Category Archives: Robert L J Borg & Viviane Elisabeth Borg – Our Writings

An Aussie Author in Provence

An Aussie Author in Provence by Robert L J Borg a.k.a. Louise Roberts

Article previously published November 2017 in Hearts Talk – the official magazine of Romance Writers of Australia

People living in Golfe-Juan will tell you the country is made of two parts: Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur [PACA] and the rest of France.  Since moving here in March 2016 I can now appreciate what they mean; for in this region everything seems to move at a very slow pace. As an example it took almost a year since buying my apartment into actually receiving the deeds.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking the place; quite the opposite in fact. France in general is a very beautiful country – I travelled around it a fair bit in the late 1970’s, but the south of France is an entity that swallows you whole.

In winter, the coastal towns are so laid back you feel as though you are the only one living here – it is so quiet. However, when spring and summer arrive, it’s as though someone has applied a defibrillator to it, as the region suddenly becomes fast paced and alive with tourists, the rich and famous among their number. Stunning yachts fill the ports, exotic cars cruise the coastal roads, and restaurants and bars are filled to bursting.

It inspires you to visit new locations and revisit places you have been to before. As an author this time of the year is best, especially for people watching. The more you see, the more character developments start to fill your repertoire to eventually find themselves into one of your stories. It is an inspirational part of the world where history and traditional values play an important role in its very special identity.

I left Australia with an amount of uncertainty at what I might find. When I arrived I knew I had made the right decision. Although the French can be suspicious, annoyingly slow, and have a weird sense of humor, they have also a generosity with their time for you, especially when you make the effort to speak their language. French is not particularly easy when you haven’t used it since learning it at school – in my case some fifty plus years ago. I still struggle with it today even though I am told I speak it very well [personally I think they are just being polite].

Re-reading everything I have written so far, it sounds like a plug for their tourist office, but changing it would mean that all I have said hasn’t had a major effect on my writing, when in fact it has.

Since March 2016 two books were released by Luminosity Publishing under my pen name, Louise Roberts, and a third was released on 26th October.  The 37,000 word novella “Dragoon Serenade” is located in this area set during the lead up to the Allied invasion of southern France on 15th August 1944. The region’s history, its people, the communities that encompasses them has entirely influenced my story. You can get a glimpse of it on my blog or view the book trailer on YouTube:

https://louiserobertsromance.wordpress.com/dragoon-serenade/

https://youtu.be/yo2PHH2gjmQ

On 15th November 2017 Luminosity Publishing will be releasing a paperback entitled “Romance in War – Volume One”. This comprises of books 1 – “Letter from a Stranger” and 2 – “Dragoon Serenade”.

Despite giving my pseudonym the bulk of my time, I have also found some for myself. Apart from writing fiction, I also dabble in travel writing which is probably why the start of this article sounds like a travel brochure. More importantly for me, I have had the time to completely re-write my very first novel “Out of the Darkness”. Although originally completed in 1994 I never thought it good enough to submit. The calming effect the Côte d’Azur has influenced me to have the courage to tear it apart and start again. Hopefully I can find a home for it in 2018.

https://tomewriter.wordpress.com/out-of-the-darkness/

At present I also have two Works-in-Progress on the go, but I’m not rushing them as that would go against the way things are done in the south of France.

*

RLB – Tomewriter

 

 

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10 Things You Should Know About Writing A Historical Romance

Louise Roberts Author

It was a rare treat to be approached by Female First an online magazine to provide a feature and to enable me to promote “Dragoon Serenade”

I had been asked to provide only ten things about writing a Historical Romance.

In truth, there are a lot more topics one could draw on to make the story as real as possible. For now, these were the ten that I deemed essential. You can read them on the following link:

http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/books/dragoon-serenade-louise-roberts-1102653.html

I hope you’ll enjoy the article.

Best Wishes

Louise

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10 Things You Should Know About Writing A Historical Romance by Louise Roberts

The following link speaks for itself. I’m just sharing it with my followers:

https://louiserobertsromance.wordpress.com/2017/10/30/10-things-you-should-know-about-writing-a-historical-romance/

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Louise Roberts makes a tough call…

Louise Roberts has today made a tough call – to shelve her current Work-In-Progress and move on to another story which she hopes will be better.

When a story is just not good enough…

How do you move on when you have recounted a story that you believe is the best one you have ever written?

Where do you start to write an even better tale?

My current work-in-progress, “Balor’s Landing” [Book 3 in the Romance in War series] is set in September 1944 on the tiny island of Toraigh, county Donegal and is centred on a local girl falling in love with a ship-wrecked mariner who had been washed ashore after his ship had been torpedoed by a German U-boat.

The problem is that I began writing it at the same as Book 2 – “Dragoon Serenade”, and because I was so engrossed with it, that Book 3 in my opinion is just not good enough.

In fact “Balor’s Landing” is too quiet a tale, and is more likely to make readers fall asleep rather than keep them entertained.

For this reason I have decided to shelve it for another time.  Although it was a difficult decision to make, I believe it’s for the best.

“Dragoon Serenade” is scheduled for release as an e-book on 26th October 2017. Watch the Book Trailer on YouTube and make your own judgement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo2PHH2gjmQ&feature=youtu.be

To take the place of “Balor’s Landing” I will now bring forward Book 4.

“Warm Nights in Alex” is set in North Africa immediately following the Allied landings of ‘Operation Torch’ in November 1942. I shan’t divulge anything else about it just yet as I’m still doing the research and initial planning. All I will say is that the hero and heroine are [were] real [both now deceased], and this story is to be written in their memory.

I hope “Warm Nights in Alex” will be able to equal “Dragoon Serenade”, perhaps even better it. After all, isn’t that what we all strive for – to improve as we move forward?

Time will tell if I’ve made the right call…

Best wishes

Louise

There’s nothing more to be said other than ‘good luck’ with “Warm Nights in Alex”, and with “Dragoon Serenade” :o)

RLB – Tomewriter

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Another Romance by Jessica Lauryn…

Title of book: An Amorous Dance

Author: Jessica Lauryn

Publisher: Siren BookStrand

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Type: Novel (93,894 words)

Sexual orientation: M/F

 

An Amorous Dance Blurb:

When Hannah Rabourn, daughter of Rabourn Theater’s late owner, is attacked, a surge of flashes prompts her to consider that her father may have been murdered. Hannah’s antagonistic stage director insists her subconscious is merely seeking closure. But as she and Evan become close once again, Hannah’s suspicions about the past deepen, and she wonders whether the man she’s falling in love with for the second time knows more than he’s letting on.

Evan Masters’s dreams were shattered when theater-owner Baron Rabourn destroyed his budding acting career. Having forged an alliance with Rabourn’s former partner, Evan assumed a mission to transform Rabourn Theater into what it always should have been. Fellow conspirators believe Rabourn’s daughter is the key to power, and Evan is the means by which to achieve their ends.

But Evan’s feelings for Hannah are stronger than he believed. And when he realizes Hannah’s life is in danger, he must decide between his passion and his heart.

 

Buy Links:

 

BookStrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/book/an-amorous-dance

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WW7ML4B

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-amorous-dance-the-rabourn-theater-2-jessica-lauryn/1125841876?ean=9781682957813

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jessica_Lauryn_An_Amorous_Dance_The_Rabourn_Theate?id=uJkwDgAAQBAJ

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/an-amorous-dance-the-rabourn-theater-2/id1209533909?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/an-amorous-dance

 

Excerpt:

Unable to stay still, Hannah maneuvered her way around the surrounding obstacles so that she could pace. She’d been trying to convince herself that these flashes of memory didn’t mean what they appeared to, but the truth was that she’d always had her suspicions about the way her father died.

The doctors she’d spoken with had confirmed her father had a heart attack, but she’d always found it hard to believe that a man in his fifties—a man in excellent physical condition with no history of heart disease—would die suddenly, for what appeared to be no reason at all. Having felt this way from the get-go, she’d conducted a bit of research, from which she’d discovered that her father had had an argument with Bruce Lancaster prior to the start of her birthday dinner. The stress of whatever they’d discussed might have taken a toll on him, and for years Hannah had believed that a heated discussion with the theater’s former owner had directly contributed to her father’s death. But if the images she’d been seeing were real, maybe her father’s death had had nothing to do with physiology at all.

Maybe he had been murdered.

“Hannah?” Evan called out as he opened the door. Failing to flick the light switch, he made his way around, almost tripping over the settee in the corner before asking, “Hannah, are you in here?”

Hannah covered her tearstained mouth. She had no desire to reveal herself, but she realized before she could hide that Evan had already seen her. After hastily wiping her face in hopes that he wouldn’t realize she’d been crying, she snapped, “What the hell are you doing in here?”

“Me? What the bloody hell do you think I’m doing in here?” Evan demanded, squinting at the gigantic mushrooms behind his back, as if they were going to agree with how ridiculous her question was.

“You shouldn’t have followed me. I wasn’t thrilled to see that my cousin decided to stay in a show her former stalker is a part of, but…I’m a big girl. I can handle anything that’s thrown my way, Evan Masters, I promise you.”

“Hannah, you’re shaking,” Evan said, catching her arm and pulling her back to him before she could walk away.

As Hannah looked downward, she realized Evan had no intention of releasing her. His grip was strong, but his palm felt like melted butter against her skin. She attempted to laugh at him, but instead fresh tears formed in her eyes. Evan took her into his arms before she could stop him, bringing her against his body with a force that demonstrated he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Unable to fight him, or whatever it was he was doing, Hannah allowed herself to be drawn against his warmth. His lightly bearded cheek sent tingles up her spine as it brushed against her own.

Evan held her, cupping the back of her head as he urged her toward the settee he’d all but killed himself staggering over a moment before. As he whispered a couple of soft, indiscernible things into her ear, the familiarity of his masculine scent soothed her raw nerves. In her mind, she held an unpleasant picture of him about to kiss her cousin’s shoulders, but the present moment played right over it, and Hannah let go of her anxiety, allowing herself to simply feel, to let her lover from another lifetime make everything right.

Evan brought his fingers beneath her chin and lifted her head so she was looking into his eyes. His smile giving way to a smirk, he said, “I saw you, Hannah. I saw the way you were looking at me when I was holding your cousin. The heat in your eyes wasn’t there out of concern for Alicia, or even because you were angry about my going ahead with the play. You emitted that scream because you wanted to be playing Blair on that stage. More so, because you wanted to be the woman that I was holding in my arms.”

Her eyes widening as her body grew cold with fury, Hannah said, “Clearly the sky-high opinion you’ve always had of yourself has only gotten higher. You make it sound as though you actually think I could still want you after all this time, knowing that I’m fully aware of what a bastard you really are.”

“You may hate me on the surface, Hannah, but I daresay your body responds quite differently. You shiver when I touch you and your skin warms on contact because it wants more, just as you wanted more the night I carried you off to the dressing room and gave you the passion that both of us so desperately craved.”

“So apparently you aren’t just egotistical, you’re also certifiably insane. You know, you’re offered an extensive benefits package as part of the position that you cling to with the very balls of your existence. You ought to ask HR for a referral—clearly the shrink who ought to be treating Sebastian Nathanson has some extra time on her hands.”

Evan secured her in a grip that prevented her from running. Easing her back against the wall, he said with fire in his eyes, “Is this crazy, Hannah?”

Author Bio:

Romantic Suspense Author Jessica Lauryn has been writing since before she could hold a pen! A true romantic at heart, she is most intrigued by dark heroes, who have many demons to conquer…but little trouble enticing female companions into their beds! She feels that the best romances are those where the hero is seducing the heroine from the first point of contact and she believes that EVERYONE deserves their happily ever after!

Jessica is a proud member of both Romance Writers of America and her local chapter, New Jersey Romance Writers. When she’s not writing, she enjoys shopping for the prettiest of antiques and taking long walks in nature where she can daydream about anything romantic. Though she resides in New Jersey, her heart belongs to the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.

 

Author Links:

Website: www.jessicalauryn.com

Newsletter Sign-Up: eepurl.com/ck5-O9

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5081732.Jessica_Lauryn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessicalaurynauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaLauryn_

Blog: romancebyjessicalauryn.blogspot.com

 

RLB – Tomewriter

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Watch Out for the Curveballs – Final Part

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

Part Thirteen – Unlucky for some

[Final Part]

 

Friday 18th August 2017 and I woke earlier than usual. I expect it’s the anticipation of going home. Having shaved, washed and dressed I made my way to the restaurant for the last time. It was closed. They open at 7.30am and I was ten minutes too early. As I sat in the main foyer waiting, a guy in a wheelchair parked himself next to me. He was at the centre when I first arrived on 24th July but after a week he vanished.

He is of Middle Eastern origin and was keen to learn English. So as he spoke to me in English I replied to him in French and we corrected each other when necessary. He told me that his ‘vanishing act’ was due to being transferred to a hospital in Nice for major surgery to his ankle. I had always wondered what had caused his foot to swell up so much that it looked like a piece of polished wood. He told me that the cause of it was due to his ankle being crushed. I didn’t ask him the details – poor lad!

I had first thought him to be in his early thirties, but I was surprised when he told me he would be turning forty tomorrow [19th]. He thought it amusing when I told him I was escaping the centre two days short of my sixty-sixth birthday.

When the restaurant opened he hesitated entering as he wasn’t sure which table he would be assigned to. I had a hunch that it would be the spot Michel had vacated yesterday. I stepped over to my table and picked up the piece of paper that shows our name, room details, date of birth, and pre-arranged menu. No way would I even attempt to say his name as it was all Arabic to me. When I showed it to him, he was pleased to be seated opposite me.

Pierre however did not seem too happy when he arrived at the table. When I welcomed him with a ‘Bonjour’ he returned with the comment “not such a good start to the day”.

It never ceases to amaze how many people in this world of ours are racists. Personally I couldn’t give a fiddler’s fart what colour or creed a person is. As long as they are amicable, good to talk to, and enjoy a joke or two I will get along with that person. On the other hand if they start to preach at me about religion or politics or any subject that irritates you can be damn sure I’ll try and walk the other way, because the alternative is me stepping up onto a soapbox and letting rip with an argument which won’t be too pretty.

As we ate our breakfast I had to admit our new table mate had some questionable eating habits. The jam tub was licked clean to the sounds a cat might make when lapping up some cream. Then his index finger was wetted on the tongue to pick up every crumb of bread that was on his tray.

I sideways glanced at Pierre and raised an eyebrow. He was not impressed, and he physically cringed when I told him that with me and Tomas leaving today his two further new companions might be just as interesting as this chap. It wouldn’t surprise me if Pierre put in a request to have all his meals delivered to his room from now on.

With breakfast finished I returned to room 127. Francois was just finishing off getting ready and left me packing my bag as he went off for his morning meal. I was pleased to find my medical file, x-ray, and script for physio on the bed along with my morning meds.

Once I was all sorted I phoned Mum to say I would phone again when the ambulance arrived. She and Lesley would meet me at the flat bringing along my things I had left in their care, including all my medications. On the day of my arrival the doctor at the centre on learning I had brought my own meds had instructed they be removed off the premises for safety reasons [I expect they needed to have complete control of the medications being administered – so I had given them to Lesley to look after]. Mum and Lesley were also going to bring lunch for us and a soup for my dinner that evening.

Even though the receptionist said I could wait in my room, I preferred to make my way down to the main foyer. As I sat waiting on one of the comfortable armchairs a few people I knew stopped by for a chat; including Francois who was heading off for his physio session. The ‘Vampire’, so named because he was the nurse who almost every day or so would take a sample of my blood, stepped over with blood sample tubes, tourniquet, and syringe. He smiled when he saw the panicked expression on my face, but then he told me he had heard I was leaving and wanted to say ‘good bye’.

The ambos arrived early and I was home at 10.30am. Mum and Lesley arrived at the same time. Although I had hoped for a reasonably quiet weekend my heart sank when I noticed that my very noisy Italian neighbours were in residence. One consolation they are not here all year around, just a few weeks per year – but why did it have to be this weekend…

*

In all the last four weeks have been an interesting experience which I never knew I would have. However life throws us curve balls all the time. All we can do is watch out and deal with them in the best way we can.

THE END…. Well at least for you.

As for me I’ll be going through with it all over again on 7th December 2017 when my right hip gets replaced.

P.S. You’ll be pleased to know that I will not be blogging this second experience

 

RLB – Tomewriter.

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Watch Out for the Curveballs – Part Twelve

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

Part Twelve

 

An ambulance has been booked by reception for 10am Friday August 18, 2017 to take me home – not a moment too soon.

I’ve made a few of friends here, and I will certainly miss some of the nurses, orderlies, and physio therapists. All have been very kind and supportive, and surprisingly they also possessed a great sense of humour.

As for the friends I can honestly say that only three stand out. Francois, my current room-mate, who although, according to his name bracelet, is two years younger than me [he shares the same birth day and month as cousin, Ron: 15th May] looks as though he is ten years older. He is a pretty sick man and I feel pretty lucky what I had was only a hip replacement. I didn’t ask him what his problem had been, but he had a scar three times longer than mine running down the front of his chest, and he was obliged to wear a urinary catheter – poor sod. He and I got on quite well together. He certainly was tidier than Tomas, although his hygiene standards left a lot to be desired, which surprised me considering his condition. I would have thought that someone in his state of health would ensure to wash his hands every time he went to the loo, but I never saw him carry out such an important function. Nor did he ever use the hand cleansers that were dotted on the walls of the centre, including by the door of our little room.

On the subject of the room, number 127, it was located on the first floor literally opposite the lift. The room itself consisting of two beds, two desks with chairs, one armchair, two wardrobes and two TVs, had a very effective air conditioner [thank God] and two large windows. More often than not we would have one of the windows open which upset the air conditioner and one of the nurses who thought what we were doing was not environmentally friendly.

    

On the doors of every room was a nautical picture which made the corridors really pleasant. Ours was two sailing boats:

The second friend was Michel, a delightful old man in his late 80’s whose room I shall certainly be requesting [if available] when I next get admitted. It is a small single room located close to the main front terrace with a fabulous landscape view beyond Biot. He tells me he lives in the village of Malaussene located high in the hills behind Nice. By the sound of it you need a sturdy donkey or a 4X4 to negotiate the roads up to it. From what he says he has lived there most his life. By all accounts his presence at the centre was due to his hip breaking unexpectedly while he was gardening. He had some interesting stories to tell, but with my limited French and his mountain man accent they were somewhat hard to decipher.

Yesterday was August 15, 2017. It was a public holiday due to a religious day – which is amusing as France always professes to be a lay country, but when it comes to Christian holidays they’re up the front to celebrate them. Needlesstosay, as a public holiday everyone was away [no physio] except the domestic staff, who eventually showed up to clean the room at around 11.50am. Seeing the same cleaner in the restaurant later at lunch time dishing out people’s meals I silently prayed she had washed her hands after seeing them around the rim of our toilet!

Anyway, as usual I’m changing the subject. So going back to Michel, I walked by his room and stopped to chat to Nurse Coo Coo who was handing out medications. Michel invited me in and was grateful when I accepted. He was seated at his chair so I lowered myself onto the bed, which made a farting sound as I did so – he giggled and said it was an air mattress. I followed through by saying what a bit of luck – he could always blame the bed should he let one slip if he had company.

Not being very pious I had no idea what the religious festival being celebrated was, however as a keen historian and writer the only significance the 15th August had for me was the invasion of southern France, code-named “Operation Dragoon” in 1944. Michel told me he was fourteen years old at the time and still remembers it as though it were yesterday. It truly must have been a frightening and memorable day. For me personally, I am excited at the prospect of seeing my book “Dragoon Serenade” being released on October 26, 2017. The story is set in France during this time. If you’re interested you can read the blurb on my pen name’s blog at: https://louiserobertsromance.wordpress.com/dragoon-serenade/

So onto Pierre – a character larger than life and such a comedian, that without his sense of humour would have made my life at the rehab centre unbearable. We sat next to each other at meal times, with Michel sitting opposite me and the dreaded Tomas opposite Pierre. Francois sat at a nearby table next to Michel in the company of three women. Pierre was [is] everyone’s friend, but especially with Michel, and despite his bravado and good humour at breakfast today [17th August], when he said if he had a black arm band he would be wearing it, because this morning Michel would be leaving the centre to return home, you could sense that he was genuinely saddened to see Michel’s impending departure. Perhaps his light comment was more serious than he let on.

Since the end of last week Pierre had been teasing Michel saying how the village band would be in the streets welcoming him back with a fanfare of trumpets and trombones. Flags would be flying and people would be waving at him from their windows. During lunch yesterday the entire tableau had me in tears from sheer amusement generated by my three dining companions.

The main meal consisted of white haricot beans [Heinz style but without the yummy tomato sauce], a grilled pork steak, and some green beans cooked in curry.

Michel looked at his plate then at us and out of character announced that who would need trombones – after eating this lot I would be making my own music!

On the other small table Tomas was cutting at the meat so vigorously that the entire table was shaking so badly it was as though we were in the middle of an earthquake. Pierre on the other hand had stabbed at the piece of meat with his fork and with his knife was cutting a small hole in its middle with the precision that would make any surgeon proud of his cutting technique. Then placing the blade through the newly made hole he lifted the meat well off the plate, and declared that the soles of his shoes were tenderer than this piece of merde! Actually I don’t know what he was on about, as I found the meat the tastiest thing on the plate. The only problem was by the time you cut away the bone and fat there was no more than two small mouthfuls.

Ironically I have an appointment at 2.45pm today with the dieticians – they don’t know what they are in for. I shall divulge the outcome later on in this little memoir. Before I see them however, I will be visiting reception to get my discharge papers, medical file, and most importantly the return of my cheque. I also need to pay them for my phone line.

The ambulance has been booked for 10am to take me home tomorrow Friday 18th August – it can’t come soon enough. Meanwhile I’ve just checked my watch – it’s 11.40am better make my way downstairs and see what delights the kitchen is dishing up today!

Lunch was oddly enough quite edible except perhaps for the starter: Cucumber sliced finely and floating in milk – sorry “crème” – to my eyes it was still more like milk. Adding some mayonnaise improved it a bit, but I shan’t be serving it up at any dinner party I might have!

Nothing is ever plain sailing for me – I went over to reception after my meal and paid my dues. They returned my cheque which I immediately cancelled and collected my discharge papers. My medical files however are to be delivered tomorrow morning when the nurse does her rounds – I just hope she’s not too late as she sometimes is.

Needlesstosay in the mood I was in the dieticians got more than they bargained for, but as they nodded their little heads I could see my words pass through one ear and drift into oblivion from the other. They did agree the yoghurt that is provided isn’t very nice, but that it’s because of the budget they have to work to. What did I say earlier?? I told them it would be better off not serving it up at all as half of it gets wasted. It would be better just to have a piece of fruit. They left soon after whether any of my suggestions will be implemented I’ll find out on my next visit when I get my right hip replaced.

When I went to the physio clinic after lunch with my HP Slate tablet in hand to take a couple of snaps, the therapists were suspicious and demanded to know “why”? I told them that as I was leaving and I had just spent practically every day of the last four weeks at their mercy, I wanted a souvenir of the chamber of torture.

  

Joking aside the team did [and still do] a wonderful job, but apart from offering guidance and manipulating your leg for about five minutes, the remaining fifty-five minutes is hard exercise left up to you to do. All the same, it was the routines that made the difference and the guidance will be locked in my brain on how to look after my legs moving forward.

Thanks to Mum and Lesley who have found a physio therapist in Golfe Juan conveniently located I shall be continuing my sessions as of Monday afternoon next week [21st]. I just hope the doctor here remembers to include a script for it in my medical file.

The daily ice packs have also been a great help. Talking with one of the orderlies about them she told me I can buy something similar at any pharmacy. So I guess that will also be a place to visit next week. Meanwhile though, for this weekend, Lesley said she will loan me a freezer block [the type you put in an Esky].

Reception just phoned for me to come downstairs to see them. Now what? I thought.

Ah! They needed my address for the ambulance driver. So much easier to call me down rather than access my file online and obtain the details that way!! Despite me repeating my street name three times, she still managed to write it down wrong. Thank God I’ll be in the ambulance [I hope] so that I can direct him.

 

To Be Continued…

RLB – Tomewriter

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Watch Out for the Curveballs – Part Eleven

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

Part Eleven

 

In all since arriving here I have lost six kilo and when I began using the treadmills I found I was burning off in the region of 25 calories during the ten minute sessions.

There’s really not much to do except read, do crosswords, watch TV [provided you are willing to pay their exorbitant charges] or chat. As my French conversation is somewhat limited, although improving all the time, I find I’m spending a lot of time on my own either walking around their beautiful grounds, writing up this blog, or taking a nap. And thanks for my HP Slate tablet [a birthday gift from Sandra a few years ago] I have been keeping tabs on my emails, playing mindless games, and checking up what is happening on Facebook – so who needs TV?

Some views of the grounds:

   

Some of the views from the grounds:

  

*

The days are beginning to blend together and either I am losing it or time has ‘lost’ me. Today is August 8, 2017 – how time flies. Yesterday the remaining twelve staples were removed [eight were taken out last week – I don’t know why I never mentioned it before]. Before the first 8 were removed the nurse taking them out took a photo of the wound for my benefit –

If you’re squeamish don’t look at the following photo:

 

It was a great feeling as it proved I was on the mend properly. Unfortunately I was still unable to shower as they didn’t want to cover it with a plastic bandage, but a conventional one to allow the wound to ‘breathe’. Luckily I don’t stink as I maintain a good regime of washing every day, and use baby wipes every time I go to the loo. They said they’ll check it again on Thursday [10th] but for the moment they don’t want me to wet the wound area.

At this rate I may as well just maintain my normal cleanliness routine and wait until the 18th when I am sent home. You can be sure the first thing I’ll do is have one long, hot, shower.

Physio moved up another step today. Apart from the usual exercises and treadmill, I progressed to the bike and most importantly tackling the stairs using only one crutch. My physio therapist today was Jenna [there’s at least five of them each in the area I work out in, with their own specialty of how they foresee the exercises will go – there are about four others in another wing of the gym]. Jenna is particularly happy with my progress and has told me that tomorrow she would like me to start using only one crutch. She’s a sweet girl – I wish I could keep her, but she is in high demand. In fact they all are. They are a friendly, helpful team and constantly encourage you to go one step further.

Today’s session has left me absolutely knackered and I know if I was to put my head down now I would have difficulty in waking up again.

Despite us repeating the same sort of exercises daily it never is boring, and we are helped along with some really decent music in the background. Today was Michael Jackson and at one point there was a frightful scream which made everyone stop what they were doing. Of course, being me, I couldn’t resist the opportunity of the ‘stage’ and passed the comment that someone must have seen our lunchtime menu. There were a few sniggers by those standing nearby showing appreciation of my humour, the rest didn’t seem too impressed – typical!!

Happy Days! It’s Wednesday 9th and my bandage came off permanently. It’s the first time that part of my leg has seen daylight since the operation three weeks ago. Nurse “Coo Coo” [her call sign every time she approaches any of the patients – I never did find out her real name] suggested that I can now shower – roll on tomorrow.

I’ve been left with a six-inch long scar shaped like a miniature railway track. I expect it will vanish over time – perhaps not completely.

Sods Law! The right leg has been playing up more than normal today – I wish it would just shut up and be helpful by allowing me time to get over this procedure. I’m scheduled to see Dr Bohic on 20th September for a follow-up, and I will ask him then when is the soonest I can have the right leg done. I know what I said earlier that I would live with the pain – but no way, who wants to live in constant discomfort? I may as well tackle it while the experience is still fresh in my mind so that I know what to expect. Although it’s not the nicest of experiences if it allows me the joys of the use of my legs like before they had become stuffed up then it would be worth it. The only thing is I would need to check with my insurance broker to see if I would be covered for the procedure and rehab so close to the recent one.

The next question is whether I should take the jump and have my heart done? To tell the truth I’m terrified at the thought of the procedure that was recommended. I suppose before I do anything I will ask my GP to obtain a second opinion. It’s not something that should be taken lightly as memories of my disastrous angiogram still linger in my mind, but so too does the early termination of my cousin Ron’s life that could have been prevented had he gone ahead with this procedure when he had been told of the problem. I had liked Ron. Apart from being a relative he was counted as one of my best friends. The man was a genius. He had something like twelve ‘O’ Levels, four ‘A’ Levels, and an ‘S’ Level. He went to Imperial College and obtained a First Class honours degree [I think it was for Physics and Engineering]. He then went on to Caius College Cambridge to obtain a PhD in mathematics, but he gave up before he finished saying that he had studied enough and now it was time to work. He joined some friends who had set up an IT Management Consultancy company, a few years earlier during 1969. By all accounts Ron had been an important player in the firm’s growth and had he been alive today might have been an extremely wealthy man.

Moving on… it was ‘thanks’ to Ron though, and his personal coaching, that I was able to understand physics and mathematics. It was due to him that I was finally able to ‘see’ numbers and tackle them accordingly. Later, it was also thanks to him that I able to pass examinations in Economics, Economic History, and Marketing.

He died on 12th September 1987. We were with a group of friends riding our bikes from London to Brighton for a charity ride to raise money to buy a scanner unit for the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital at Welwyn Garden City, which is where another friend had died of cancer on 7th June that year.

Ron was an active person who enjoyed nothing better than playing squash once a week, trekking across the Amazon, cycling holidays here, there, and everywhere. He had just returned from a few days cycling across Portugal. Due to his business interests he was in one of their offices either in London, Rotterdam, or New York on a weekly basis. To Ron this was his ‘normal’ life. It was cut short on the climb up Redhill, Surrey thanks to a massive heart attack. According to the coroner he was dead before he hit the ground. I miss him still.

Ronald Daniel Sasson

15th May 1951 – 12th September 1987

Rest In Peace

Personally I think my heart problem has nothing to do with a few extra electrodes causing havoc with my valves. I’m convinced that the cardiac events of the past were due to excessive stress caused at work, long hours commuting, my two dodgy hips and life in general.

As I no longer work, except for pumping out a story or two now and again, and one of my hips has been fixed, I believe that once the right hip has also been replaced I should see an end of my irregular heart beat and fast pulse rate. Whatever I decide to do with the heart, I shan’t be doing anything until the right hip has been fixed. If I’m right, then the heart will settle down and I’ll just continue with the medication just to keep it in check.

 

To Be Continued…

RLB – Tomewriter

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Watch Out for the Curveballs – Part Ten

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

Part Ten

 

Monday 24th July 2017 – it was a long morning and despite the promise of going onto Pradaxa I was once again jabbed with Lovenox – not happy. I had hoped that I would have been transported to the much-anticipated rehab centre first thing, but it wasn’t until 2pm that the Ambos arrived.

While his partner organised the paperwork with the Admin girls, the young orderly [in his early 30’s I guessed] wheeled me on a stretcher to the waiting ambulance. SHIT!! Was it hot!! As much as I had been told there was no air conditioning in my room, the difference from leaving the ward to going outside was like stepping through the Gates of Hell. The Ambo told me it was 40*C and I hardly thought it worth disagreeing with him.

Once in the vehicle with my bag and crutches squeezed in around me, the guy went to work filling in forms, getting my Carte Vitale [Medicare card] and Assurance Mutuelle ready for arrival at the centre. What I hadn’t expected was to be asked to hand over a cheque to the value of €540 “just in case” the insurance company didn’t pay up. Thank God I’m with AXA – they are an international reputable company that have been around for years. In fact I remember having dealings with them during my time at Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance [later known as Promina and Vero Insurance] between September 2000 and December 2005.

That aside I was wheeled into my shared room, number 127 on the first floor and my heart sank. My room-mate, Tomas was an 80-year-old man with breathing difficulties on top of his recent hip replacement. He told me the breathing problems had been self-inflicted having been a heavy smoker for over fifty years.

Not long after the ambos had left, Mum and Lesley arrived with my previously packed suitcase. As I tried to adjust myself to my new environment Lesley did her best to put my stuff away in the small cupboard by the door. In the end I told her to leave it and I would sort out later. There were too many of us in the room, so Lesley and I took Mum back downstairs to the main foyer where there were some comfortable, though limited seating.

When Lesley and I returned to the room Tomas was hooked up to a breathing apparatus that was making a frightful noise. He assured me it was only used twice a day and only lasted ten minutes. However apart from that there was an awful stink emanating from the bathroom that hadn’t been there before making both me and Lesley cringe. A quick survey of the room indicated that this old man had no sense of courtesy or hygiene standards. Although a small room, if kept tidy, it would be liveable, but this chap had clothes stacked everywhere and the bathroom was worse than a pigsty. The TV was on so loud you could hardly think. Lesley and I retreated from the room with raised eyebrows and re-joined Mum. This was not going to be easy or pleasant as I had hoped – but what could I do?

I checked with reception for Wi-Fi facilities and was told it cost €20 per week. Lesley shouted me the first week – Thanks Lesley. They told me the TV cost €5.40 per day but I declined. Let’s face it with Tomas refusing to use the headphones provided any conflict of channels would make it unbearable.

At 6pm a meal was brought to me on a tray, but was told that from tomorrow the three meals would be taken in the restaurant – suited me.

It had been a long day and I was dog-tired. As it turned out it would probably be the worst night I have ever experienced in my life!

At about 8pm a nurse showed up with our medications. Because of the surgery I was not permitted to get back on the Pradaxa and I was once again injected with Lovenox. If that wasn’t bad enough she walked around Tomas’ bed, bent over, and switched on an oxygen machine that was to operate all night… Imagine listening to a jack hammer for a duration of about five minutes and then followed through with a thump from a bass drum. The process repeated, and repeated, and repeated all night long. Making it worse was Tomas refused to switch off the TV until well past midnight. By 4am I could take no more. I got dressed, grabbed the Zimmer frame I had been assigned and sat out on a small seat located by the lift desperately trying to get some sleep. A nurse on her rounds spotted me about an hour later and asked why I was there. I know it wasn’t her fault, but in no uncertain terms I told her. Not an easy feat with my French being so scratchy. She sympathised and promised to raise the matter. I reluctantly returned to bed to try and get a little sleep.

Fat Chance! The old sod opened his eyes at 5.30am and switched on the TV full blast. I was not polite in asking him to turn the volume down. He did so grudgingly, while I stuck a pillow over my face to try and shut out the remaining sounds and flashing lights. To make matters worse, as if they could be, because of my stitches I was not permitted to shower. So feeling dirty, tired, angry, and annoyed I quickly dressed and went straight down to reception. I requested to be moved to another room where the room-mate would show some consideration of others. I also told the girl in no uncertain terms that if they found someone else to share with Tomas he would need to be deaf, blind, and possess no sense of smell. The latter being that my bed was located next to the bathroom and Tomas would not bother to close the sliding door when sitting on the throne.

That afternoon the orderlies turned up and packed Tomas’ possessions and moved him into a single room. Later one of the cleaners told me I had been the fifth person to have complained about Tomas’ unsociable activities.

The bottom line is that ever since this establishment had been taken over by Le Pôle Santé Saint Jean organisation the only thing that matters is the bottom line. Patient care doesn’t count for much nor the workload imposed on the staff. I discovered later that at night there was only one nurse to look after over forty shared and single rooms.

At first sight the place gives the impression of a five-star hotel, or at least that’s what I thought when Lesley first drove me there prior to my seeing the surgeon, and then later when I checked out their website:

http://www.polesantesaintjean.fr/le-centre-p%C3%B4le-antibes-saint-jean

However it is only as an inpatient that you realise how false that image is. Don’t get me wrong here, the staff do their best with what has been dealt to them, and patient care which is their priority is somewhat lacking due to limited resources.

Meals for instance, for a country that prides itself on fine cuisine, the food that is dished up to us would make Gordon Ramsey cringe – I can hear his adverse comments ringing in my ears as I’m writing this. I would have to agree that at times I wouldn’t serve this rubbish to a dog. As one lady who sat at a nearby table said last night, the type of food is better suited to children. Compared to the meals I received at the hospital these are positively disgusting.

The portions are possibly adequate to an 80+-year-old with limited appetite, but to anyone younger, you’d have to devour a table leg to satisfy your needs, I was told the chef [if you can call him such] was limited to a budget of €3.40 per person per meal. The establishment has some 95 rooms, some are shared by no more than 2 persons per room, and there are a few single rooms.

My dear old Mum, whose mind never stops working [Thank God], mentally calculated that his approximate budget for meals would be in the region of €10,000 per week excluding the staff’s needs. On top of this the centre has to take into account all the supply of medication, physio therapy and equipment, wages, insurance, etc… Good old Mum, she always knows how to bring things down to earth, which is why that at 92 she still plays Bridge twice a week and takes pleasure at thrashing me at Scrabble at every opportunity.

That aside though, going back to nourishment, I still say that to withstand the rigorous physio exercises which are forced upon us daily [except Sundays and Public Holidays] to rebuild our muscle depletion after surgery, one would need more substantial meals than the menu and portions provided

An example of a typical day; yesterday’s menu for instance:

Breakfast: My most favourite meal of the day – You can choose either a bread roll, or biscotte, or a brioche; one cube of butter, one small container of jam, and a bowl of coffee or tea [black or white]:

Lunch, served promptly at noon, although these days, it seems to be getting later:

Starter: One lettuce leaf with a sprinkling of hard-boiled egg yolk for colour – no dressing.

Main: One large spoonful of couscous, and equally large spoonful of ratatouille, and a small piece of grilled pork, which an adult could devour in two mouthfuls. You are also given a small bread roll [which seems to be getting smaller by the day], and a piece of cheese. The latter varies from French Edam, French Gouda, Boursin, or another tasteless soft cheese. In their defence, the “Tome Noir” that was dished up at the hospital was exceptionally good.

Dessert: Vanilla Ice cream in a small pot [the type you buy at the supermarket in a pack of 4]. The only snag is that they provide you with a table-spoon rather than a teaspoon to eat it with, which means one has to use the handle to enable you to access the product.

Dinner [served from 6.45pm] is much the same as lunch. The only difference being the starter: namely one ladle of soup in a tiny bowl which conjures up visions of Oliver asking for more!

The main course consisted of a slice of ham, accompanied by a portion of pasta [the type normally served to children – hence my fellow diner’s comment] topped with cheese. I promptly chopped up the ham and mixed it in with the pasta and cheese – Alfredo style. My table mates looked on in wonder no doubt thinking: “Bloody English they ‘ave no idea ‘ow to eat French food”, but to my surprise each of them followed suit – so it looks like we are still teaching the French a thing or two about how to improve their boring meals.

Dessert was a strawberry mousse.

 

To Be Continued…

RLB – Tomewriter

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Watch Out for the Curveballs – Part Nine

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

Part Nine

 

I must, at this point, say something about the surgery. Yes, it does still hurt and continues to spew out this horrible looking Yuk, but that’s what happens when you have an 8” wound held together by twenty staples.

Surgery was only three days ago, yet I had hoped that the other aches and pains along my leg related to ‘radiating’ pain from the hip. However I believe this is not the case, and the more I think on it I am now convinced that the left knee arthroscopy was either a total balls up during surgery or my stupidity by not giving the procedure time to heal properly before I started shifting heavy boxes [I shan’t go into any details regarding this incident insofar to say that my life was to change dramatically because of it – but that’s another story for another time. Perhaps I’ll explain it when I get around to writing my memoirs – which I have sort of started and named “Secrets, Lies and Stupidity” – in more ways than one].

Moving on… The left knee arthroscopy was carried out a Hornsby Hospital as a public patient in October 2015. Prior to which I had to see the orthopaedic surgeon in his rooms at the Sydney Adventist Hospital [SAN] Medical Clinic. The SAN is a modern private hospital located in Wahroonga NSW, Australia. Dr Jun Nagamori is an Orthopaedic Surgeon with a sub-specialty interest in Sports Knee Surgery. The annoying thing about surgery through the public system in Australia is that although you pay through the nose for consultation fees to the specialist, he doesn’t perform the actual operation. That privilege is left to his registrar, who although a qualified practitioner isn’t the guy who said would perform the surgery – he just supervises [if that].

Unlike Australia in France when the specialist says he will carry out the procedure on a patient in the public health system he actually does, and what’s more there are no consultation fees. Knowing that my hip operation was to carried out by the Orthopaedic Department Chief of Staff himself and not by some minor assistant whose name doesn’t appear even on the back of a Cornflakes packet made me confident that the operation would be a success.

In 2010 however I had my right knee arthroscopy carried out at the SAN as a private patient. The procedure was carried out by Dr Roderick Brooks, a most proficient Orthopaedic Surgeon and I would have loved it had he been able to carry out the surgery on my left knee. Unfortunately Dr Brooks only handles private patients and although I had health insurance with HCF I was still about $3,000 out-of-pocket. Luckily in 2010 I was in a better financial position than I was in 2015.

It just goes to prove though that when the specialist carries out the procedure, apart from initial pain from surgery, there is no lasting discomfort. Since 2010 I have had no problems with my right knee. The left hip [as I type this blog 6 weeks after the procedure] is as good as new and I am now able to walk a fair distance without the need of crutches. The left knee however still gives me a lot of pain.

*

It’s 4.10pm and Mum and Lesley have been and gone. They had gone for lunch at the Casino and Lesley, who loves playing the poker machines, said she lost – does anyone ever win??

I got up to walk with them along the corridor when they departed and found that the bed sheets were once again covered in blood. I’m hoping this doesn’t mean that the doctor will choose to keep me in a bit longer. I know I said earlier that I would feel safer staying here, but in all honesty this room is so hot I can’t wait to go somewhere there’s air conditioning that works.

Besides, as much as this room is nice it’s a bit lonely on my own. As my medical insurance only covers me to stay in a twin room, that’s where I’ll be staying when I get to the rehab centre. It will be nice to have someone to chat to.

Mum phoned to tell me that my cousin, Rita who lives in Malta phoned asking after me, and my ‘new’ friend, David Glenn will visit when I’m transferred to the Montsinéry rehab centre which is now known as Pôle Antibes Saint-Jean. I say ‘new’ friend because ever since I arrived in France last year, Lesley’s friends have made me feel really welcome amongst them. They’re all nice people the majority of which are British.

7.45pm – Hopefully this may be my last entry in this journal from the hospital. I checked my text messages. There was one from one of my younger sister’s friends from London, Anita Ferrari who wished me a speedy recovery. Nice of her. I responded and then switched off the mobile.

Amazing how there’s always a problem – I went to the loo earlier and the flush is broken. I used the washing bowl to do the job, but I thought I should mention it to the staff. I told Jerome but he just shrugged his shoulders and said he’ll mention it to the maintenance people in the morning.

Dinner was okay. Soup: their vegetable potage is really nice. I have had it a few times over the last few days already. Mains: Quiche Lorraine served with runner beans in parsley and garlic – should get me going if I needed more encouragement. Dessert was a bread roll and crème fraiche which I declined in favour of an apple which was also on offer.

Once again it’s been a long day. It doesn’t help when you’re in and out of sleep all day and the hours seem to blur.

As I said earlier, when I got out of bed to walk with Mum and Lesley to the end of the corridor and found blood on the sheets. On my return to the room I buzzed the nurse who came in and slapped a couple of new bandages on the existing one before changing the sheets.

I made her laugh when I told her I had hoped she’d forgotten to administer the Lovenox – she smiled and promptly stuck me with an injection of the stuff. Once again I was assured I would be on the Pradaxa as of tomorrow – suits me.

All I can say is that everyone here has been so caring. I will have to mention it to Dr Bohic when I next see him – I’m sure his team will be grateful for the compliment.

 

To Be Continued…

RLB – Tomewriter

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