Opium eater. Friday 23rd March.

I’m on the plane now, back from Nice to John Lennon Airport. There are babies crying to the left and to the right of me. After writing my diary yesterday my room was host, one by one, to all the people who’d been looking after me all week, to complete their final tasks. 3 more vials of blood went at 6.30, then Dr Michaut came in with a file for me with my reports and a prescription. The bar coded labels for the implants were pointed out, and then he talked me through the prescription as best he could. You can’t give thanks enough for such a profound gift as a working body, so I just smiled like a puppy at him.

Once he’d gone I got my phone and tried to translate it all. I needed Louise to interpret the blood results for me, so I made a start on researching the drugs. The one he told me to use only when nothing else works on the pain turned out to be a kind of happy drug that, amongst other things, keeps the serotonin and dopamine flowing. It comes in ampoules to break onto sugar and eat. That sounds like the kind of routine that could take on more significance than it should! The other pain killers were paracetamol and opium powder. I felt something akin to Alice in Wonderland, and began to understand why I might be seeing albatrosses. Coleridge, eat your heart out!

After pondering all that, I thought it was time to get washed, dressed and packed. I’d just finished when the nurses came in for obs and handed me the next piece of the jigsaw – my x-rays. These included Dr Michaut’s working copy with annotations and a sketch of the planned positions for the implants. After them came some more nurses to change my dressings.

Then I waited with my file until Louise, then Laurent, arrived. It was hard for Laurent to extract that precious yellow file from my sweaty paws. After a number of days being ministered to so beautifully I was in a bit of a panic about how to take back responsibility for myself. “Institutionalised so soon” Louise mocked. Was I going to get my meds at 12.00? And if not, where would I start in working the whole thing out?

Laurent eventually got the file off me and went away. He came back with the meds of course, and had made sure that it was all air-travel compliant. He retained my file though, despite my attempts to steal it back!

Today he presented me with the folder, including a version of the reports and instructions in English. Complete liaison, as was promised, though liaison doesn’t begin to describe the care he provided. Once out of the hospital he took us for lunch at the beach. Fourteen degrees in Toulon feels like at least twenty degrees at home. We basked while Laurent shivered.

Toulon beaach cafe.jpg
Lunch at the beach restaurant in Toulon….don’t get that on the NHS!

I’ve been thinking that one of the reasons I’ve been rather sleepless is because of my sustained ‘high’, which comes partly from my relief and gratitude, but I can’t rule out the contribution of opium!

Yvette Portrait


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