Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Illness strikes women when they are exposed (Herodotus misquoted)

As I've brought up the subject of the Pompiers I thought I'd relate another tale which should also act as a salutary warning about life in a small rural village.

It happened late one night. I'd been feeling funny (peculiar, not haha) all day but couldn't put my finger on what was wrong. I had an early night but still felt distinctly weird. At first I thought it was because the CH was tucked up beside me rather than the usual assortment of children, cats, dogs and chickens - OK, OK, not the chickens.

I drifted off to sleep but woke up suddenly about 2am, very short of breath (must give up smoking those cigars!), and feeling like I was being dragged backwards down a long tunnel.

As a childhood drama queen I'd long imagined a early, tragic death and a handsome hero weeping at my graveside and for a moment I wondered if I'd actually brought it on myself.

I woke the CH and told him that I was quite likely dying (still a hint of the drama queen then) and he needed to call the Pompiers. In France they are qualified paramedics and nearly all volunteers. I have tremendous respect for them. They are the first port of call, then if you need a doctor, they call one.

CH suggested that we wait a while to see if it passes. 'No', I insisted 'Death doesn't pass, it's permanent!'.

Now, the CH has never really got a handle on the French language except for the neccessities like ordering from the wine menu, and 'un pression, s'il vous plait', so he struggled to make himself understood. Personally, I find that taking English in a French accent is rarely successful. In the end he handed the phone to me, who was by now slightly less coherent than usual and becoming more convinced by the minute that I was shuffling this mortal coil. I made a startling discovery, a bit like the one where you find out that if you pull all the left legs off a spider it can only turn in one direction. In moments of stress I can't speak French either.

In the end, they traced the call and within minutes the blue flashing lights were making their way up our hill.

I'd managed to instruct the CH, in my deathrattle, to tidy up the bedroom and remove any dirty underwear that might have been carelessly discarded, so I lay serenly on the bed like the Lady of Shalott (though in my case it was more Shallot) ready to make peace with my maker.

The bedroom door flung open and men, lots of them, mainly young, poured in. I couldn't believe my bad luck. I'd never ever found myself in the bedroom with so many fit men and I was in no position to take advantage of it or them.

They crowded round the bed while the chef d'equipe took a history of my funny turn. It was at that point that I discovered the downside of life in a small village. Among the pompiers was M. B from the paper shop, Laurent, the mechanic who fixes my car, two dads from school and the pharmacist.

The chef decided that I was having some sort of crise cardiaque so I must be put on a heart monitor while we awaited the arrival of the ambulance. He started to try to take off my pyjama top. Not on your nellie, matie! I suddenly felt much better faced with the prospect of being topless in front of so many familiar faces. Now, there was a time, when my breasts were pert and pointy, that I wouldn't have minded. But post children and breast feeding they resemble spaniels ears nestled under my armpits and are not for public viewing. A tussle ensued while the chef tried to remove my pyjama top and I tried desperately to hang on to it while at the same time translating for the CH who wondered why I was wrestling with a fireman in our bed.

In the end, age and experience won the day and I lay there, cold and half naked, in front of people I see most days of my life. I tried telekinesis, willing my boobs to at least stay on my chest and not under my arms and all credit to the pompiers, they remained expressionless and didn't fall about laughing and pointing and barking like dogs!

And there I remained chatting idly about the fire brigade in the UK, feeling so much better. Whatever was wrong it had been shocked out of my system well and truly by my enforced semi-nudity.

Minutes later, the door was flung open and a doctor who'd spent far too much time watching ER burst in. He leapt on the bed brandishing a needle. OHMIGOD, he's going to straddle me and start heart massage in a minute!

He checked me over and declared that I must go to hospital. I was bundled onto a large canvas sheet thing which was apparently a stretcher. It was then that I really, really wished I'd stuck to that last diet as they seemed to have to huff and puff an awful lot as they maneovred me out of the bedroom to the ambulance.

'What should I do?' said the CH. 'You'll have to stay here with the children' I told him stoically. 'Where are they taking you?' he asked. 'Not a clue' I replied. 'Here, take this and let me know'. He thrust my mobile into my hand and I was carted off to hospital wearing nothing more than my pyjama bottoms and clutching a mobile phone.

This was nothing like the 'emergency hospital admission' I'd always dreamed of where I was wearing Rigby and Peller underwear and a chic peignoir. I didn't so much as have a pair of knickers with me. I can still see the face of the doctor in A&E when he asked where my 'affaires' were. I waved my mobile phone at him and smiled. 'Zees Eeengleesh are very strange' I could almost hear him think.


Frankofile said...

Hysterical laughter from France. Fantastic post!! How to make a funny turn into a funny turn. Thank you. Now tell us what happened next?

Sandi McBride said...

I knew you weren't dying the minute you began grabbing for your pj top...when you are dying or in hard labor you don't give a damn who sees what or in what order, believe me...been both places, hard labor and dying...lived through both though by only a hair...yes, you'd have given up that pj top and bottom and never cared a whit! You are so funny and when I need cheering I always know where to come...after you off to Debs place to see what she's been up to...are you two friends by any chance, lol? I'm of course talking about Deb Lehner

Madeira Jon said...

Absoluteley GREAT! I'm so glad you survived, You did survive didn't you? I mean, there's more to come? Isn't there?

Working mum said...

He he he. Very funny. Obviously, in a 'glad it didn't happen to me' way!

So what was it? Indigestion?

I woke up the other night convinced I was having a stroke; turned out to be a migraine that lasted all day. Bit of an overreaction there as well!

Casdok said...

Lol! Great post!!
But hope you are ok!

(Very) Lost in France said...

Frankofile - I will post part 2 soon, suffice to say I am in fine fettle VLiF

(Very) Lost in France said...

Sandi - you are quite right. I knew it was probably nothing too serious when I started fighting to keep my PJs on! Glad you survived too. VLiF

(Very) Lost in France said...

Madeira Jon - yes, I survived and yes there is more to come. VLiF

(Very) Lost in France said...

WM - never did find out. The heart trace showed I had had a 'cardiac incident' but despite numerous tests I have a heart like an ox! VLiF

(Very) Lost in France said...

Casdok - Thanks for visiting. Yes, I'm fine thanks. VLiF

(Very) Lost in France said...

Sandi, forgot to say thanks too for you lovely comment. It's nice to feel that you can cheer people up if they need it. No, I don't know Deb but she doesn't live far away from me, so I'm going to invite myself over one day. She's one funny girl. VLiF