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At Home and in Paris

Updated: Jan 3, 2022


 

Taking a flying leap ...


Did I tell you that I’ve been working with a trainer this past month to help me develop muscles to support my aging joints and to fortify my equilibrium? This was an endeavor I would never have imagined. All was going surprisingly well until last Saturday afternoon when I’d gone to look for Ted in the bedroom, having forgotten a word (a senior moment, I'm sure) that I needed for the last rewrite on my mystery novel. I was excited about this final round of my first attempt at writing fiction and I was so engaged in editing that I was likely distracted.

Suddenly the toe of my slipper grazed the edge of the Persian carpet in our bedroom and I went flying ten feet before landing on my right knee with the full force of my body weight.

Ted ran to the kitchen to get a gel pack from the freezer, which I placed on top of my caftan over my knee to minimize the swelling. Then he called Paris SOS Médecine for a doctor to make home visit. The wait time was said to be 10 minutes or so. Ha, ha!

In the meantime, Ted brought a pillow case from the linen closet and I placed the ice pack inside. When we removed the kaftan from my knee, I was horrified to see that it had a 6-inch gash across the middle of the joint, with blood and fatty tissue spilling out of the wound. It looked quite ugly and hurt like the Dickens. I placed the ice pack in the pillowcase over the wound and kept the pressure on with both hands, until some very nice paramedics arrived. One even spoke English! They checked my blood pressure, my pulse, and my temperature, and they asked me at least a dozen questions in order to determine if I had lost consciousness, if I had pain anywhere else in my body, and whether or not I remembered the whole event.


After they ascertained that I was stable, they examined the wound and strapped a cooling, sterile pack around my knee joint. Then they lifted me into a wheelchair and rolled me into the elevator, down two flights and out to the ambulance. I was happy to have remembered that my mother warned me never to leave the house without underwear. Of course the paramedics couldn’t allow Ted to accompany me to the hospital. It all went so fast that my head was spinning.They said they were taking me to the emergency hospital near Gare de Nord, and before I knew it, we were there, not far from (you guessed it) Montmartre!

The hospital was neither new nor old, with an efficient reception desk where I received an ID bracelet and a new, more comfortable wheelchair. Then I was wizzed into a large waiting room with relatively few patients.

I looked around at the assortment of people, some old, some younger, some black some white, some men some women, some lying on gurneys, others in ordinary chairs, and others like me in wheelchairs. I had been told that they would call my name and come for me shortly. But time went by and no one came, not for me nor for anyone else. Once in a while, a nurse would emerge and walk across the room to the reception area and when the doors slid open for her, I saw a number of police inside what I thought must be the treatment room. Each time the doors slid open, I'd catch sight of more and more police, and after a bit, they began to come out, one by one, to get a cup of coffee from the vending machine.


I was beginning to get very thirsty. I stretched out my arms and one look told me that I was dehydrated. The next time a nurse came through, I called to her, “Madame,” and I asked her politely in French if I could have a glass of water. She said that she would have to ask the doctor because she thought that I would not be allowed to have a glass of water until after the doctor saw me and made sure that I wasn’t going to need surgery.


On all accounts, that statement was not comforting. I was certainly glad I had my dark glasses on as I was crying and attempted to cover up my vulnerability. I looked at the clock on my phone and saw that it had been nearly an hour since I'd left home.


Time was racing by and I was quickly running out of charge on my cell phone, my only lifeline to the outside world. I called Ted to tell him what the situation was. Soon the doors opened and a dozen or more policeman emerged surrounding a man who was handcuffed. He didn’t seem to be injured in any way, so I was curious to know what his story was.


Within a few minutes, a nurse came out and rolled past all the people on gurneys, and into a small private room at the end of the hall. I became frightened. Why was I being placed in a room where the door could be shut and no one could hear me. I called out “Help, help, somebody help me!“ I realized what I must have sounded like, but from where I was, now lying on a gurney, I couldn’t see anyone, and I didn’t know if anybody knew I was there.


After what felt like forever, a good looking, redheaded, tall man with a white coat came to the rescue. Or so I thought. But then he said, “Why were you calling out like that?“ He looked at me as if I were a crazy lady. “ What is it?”


I said,“I’m in pain, can’t you see?” The man replied, seemingly annoyed, “There’s nothing to cry about, nothing to worry about!“ I asked him “How do you know? You haven’t even looked at my knee yet!” and he gave me a handfull of medicine for the pain. Then I cried out one more time, “Get out of here!” To which he replied, “OK have it your way!” after which he left the room and shut the door behind him. Now I was really afraid. It was clear that no-one could see nor hear me and they couldn’t care less.


Twenty minutes later, the red headed doctor re-entered the room with a rolling tray filled with an assortment of first aid tools, bandages, and antiseptics. “Do you want me to stay this time,” he asked. ”Yes, please,” I answered, smiling politely. Are you the doctor?” I asked. He smiled and nodded. “Yes, that’s me.” He cut the bandage off and took a good look. “Good thing I speak English. So How did you do that?” I gave him the raw details, and he informed me that he’d have to take an x-ray to make sure there were no broken bones before he could stitch me up.


Soon, a young brunette woman came for me. I asked her who she was and she replied, “radio”. I asked “Radio-Ga-Ga” ? I didn’t expect her response, because French people rarely get my American jokes, but she raised her hands straight up in the air, pointing and crossing one over the another, the typical response of an audience applauding at a “Queen” concert. The young radiologist was just the right age to ‘get it’. Together we had a good chuckle as she rolled me to radiology. We were in and out in less that five minutes, and the good news was "no broken bones”.


When the Doctor returned, I asked if he was any good at stitching up wounds and he replied that the ten patients that he sutured up before me had apparently thought so. He asked me if I was still in pain and I said no, complimenting him on the effects of the medication he’d given me, opioids of course. I asked if sewing me up would be painful, to which he replied, “Not after I apply the anesthesia”.


First he began to cleanse the open wound with antiseptic and poured Betadine all over it as I hit the ceiling and let out a very loud yowl. Then, one small prick at a time, the doctor injected the anesthetic until I could no longer feel my leg, from top to bottom. While the Doc methodically went about his sewing, I must have told him the history of my life, surely another side effect of the opioids. Finally, I asked what the story was with all the policemen and the guy in the handcuffs. He explained that the prisoner in cuffs had been in a knife fight with his best friend. Both were drunk and the other guy didn’t survive the scuffle, but the fellow in cuffs was well stitched up and had been arrested for manslaughter.


When Dr. Le Roque was finished sewing and bandaging my knee, I asked him, “How many”? He confessed, “I really don’t know. I didn’t count”. We both chuckled when we realized that I was referring to the stitches and he was still talking about the cops. He carefully counted an even dozen stitches. He instructed me verbally and gave me all I would need when I left the hospital. There was a written report and two pages of procedures, including prescriptions for medications, for bandages of all sorts, injections for thinning my blood to insure against clots, and to authorize payment for the nurse to change my dressings and to administer

the blood thinners each day for three weeks. Finally there was a prescription for the doctor or nurse who would remove my stitches when my injury was completely healed. Hopefully before Bastille Day,14 July I would be free to enjoy the festivities of the French National Day.








Now what could I do to contribute to the celebrations?








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