So yesterday, the day was jogging along as usual. I was in the kitchen chopping spring onions for a salad when Chewy appeared at the door muttering something about emergency, and giving him a clean cloth. He was perfectly calm, if a little tense so I gave him the roll of kitchen paper to mop up the blood dripping down his arm and went back to slicing my cucumber. After a few minutes he was still pacing up and down outside holding his left hand in the air, so I went to take a look. From a distance, his left thumb appeared to be somewhat shorter than I remembered it, and a bit, kind of, well, mashed. I’m not very good with exposed raw flesh, so my head started to spin, my stomach started to turn, I had to sit down and suggested he do the same.
Instead, he suggested we take a ride to the hospital. So we did. It was only when we got there and saw a doctor that I realised he wasn’t joking about having the end of his thumb in his pocket. I had to sit down again. Unfortunately our local A&E can’t deal with hand injuries and doctor #1 reckoned he’d need specialist hand surgery. We had to go to see the surgeon in Cannes. Neither of us know Cannes very well, and the nurse’s directions of ‘go down the Rue de la République (what?), turn left (where?) and it’s up a slight hill’ didn’t really help. By some miracle we found the place and began a five hour wait for surgery.
The afternoon wasn’t totally without interest. I got to see the inside of a private French hospital. The emergency room we were in was on a corridor otherwise taken up by private bedrooms. Frankly, I was disappointed. Although it was a lot like a three star hotel, I somehow expected better. After a while the dinner lady came round and dished out plates of plain old bread and ham – the foie gras and salmon were nowhere to be seen. Nor did they appear to have any towels. Chewy had to dry himself on a duvet cover. The other patients were interesting. For most of the afternoon we were on our own, but there was a sudden rush of emergencies around 4pm. Funny, but they were all men. Do all men spent their Bank Holidays engaged in hand-threatening activities? Why don’t they just go to work instead? There was another rush around 5pm, this time of females. All these ladies looked strangely similar; youngish and somewhat plump. They could all have been sisters. They all carried overnight bags and all headed off to their individual 3 star rooms. All of them looked very happy and none of them appeared to have any injuries whatsoever.
By about 3pm, we’d done all the paperwork and had nothing else to do but wait. I was hungry, and this being France, there was a hospital restaurant and it was closed. I guess it’s never occurred to them that a hospital isn’t your normal dining environment and not all injuries occur outside normal mealtimes. Not to worry, there were vending machines that I recognised from 1987. The ones that are incapable of vending a coffee that doesn’t have sugar in it and offer a wide range of snacks that your doctor usually tells you to avoid. We were there for long enough for the restaurant to re-open, but I still didn’t eat. The piled-up plates of mushy brown left-overs kind of put me off.
After endless hours spent pacing the corridors, Chewy headed off for his surgery and eventually re-appeared with a cartoon-sized bandage wrapped around his thumb. The morphine hadn’t worn off, and he was keen to tell me the details of how they’d stripped a piece of skin from lower down on his thumb and… It wasn’t pretty and I had to sit down again. After a few closing formalities we were free to go, and finally made it home just before 10pm. Whew!
Today he had to go and have his thumb inspected by the surgeon. Chewy tells me it looks even worse than before. He wants to take pictures, and when I’m ready he’ll explain to me everything that they did… Meanwhile, I think I have the answer to the puzzling procession of uninjured ladies who turned up yesterday afternoon in the hand reconstruction department. It turns out that the hand surgeon also does plastic surgery 🙂