Sunday 17th April – Bonne Santé

In last week’s blog, I said that I hoped to be able to start the next ‘major’ project this week which is to convert the old ‘Mouse House’ into our new boot and drying room.  I have achieved nothing – although this time think I have a pretty valid reason.

When I wrote last week’s blog I was already feeling a little under the weather, and had been since waking up on Saturday with ear ache and a swollen left tonsil.  Having Googled my symptoms we diagnosed a mild case of tonsilitis that NHS online said would cure itself within a week so a quiet weekend, a few days rest and some soluble aspirin we thought would assist recovery and all would be well.

Monday was no better, as the expected slow recovery wasn’t materialising at all and after a second feverish night in increasing discomfort having lost the ability to swallow completely and talk without considerable pain, we decided on Tuesday morning that perhaps it may be the time to get myself registered with a doctor in Sizun and see if they could do anything.

So began my first experience of the French health system which I have to say has been excellent.

Sizun has 2 doctor’s surgeries, each with a single GP.  Following advice, Dave chose one to register with last year in the process of getting his carte professionnelle (I think mostly based on one having a computer in the office and the other not) but both have a system where 4 mornings a week you can just turn up, wait in line and be seen in turn.  Easy.

We went to the technological doctor just after 9.30 am and saw the doc shortly after 10.  With Dave acting as my voice she looked in my mouth, admitted that she couldn’t be certain what the issue is was but that she thought I needed to see an ENT specialist urgently.  While in her office, she called the local ENT surgeon and booked an appointment for me that afternoon before writing a prescription for a pharmacy-worth of painkillers.

We visited the ENT surgeon at just after 14.30 who looked in my mouth and diagnosed an enormous abscess.  He was concerned that it was at risk of growing and spreading to my throat and lung so wanted to operate the next day but couldn’t as his schedule was full.  So, while in his office, he phoned the ENT department of Brest hospital and told them to expect me and sent us off to Brest.

When we arrived at the hospital in Brest they were waiting for me and, within 15 minutes of getting there I was in a surgery with a doctor lancing the abscess in my throat and draining the revolting fluid from it (which was the most painful experience I have EVER experienced in my life!)

Within 30 minutes nearly all the pain had gone and the swelling was starting to reduce to the point that I could start to speak again.  Unfortunately they weren’t sure if I would need an additional operation the following morning so the admitted me into the hospital with an IV antibiotic and fluid as I hadn’t been able to eat anything solid for the past 36 hours and hadn’t drunk very much either.

From first contact with doctor to procedure done via a specialist appointment all within 6 hours.  Very impressive.

Sadly the 1 night in hospital became 2 nights as they wanted to continue the IV antibiotics but thankfully no other operation was required and I was discharged on Thursday (with another prescription for a second pharmacy worth of painkillers and antibiotics this time!  Our bathroom cabinet looks like Boots!)

While I would rather not have experienced the abscess at all, and wouldn’t want to spend another night in hospital (the first of my life) I was so impressed with the system it was very reassuring.  It also made it very clear what good friends we have found in our time here.

Going unexpectedly from a doctor’s appointment to hospital as we did could have been a problem for Garratt had it not been for the kindness of our neighbours, Jackie and Bryan who looked after him for a couple of days – he loved playing with their dogs.  Dave also would have been all alone in the house for the first time Tuesday evening but was invited to Au Lac by our friends Mercedes and Jean-Pascal for a couple of drinks and to keep him company, and we were both invited again on Thursday night for a ‘welcome home’ dinner. I also received many messages of concern and support from friends as news spread through our small community.  Thank you to them all.

Most importantly, thanks to David who looked after me and nursed me before I decided to go to the doctor.  I am never a great patient and don’t do pain well but equally I don’t like to visit the doctor unless I know there is an issue and take the ‘it’ll sort itself out’ view most of the time. Dave tolerated it all with a smile.

Having been discharged, Thursday was a quiet recuperative day; Friday, Dave and I cleaned the Granary after the departure of the 2 young families in preparation for the arrival of Dave’s parents yesterday and David prepared Stable for his uncle who we welcome to Kergudon for the first time.

Next week I should be able to start the boot room conversion!!