My bionic man

My beloved has been home for a few days after a successful operation to replace the hip he broke over 18 months’ ago which ultimately didn’t heal satisfactorily. I’m back to playing Florence Nightingale, a role to which I am patently unsuited. Fortunately, this time he’s out most week days undergoing intensive physiotherapy sessions for which he’s picked up at lunchtime and dropped off in the afternoon, providing me with a number of hours of blessed respite from fetching and carrying.

Again, I have only great things to say about the French health service. Friends in the UK who’ve had similar operations have generally “gone private” but even so haven’t received the same level of pre and post-op care. My beloved had 10 sessions of pre-op physio along with all the necessary checks such as blood, urine, ECGD and dental before the op, which included a meeting with the aneasthetist where he opted for an epidural – so much less stressful on the body than a general.

The operation went well and he was back to his cheerful self that evening. If anything his time in hospital rather dragged and he’d have liked to come home earlier but because his physio didn’t start until the Monday, he stayed in over the weekend. He amused himself by visiting the other patients and having a chat with those that didn’t have any visitors.

Post operation, aside from the physio, he has daily visits in the morning from a nurse to give him an injection to ensure his blood doesn’t coagulate and in-house blood checks on a weekly basis undertaken from a local lab.

According to my beloved, who’s done his research, his prosthetic is the best and most reliable on the market. He was up walking on the afternoon after the op. and, on subsequent days, built up his perambulations until he was whizzing round the ward with his Maserati zimmer frame.  A ward where he was in a single occupancy room, with en-suite wet room, and there was a very high ratio of staff to patients.

The day he came out of hospital, I went down to the pharmacy to pick up his phenominally large amount of medicaments and crutches. Luckily, no one asked me what happened to the previous pair! Fortunately there was no one ahead of me in the queue but even so I was probably in there for at least 20 minutes. Of course, it didn’t cost me a penny!

He’s trying to minimise the amount of drugs he takes but as the pain tends to be greater overnight, he takes some Tramadol which puts him into a catatonic state and definitely ought to be banned by WADA.

The good news is that my beloved is far more mobile than he was after the previous operation and I’m hoping he’ll be back driving after 4 weeks, able to walk freely around Paris in mid-December and back riding his bike by Xmas.


Things awry

Today’s post was going to be all about our week-end in Siena watching Strade Bianche. The post’s written but I’m still awaiting the photographs. My beloved has downloaded them from his camera to his laptop but has yet to upload them to DropBox. We tend to do this overnight as it uses up most of our broadband width. He was going to do it on Monday night.

Monday dawned grey and overcast. My beloved was desperate to go for a ride having not ridden for a week because of a business trip to UK and our weekend in Siena. We set off in separate directions. I took one look at the menacing clouds and headed along the coast, he rode inland. Having returned from my ride, I was in the shower when I thought I heard my mobile phone. I ignored it and finished my shower. My beloved had rung me twice but not left a message.

I rather assumed he’d had a puncture/mechanical and was ringing me to go and pick him up. When I rang, his voice sounded thready and he explained he was en route to hospital having fallen off his bike. He feared he’d broken his hip! My beloved is a total hypochondriac and prone to exaggeration where his health’s concerned. A trait he has sadly inherited from the outlaw. I grabbed his carte vitale and mutuelle certificate (documents of entitlement to French healthcare) and headed to the local hospital.

My parking karma was working as I managed to find a parking place and found him looking both sheepish and sorry for himself on a bed in ER, about to be taken for an x-ray. He explained what happened in elaborate detail. He’d descended to a small roundabout, but wasn’t going fast, his front wheel had slipped and he’d landed heavily on his ride hip and elbow. Another two riders had kindly called the emergency services, who’d arrived within five minutes, and taken charge of his bike. His cycling kit wasn’t too torn, repairable. He’d got abrasions on his elbow and bum, could wiggle his right foot but couldn’t put any weight on the leg.

After a quick trip to x-ray, the diagnosis was in. Fracture of the radial head of the femur. He’d be admitted to the surgery ward where the orthopedic surgeon would talk him through the procedure. It was less than an hour since his accident. I took all his stuff and promised to return with his jimjams, toiletries, bathrobe, laptop etc He rattled off a list of people to contact and I left.

I returned two hours later after having dealt with all his most pressing matters. This time my parking karma wasn’t functioning so well. I parked in the nearby  supermarket car park. He’d been moved to a lovely bright, spotlessly clean, modern room with en-suite and was looking chipper – that would be on account of the painkillers. He’s a total wuss. I didn’t tarry long. I hate hospitals and tend to go as green as their walls but this hospital didn’t have green walls, nor did it have that hospital smell.

I popped in again the following morning, he’d slept well and had an enjoyable breakfast. Thumbs up for the cuisine. His operation was scheduled for later that afternoon. He’d met the surgeon and anaesthetist and they’d thoroughly explained the procedure and answered all his questions. The surgeon had said that if Richard were 70, he’d have recommended a hip replacement as well – still one of the possible outcomes. My heart sank. How many months was he going to be home underfoot and barking orders at me?

He rang me at 20:00 that evening, once he was out of recovery and back in his room. He sounded fine. The operation had gone well. He’d had an epidural rather than general – good news. He’d been conscious the whole time and the surgeon had explained to him the whole procedure as it was taking place – too much info. He’d had three screws inserted in his leg – a lifetime of setting off airport scanners – and would be walking tomorrow with the aid of a Zimmer frame. This I had to see.

Now I’ve not spent too much time in the hospital largely because I’ve had to cope with the fall-out of his misfortune. Friends arrive today to watch Paris-Nice and take part in the Paris-Nice Challenge. While all the work has taken place, the guest bedroom has been functioning as alternative storage. Last week the additional storage cupboards for the terrace and caves had been delivered. My beloved was supposed to put them together, and help me with the heavier stuff, taking it to the dump, or putting it  into the new storage in the caves and terrace, and clean the windows. Yep, I’ve had to do most of that on my own as well as dealing with his “urgent” list. Of course, this has left me no time to ride!

The photo above is pre-op while this one’s post op.

I nipped in this morning to discover I needed to bring him a towel and some soap. He’d been offered convalescence – great – but had declined! We might have to revisit that decision. Of course, it’s still too early to tell how this is going to progress. However, at risk are his attendance at the world’s largest and most important dental exhibition and our trip to Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Of course, I could go to the Basque country on my own, but not even I am that mean!