So, just as I thought it was more or less safe to book a holiday for the end of May I get a call from the resort medical centre. ‘Mrs Gimblett? We’ve got your husband here …’. I was tempted to stuff my fingers in my ears and yell NANANANANANA NOT LISTENING until they went away but apparently this isn’t a option once you get past primary school. I’ve broken a vertebra, he says, can you meet me at the hospital. Arse.
So off I toddle to Grenoble’s main hospital, and spend what seems like ages finding a) the emergency department and b) some legitimate parking. What is it with parking at hospitals? Obviously people are going to need to put their cars somewhere, and I’m not necessarily complaining about being charged for the privilege, but you could make the whole thing a bit more obvious, surely? Rather than, for example, hiding A&E round the back, after a particularly strange junction and in a bit with three visitor parking spots.
Despite the obstacle course I waited about half an hour before he rolled in, stark naked apart from a pair of M&S pants of dubious cleanliness and clutching a mobile phone. This posed something of a problem, as his Carte Vitale was still in the car (somewhere in 2Alpes) and needless to say he didn’t know his secu number. And when we finally found it on my health insurance slip I could wish we hadn’t bothered, since the otherwise helpful reception ladies said that while he was there on the database he didn’t appear to have any entitlement to healthcare. Fortunately – this being neither the US nor the third world – they didn’t just dump him back on the street then and there, but it’s not what you want to hear when your husband appears to have dismantled his own spinal column and then lost the user manual.
Much waiting about and texted updates later I was allowed to venture into the bowels of the hospital, where I found him on a trolley in the company of mobs of old ladies who seemed to have fallen off things. Though not the big air in the snowpark, one assumes. No further information was forthcoming, so we spent four hours watching old ladies being wheeled in and out and occasionally hauled on and off trolleys in an undignified manner by unsympathetic young men in paramilitary uniforms.
Finally at sometime gone midnight, just as I was starting to consider whether or not there was a pizza takeaway service and if so whether they would deliver to the entrails of A&E, a serious-looking young man trundled in waving pictures of vertebrae and said everything would have to be nailed back together the following morning. Marvellous.
Actually it turned out to be the morning after, as some biker trumped his mere vertebra with an open fracture and a nasty case of gravel rash, so when he finally arrived back on the ward, morphined to the eyeballs and with tubes protruding from anywhere and everywhere, it was Sunday afternoon.
Recovery since then has been remarkably rapid for something which initially sounded like a lifetime of serious disability (tip: the phrase ‘fractured vertebra’ is much less terrifying than ‘broken back’, for some reason) – on Tuesday he was told he could turn over if he liked (though the quack concerned clearly overlooked the logistical issues involved in doing so when you’re sporting a tube in each arm, a drain in your back and a catheter where catheters usually go), by Wednesday he was allowed to get up and walk about and on Friday morning he was told he could go home as soon as they could get the paperwork together. So in about three weeks time then.
Now all we have to do is convince the relevant authorities that yes he is entitled to medical care thank you so very much, sort out some sick pay, tell his mother about it all in such a way as not to frighten her witless and order in pizza for dinner. Sorted.