Wednesday, 5 August 2015

'Bigfoot' in the Pyrénées-Oriéntales

On Monday evening I was carrying a tray of glasses outside and accidentally trod on a football that the dog had kindly left by the step for me.  My left foot collapsed under me, the tray flew into the air, and I landed on the terrace surrounded by shards of broken glass.  On first inspection things weren’t too bad – a few cuts here and there, a scrape on the top of the foot, and I managed to hobble around for the rest of the evening.  By the morning my foot was twice the size and I couldn’t put any weight on it but still assumed it was just bruised and managed to ‘skate’ around the house on a towel.  Thank goodness for tiled floors!

By 11am, having discovered that there were just two plasters and a cough sweet in the medicine cabinet I decided that I would try to get to the Pharmacy for some sort of support bandage.  Using the clutch was so painful that I drove all the way there in 1st gear rather than use it again.  I don’t know how many customers turn up wearing just one shoe and clutching an umbrella for support but the lady at the pharmacy was lovely and came rushing to the door to bring me a chair to sit on.  She took one look and said that I needed to go to ‘Urgences’ for an X-Ray as she thought it was broken.  She then lent me some crutches, helped me to the car, gave me a lecture on not driving, and asked if she should call the Pompiers to take me to hospital.  I actually burst out laughing at the idea of being driven to Perpignan in a shiny Fire Engine but she assured me that it is a normal part of their job.  I politely declined her offer and promised I’d get a friend to take me.

If ever you have an emergency, Phil is the person to ask.  As soon as I rang he dropped everything (seemed almost pleased to have an excuse not to go to the French Class with Jeanette!), turned up with a bag full of cold drinks, and off we set – and I much preferred being driven in a classic Audi convertible rather than a fire engine!

We were really impressed by the exterior of the hospital – shiny new building, manicured lawns and FREE parking, but inside it was another story; a poker-faced Receptionist, queues of people, a burly security guard and signs everywhere asking people not to attack the staff!  It reeked of smoke as there were groups of people (mainly the nurses) smoking right outside the entrance. Another ‘similarity’ to the UK health system was the fact it took 5 hours to get through the triage and X-Ray departments.  I was finally ‘signed out’ at 6.30pm by an enormous Russian doctor who spoke French with an even worse accent than me.  He said there was nothing broken but there was a bad sprain (is there any other kind?) and handed me lots of prescriptions to take to the Pharmacy.

I left the pharmacy with enough painkillers to warrant a visit by the drugs squad, a pair of purple crutches, a number to call to get a nurse to call in and inject me every day for 10 days with something to avoid blood clots, an enormous ski boot (to fit my enormous foot), and advice to wear flat shoes.  Who says the French don’t have a sense of humour!

As I always try to look on the positive side of life I will just mention that over the weekend I noticed that I had lost my little ankle bracelet  - and now that I am wearing the natty ski-boot I don’t need it!

And as a final ‘foot-note’ (sorry!) many thanks once again to Phil and Jeanette for all their help – and particularly to Phil who carried my handbag as if he wasn’t at all embarrassed!


  1. What an experience! That is why everyone, of course, avoids going to "urgences". Next time, you could maybe call the emergency doctor first, although maybe you're too far for that sort of service (I have only recently moved to the provinces). Hope it gets better soon anyway.

  2. Hi 'Aussie' - Don't think an 'emergency doctor' system exists here - first port of call always seems to be the 'Pompiers'. Let's hope there isn't a 'next time', it's still really painful!