Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Wendy's diary 11 October. Recovering from Surgery and speaking French

Now that we have tied up the boat for the winter, I think that updating the blog will become less frequent, or at least shorter (phew I hear you say)! I cannot report on new places explored or how good or bad the sailing is, but just on our day to day lives now in one spot. With my broken ankle this time arrived a little earlier than expected and we missed out on the last few weeks of the season sailing. Anyway, the news for now:

The surgery on my ankle went well, I now have a plate and 5 screws in my leg, I had 18 staples which were removed last week, and am in plaster until at least 31st October. The attitude to risk is obviously different in France, so there is no explanation of the proceedings, the risks etc, nothing to sign to say you absolve the surgeon of all responsibility, so rather different to when I had the surgery on my neck earlier in the year. Being used to UK proceedings where full explanations are given, I left hospital with virtually no information other than to return 2 weeks later. So I made a list of things to ask, like how much longer in plaster, would the plate be removed at a later date, what is the prognosis on the nerve pain in my big toe...no more than that, and the surgeon thought I was suffering from anxiety as I asked so many questions! Annie tells me that normally surgeons do say more and I just got one who was bad at explaining, although reputedly a very good surgeon which is more important.  Hospital food is possibly slightly worse than the uk, so I came out ravenous!

I am still living at Annie and Philippe's, John is spending his time between here and the boat. He is working long hours 4 days a week, but happy that he likes the work and is well paid. Two days a week he starts at 7am, so sleeps on the boat the night before so that I don't disturb him when he wants an early night and he doesn't disturb me in the morning when he gets up at the crack of dawn (or before - the nights are drawing in). 

I can only stand/use my crutches for very short periods as my toes swell up within about a minute and if I don't sit down again fell like they are going to explode! I have a wheel chair and most days Annie takes me for promenade somewhere when John is at work. On John's day off and weekends he delights in seeing how fast he can push me or how far back he can tip me up to get up a kerb. Getting to the boat can be challenging and at low tide impossible, the slope down to the pontoon is just too steep. Once at the boat I heave myself around and can get to all parts, but it is very difficult and I am glad that Annie welcomes me to stay with her.

The weather has suddenly turned to autumn, on Sunday 2nd October, the world and his dog was on the beach as it was sunny and 30 degrees. A week later the traditional Sunday afternoon promenade was made up of people wrapped up snugly in their coats. It isn’t really cold, around 17 degrees, but after the previous week it felt cold.

My French continues to improve and it is really nice for me to be able to have conversations with people in a different language. Two years ago when we were last in France I was unable to say much more than hello, I could book a hotel room, and say my name and age, but conversation was not possible. I took up conversational French classes on my return to the UK and struggled through these for the best part of two years. Now, mainly with Annie’s help, with some from John and Phillippe, and with what I had learned in the evening classes I can now achieve what I aspired to do. I am working on my grammar which is still appalling, but I can make myself understood and know enough vocabulary to get by. Yesterday a neighbour called round whilst Annie was out, and we spent half an hour chatting about all sorts of things, the boat, my leg, the weather etc. Two years ago this would have been a nightmare situation for me, full of awkward silences and stuttering. By the time Annie got back, and started pass on the news, she was greeted with the neighbour saying, oh yes, Wendy has already told me about that. J