My experience of 10 days in a French hospital

Polyclinc des fleurs - Toulon

Apologies for the absence in this space. There are generally no good reasons or excuses for not doing something. At least not ones that are of interest to anybody but oneself.

However the recent lack of input leads me to write this post and share with you my experiences of French life over the last twelve days.

Warning – this post is not about a gentle stroll down the Champs Elysees in Paris admiring the chicly dressed “femmes parisiennes”. Nor is it about how to curate the perfect French capsule wardrobe or what Emmanuelle Alt or Ines de La Fressange are wearing this season.

When I wrote my last post on “keeping up appearances” I had no idea how shortly I would be challenged in this regard.

The saga started the day after I arrived in France. I had been feeling a bit tired and had a nasty irritating cough, which I had been told my my GP in London was nothing to worry about. I was looking forward to a weeks rest and recuperation.

The next day I knew things were not right, I felt giddy and breathless. I staggered up to see the village doctor. He sent me immediately to a cardiologist who arranged for me to go to the nearest cardiac hospital the next day.

Thus began my stay in a specialist cardiac polyclinic just outside Toulon in the South of France.

Firstly I would like to say how grateful I am for the efficient and excellent service I received from the French medical system, which if you google is at the top of the league table for excellence (world health organisation).

First Impressions

I was struck by the “politesse” of everybody who worked in the hospital. On a dit “bonjour” a tout le monde, meme les gens qui a nettoye le plancher et a servi les repas. Oh and don’t forget “bon appetit”. Once I was well enough to eat the meals were delicious.

Attention to detail

From the doctors, who left no stone unturned to get to the bottom of my mysterious illness to the nurses who helped me “faire ma toilette”. I even found shower gel and a tube of moisturising cream in the bathroom.

Time and our perception of it

When one hits a brick wall and has to come to a complete standstill there is an awareness of how much “busyness” we do. How a day and a week can rush past at lightning speed. There never seems to be quite enough time to get all our tasks accomplished. I can assure you that time in a hospital bed moves slower than a snail. I regularly looked at my watch thinking two hours had passed and it was only twenty minutes. The experience was certainly a lesson in patience.

What I learnt

I had an insight into what the French value in their lives. The importance of how they communicate with each other. “La politesse” of everyday interactions.

That “non” means “non”. It certainly did when I asked a doctor if I was allowed out of bed or would be going home shortly. No explanations or reasons just “non”. This is an art form that I am going to practice going forward.

Did I manage to keep up appearances as recommended in my previous post. I did my best. My husband regularly bought in clean night wear. When I ran out I got him to bring a lovely long silk slip (that I normally wear under a kaftan in the summer). It felt very luxurious. Even the anaesthetist said I looked good on the outside; just that things were not working so well on the inside.

So there you have it. “stuff happens”. You can think that you have your future all sorted and planned. That in my view is an illusion. The future just happens.

I am now thankfully back home in our apartment in Grimaud, which seems much more spacious than it did before. The colours seem brighter and the smallest things feel like wonderful luxuries.

I will be flying back to London on Wednesday and regular blog posts will be resumed as soon as possible.

In the meantime I have booked a hair appointment at a posh salon in St.Tropez for Tuesday morning.  I am planning a complete re-style!

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36 Comments

  1. Lynda
    7th November 2016 / 1:58 pm

    Sorry to hear that you have not been well, very best wishes for a speedy recovery

    • 7th November 2016 / 3:41 pm

      Thank you for all your comments and for wishing me a speedy recovery. I am certainly on the mend. It helps that the sun is shining here. Good idea about the mask for travelling I think I will get one.

  2. 7th November 2016 / 2:08 pm

    Oh Josephine,what a time. Yes, my friend in Aix experienced the French hospital when she had foot surgery. It was superb. And the after care, at home, was also the best. We, in the States, should listen up. Glad you’re better and I am sure looking forward to your own bed again!

  3. Lesley
    7th November 2016 / 2:13 pm

    Get well soon! Having been very ill a few years ago, I quickly learned the lesson of (a) doing what the Doctor orders and (b) enjoying life to the full.

    Best wishes

  4. Judy
    7th November 2016 / 2:19 pm

    So glad you’re on the mend, Josephine, it must have been very frightening. Enjoy your re-styling and come home safely!

  5. Sue
    7th November 2016 / 2:21 pm

    Wishing you a speedy recovery. Recently had my own sudden hospital visit. Things can change so quickly. Glad you were in good hands.

  6. LesleyP
    7th November 2016 / 2:21 pm

    So sorry to hear you have been ill Josephine, take plenty of “me time” as it is called and be certain to recuperate properly. Enjoy your visit to the hairdressers and your journey home, would suggest if you are travelling by air using a medical face mask as there are a phenomenal amount of germs on an aircraft. Take care, all the best Lesley xx

  7. 7th November 2016 / 3:15 pm

    Very sorry to hear you have nit been well. Take great care.

  8. Wendy B
    7th November 2016 / 3:18 pm

    Very best wishes for a thorough recovery!

  9. Louise
    7th November 2016 / 3:24 pm

    My very best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  10. Linda A.
    7th November 2016 / 3:49 pm

    So true that we all roar about as if invincible until stopped in our tracks. Take gentle care of yourself and best wishes for a brilliant recovery.

  11. kathryn
    7th November 2016 / 3:50 pm

    All best wishes for a complete recovery. Thank you for the information. I have traveled all over the world with tourists and I must say in Europe the care (state or private) has always been excellent. How amazingly polite and civilized and concerned the Europeans are. You are hardly ever “just a number”.It does help when you are feeling down.
    My partner has just had a major op in Portugal. Wonderful surgeon. Only thing, a certain lack of heepful info from junior doctors on the ward re what they were doing, planning, results etc. (Compared with my experiences in Canada, for example.) Each country has its culture. I must say Royal Free in London was amazing with my own emergency.

    We worry about clothes, delayed flights, weather etc. etc. but the thing which really matters is our health. And if we do not have it, a bit of kindness and good manners goes a very long way.

  12. Anna Barrow
    7th November 2016 / 3:53 pm

    Glad you are much better Josephine.Several years ago,I too, had the experience of spending 2 weeks in a French hospital at Senlis,as an emergency admission.

    All best wishes,Anna.

  13. Lisa Abend
    7th November 2016 / 4:13 pm

    What an alarming experience for you, I’m sorry you’ve had to go through it. Thank goodness for the wonderful care you’ve received, from everyone at the hospital, (and, it sounds like you had good care via your husband as well!) I wish you a smooth and swift recovery, Josephine!

    (Very warm wishes from Lisa in western Massachusetts.)

  14. Christine
    7th November 2016 / 4:46 pm

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Your experience must have been quite scary but pleased to hear you had excellent care and are now on the mend.

  15. Mary
    7th November 2016 / 4:46 pm

    Best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery. Enjoy the sunshine and your salon experience.

  16. Elsbeth
    7th November 2016 / 5:33 pm

    Hope your recovery will soon be complete..

    Sudden illness has a way of making us get our priorities in the right order doesn’t it?

    Best wishes

  17. 7th November 2016 / 5:45 pm

    I’m so sorry you became ill, Josephine, and I really hope you’re on the mend. Get completely well very soon. I have a friend who lives in France and I know the French health system is excellent. And maybe it’s time to make some priorities – I know I put my head down and just work my socks off. Sounds as if you do as well! My very best wishes to you.

  18. Jasmine
    7th November 2016 / 6:13 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been poorly. Hopefully, you’ll be fully recovered very soon. Please do take good care of yourself.

  19. Francesca
    7th November 2016 / 7:08 pm

    Dear Josephine, get well soon. I love that you are so positive. A restyle is a wonderful way to make the best of your situation. I look forward to your future posts but rest and take care of yourself first.

  20. Barbara
    7th November 2016 / 7:50 pm

    Sorry to hear you have been unwell. Best wishes for a good recovery. Take it easy and follow doctors orders!!

  21. Marianne
    7th November 2016 / 9:31 pm

    Glad to hear you are on the mend.

  22. eleni
    7th November 2016 / 10:08 pm

    It’s good to hear you are now on the mend. So much depends on excellent medical care, especially when away from home. Take care and pamper yourself. Can’t wait to see your new hair style !

  23. 7th November 2016 / 10:08 pm

    Oh dear Josephine, not the sort of fun relaxing holiday you were expecting! I’m sorry to hear you were so unwell but glad at the same time that at least you were in good hands in a clean French hospital with lots of competent staff to look after you. I must say, we were in ILe de Re 10 days ago and we too had to use the French health system. My toddler got really poorly with a nasty case of bronchiolitis and was struggling to breathe at night+high fever for 5 days. I remembered thinking that, being back in my homeland, where the care is so good, was at least some kind of reassurance. We were borderline using A&E but somehow, pulling all the tricks I knew we just about avoided it but we did see 2 doctors and one physio. In both instances, we were able to see within a few hours a doctor which was such a blessing and even the pharmacist was helpful. After a bit of a healthcare, one does appreciate a lot more all the little things we too often take for granted. Hope to see you back in London when you are up for it. Love, Julie

    http://www.jafinthebox.wordpress.com

  24. 7th November 2016 / 10:10 pm

    I must echo everyone else’s wishes for a fast recovery. Do take it easy, and enjoy that new hairstyle!

  25. 8th November 2016 / 12:13 am

    Josephine, I’m so glad to hear you’re at home and on the mend. Don’t rush yourself; it’s hard but important get the rest you need to avoid a relapse.

  26. Ann
    8th November 2016 / 1:40 am

    Sorry to hear you were sick, but glad you had excellent care and are now on the mend. I had missed your postings and was wondering if you were taking a vacation. Take care!

  27. Sue Lewellen
    8th November 2016 / 2:11 am

    When you are ready for a hairstyle, it is a sure sign you are on the mend. Take care of your heart—it is the most important muscle in your body!

  28. Jane
    8th November 2016 / 3:19 am

    Wishing you a swift recovery, so sorry to hear you’ve been unwell. You have such a positive attitude which is the best thing for ones health!

  29. Anne Hughes
    8th November 2016 / 7:53 am

    Hope you recover quickly. Very best wishes

  30. 8th November 2016 / 9:42 pm

    I am so sorry this happened to you, Josephine…but I really liked the way your handled the post and informed us about the process in France. I am so glad you are well now…and hope the good health continues.

  31. 10th November 2016 / 9:12 am

    Thank you all so so much for your very lovely and supportive comments and wishes. They bought tears to my eyes. It is definitely aiding my recovery to have such a wonderful sympathetic global community. I am now back in London and feeling much better. Absolutely love my new French hairstyle. Hope to show it off to you all soon. Next on my list is a pedicure. I am following doctors orders and taking things slowly so apologies for not replying to each one of you individually.
    Pop back this Friday I have a great post planned in collaboration with one of my favourite bloggers http://unefemme.net.

  32. Margot
    11th November 2016 / 9:39 am

    Just caught up with your piece as Facebook have stopped alerting me to anything new from you. I’m very glad to read that you’re out of hospital and back in London. Please take care of yourself. So many of us love your website and would really miss it if you were forced to give it up. Thinking of you.

  33. Margot Cunningham
    11th November 2016 / 9:40 am

    Just caught up with your piece as Facebook have stopped alerting me to anything new from you. I’m very glad to read that you’re out of hospital and back in London. Please take care of yourself. So many of us love your website and would really miss it if you were forced to give it up. Thinking of you.

  34. Constance
    12th November 2016 / 12:52 am

    I’m glad to hear you are safely home and hopefully on the mend. I have been blessed with fabulous health until 5 months ago and so know what you mean about time passing slowly. And yes, control is an illusion. I just take it a day at a time, do my part in healing by educating myself and following medical advice, and stay optimistic. And I find dressing comfortably but attractively helps my attitude and actually helps my feeling of well being. Best of luck. And remember– all the studies show laughter is very healing!

    • 12th November 2016 / 11:01 am

      I so agree with the laughter Constance. Plus the support of family and close friends has helped a lot.

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