A broken ankle and fantastic care in French Health System

ankleA miserable dark Monday evening around 9pm, pouring with rain so I decided to walk a neighbour back home who had been visiting us. In just a fraction of a moment I was on the deck – I had walked too near the edge of the tarmac and slipped on the mud and fell! YES I was sober, just a two small glasses of wine with dinner – humph a question asked by my friends and family.

Realising I couldn’t get up, I asked her to fetch my other half and he arrived with the wheelbarrow and somehow managing to get me into it and home when it became clear I had broken my leg/ankle. Would have been quite a sight watching me being wheeled back, but fortunately nobody saw me in the pitch black.

Two Ambulance men arrived after a little time and laughed when the saw me in the wheelbarrow in the middle of the sitting room and said it was an very original way of getting me back indoors. They were very sympathetic and very gentle in moving me.

Arriving at the hospital around 11pm the URGENCE Dept nurses were absolutely fantastic. Their biggest problem was getting a drip set up for saline and pain medication . Eventually successful, I was made comfortable and got ready for transfer to a ward. One young passing doctor took one look and said “vous avez cassé votre jambe”(you have broken your leg) and walked off laughing saying “pas marcher pour vous pendant trois mois” (no walking for three months – Kind
humorous sole!!!

They finally got me into bed in a single room with a splint on my leg……and made me as comfortable as possible. Operation was to be later next day so had visits from the Surgeon and Anaesthetist for a medical history. Taken to theatre around 5pm for an operation which lasted around 2 and a half hours I was put back to bed that evening, now pinned and plated, having fractured the fib and tib at the ankle, nurses continued to constantly check on me. Care was superb!
My only complaint was the indignity of having a bed pan pushed under me until the last day when I became free of the drip and was allowed to hop to the loo with the zimmer.

Breakfast on the first morning after surgery and although I had little interest in eating, I agreed to a cup of tea. This was offered in a large bowl with a large spoon, this somewhat amused me . I now realise that this is what my Breton neighbour refers to as her soup, coffee with milk in her case and is the traditional way of serving it here for breakfast.

The day before I was discharged I had a visit, from what I would think, was our equivalent to a social worker to make sure I had a nurse visit for my daily injections and to ensure I would cope at home. Doctor visited and said yes he was happy I could go home, emphasising “Le pied ne doit pas toucher le terre pour trois mois” (the foot must not touch the ground for three months) and happy that l didn’t have stairs to mount in the house, he would order prescriptions for a wheelchair and zimmer along with daily heparin injections for the next three months and painkillers……that was ok, no problem there. I didn’t need telling twice and telephoned home and told the OH I was being discharged. Oh, and I was to stay with my leg raised for the next three weeks except when I had
to go to the loo or to bed as my leg and toes doubled in size in minutes.

His lordship duly arrived and we waited for the nurses to present me with the paperwork etc. Was a bit dismayed when given sheets of paper for everything, the penny dropped I didn’t have any means of getting into the house from the car !!! They were surprised I refused a hospital taxi and I wondered why….seems they had the kit to get me home and into the house. I was told we had to collect the wheelchair and zimmer from a pharmacy near where we lived. I was allowed to use a hospital chair to get to the car. So off we went to the pharmacy. I was never so glad to see the chair loaded into the car, at least I could now get into the house. Well the wheel chair was huge and very heavy so it was quite a trial, along a gravel path from the parking area, OH had to drag the chair backwards so the large wheels didn’t bed into the gravel to prevent us being stuck, I am not a tiny person either!!!

I was shattered for the first two or three days, anaesthetic had left me with quite a cough, even although I am a non smoker and I also ended with cystitis because I didn’t drink sufficiently whilst in hospital, I missed a decent cup of tea. No appetite and still very tired through lack of sleep.

I made a conscious effort to drink as much water as possible, pouring gallons of fluid down myself to resolve the matter which seemed to work. The big problem is having to go wee when you feel so washed out. I seemed to expend a lot of effort to get into the wheelchair then use the zimmer to get down the one step in the bathroom and using a stool to sit on and turn myself in the opposite direction to get out again as I cant hop that high!!! It made me aware how awful it was for those having just one leg. I knew I was going to hate it- so frustrating being dependent. I felt sorry for my partner as he had everything to do…….we normally shared a lot of chores, which made life easier. He has been brilliant. Anyway I won’t complain it could be worse……..I will get better…eventually!!!! lolololololol

A few days later we decided to buy a smaller wheelchair for ease of getting around the furniture and an additional zimmer to enable access into the bedroom, which has another small step into it, and this was managed by taking the wheelchair to it and hopping with the second zimmer to get to the bed. .

Nurse is in every morning around 7.30 to give me heparin injections, with blood tests every Wednesday. The routine has become established but I will admit I am looking forward to not having to get up every day before 7am!

All going ok and had my first visit to the hospital 4 weeks later for an x-ray and to see the surgeon. In the interim I had a little fall, I am not the most coordinated of people and I was terrified I had done damage to the skilled work of my surgeon!! I said nothing but packed a few pairs of pants and a handful of teabags in my bag and duly went for my x-ray with a heavy heart fearing I would not be returning home. I was given the x-ray ( had a sneaky peak and it looked ok, much to my relief ) then told to go to outpatients. Unfortunately the surgeon was tied up in theatre and left a message to say he would contact me regarding the x-rays if there were any problems, I waited with baited breath to hear from him over the next 24 hours but heard nothing……….I was ok thankfully.

Nurse noticed my birthday was coming up…. on my blood test paperwork ……and I said yes…..but that I wouldn’t be able to go dancing this year!!! She was so sympathetic until I said I didn’t normally go dancing anyway and she burst out laughing and understood my humour, not easy but my French is coming on and I can make myself understood although my grammar is terrible, in fact nonexistent.

I continued with my routine feeling better each week and starting help with little jobs around the house that I could do seated. Next appointment was arranged another four weeks on, so another x-ray and visit to the surgeon. I was going to beg for the plaster to be removed for my own comfort as the weight was a nuisance at night, as every time I turned over it woke me frequently through the night. For the last visit, I had my appointment for 1.15pm at x-ray then to see the Doc 1.45pm……..well the service was excellent. I arrived half an hour early for my x-ray but was taken immediately and then went to the clinic where the Surgeon saw me and waved me in straight away. Checked the x-ray and told the nurse to remove the plaster……….I didn’t have to ask! The same words “pas toucher le terre” (Don’t touch the ground) for another month. This was actually on my birthday and a huge weight off my leg, the best present ever!! I was out of the hospital smiling happily and plaster free before my actual x-ray appointment time.

All going well, quite the acrobat in manoeuvring myself fairly easily now and only two weeks to go before the next visit to the hospital when I HOPE I will be told I can start physio and weight bearing. The care has been excellent in the French Health Service – it all works.

Now I am the bionic woman!!!! ….smile

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  1. That is amazing care, imagine having that level of support in the “best healthcare service in the world”
    Quote, unquote. I never needed Hospital care in France, but my OH did and he was treated almost like Royalty in his single room. It could have been because his French was almost non-existent at the time
    and he could hear the nurses arguing outside the door, deciding whose turn it was to go in each time! Glad to hear you’re almost there and Happy Birthday. :good:

  2. Thank you, yes the care is equal to private care in UK……1 week to go and maybe I can start physio!! :yahoo:

    My OH had to visit a Cardiac Specialist, it was arranged by the Doctor with us present and the appointment was just a couple of days afterwards. No six month waits!

  3. I rpped my left elbow off in a truck crash 2 years ago , 15 fractures in my lower arm cubitus ripped off etc , the 2 surgeons rebuilt my arm and now 5 operations later my arm is fine ! it will never be perfectly straight and I can’t scratch my left ear but it works fine !! in the UK they would have amputated it … I can only praise the quality of health care here . It was in Pontivy that they fixed me !

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