Added on Sunday 22 Aug 2004
Well, what an interesting time we have been having at rue Fenelon recently. First it was Fiona's birthday, next day our little cat became a mother producing 3 kittens and the next day I was in hospital. Let me explain that none of these events were related as far as I know, it just happened that way! First, Fiona's birthday.....this was a very calm affair with a joint present from Alain and I of some old Breton pottery, which Fiona loves, including casseroles, plates, mugs and many other dishes and pots. Using some of these I made an interesting meal of chicken in wine sauce, amongst other things, which was all very relaxed, calm and enjoyable.
Little did I know? Just before going to bed that night our cat, Fifi, started behaving strangely and, knowing that she was pregnant, I decided to take her up to bed with us. During the night she silently and calmly produced 3 kittens in the middle of the bed. When we woke early we were greeted with the gentle sounds of little squeaks and the purring of a proud mother. As our bedroom is on the top floor I decided to take them all downstairs so that Fifi would be near her food, getting a box prepared as a nest for them I put them in and started taking them down. Reaching the second floor Fifi leapt out with one of the kittens and disappeared behind the shower cabinet, returning to take the other two behind as well to this place of safety.
I had noticed that she had been eyeing up this location for several days before so this didn't surprise me. The mistake that I made is that I did not take any pics of them on the bed because, as I write this some 8 days later, they are still there under the protective cover of their mother! All are doing very well and we expect Fifi to start bringing them out when their eyes are fully open any day now. She has certainly looking around the house for an alternative, but more open, place of security. In anticipation we have made several nests for her in secure corners but I reckon that Fifi will make up her own mind! I am sure that Pat will not mind adding a picture to this article as soon as I get a chance this week.
During the following night I had a bought of cramp in my leg and left the bedroom to go down to the loo. As I got to the top step I lost my footing and proceeded, head first and at a great speed, down 5 metres of staircase, crashing into the doorjamb at the bottom. Somewhat dazed and battered, Fiona came down immediately and assisted me to our sofa bed in the living room while she nursed my bruises. Although I was extremely sore, and my shoulder was beginning to swell, we decided to call the doctor first thing in the morning. When the doctor came early on my shoulder and arm had grown several fold in size and the pain was intense and it was obvious, even to me..the perpetual optimist, that something was seriously wrong. The doctor called the Sapeur Pompiers (the first call for medical care for accidents) and they were on the scene within 45 minutes. All 8 of them and two vehicles! Having assessed the situation, the narrow stairs to go down, my high level of agony, they decided to radio for the SAMU doctor to administer some morphine before moving me (SAMU is an emergency medical unit). After another half hour the SAMU doctor arrived and immediately put a drip in me along with a healthy dose of morphine. While all this was waiting to take effect, along with now 10 people in our petite sejour!, the discussions went on as to how I was to be removed from the house. The two main options seemed to be me strapped in an inflatable stretcher and out the window (I didn?t really fancy that one) or in a special chair and manhandled down the extremely narrow and steep stairs (I didn't really fancy that one either!). However, after the drugs began to take effect the latter was chosen and with great kindness, grunting, groaning and sweating on the Pompiers part I was eventually delivered into the back of the ambulance. Noticing on the way that the street had been made to look like a major incident, 3 emergency vehicles with blue lamps flashing completely blocked the street. Suitably strapped into a sort of vacuum type stretcher to absorb any shock, a doctor and nurse at my side giving me more morphine as needed, I was gently delivered to the emergency unit in Sarlat Hospital. I cannot tell you how much I was impressed with the care, the professionalism and kindness that I received from these emergency workers. Little did I know that this was to change later???.
On arrival in hospital I was wheeched between X-RAY, EEG, surgeon, and anaesthetist all within an hour and then deposited in an intensive care room. Well drugged up by this time, I was on three drips, oxygen and even more morphine, I was told that not only had I fractured my arm in several places but that I had shattered my shoulder and needed surgery fairly immediately. The next 36 hours was all fairly hazy due to the effects of the medication but when I started to come round I was told that my surgery, which involved a lot of steel apparently, had been done by one of the top bone surgeons in this part of France. The aftercare in the hospital, sadly, was not up to the previous standard, with a rather 'couldn't care less' sort of staff, so by the Friday evening I thought that I could not stand being there over the weekend and asked if I could go home and suffer in my own environment. The surgeon agreed to this with the proviso that it was my fault if anything happened over the weekend. Although being in great pain it certainly helped my sanity. As I write this one week later (and with one hand because I am trussed up like a chicken and will be for another 3 weeks) and having been this morning to see the surgeon to get a positive progress report, despite the pain and discomfort I must stop feeling sorry for myself. I, after all, have three little kittens to look after now! Phew!
Barry Paton ? Aug 2004