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.

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