Last week I thought I was just postponing the blog for a day or so as I was not feeling too well. Now a week later I am sat at home after a week in the local hospital where I had my gall bladder removed. One more exciting new experience during my time in France.

At least I got the chance to test out the French health system which proved to be exceptionally good. On Friday, 10 days ago I was feeling poorly having had stomach pains and then a high fever. So I went to see our local doctor. He was his usual cheerful self and when using his stethoscope always starts by saying that he can hear your heart beat and that must be a good sign!

He thought I may have an infection and recommended a blood test. I was able to get an appointment with our local district nurse for the next day at 9-30am. I was then surprised to get a phone call in the afternoon from the laboratory advising me that one of the readings was high and giving me a phone number for the emergency doctor if my condition deteriorated.

I decided to wait and see Dr. Viennot on Monday and having spoken to him in the morning he asked me to come in for an appointment at 5-30pm in the evening. He decided that there was an infection but that to pinpoint its location I would need a scan at the hospital. He said I could go to the hospital that evening or wait until Tuesday. I went in to the hospital at around 11-30 am and they gave me a further blood test and then in the afternoon a scan. The doctor advised me she was seeking the advice of a consultant and he duly arrived a little later and having reviewed the scan told me that I had a problem with my gall bladder and that he recommended that it should be removed under surgery.

He then surprised me by saying I could stay in hospital and they would do the operation the next day! Well, if it has to be done I thought let’s do it. Mrs. Parish duly went off home to collect some things I would need and I waited at the hospital. The surgeon came back a few minutes later and said that as I had not eaten that day they could do the operation that evening! So I was wheeled off to get ready and suddenly I was in the preparation room for the operating theatre. I asked a nurse did they actually mean now for the op. She said yes right away. So I had to ask to borrow her phone to call Mrs. Parish and let her know to save her coming back that evening. It was a bit surreal phoning from the operating table!

I came round the next morning to find myself in a rather nice two bedded room, with toilet and shower room. There were also 2 TVs which you have to pay for. I declined the offer. French TV is awful. I spent another 4 days in hospital and was superbly impressed with the quality of care and the diligent and kind attention of the nursing staff. On my first day a young lady came around with a menu for all the meals and asked for my choices which I duly gave. I asked if she also had the wine list, regrettably there wasn’t one.

I was not sure why my choices were taken as the food which arrived seemed to bear little resemblance to them. As I was recovering from an operation my food intake strictly limited and for the first 2 meals I received a bowl of “bouillon” a very weak beef soup. Weak being the operative word as it tasted of very little.

Anyway I was duly certified as fit enough to go home on Saturday and so, full of holes, I returned to La Godefrere for rest and recuperation. Mrs. Parish has been looking after me and gradually I feel a lot better each day. Of course one benefit from a stay in a French hospital is that I have had to use my French language skills to communicate with all the staff. I have to say that I thought I did rather well and could understand most things said to me and could explain where the pain was and how I was feeling. The other not insignificant benefit is that I have lost around a stone in weight, which is no bad thing!

In my absence the cats spotted that Mrs. Parish was on her own and that might be advantageous to them to gang up on her. So she has had her hands full. There has been ongoing conflict around feeding times as the hens have spotted that the cats get fed at 4pm. This gives an opportunity for the hens to steal some cat food from under the cat’s noses. The hens have tried a full on assault which has resulted in Moggie retreating from his bowl as he is a bit frightened by the hens.

Buoyed on by this initial success the hens try to steal Archie’s food and Sylvia is sent as an advance guard. She tries to peck under Archie and get some cat food. This proves to be a big mistake! Archie just looks up and swings his rather large paw in a perfect right cross and whacks Sylvia on the head. Sylvia jumps back and runs away squawking and meanwhile without batting an eyelid Archie continues to eat his dinner. Archie is very canny where food is concerned and has noticed that Moggie is having problems and so decides to finish his food quickly so he can move over and steal from Moggie’s bowl.

So now we have a new regime and we now get the hens back into their run with some treats before we feed the cats. This takes the pressure off poor Moggie who now only has to content with Archie. It is a bit ironic because when we still had Minou she was a slow eater and Moggie used to eat so fast so he could try and steal her food. Now the biter bit!

Just before I was ill we had a bit of a surprise one morning when I went out to fill up the bird feeders, I noticed something was different. Now I am not usually good at noticing things but I looked again and realised that our dead tree that stood next to the cow’s field had disappeared. This is the tall stump that buzzards come to land on and now it wasn’t there. I went to investigate and saw that it had fallen down straight across the electric fence which keeps Ernie, the bull and his herd of heifers out of our garden! This was after all the cold weather which must have caused it to finally fall down. It is a huge trunk and impossible to move without machinery.

Dead tree fallen across the electric fence!

We contacted Xavier the farmer who owns the cattle and he said he would come round. He arrived with his tractor and with great skill and dexterity he lifted up the tree and pushed it back over the fence, giving a little twist so the tree fell safely on our side and away from the fence, which together we had to restore where it had been breached.  Now it is lying there waiting to be cut up for firewood.

So we are getting back to normal. The cats have recognised that I am not well and not moving much. This is an opportunity for them to find somewhere warm to sleep. I on the other hand am keeping them off as I have 4 lots of stitches in my stomach which are still sore, particularly if a cat jumps on them or applies acupuncture with their claws!

Well tonight I am sadly not off to the cave to find some wine for dinner or an aperitif. In fact it is time for some more painkillers! 

Bon courage