Watch Out for the Curveballs
Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2017
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