In Which We Test the French Health Care System

After our day canoeing on the Loire, we are all exhausted and sunburnt. We get back to Bel Air at 6:00, and are supposed to be at Louis’ house at 7:00 for aperitifs, followed by a massive dinner with all of the canoeists and their families. It is a tradition that everyone has this dinner after the canoeing expedition, a dinner that goes on late into the night.

But we need a brief rest before we go anywhere, and everyone lies down. Within seconds I am in a deep sleep, dreaming disjointed dreams, vaguely aware of Tim snoring beside me. I allow myself about 15 minutes, then surface to head out to the pool to refresh myself.

Tim wakes and stumbles toward the stairs to head for the pool. But he is only half awake and smashes his head into the wooden beam at the top of the doorframe out of the bedroom. He swears loudly, and I shush him afraid he will wake Bryan and Peta. He staggers out of the bedroom holding his head, and goes briefly into the pool. But when he touches his head again and pulls his hand away, there is a fair quantity of blood.

I look at the injury. It does not look good. I go to get my first aid kit that my wonderful mother packed for me (It has all of the essentials, including, most importantly, a corkscrew. Most first aid can begin with the opening of a bottle of wine.) I daub at the blood with alcohol and see a large gash right on the crown of his head.  Matt, who is in training to be a doctor, takes a look at it and pronounces it “quite nasty and icky”. I get an ice pack, and make some tea, alerting Bryan and Peta that we may need to go to the hospital for stitches.

Tim sits and waits, ice melting on this head, as I make a call to our Blue Cross insurance in Canada. They open a file and approve our plan to go to the hospital in Paray-le-Monial.

Bryan drives like he is in the grand prix, even though Tim assures him he is in no pain. There is only a brief wait before Tim is admitted. They examine him, make sure that he is not concussed, check his blood for the antigen for Tetanus and determine they will give him a shot. They wash his head vigorously but carefully and decide that he requires two stitches (“deux points”). The whole thing takes about 15 minutes, is painless and thorough. He is given a card to direct him to get a follow up Tetanus shot in a month, and told to make an appointment with a nurse in Digoin to have the stitches out in a week.

We drive home, deciding it is far too late to go to the dinner at Louis’. We create a quick and comforting dinner of pasta with Harlot Sauce.

Author: Amanda West Lewis

AMANDA WEST LEWIS has built a life filled with words on the page and on the stage, combining careers as a writer, theatre director and calligrapher. Her book THESE ARE NOT THE WORDS was published in April 2022 by Groundwood Books. Previous books include The Pact, (Red Deer Press) which was listed on the 2017 USBBY Outstanding International Books List; selected for the 2017 ILA Young Adults' Readers Choice List; Nominated for 2017 Snow Willow Award; and listed in the Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens, Spring 2017. SEPTEMBER 17: A NOVEL was nominated for the Silver Birch Award, the Red Cedar Award, and the Violet Downie IODE Award. Amanda has an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In her theatre career, Amanda is the founder of The Ottawa Children’s Theatre, where she teaches and directs children. She has developed specialized drama and literacy programs for youth at risk, and for children with autism spectrum disorder. She has a Certificate in Theatre for Young Audiences with Complex Difficulties from Rose Bruford College, England. In 2015, Amanda co-produced the hit play “Up to Low” is based on the book by Brian Doyle. As a professional calligrapher and book artist, Amanda is passionate about the history of writing and has taught calligraphy courses to students of all ages. She studied with Hermann Zapf, Mark Van Stone and Nancy Culmone among many others. Amanda lives with her husband, writer Tim Wynne-Jones, in the woods in Eastern Ontario. They have three wonderful grown children. Find out more on her website at Photo Credit: Marianne Duval

2 thoughts on “In Which We Test the French Health Care System”

  1. To which I add a big empathetic AAAAAAAAAGHHH! of pain with Tim and a big empathetic EEEEWWWWW! to the blood. Take care of yourselves!

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