Excerpts from My French Hospital Stay

Excerpts from My French Hospital Stay"I am resposing myself " "J'ai me repose" after the hysterectomy for the removal of my fibroids. I am writing an article on the topic and the funny things that happened in the the hospital as they say. As a teaser here are a few sample experiences...Entering the hospitalThey say the best way to learn a language is to throw yourself in and sink or swim. This past week I�ve had the opportunity to once again practice my French in a new environment and sink and swim. The first week in January, I checked into a private French clinic, more like a small hospital, for a hysterectomy. I was told to be there at 5 pm to check in the night before the operation. In steel chairs attached three to a set, sat ten people holding their little red numbers taken from the red plastic number holder on the wall. Above flashed a sign with the office number 1, 2, or 3 and which number they were serving. Efficiency, I thought I�m more used to seeing this at the Deli or Butcher ordering my meat than in a hospital. I quickly learned in meeting with the surgeon for the operation that this clinic was privately held by 62 doctors and specialist who focus on one and only one job. A gynecologist for example does not deliver babies, an obstetrician does. A gynecologist does not also do surgery as they would in the US but a surgeon does. My surgeon specifically only did surgery on the corps area of the body, below the breast to the meeting of the thigh and everything in between. At least I figured he had a lot of experience in my area of the body!Ten minutes later we were checked in for the six night, seven day stay (unheard of in America) in my private room with all the French TV I wanted to watch. Sitting in the waiting room with my medium size rolling suitcase. I noticed that everyone else had tiny overnight bags placed neatly on their laps or under their seats. I turned and said to Jean, �They must not have gotten the checklist on the website for people having operations and what to bring to the hospital? Where were the kleenex, the soft blanket, towel and pillow (we all know what hospital linen feels like). Where was the reading material for every mood that you were in (trashy novel, spiritual uplifting material, beautiful �Maison� magazine)? Where was the knitting in case your hands got idle? Your IPOD and DVD player , my provencal tablemat to uplift my spirits, and of course your nightgown, robe and easily slip on slippers and 6 Pack of small bottles of Evian. Afterall who wants to drink out of those thin plastic cups that squish in your hand. Where was it all? How did the French fit all of this in their tiny bags? A mystery.Speaking French under painkillersOver the next couple of days and nights I found out what painkillers would do to my French which was not in the least improved. The first two evenings a soignant would peek her head into the room and efficiently yell out something that sounded like �Suzanne (sound it out as though a person with a French accent would say my name - a short "a" sound) !� I thought to myself, �Oh, how nice, she is saying hello. A few minutes later she hustled in and laid a cup of tea in one of those thin plastic cups on my tray and said �Bonne Nuit, Good Night.� Finally after two nights did I realize that she was saying �Thizane,� the French name for herbal tea. To my drugged ears it sounded like Suzanne. This sums up my challenge in communicating in French.Douleur was another important word meaning �pain.� One nurse and I had a great dance trying to understand that I wasn�t asking for d� leau (water), but douleur (painkiller). After a couple of trys of correcting my pronunciation, I worked around it by explaining that I was feeling �mal.� Finally she said, �Oh, Douleur. Oui. �Meanwhile I am doing well and literally hanging out and relaxing. I am reading a great deal across genres and will focus on doing some of my neglected writing for our book this month. Jean and I take a short walk every day but I find that I am very tired. He has been the best of husbands and refuses for me to lift a finger for a few weeks - no beds to make, no meals to cook, no laundry to do. The village people have been great as well and offer help in anyway and continually ask after me. It is amazing how word gets around in the small village. I feel that the operation here was very well done and efficient as well as effective and the best part is amazingly it cost about 1/4 of what it would have cost in the US. I also have a nurse coming in to change the bandages... amazing.P.S. I got an infection after two weeks and continue to have a nurse come to change the bandages. Again I continue to practice my french and learn new words like "coulir" to stick and "collir" liquid that runs. (I think that is how it is spelled and I might have gotten them mixed up?)
Suzanne Saxe-Roux