Wednesday, 30 May 2012

And it is......

........another day!

The wonder of sleep Mind you, I think that this chap might just help the healing process in his own way too!!

The new medication seems to have made all the difference, and I am much more bright eyed and bushy tailed today. Physiotherapy is this afternoon, after "sport" 15 minutes on the exercise bike, and then the mean machines.I might even end up a bit leaner myself with all of this.

This morning the nurses took the last of my stiches out. A new nurse saw my wound, and, she, like so many others, went into raptures about how neat it is, and how it will all but disappear. Believe me, those are words a lady in my position is very happy to hear. No jaws like reminders for me!

Caro gets back to France after her holiday with Calder, however, I won't see her till tomorrow after she has picked up the Northhampton Fergusons from Geneva, and I'll be able to see for myself how much Evelyn has grown!

And now to finish the order of service for Katrin and Peter's wedding...... translate "Welcome" into a variety of languages.

Whilst I would have preferred to have been down there, and to have been of more physical help, I must do my best to banish the 3rd conditional!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A couple of days on

It may have been just as well when the network went down and I didn't have access to internet, and thus to update this blog.


Well, I was finding it difficult to keep that upper lip stiff; in fact I would even go so far to say that there was a distinct wobble to it..

The reality of my situation, weeks if not months here (even if it is the best place to be), problems sleeping (unconscious movements leading to quite a lot of pain, leading to me waking up, plus the continuing hoy flushes etc) meaning tiredness in the day, and lessening of my reserves, all combined to make it more difficult to keep smiling when not out in public.

And moods, like so many other emotions, are simply not logical. What I know and what I feel are not always n the same page. And from experience I have to accept it, live it, however try not to give in to it. And see what I can do to get over it.

When the doctor saw me today she increased my pain medication, and that is a good thing. (Note to self; it isn't for the nurses to guess, even though luckily here they did.) The other thing I am doing is using the techniques I've learned in Sophrology; relaxation, pain management and "positivisaton", all of which are helping.

Other things from today.....

Tiphaine had passed on some other slings, as she had previosly had a broken humerus, so that the one I had could be washed, and I asked which one I should use. This one caused all sorts of interest as none of the staff had seen it before. They took the reference etc, and it may well be that other patients will get it too. Pity I can't get a finder's fee :). It's certanly lighter for the summer.

Whilst the bruising has gone down, it's not yet finished, so I still have the ravioli like dressing plus compression bandage. That is quite hot to have to wear!

More massage and gentle movement with the physiotharapist this morning. And then 15 mins on the exercise bike to warm up, follosed by leg exercises (well I can't use my arms yet) and stretches.

And now it is well and truly time for bed.

And tomorrow is another day!  

Sunday, 27 May 2012


The weather isn't quite so nice this morning. Hopefully it will clear up as I really would appreciate a bit of sun on my legs, so that the blinding white that they are at the moment is mellowed somewhat, especially before the wedding..

I had a "pass" yesterday afternoon. 4 hours of freedom. It isn't possible to have an overnight "permission" the first weekend, and even after that, only one night out per week, or you lose all privileges! Seriously the cost of your stay is no longer covered by the health service. It is after all a medical facility.  Some patients have no possibility of overnighters at all. It depends on their treatment and dressings. As my dressing is changed every other day, I'll be ok for next weekend. And as tomorrow is a public holiday, I have made a request for another afternon out. Is this what a boarding school pupil feels like I wonder?

Jacques picked me up, and we headed for Decathlon,  to buy some little strappy tank tops for me. They are the easiest to get in and out of, and for the physiotherapist to be able to work on me. I was also looking for a little ball to squeeze, similar to the one I had used in physio. To my great surprise there were no suitable tops; they almost all had cross straps and/or high backs. I did find a little squeezy egg shaped thingy for my arm exercises though.

The staff in Decathlon are unfailingly nice and helpful. When we explained to one gir what and why we wanted, she went round all the shelves to try and find something suitable, and when she couldn't suggested H&M. (In fact we just went over the road to Auchun.) And the girl on the till had suffered a broken arm and used the same little jelly egg, all whilst sympathising about my replacement shoulder.

Then back to Jacques and almost home, and lots of treats including a glass of wine before heading back to the clinic.

There are substantially fewer patients at the weekend. During the week there are the day patients and those who take the chance to get home when they can. I'm not sure if the walking wounded take more advantage of this; it would certainly seem so, and it makes sense logistically. It brought home to me yet another advantage I have. I can go to the loo when I want. I was the only non wheelchairer at a table of 8, and when I had to dash off, I realised jusy how difficult it would be for the rest of them.

I was also more aware of the neurological patients. For eating some have their cutlery strapped to their hands. I gathered from one chap (the one with the pregnant partner) that he had been a victim of a skiing accident; It made me think even more just how lucky my nephew Kieran had been. And is.

The sun is trying to get its hat on, so after squeezing a little blue jelly ball a few times, I'll take the kindle and head out to the terrace for a bit of sun.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Saturday Morning

This is the view from the terrace in the morning. I can truly think of worse places to convalesce. There was a hot air balloon, but I'm not sure if the photo from my phone can pick it up.

Yesterday was an up and down sort of day, mostly up, and only down towards the evening. In the morning (my treatment time is 11:00) I had more physio, more massage which was lovely, some active exercises, not of my shoulder itself, but of the muscles in my neck and upper torso. My physiotherapst told me that one of her teachers had invented the white bubble wrap thingy; and as a student she'd had to cut out the little squares etc. So she is very happy to see it being marketed and used. It seems to be working even if it isn't the most comfortable thing, and I am glad to take it off in the evening. She also carried out some "passive" movements of my shoulder.This is just the beginning!

I have to continue working on the exercises over the weekend, particularly as Monday is a holiday, so no physio until Tuesday. And even then it's not sure, as the doctor's will be doing their rounds so I'll have to wait and see them.Tuesday will also be the beginning of sport; the chap said maybe a bike, and didn't seem amused when I replied that it was a bike that got me into this situation in the first place. He rather coldly replied that it was a fixed indoor exercise bike. Hmm, hadn't worked that out myself as cycling outside with only one arm doesn't appear to be in the least problzmatic, does it?

I'm getting to know a few of my fellow patients, thanks to meal times and the terrace. And that is rather bringing  home to me what a long haul this is going to be. Yes, I am a lot more obviously mobile than those in wheelchairs, however, it is going to take weeks and months before I get any real movement in the shoulder back. I am going to have to be very very patient.

There is evidently a pattern to injuries; winter is skiing, spring motor bikes, and summer DIY and gardening. The latter may seem surpriding, it is unfortunately largely related to misuse of tools.

I had a very welcome visit from Rachel in the afternoon. She pointed out that with the white board in my bedroom I could give English lessons and even left me a black pen to do so. However, we both failed to take into account that whilst my writing with my right hand can be a bit difficult, with my lef it is truly illegible :). She was also undertaking a comparative study of rehab centres, since her own son is at Hauteville. There seemed to be pros and cons for the two establishments. She did say that the injuries seemed  to be more serious here.

After Rachel left, Jacques and I managed a short walk in the woods beside the centre. He is so worried that I might fall. This was not at all what I had in mind that it might be nice to spend a bit more time with him! Be careful what you wish for.

I don't know if it was the physio or whatever, but I was in quite a bit of pain from the evening on. I had to even call the nurse sor more ice during the night.Still the painkillers etc seemto be keeping the worst at bay.

This afternoon a pass out and some shopping for more appropriate clothes (tanktops and sporty stuff). And it'll be nice to have a couple of hours of relative freedom.

Of, and I've discovered the reson for shutting the winow. Hygiene, to keep the pollen out when changing dressings.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Morning all

This is the view from my current bedroom. I rather like having the French window wide open, however it is rather noticible that the nurses and other staff immediately close the window when they come in. Or at least they did yesterday when the window was only partly open.

I had a much better night's sleep. I had taken off the "bubble wrap" which made a heck of a difference. I was however rather perturbed to wake up this morning and discover that I had taken off my sling in my sleep. However I can't have made any false movements, as I didn't wake myself up screaming in agony. I also managed to sleep through the nurse leaving me my morning medication; another good sign.

I went down to the restaurant for my first communal meal. I was one of the early arrivals, and chose to sit opposite a chap in a wheelchair, one of the amputees.  He is one of the few still on a drip. I.'m not sure if my choice of table was the right one as it turned out not just to be the boys table, but quite possibly the bad boys table too. As breakfast is the shortest meal, it wasn't a problem.

A couple of snippets of conversation confirmed my feeling that I am really am lucky in my situation. The aforesaid chap mentioned thzt he had spent nine months in hospital before coming here, and how happy he  was to be in company.  Another chap referred to the problem of keeping your morale up when others were low.

He also got me thinking about language, as is my wont, Here it was the way that this younger chap used the words "trama" and "traumatis√©". It may be because we are in a highly medicalised environment, however I felt that he was using the words as a synonym with injury and injured. With another layer added. The combination of the physical and the psyhcological. And it is here that I am particularly one of the lucky ones. My medical trauma, the shoulder replacement, is light years away from the psychological trauma, of permanent handicap to a greater or lesser degree,  that some of the others are suffering, and will continue to suffer.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Next Stage

Convalescent Home Argonay

2nd Attempt! I had just about finished  when the dangers of typing with one hand, and the left one at that, materialised.....................I lost the lot!

So here goes with an update of the last day and a half, and the beginning of the long haul back to hopefully pain free mobility.

I was transferred from the hospital to the convalescent home by ambulance just after lunchtime yesterday.. Now an ambulance here is not the same as what we mean by one in the UK. Here you are as likely to get the firemen (either professional or volunteer depending on locality) and in town and if it is really bad, the SAMU when there is an accident. The ambulance is maybe more like a paea medic. And despite the fact that I can walk, it took three men to move me, on a stretcher trolley thingy, as well as my chattels here to the spot that is going to be my home for the immediate future. Well two men and one lad, either work experience or a trainee I guess. He took the luggage.

So my first impressions.

The location is truly lovely. From the large terrace you can look to the Alps, and catch a glimpse of the lake. And despite the heat today, there was a nice breeze on the terrace. Photos will follow.

 The staff seem very nice. Yesterday afternoon there were nurses and doctors who were concerned not only about the shoulder itself, but also the bruising on both arms..

 I have cream for the bruises which are the legacy of the drips on my left arm. To try and get rid of the leg of mutton look on my right arm, I have a bandage of a sort of white solid square bubble wrap, to help with the draining process. It leaves large dimpled squars in my arm, still visible 2 hours fter taking the bandage off for the night. It is held in place with a compression bandage, to make sre those dimpleare nice and deep.However, definitely less leg of mutton. Although I suspect that my arm will still nicely match my purple dress at next weekends wedding. The physiotherpist also came and introduced herself, (Johanna) and made an appontment for my first session this morning (more of that later).
The ergotherapist (I think) also came by, and since she didn't have the right sort of cushion for my arm left me a neck one. An exchange was made today and I now have the right one. She also left me a wierd knife since the one thing I can't do is cut meat.
The meat that I have tried it on so far could have been cut with a fork, so in the absence of Jacques, I rather suspect I may have to ask for help as of tomorrow, when I will be going down and eating in the restaurant.

Which brigs me onto food in general.

From what I have seen so far, I don't think I"ll be putting too much weight on. Like the hospital the menus have obviously been drawn up by a dietician, starter, main course, cheese or other "laitage" and pudding.And bread. This is France. The meals are varied and on paper at the very least interesting. I'll hold judgement until I have eaten downstairs, rather than on a tray in my room.

The room is one that I shall be changing as soon as I can, as it is one of the expensive ones; the cost is not nearly fully covered by my "mutuelle" or top up insurance. It is large, and has a French window out onto a little shared balcony. When I move, I can then compare.

Lastly my fellow patients.

Well, a mixed bunch in age and injury. There are lots of wheelchairs and a couple of arm slings.On the balcony there seem to be more men than women, but another point to be looked at again once I've eaten downstairs. Looking round makes me feel very grateful for me. This may be the start of a long journey (one lady who has had shoulder surgery and is leaving tomorrow, started on March1st) but at the end of it I should recover enough use of my shoulder for there to be little difference with my pre bionic days. Not so for the amputees, and other, more elderly patients. And then there is the young pleasant man in a wheelchair, with no indication of broken limbs, with his pretty pregnant partner. Yes, it does rather put things into perspective.

Today I had my first treatment, massage of my left arm, plus sqeezing a baby rugby ball. Who would have thought such a small start would cause such discomfort, if not downright pain.It did rather remind me of why I am here, and just how much the  professionals are going to help. I wonder what they would make of this in the UK where I have been told physiotherapists are no longer to touch patients, but to indicate what movements they should make.

I also had a visit .from a chap from the sports department, which I start next week. I"ll most likely be cycling. But you'll be glad to hear on an exercise bike with not a tramline in sight.

And on that happy note, I must get off to sleep.