Yes, there are probably less positive ways of looking at the last week, but what's the point of that?
Sorry, a bit delayed, but I didn't feel up to typing something this long on the phone.
So, what happened? Well to start with, we and another couple (not naming without permission) booked a holiday in France. Down to Avignon by Eurostar, pick up a hire car, then have a week self-catering in Arles
followed by a week self-catering in Marsellian
The trip down, and the first week, was great. Seeing ancient French towns, Roman remains, riding horses in the Carmargue, the Bull Thing at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
, acquiring a new Bear, good food, lazing under the honeysuckle in our private garden - all just as I'd looked forward to.
The house we'd rented in Arles had a very French personality, where that means, as it does with cars, that it doesn't work in various ways that are charming/forgivable. For instance, we were sleeping on the second floor, our loo was in the basement, and the stairs between the two were stone, uncarpeted, with light switches positioned such that you can only switch on lights to illuminate the bit of stair you've already negotiated, and unspoilt by such intrusions as handrails. Early Saturday morning, I went down (and having found my slippers, decided to wear them for once). I came back up to about three steps past the ground floor and kitchen, then decided to get a glass of water while I was at it. I turned round. This was a mistake.
Foot 1 tried to stand on a bit of step that wasn't there, foot 2 slid (smooth slippers, smooth stone), and the handrail I grabbed wasn't there either. I slid sideways and downwards, with accompanying "I'm not looking forward to landing" screaming, and landed. My predictions had been right. Left leg was out in front of me and wouldn't respond, right leg was under me and hurt quite a lot. Others arrived, lights came on. A look at the left leg revealed a foot that was at 90 degrees to where it should have been, with a bulge under the skin that probably indicated the end of a bone. No visible punctures. Shifting the chair I'd landed against and lifting me enough to extract the right leg made things much less painful and scary - bruises only, that side.
"That's either dislocated or broken. Phone for an ambulance." Oddly enough, I wasn't panicking any more, just wondering which it was. It didn't hurt enough to match what I'd heard about broken bones, which should have involved involuntary screaming. This wasn't even involuntary whimpering. The rest found phones, ice packs from the freezer, and cushions. The back of my mind was thinking "so this is what a broken leg feels like, how interesting. I probably ought to be in shock, shouldn't I?" But the front was perfectly capable of suggesting other frozen items that might work on the ankle, acting as an interpreter for the French phone conversation, telling them where the dictionary was and finding a pen. It also managed an fairly polite "ouch - please don't do that" when excessive pressure was applied via a freeze-block to the probable end of bone. In response, the back of the brain was going, "hmm, so if I can stay this rational, having a hero in a story talking coherently with a freshly broken leg won't be a problem at all."
The way the French emergency services operate is really interesting. Dave had been swapped in very rapid succession from an operator who spoke no English to one who spoke some to one who was more or less fluent. The vehicle had been dispatched by operator 2, and they didn't even confirm the detailed address until operator 3, they were working purely on the location given by the phone. What turned up wasn't an ambulance, it was "les pompiers". I'd always been taught to translate that as "firemen", but it looks like this underestimates them. What we got was a first-response and incident-control team. They assessed, took details, and phoned for what was needed next, keeping us informed as they did so. When the ambulance arrived, it contained a doctor, a pharmacist/anaesthetist, and an orthopaedic nurse. Doctor found a vein (after a bit of a struggle - yes, I was in shock) and put me on a drip. An oxygen mask was applied. An injection went in via the IV, and from my perspective it took about 5 seconds to go through tunnel vision, roaring in the ears, darkness, and Not There.( Icky bits under here )( Comparative hospital experiences )
Anyway, that was all the "this is an emergency, it happens automatically and free of charge". That's the result of the E111, reciprocal agreements between EU countries, and general civilisation. Other things require travel insurance, and this is where I want all readers to read and learn. Travel insurance is IMPORTANT. Really, really, important. Do not skimp on travel insurance.( Travel insurance. I mean it. Important. )( Transport by plane, with a cast )
And that gets us up to me arriving back in the UK, and the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, and is now more than long enough for one post.