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

Watch Out for the Curveballs – Part Eight

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

Part Eight

 

It is Sunday 23rd July 2017 and it is 1.40am. So much for getting some sleep, I don’t think I have peed so much in my life so far. Oh! And just not to keep you in suspense regarding number two, I think I’m going to have to send out for a search party to try and locate it.

Well we’re into my last day at the hospital and wonderfully, if the nurse is right, my last day at being injected with that horrible Lovenox. Starting tomorrow morning I’ll be on the Pradaxa. That at least is a pill; two pills to be precise – morning and night – so much nicer than being stabbed twice a day. I think I may already have mentioned this earlier, but hey! It’s my blog.

The one thing I must do today is wash my hair. I’m still being denied showers. I don’t understand why they don’t just place a massive waterproof plaster over the wound. It’s not very healthy to go without showering is it? Sure I wash and make sure I’m clean in my lower regions using baby wipes but that’s not the same thing.

Okay, Okay! I surrender. Switching the light off and try and get some sleep before the night nurse comes in to wake me.

*

3.20am, and this is becoming more than a joke now. I certainly hope they haven’t fixed one problem only to give me another? This is what happened to my dad. He had terrible times with bowel movements – or lack of them. When he did go he let everyone know about it. Unfortunately in the end the cancer had spread and there was no saving him. Not that I’m being melodramatic – so far I have evaded this terrible sickness. He died aged 64, which is two years younger than I am now – sad. If I’m to have any problems it’s more likely to be with the prostate. I may pee a lot, but it takes forever to get going and then it never wants to stop. Even when I do stop there is always one last trickle as if it says to me: “Got You!” – Sod!!

It’s 5.50am and I was woken by the night nurse to replace the bag of ice and provide me with a fresh carafe of water. I took advantage of being awake and padded to the loo. When I returned I noticed a dark stain on the bottom sheet so I switched on the light – Damn! The wound has wept. I called the nurse back who placed a new band-aid on the existing one. She told me she would mention it to the day staff on hand over and get them to replace it completely. I also asked her for another laxative; again she said she would tell the day nurse to give it to me BEFORE breakfast. It might be an interesting day. I think I should stay here rather than go to the rehab centre tomorrow; but in the end it’s the doctor’s call, so I’ll just have to wait and see what he recommends.

Despite my earlier gripes caused by the pain, the excessive heat in this room and the meds, I just want to set the record straight by saying I have every confidence with the nursing and surgical staff here.

7.45am – Ms Sourpuss came in this morning and jabbed me in my right thigh which caught me by surprise as all the other jabs of Lovenox went straight into my stomach. Perhaps she couldn’t be bothered to stretch just that bit further. She took my blood pressure, temperature, and pulse rate and said it was all normal. Whatever ‘normal’ is? I spoke to her about the bleeding and she said it was ‘normal’ discharge – better out than in. As she was walking out of the room I told her about the #2 problem I was having. She came back with a double whammy of the laxative which she instructed for me to ingest before breakfast. At this rate though if breakfast doesn’t arrive soon it will be more like lunch! Mind you it is Sunday today so perhaps they’re having a lie in. Still, until it shows up I can’t take any of my medications. If all else fails there is always Mum’s brownies. I’ll give them another ten minutes.

Ta-dah!! Breakfast has arrived. Hot chocolate in a glass and a croissant – lovely; but before I could enjoy this wonderful ‘repas’ I took the laxative – fingers and toes crossed that it does the job.

Apart from a few tummy grumbles nothing to show for it, so to cheer myself up I decided to wash my hair in the bathroom sink. Not an easy task, but due to my short hair it wasn’t too strenuous. After washing the rest of me and giving the teeth a good brush I went for a walk. I only went as far as the end of the corridor, but my first ‘real’ walk in four days. Having returned to my room I climbed into bed and did ten minutes of leg exercises.

Now I’m all hot and bothered again – I can’t win!!

This diary is definitely going to be a book. When I emailed Romance Writers’ of Australia [RWA] Hearts Talk magazine to get the cut off dates for October and November releases, the editor, seeing my email address was French, asked if I wouldn’t mind writing a couple of articles for the magazine. As I write romance using a female pen name she asked: “Why you’ve chosen to write under a female pseudonym, how that helps in the romance world’ and how you get inside a female’s head. And also I would love to hear about life in the South of France, of course.” Regarding the latter I think she would get quite a shock if I sent her this – Ha Ha! No. I wouldn’t be so cruel. Actually the thing that comes to mind is how the location has inspired my writing. Since my arrival in March 2016 I have written three novellas and re-written a novel. Two of the novellas have been published through Luminosity Publishing and on April 15, 2017 a paperback version of Books 1, 2 and 3 was released entitled “Sensual Liaisons”. The third novella, Dragoon Serenade is due for release by them on October 26, 2017.

       

The novel, Out of the Darkness is under contract with Foundations Books LLC and is scheduled for release sometime at the end of this year.

A date has not yet been set, although mid-November would be good so I can buy a copy as it would make a great gift to my sister, Lesley whose birthday is on 30th November.

Luminosity Publishing however are more on the ball and they will be releasing Books 1 and 2 of the Romance in War series in a print version on November 15, 2017.

I have submitted this to the RWA so it gets included for the “November Releases” in Hearts Talk. Unfortunately, as I haven’t been able to get Foundations Books to provide me with a confirmed release date for “Out of the Darkness” it looks like my novel will miss out on much-needed publicity.

Aside the serious writing I have also penned a few travel blogs and I am currently in the process of writing two Works-in-Progress. Although I must admit I haven’t been spending too much time on them lately. Mostly because I’ve been distracted with this hip replacement and a few other things I shan’t bore you with.

As of tomorrow – God willing – I should be transferring to the rehab centre. Meanwhile sitting up in bed I find I am constantly nodding off all the time despite me leaving the door open purposely so I can see people coming and going. The cleaner has just shown up and she seems concerned of the numerous chairs in my room. There are three. As long as they leave two for when Mum and Lesley visit this afternoon I couldn’t give a fig about the third one. The cleaner is washing the floors with a product which is leaving a wonderful floral aroma; a nice change from the usual hospital smells.

I’ve just checked my watch and it is only 10am. It’s going to be a long day.

How wrong can you be of some people??

I can no longer dub her Ms Sourpuss, but change her name to Ms Pleasant. I expect she’d been having a bad day when we first crossed paths. She has just left my room – it is 10.40am – having re-dressed my wound amidst a very pleasant chat. What’s more, thanks to her, a few moments before she arrived, I could hear the Celestial Choir and orchestra pumping out “Hallelujah”, and as my dear old dad would have blurted out [in Italian of course] for the whole world to hear – “I’VE DONE IT!!”

No doubt having uncapped the cork it will be the first of many visits. You’ll be pleased to know therefore this topic of conversation is officially closed.

1.30pm – Lunch eaten: not too inspiring:

Starter: Tuna and peas in mayonnaise. Main: Two slices of cold roast beef, Dauphine potatoes that were tasteless despite me adding salt and pepper; cheese and a bread roll. The cheese was exceptionally nice and I’ll have to buy it when I get back home. It was called “Tome Noir”. Not sure if you’ll find it outside France, but if you like cheese it certainly worth having a hunt for it at your local supermarket. Dessert: Vanilla Éclair – yummy. Perhaps I should have started with the dessert?

No sooner had I eaten it that nature called for the third time. It’s like waiting for a bus: you don’t see one for hours and then a dozen arrive all at once. The tummy is still rumbling – Okay, Okay! I know what I said, but if I can’t escape it, why should you get off so easily?

The leg was becoming stiff from all this sitting around so I decided to go for a short walk along the corridor again. I said ‘Hi’ to a couple of fellow patients in the same predicament as me, except for a young guy in room 2311 who had some weights hanging off his leg – looked like something out of the Spanish Inquisition – poor sod!

 

To Be Continued…

RLB – Tomewriter

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Watch Out for the Curveballs – Part Seven

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

Part Seven

 

It is 1.45pm Saturday 22nd July 2017. Since I last put pen to paper I took another walk around the room. I found my long-handled shoe horn in my bag – I don’t understand why I never found it before. At least for the first time in a few days I was actually wearing my shoes. Well at least I have proved I can do that task without too much trouble. I then sat on the armchair and tried a few crosswords but the sedative Estelle had given me kicked in. I reckon I slept for about an hour. I’ve rinsed out the glass just to make sure no residue of the laxative still lingered and returned to bed. I think the only things that might shift the bowels are either an extra strong vindaloo or a stick of dynamite!!

2.50pm and Jerome has been in to replace the bag of ice. He asked if I wanted a Pastis with that – funny man!! I told him I would settle for another carafe of water. All done in less than a minute, and offered to close the blind if I wanted a siesta. I told him it was not necessary as I have been having one long siesta since I arrived last Wednesday. Then he was gone… closing the door behind him – sigh!!

4.25pm; Mum and Lesley have visited, and now are gone. They brought me a lovely piece of chocolate cake called “Craquant” that was yummy [Galina if you’re reading this you’ll love it. I’ve checked on Google and there are recipes on how to make it, but I reckon you’ll find it at the French patisserie on Argyle Street at The Rocks].

Mum looked tired. I think she could have done without me being in hospital – some added stress she doesn’t need. Lesley, her usual self telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing: always the big sister, but always as caring. She said that they spoke to Sandra and gave her an update.

I’m disappointed that I still have done number two’s; plenty of noise for no result. I’ll mention it later; perhaps they will need to give me something stronger.

I’m feeling dozy again, so I stuck my face into the ice bag to cool me down. This air-conditioning is certainly not as effective as mine is at home. I just hope the one at the rehab centre is better.

It’s Sunday tomorrow – my last day. I expect I’ll get a visit from the doctor before they sign off on my transfer.

At 6.20pm another nurse just popped in to give me my nightly jab of Lovenox. She said that I maybe reverting back to Pradaxa as of Monday; great just in time for rehab!

Dinner was pleasant: veggie soup, cordon bleu chicken and carrots. Dessert was apple puree [the sort you give babies] and natural Greek yoghurt. Even though the food always arrived in sealed plastic containers like one might find on an airline, the quality and taste has always been extremely palatable. No complaints from me.

One would think with all that I have ingested today the train was going to shift, but sadly no movement yet. This is becoming longer than a French Rail Strike!!

I don’t mean to ‘knock’ the French but it is after all a historical issue – as traditional as the ‘V’ sign. I think most people know how that derogatory symbol came from, but just in case any reader of this blog doesn’t, here is one history lesson. On the battlefields of Medieval France, whenever an English archer was captured the French would chop off his index and middle fingers. The two crucial fingers needed to draw back the arrow. The arrows at a yard long [0.9144 metre] were deadly even at a distance, and when a bodkin point was added it even penetrated armour. This was England’s artillery of the day: fast and deadly. It was proved no better than at the Battle of Agincourt in October 1415. So going back to the ‘V’ sign. When facing the enemy, the English archers would hold up their hands up clearly showing the French their two deadly fingers.

Jerome came in a moment ago to clear away my dinner tray. He nodded at my writing pad and asked if I was writing a book. Might even be a best seller… but in truth it will be a very long blog which I will serialize. Why write one blog when you can write ten. I just hope I’ll have enough paper for the rehab centre.

Well, I’m all set for the night. Teeth have been thoroughly cleaned and I’m in bed scrawling this while awaiting Mum’s phone call at 7pm – 20 minutes to go.

I’ll take the pain killers later and hopefully I may get a full night’s sleep for a change.

Wrong! It’s 11.30pm. I had a nap and now I’m wide awake. I tried to go to the loo without success. I’ve had a thought which I will have to ask the medical staff tomorrow. If my insides are as swollen as my leg is on the outside, is it possible that my bowels are being constricted to the point where I can’t go. The only argument that I can see with this theory would be that I was so filled with waste that I would be in extreme pain. Yet this is not the case. I suppose it could be due to a number of things, such as all the drugs I am digesting or the icepack that has been ‘attached’ to my thigh like an extra limb since after the op to reduce the swelling and bruising. I must say that the operation site seems very clean, but just a bit red around the giant plaster.

Looking out of the window across the valley just now I can see I’m not the only sad bugger who is not asleep. There’s a light on in one of the apartments and I just saw someone step out onto the terrace [balcony] no doubt for a quick ciggie. Oh! The light has gone off. So I am the only twit still awake, except for the two night nurses who came in earlier to say ‘good night’. They also left me a couple of pain killers should I need them and a fresh carafe of water. I asked them if they could provide a new roll of toilet paper – just in case.

I then queried if there was a problem with the air-conditioning tonight as it is positively hot. I was told there was NO air-conditioning which is why I need to leave the loo door wide open to allow the flow through ventilation. The only thing wide open now was my mouth – from sheer disgust!! Suppose if the Gates of Hell had opened earlier and I had closed the door so as not put up with the stink, then I would have to have suffered the unimaginable heat in this room. No wonder I’m drinking so much water.

I had been told that this wing of the hospital was only recently built. I can’t believe that the architects didn’t even consider the comfort of the patients and the medical staff. With all the money they waste on other things which are superfluous, you’d think they would spend a bit of extra cash in making the hospital environment a little more livable.

Now at least I know the reason why I’m hot; it’s not down to a fever, or a dickie aircon, it’s because it’s hot outside and the windows are sealed closed and locked for safety reasons and there IS NO AIRCON……..

Alright Rob, enough of all this dribble you’re writing and let’s try and get some sleep instead.

 

To Be Continued…

RLB – Tomewriter

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Watch Out for the Curveballs – Part Five

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

Part Five

 

At this point in time it is Saturday 22nd July at 1.30am.

The advice and instructions given yesterday were all simple enough with the ‘dos and don’ts in it’. The prosthesis looks like a door handle made of steel which has a section of titanium in the middle of it. In time the titanium will ‘fuse’ with the bone making it permanently part of me. The tip has a plastic cap that sits into a steel bowl [what did I say about bowls? – At least I think I was told it was steel – could be ceramic. As long as it just does the job I don’t care what it is made of]. The nice thing is that the product name is “Leo” a good sign… my birth sign. That alone reassured me that it wasn’t going to pack up anytime soon. Also it is manufactured here in France not China!! I was reading the booklet he gave me and I was shocked to note that in France alone there are annually 60,000 cases of hip replacements. Worldwide it is a staggering 700,000 every year!!!!!

The physio had a sample so he could show me what would happen if I did the wrong things. If you cross your legs, decrease the hip bend to less than 90 degrees, or an inward leg rotation – each time the components came apart. It made me shudder.

He helped me stand, but once on my feet the pain had mysteriously vanished. It must have been the fear of the unknown that had put it there. Under his guidance I shuffled to the loo where he had placed a thick hard plastic donut on the seat which raised the sitting position to 90 degree angle. I will need to work something out when I get back to the flat because my loo is positively too low. One of the things I really must do when I get home is replace the sofa I inherited with the flat as not only is it low but extremely uncomfortable as well. The computer chair may be okay, but I’ll have to wait and see when I’m there. My other concern about the flat is the bedroom. There is hardly any space to manoeuvre around the bed which is also quite low. I will definitely will have to wait until I get home to see what needs to be done, it’s pointless speculating. Finally, and more worrying, is travelling in Lesley’s Fiat Panda – I just hope I can get in and out without difficulty. Bang goes the dream of driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini :o(

Well I had made it to standing position; then I was shuffling along happily to the loo, where he left me to go to another assignment. He told me he is the only physio in the entire hospital! So Ms Sourpuss was right… there are too many chiefs at the hospital and not enough Indians to actually help out with the work. Where have I seen that before?????

I’ve just checked the time – it is 2.10am. I must have dozed off since writing the last paragraph. In fact, that has been happening a lot.

Yesterday, after the physio left me sitting on the loo – a not so nice experience as the false seat kept sliding and I had visions of dropping to the floor. It didn’t happen and I was able to wash my hands. I shuffled out of the bathroom and aimed myself to the armchair he had specifically left for me. How quickly one forgets that one is temporarily handicapped? Unfortunately the armchair had been placed in front of the cupboard that housed my bag. I wanted to retrieve my pyjamas as they were a lighter fabric than the gown as well has being more practical.

BIGGEST MISTAKE!!!

I should have buzzed for help, but it seemed simple enough, so why disturb them. I made a wrong turn and my head was spinning out of control. I just managed to grab at the buzzer cord before I could feel myself falling into oblivion. In a way it was lucky the armchair was there as it broke the fall, but I still found myself face down in a heap and in excruciating pain. I screamed out for help in French, not an easy task trying to remember not to scream it out in the English language. They seemed to take forever before three staff members burst into the room – what is it with the French AND English with their obsession in closing doors!

By the time the ladies had appeared I was a nervous wreck and genuine tears from distress were streaming down my face.

Having been ‘told off’ for attempting such a stupid enterprise I was manipulated back into bed and given some sedatives. Not five minutes later Mum and Lesley turned up for a visit. While they were here, I had a sudden urge to pee, but it’s not so straight forward to get out of bed and shuffle to the loo as one would do normally. By the time I had shuffled to the end of the bed and hobbled to the toilet I had left a steady stream of urine through my pyjama shorts. Mum was not impressed. I didn’t know what else I could have done… perhaps I should just sit on the loo permanently. Lesley buzzed for assistance and this time I was ordered to STAY IN BED!!

I’m not going to let this thing beat me though – what’s the point of having a new hip-joint if I can’t use it?

After Mum and Lesley departed, dinner arrived: grated carrots, battered cod, three-vegetable puree, roll and butter, and a banana. I settled for the fish before dropping off into another cat nap; must have been the ‘cat’ food.

We’re now approaching what Sandra calls the ‘magic hour’ – 3am.

Before Mum and Lesley had left, and although I had been ordered to stay in bed, I desperately needed to use the loo again [I think it must have something to do with the air-conditioning and the vast amounts of water I have been drinking]. With Lesley’s help I managed to get out of bed and almost made it to the loo before Niagara Falls decided to gush. Damn!!

The nurse was the one not impressed this time and told me in no uncertain terms to stay in bed and use the plastic bottles. I reluctantly obeyed, but mentioned that it was almost three days since I’ve been to the loo for number two’s. She told me they would administer a laxative tomorrow. That being the case I should relocate to the loo and not make any special plans.

I got a kiss and a cuddle from Mum and Lesley and then I was on my own again, and writing this log of events in between cat naps.

The place is as silent as the grave. The only noise I can hear are the cicadas outside and my pen scratching at the paper; the walking frame standing nearby teasingly, but I’m not going to take the risk. Instead I’ll recline the bed and force myself to sleep.

 

To Be Continued…

RLB – Tomewriter

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Watch Out for the Curveballs – Part Four

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

Part Four

 

It’s still Friday 21st July at 8.35am. I just spoke with Mum and Lesley to tell them what the doctor said. I was attended by three of them. They were followed by Dr Bohic who told me the procedure went very well. I guess I will definitely have to do the right hip so it can keep up with the left. Just as long as it’s Dr Bohic that performs the second operation.

Half an hour before their arrival the tea lady turned up with breakfast. I kept it simple: a bread roll with butter and jam, and a BOWL of tea. The French have no concept of a ‘cup of tea’; it’s a bowl or a glass. I settled for a bowl of milky water with a teabag floating in the middle. At least it was hot. One has to be grateful for small mercies. I enjoyed it regardless and took my daily meds that I had brought from home. At least that was one saving to the hospital’s massive expenses.

One of the doctor’s spoke good English, better than my French, so I asked him if I could get up to go to the loo, shave, and wash. He told me I would have to wait until late morning… I expect that means after lunch.

No doubt I’ll have the same nurse as yesterday afternoon. I dubbed her with the title of Ms Sourpuss as her attitude towards me was, in my opinion, quite rude and heartless. She might have been busy, but isn’t it the reason she’s a nurse: to look after her patients? Just as long as she helps me into the bathroom I’ll be content with that.

It’s hot in here this morning. The ward is on the top floor so no doubt the sun is beating down on the roof [I have the same problem in my flat]. Hopefully the air-conditioning hasn’t broken down and it’s just the meds playing havoc with my metabolism.

Mum told me that several of her and Lesley’s friends phoned to check up on how the operation went. They are nice people is all I can say.

When I had been given the admission date last month I posted it on my Facebook page. Updating it with all the tests I had to do prior to surgery. Most of my ‘Facebook friends’ have been supportive offering their good wishes, with encouraging words of their own similar experience, or of someone close to them. Obviously family members have been the most supportive of all – I would have been lost without Mum and Lesley being here for me. Even so, I am also grateful to my cousins for their good wishes, and of course the encouraging words of my wife, Sandra who despite our separation and living on the other side of the world still cares enough to phone my mum and Lesley to get the latest news on my recovery progress.

It’s 9am and I’m going to stop writing for a while – I need to pee. The last time I had such an experience was when I was about 8 years old – there’s something really degrading about having to pee into a bottle while in bed.

I’ve just checked the time. It is 10.15am. The English-speaking doctor arrived with a walking frame and a booklet [in French – thank God I can read the language] about after-op management of hip/leg. He left me to it promising to return. During his absence a nice man came and pushed my bed with me in it to go and get a couple of x-rays. No doubt to check the procedure was indeed a success! At least I didn’t have to get out of bed for them. The technicians slid the two plates under my bum. The first one was okay as I was on my back. The second however was not so pleasant. I had to roll sideways – quite a painful exercise. On my return the orderly stationed my bed closer to the window, but unfortunately not facing the sea.

*

I’VE HAD A WASH!! Yippee!! Another orderly brought me some cleaning things, a bowl of water [they like bowls, the French] and a clean gown. I asked him to rescue my toiletries from the ensuite so I was able to shave – I feel human again… Happy Days!!!

The orderly then changed the bed sheets while I was still in the bed. Not an easy task to perform, but he carried out professionally making sure I wasn’t harmed in any way. Some people have to be admired, and he was on that list.

My ‘favourite’ nurse came in to remove the cannula and drips. I asked her name: Chloe and she told me that after her shift she was off on holiday for two weeks; sad for me, but happy for her.

At least she gave me the good news that the physiotherapist was coming shortly so that I could get out of bed. Although now daunting at what to expect, it was also exciting.

 

To Be Continued…

RLB – Tomewriter

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Watch Out for the Curveballs – Part Three

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

Part Three

 

It’s Friday 21st July – 6.20am. I had a fitful night; in and out of sleep, relieving myself into that horrid bottle at least five times. At one point I had to buzz the nurse to empty it just so I could fill it again.

It was a long night.

The ice bag lost its effect somewhere around 2am. I found that I was willing myself to exercise my leg for fear of developing any DVTs [Deep Vein Thrombosis – a blood clot]. For some reason only known to French medical professionals they don’t like using compression stockings [TEDs] after surgery. When I was in recovery yesterday I asked for one to be fitted and was told they don’t use them until I got up and walked – D’oh!!

A few years ago I was diagnosed with a medical condition known as Factor V Leiden by Dr Christopher Ward who is a haematology specialist at the Royal North Shore Hospital at St Leonards, Sydney. I had first experienced a blood clot in my left leg which was approximately 12cm in July 2007. In May that year my wife, Sandra and me had traveled to Alice Springs to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. We then traveled by coach to Uluru a journey of six hours. It was a lovely holiday – but it came at a price: the blood clot was a result of my leg being immobilized for all that time, even though there were some short breaks to ‘stretch’ our legs. Anyway the ‘cure’ was to take a course of Warfarin – not a nice medication, and one which forces you to continually have regular blood tests to make sure all is okay. Five years later, I experienced another blood clot this time in my right leg, one that was 15cm long!

Nowadays, whenever I travel any distance greater than 3 hours I always put on some TEDs, and especially when I fly regardless of how long the flight is. Australian hospitals always put them on patients when they are admitted.

So coming back to the present, as obviously the French don’t follow such procedure I found myself massaging my calves below the knee as far down as I could reach, and flexing and rotating my feet just to get the circulation going.

This is certainly an experience I don’t want to repeat so I may have to put up with the pain in my right hip for a few more years.

The night nurse knocked on the door at 5.30am and emptied my bottle so I could fill it again and then played around with the drips. I asked her if I could get up this morning as I desperately needed a shower and go to the loo – not necessarily in that order. The last time I shifted my bowels was Wednesday morning, the day before surgery. Again I was surprised that not one nurse had asked me the question since surgery of this bodily function. I’m also keen to have a decent shave – I hate looking scruffy.

I’m amazed at the number of patients all recovering from orthopaedic surgery of one sort or another. Despite living in such a beautiful part of the world, there are still a lot of sick people around.

Going back to my request to get up today so that they can also change the sheets as they will no doubt be diving into the laundry basket by themselves the moment I vacate the bed. I was told I would have to wait the surgeon’s visit at around 8am. At this point in time I only have an hour and fifteen minutes to go.

Daylight has revealed itself and it looks like it’s going to be another beautiful day. I doubt I’ll be allowed to venture outside yet, this being day one after surgery – but one lives in hope.

I shall resume quill to paper after the doctor’s visit.

*

It’s 7.55am and the morning nurses have shown their lovely faces just now; and I seriously do mean lovely. Had one of them shaved me yesterday I don’t think I would have been able to control Mister Doodle!! One of them took a sample of my blood. She said if the platelets were okay I might be able to get up. I thought to myself “if you’d put TEDS on my legs that would ensure the platelets would be okay reducing the risk of developing DVTs” Instead I smiled and for once kept my mouth shut – especially as she was the one holding the needle.

Her colleague had entered the room behind her and was patiently waiting to attack my body – wishful thinking on my part; but attack it she did with a syringe full of the drug Lovenox straight into my stomach. She then changed the spent fluid drips with new ones, and left me an anti-inflammatory pill. I questioned her about the Lovenox wondering when I could revert back on to the Pradaxa – at least it is a pill, so much easier to administer and no regular blood tests necessary. She told me it was still too dangerous a drug to switch back to.

Medical practitioners – you love them but you can also hate them.

When the threat of DVTs had been finally controlled in Australia and I was taken off the Warfarin by Dr Christopher Ward. He told me it would now be safe just to take an aspirin a day to ensure the blood would remain thin. The nice thing about aspirin it is a safe drug and if you have to come off it to allow for surgery or a tooth extraction then you can do so without the need of any substitute.

Since leaving Australia early last year I have noticed how the pain in my legs had increased to a point where my walking was being impaired. I was beginning to shuffle rather than walk and it was making me extremely tired. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my new geographical location but everything to do with the reduced amount of walking I was doing. In Oz I was still working, and hence commuting. When you live out in the suburbs and work in the city there’s a fair bit of walking involved as I’m sure a lot of people would agree. In other words I was more active than now, where being retired to a small village-type town where everything is so close, the need for walking great distances has been drastically reduced.

So, as I said earlier in this saga, I got to the point of wanting to do something about the hips once and for all. So what better way to start the New Year than to deal with the offending problem? I was told by a friend, who runs a small hotel in Golfe Juan – http://www.hotel-leprovence.fr/ that she was to have one of her hips done by Dr Bohic later this year and that he had in fact successfully replaced her partner’s knee. Therefore armed with her recommendation I made an appointment to see my General Practitioner.

As usual, before I had a chance to make my request for a referral letter, he examined me. Took my weight: too heavy at 90kg, blood pressure: a bit low, heart beat: too fast at 130 beats/minute and I was at rest at the time [at rest the pulse rate should only be around 60-70 beats per minute].

He picked up the phone and called to make an urgent appointment for me with a Cardiologist.

Hang on!! I only came in here for a referral letter, said I. The hips can wait, the heart can’t, said he. That will be €25 thank you. Sod it!! Oh yes, a note to my fellow Australians do you remember when we all whined about having to pay $5 to visit our GP?

So before I knew it I was stripped to my underpants lying on the cardiologist’s examination table with electrodes all over me while he performed an ECG test. Yup! Definitely too fast AND it skips, said he. Yours would too if all you wanted was to have your hips fixed and now someone is saying you are at risk of having a major cardiac event, thought I. I had told him of my past cardiac events, of the angiogram that went horribly wrong in 1999 – but that’s another story. If you’re interested you can find it on this blog at https://tomewriter.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/pinpoints-of-light/

In this instance however this guy, Dr Houssem MASMOUDI told me something too technical for me to comprehend and then proceeded to conduct a full ultrasound at which he confirmed that my valves weren’t coordinating properly. In other words they weren’t closing when they should because instead of having two electrodes in my heart to coordinate the valves I apparently have a few extra ones sending out confusing signals. Nothing is ever straight forward with me is it? I can’t wait for the future when we all evolve into bodiless beings. He said the best solution was for a surgeon to stick a laser through a catheter in my groin and cauterize the offending electrodes. Sounds too much like an angiogram to me – “No thanks” said I, the last one almost killed me. I’ll wait and let nature take its course.

Having re-dressed I sat in the chair opposite him in his office while he wrote out a couple of prescriptions for medication I would need to buy and start using without delay. They certainly like to put the fear of God into you these people!! That will be €160.42 thank you. WTF!!!

I left his office stunned in more ways than one and went across the road to the pharmacy to purchase the necessary drugs. €130 Thank you… no wonder people are having heart attacks at these prices – I really must sort out my medical insurance a.s.a.p.

And so began treatment for my heart. Aspirin was immediately stopped and the Pradaxa and Amiodarone started; the former twice a day and the latter once a day. I then went around the corner to my insurance broker and took out a policy for health cover with AXA. The premium was/is €59,57 per month, and worth every cent of it [no I haven’t got it wrong, unlike any other normal country that puts a dot after the dollars or pounds followed by the cents, in France they use a comma after the Euro followed by the cents – don’t ask me why, it’s just the way they do things here – they also use it in percentages].

The only snag with Pradaxa however is [once I began to read about it] that once you’re on it you can NEVER come off it completely as there is no antidote for it. What you have to do is apply a similar drug which has an antidote capability such as Lovenox. I used to have to self-administer them in Australia after surgery, but I can’t remember the name of the drug. All I do remember is that it leaves some nasty bruising, and it was the same this time around.

My GP was still refusing to give me the referral letter unless I got approval from the cardiologist. This done I got the letter and here we are…

Okay, coming back to the present – I hope I’m not confusing you too much with my time-hopping, but it’s the only way I can explain to you why some things are happening to me right now.

So, no Pradaxa then… I didn’t get any of my other daily meds either. I expect they’ll bring them later with breakfast [if it appears] – I could murder a cup of tea, but I’d be pushing my luck if I asked.

The Lovenox went in without a pinch – it’s good when you know what you are doing. Unlike my own attempts on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning; the injection has to be administered twice a day, but on Wednesday I thought bugger it; if they want it administered in the evening they can do it. They did.

Hello! As I’m writing this I’m suddenly becoming light-headed. Perhaps it’s the stuff in the drip she’s just administered. I’m going to stop writing for a while.

 

To Be Continued…

RLB – Tomewriter

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Watch Out for the Curveballs – Part Two

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

 

Part Two

 

The morning of Thursday 20th July began at 5am when a nurse brought in an armchair on wheels. She was closely followed by a colleague who wanted to shave my lower left side below the waist and above the knee. I was asked to remove my pyjama bottoms and I hoped Mister Doodle would behave himself. I needn’t have worried as the nurse kept the entire time sniffing back her own snot – it was most off-putting, perhaps it was a special strategy she adopted over time with male patients. When my skin was left as smooth as a baby’s backside I was rushed off to have the prescribed shower.

I don’t know your morning routine, but for me I always want to go to the loo, shave and then shower. With the first two denied to me I was a very unhappy bunny.

I returned to the room to find it had been cleaned and tidied making me reluctant to hop back into bed. Instead I chose to sit into the comfy wheelchair that had been brought in earlier and began to do some crosswords. I had hardly settled down when the room was suddenly filled with staff shooing me back into bed. I was given my normal daily medications and three sedatives to ‘calm me down’. Surprisingly I was calm, but just to make the nurse happy I agreed to take one [with insight I should have taken all three… I’ll know for next time].

It couldn’t have been more than five minutes when an orderly came in and wheeled the bed with me in it to the surgical ‘recovery’ area.

The day had started really efficiently and I was impressed at how smoothly things were being carried out in pre-op. My details checked off, cannula inserted, electrodes applied to my chest, and oxygen stuck up my nose. When all done I was whisked off again this time to theatre, where a couple of assistants chatted to me with benign topics while they very subtly administered the anaesthetic. Out of nowhere came a fierce burning sensation in my left shoulder and the last thing I remember of that experience was that it was quickly followed by someone trying to strangle me [this is why I should have taken the three sedatives – the nurse knew better than me what was about to happen].

When I opened my eyes again I was back in recovery. A glance at the wall clock revealed it was 11.30am. So all was over and done within four hours – very impressive.

As I begin to write this summary of the day’s events it is now 8.45pm. Since returning to my room at around midday I have hardly seen any staff. An orderly brought me a delightful plastic bottle in the event of dire need and a bag of ice placed against my very sore hip. He has replaced the ice bag twice, the last time at around 7pm. No doubt as the night staff come on around that time it is possibly the reason I haven’t seen him since then. Despite it being two hours later no one has checked in on me, and I’m wondering if everyone has left and forgotten I’m in this room with the door closed?

Earlier at around 2pm, Mum and Lesley visited and then they phoned at 6pm to check on me. The phone that had been given to me was the ward’s own phone so I buzzed the nurse. They certainly would need it more than me. The buzzer was switched off from the nursing station but no one showed up. After the immense show of efficiency this morning, the evening proved somewhat lacking!!

I started to get concerned when I noticed my blood was rapidly creeping up the cannula tube – I don’t think it’s supposed to do that. Also at the same time dinner had been brought in but I wanted to clean my hands before I touched it. I asked the orderly for some of the antiseptic liquid from the container on the wall, but she was either far too busy dishing out meals to hear my request or just ignored it. No other option I buzzed for the nurse who promptly stepped into the room, switched the buzzer off, and before I could say anything she disappeared promising to return soon.

Of course she never did, so I buzzed again as dinner was getting cold and the blood had almost reached the control tap half way up my arm. Hallelujah!! She showed up with the remark “I’m busy!!” She injected something into the cannula which forced the blood back to where it should be – inside my body and gave me a squirt of hand cleaner. I caught her long enough to pull the bedside table forward so I could access my tissues and watch – reflex action: I’ve just glanced at it. It’s 9.20pm and it’s beginning to get dark outside.

The staff is beginning to resemble the crew of long distance airline flights when they hurry you along with a meal, switch off the lights, and then disappear to the galley hoping not to be disturbed by annoying passengers [who have paid a bloody fortune for the trip and to give them a job/career] for the remaining 13 hours or so until touch down.

I’ve just noticed that the window blind is all the way up, where yesterday it was half way down. Fortunately there are hardly any street lights to disturb me too much; besides I like a bit of light at night.

Still no sign of any nurse to make sure I’m alright and tuck me in – you’d get more attention at a funeral home!

Sure I’ve got the buzzer, but what’s the point if they ignore it? Fortunately I don’t need anyone at the moment. My biggest concern is how I’m going to sleep. I usually rest on my sides. Tonight however I have no choice but to lie on my back because of all the tubes sticking into me. Also, and more importantly, I haven’t brushed my teeth since this morning, and as I have been told NOT to get out of bed, I’ll just have to put up with a furry mouth – Yuk!

As I have been in and out of sleep all day, probably due to the medication being administered, I don’t feel very sleepy now which is why I’m writing this diary of events so far now. I’ll carry on with some crosswords for a while and hope sleep takes me.

 

To Be Continued…

RLB – Tomewriter

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Watch Out for the Curveballs – Part One

Watch Out for the Curveballs

 

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017

Author, Robert L J Borg’s 4 week experience with the French Medical System including his personal thoughts and ramblings during that time

[May offend some people; not for the faint-hearted or weak stomached – if this is you please don’t read]

Part One

 

A friend asked why I chose such a title as not many people would understand the term used in North American game of baseball. Quite frankly as both he and I knew the meaning despite not being fans of the sport, it is quite likely that others will know that it means something that comes at you unexpectedly. For some unknown reason the reference to it made sense for the four-week experience I encountered between 19th July and 18th August 2017 with the French medical system.

To some background for you first; I was diagnosed with osteoporosis many years ago. As a result my hip joints have been eaten away slowly to the point where after putting up with the pain for almost 17 years I said enough was enough.

Secondly, and probably more important so you don’t get confused, I am actually typing this 5-6 weeks after the op and one week after I got back home. The original was hand written and the notes were being put to paper after the event, in some cases, because I kept on dropping off to sleep, the writing is erratic.

The journey for the hip replacement began on 2nd June with my visit to the Hospital de la Fontone in Antibes located on the Cote d’Azur in southern France to see the Doctor Jean-Yves BOHIC who is the head of Orthopaedic Surgery. I had taken some x-rays dating the previous month for him to look at. As soon as he glimpsed them he turned to me and said “when do you want to come in?” I expected to go onto a list like one does in the UK or Australia and wait, but this is France and surgery is when there is a slot available in the surgeon’s busy schedule.

I asked him which hip should be done first. His answer stunned me. He said: “You choose, they’re both as bad as each other.”

Blimey!! Well since it was the left hip that had begun the pains sometime in 1999 I chose that one. I had hoped they could have done both at once, but for reasons of safety during my recovery process they only do one at a time. It makes sense, but no sooner that I had committed myself in having the left hip done, the right one was screaming at me.

Dr Bohic led me back out to his secretary, Michelle who checked his diary and booked me in for surgery on 20th July at 8.30am. And just like that I was off on a journey of uncertainty.

I was told I would need to come in the day before surgery, but several tests would need to be carried out first at my expense. Thanks to the French equivalent to Medicare, the l’Assurance Maladie which has a reciprocal agreement with the National Health Service in Britain, I was covered. Although becoming an Australian citizen in July 1991, I have always, since birth, been a British subject and hold dual nationality.  Having completed my first 17 years of my working life in the UK it meant that when I attained retirement age I qualified for l’Assurance Maladie. To pick up any gaps I have also taken out a health insurance policy [known as l’Assurance Mutuelle] with the French insurer AXA. Unlike Australia where you will always be out-of-pocket for something, in France you never will be unless it is so small it hardly matters.

There were four things I had to do:

  • Get a detailed scan of my left hip.
  • Obtain clearance certificates from a cardiologist and a dentist.
  • Answer a heap of questions regarding my medical history, before visiting the anaesthetist who would knock me out.

Having gone through all the motions required I fronted up at the hospital with my mum and sister, Lesley for moral support, as instructed at 4pm on Wednesday 19th July and were ushered into a single room, number 2312 which was to be my home for the next five days. The view is pleasant and reminds me of the junction of Lane Cove Road and Lady Game Drive in West Lindfield, Sydney be it on a much smaller scale. Unlike the Australian location when I look to my left there’s no Bush, however the skyline is dominated by the Fort Carré d’Antibes, which is a 16th-century star-shaped fort of four arrow-head shaped bastions, that stands on the outskirts of Antibes, and beyond which is the vast expanse of the Mediterranean Sea.

I was checked in by two delightful nurses who took my blood pressure, blood sample, checked off my list of the numerous medications I have to take daily, and then left me a small container to fill a.s.a.p. No need to ask with what!!

When Mum and Lesley left one of the nurses told me that before going to bed I would need to shower with a special antiseptic liquid from head to toe. The process to be repeated after being shaved [not my face] the following morning.

I was given a light meal of something fishy, broccoli, a small bread roll with cheese and an apple. That would be it until lunchtime the following day.

By 10pm the pain in both my hips was so bad I requested pain killers.

To Be Continued…

RLB – Tomewriter

 

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Louise Roberts is not a happy bunny

I started this blog with WordPress back in 2012 to show case my writings and those of my mum’s, Viviane Elisabeth Borg who is also a published author. I was so impressed with the ease I could negotiate through it that I set up another blog for my pen name: Louise Roberts.

Up until now there has never been any problems logging in. WordPress gives you a choice to login either using your username or email address. In fact even now when you go into log in it still shows you that option.

I had no problems with this at the beginning of last month when I uploaded the cover of Louise’s new e-book “Dragoon Serenade” which is scheduled for release on October, 26 2017.

Yesterday I needed to make an amendment to one of her blogs and I found myself Locked Out. Despite always using the email address to log in, suddenly WordPress has decided to remove this option without any warning it was going to happen.

Frankly I find this sort of behavior totally unprofessional, and I am holding my breath should all of a sudden I’ll be locked out of this blog site also.

Perhaps it is a sign for Louise Roberts to cease to exist – which is shame really because we had at least 4 more books planned for her Romance in War Series. Book 3 – “Balor’s Landing” is her current Work-In-Progress, currently on hold while we do the 1st round of edits for “Dragoon Serenade”.

The sad thing is that Louise Roberts has in access of 100 followers [more than me] who are going to wonder where she’s gone.

I have tried to contact WordPress without success – there is nowhere on their site for help except for those stupid Q & A’s that are never relevant. You can reset a password without difficulty, but to locate or change your user name is impossible unless you are in your site – but how can you do that when you can’t get into the blasted thing!!

Not a Happy Bunny either :o(

RLB – Tomewriter

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“Dragoon Serenade” to be published

I am absolutely thrilled that Luminosity Publishing has accepted my novella written under my pen name, Louise Roberts, and have offered me a 3 year publishing contract which, of course, I have accepted.

Originally the “Romance in War” series was intended to be written as ‘sweet’ romances, where sex scenes happen behind closed doors and everything is left to the readers’ imagination. However, time has shown that readers’ appetites to sex have changed and ‘sweet’ is no longer a viable option. In a way it is a shame to be obliged to write romances that include graphic sex scenes just to be able to sell the book. It makes me wonder where our society is heading…

I hadn’t approached Luminosity Publishing when I had first set out to ‘sell’ the book as it was in the ‘sweet’ category, and Luminosity has, since publishing book 1 – “Letter from a Stranger” in this series in June 2015, withdrawn ‘sweet’ romances from its portfolio.

“Dragoon Serenade” was completed in 2016 and I was obliged to seek other publishers who still claimed to publish such a genre. Unfortunately however for one reason or another I was constantly receiving rejections for this book.

The most recent rejection gave the following reason:

While we found the history of your story fascinating, and your characterization strongly drawn, unfortunately we didn’t feel that Dragoon Serenade would work for us at this time. The story is very interesting, but is a historical story with a romantic subplot, and we are, first and foremost, a romance publisher.

We are actively looking for historical stories, but they need to be primarily romances, and Dragoon Serenade, unfortunately, doesn’t fit that bill.

Frankly I was left dumbfounded as in my opinion the story clearly showed the romantic elements between heroine and hero working side by side with the historical content of the story. My worry was that if I changed the story too much to satisfy the publisher’s issues I would dilute the entire plot.

I was also told by another editor that the Prologue was confusing and the story might work better if I took it out.

With such negative reviews I was determined to make the necessary changes for the betterment of the story. So on reviewing the Prologue I tended to agree with the editor’s concerns, but rather than remove it I replaced it with an entirely different start. The changes were such that I subsequently was obliged to go through the entire manuscript to ensure the continuity of the story reflected the revised beginning.

With regard to SEX, I have since increased the heat level and added a few extra graphic sex scenes just to whet the readers’ appetites. Although in my defense, I would say that I have kept the scenes tasteful as anything else would be out of character of my heroine and hero.

“Dragoon Serenade” is set during World War Two and is centered around the towns Cannes, Golfe Juan [where I currently reside today], Biot, Vallauris, and Agay which are located in the department of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in southern France.

My heroine, code name ‘Simone’, is an agent of the British Special Operations Executive [SOE]. The SOE were highly trained and were specifically used for espionage, sabotage, assassinations, and reconnaissance. Although Resistance fighters had been formed when these people’s countries capitulated to the German forces, it was the SOE who coordinated them into organized fighter networks, ensuring they were supplied with military stores. This was particularly the case in France during the lead up to the invasions of Normandy and the Cote d’Azur.  The latter was code-named “Operation Dragoon”.

The hero in the story is code-named ‘Hibou’ the French word for ‘owl’.  Simone had previously known him from the time she had spent in northern France several months before the D-Day landings. At the time the two had been romantically involved. Now as Simone is being transported by submarine to Golfe Juan she hopes to be able to reignite their love.

I have done what I can to show the strong bond between Simone and Hibou but not at the expense of the action which occurs throughout the story. And I have tried to emphasize their romantic relationship in all its aspects. From tenderness to strong sexual prowess; desire, kindness and love, but inevitably where romance is concerned there is always a hint of jealousy. Just as in real life where there’s romance there will also be tears. However as with all good romances there is ALWAYS a Happy Ever After Ending.

“Dragoon Serenade” may be a romance, but it is one set in the most difficult of circumstances. War is not pretty at the best of times, and when your main characters are operating in the shadows with the Gestapo close on their heels, the tensions run high.

Of all the stories I have written so far “Dragoon Serenade” gave me the most enjoyment, and at times even made me cry – but as a romance writer I can get quite emotional.

I prayed that I had done enough with the revisions to satisfy those who would publish my story, and I could only hope that they would appreciate the efforts made that aim to keep the romance and action elements working alongside each other and not at the expense of losing the story’s personality.

It was therefore a shot in the arm when Luminosity Publishing offered me a contract to publish the story.

The comments I received along with their offer has shown me that the revisions I had made were obviously the best thing I had done:

I loved the plot in this story.

It held my interest, and I read the whole book in one session.

The writing is very good.

I am sure readers will love it as much as me.

Luminosity Publishing have set a projected a release date of October 2017 for the e-book.

They will combine Books 1 and 2 into a paperback version to be released hopefully by November 2017.

Also, as Dawné Dominique has created such fantastic covers for “The Sword and the Rose” series and also the cover for my crime novel “Out of the Darkness”, Luminosity has agreed for me to approach Dusktildawn Designs to create a cover for “Dragoon Serenade”.

RLB – Tomewriter

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