospital to have it sorted out. An ambulance was summoned and I was on my way (leaving Debs to camp out in the car park next to the busy helipad)
Debs view for 3 days
I was checked into the new hospital (Clinique Montreal) signed the financial paperwork presented by a woman in a suit and asked “single room or share” “single room €80 per day extra”
“share it is then”
I was wheeled into my room, which was 2 bed sized, the other bed was occupied by one of the nicest guys I’ve met.
His name was Joseph, 85 and had worked all his life in the vineyards, none of this modern tarty tractor stuff, Joseph had picked by hand and used horses/carts. He’d never met an Englishman before and didn’t speak a word of the lingo. He was surprised we didn’t have bullfights in the UK, or many vineyards. He gave me a hug when I checked out and I hope he’s going to be ok.
Debs arrived on the day of my op and was met by “the suit from the Bureau” who stung her for €80 for the ambulance, added to the €20 each way for the taxi, resulted in an expensive visit!
My short blue number, it was very short
I signed a few more papers after being briefed on the op and wheeled away, I’ve not “been under” that many times, but boy were they efficient in theatre.
Nothing funny about the next day, sore bits, rosé wee, doctor saying that they couldn’t get the stone out so has bypassed it, and me trying to arrange a taxi back to the van with no phone and a loud receptionist, who just kept sending me to the peage bureau.
Bearing in mind the ambulance was €80 I was dreading the peage bureau. I’d totted up my credit cards and pre paid Caxton, and I reckoned that anything over €15k and I’d be trying to phone Mum for a sub (with no phone) or The Evening Post for a photo shoot and crowd funding appeal.
So if it was €80 for the ambulance (15 mins)
How much would – Scan, X-rays, operation, room (shared), drugs, food etc etc be?
Well the total treatment cost was €82 – moral of story TAKE YOUR E111 (EHIC) card when you travel into Europe.
We have insurance but it’s pay now claim later and they’ll only cover you if you use your E111 first (basically our claim is €160).
So don’t leave home without it!
Oh, Deb’s asked me to point out that her French has improved to such an extent that she managed to blag a lift back to the van one evening, from a French family, in French – impressive stuff.
Anyway, we’re back on the road and slowly moving up country (trying to hang on to decent weather as long as possible) yesterday’s view from the van was pretty decent from a lovely parking spot in a village called Lautrec and we managed to see the “super moon” from our sleeping bags.
The beard’s history – Christ I looked old when I got out of hospital
I would imagine that it was far more impressive than the “super moon” viewed by the women who walked into my toilet performance last week.
Don’t even think about an “axe update”
Take care everyone