I even got to ride in an ambulance!
But I get ahead of the story.
I had an abscess on my cheek. It didn’t seem that large, at least when it started.
I kept on thinking it would cure itself, well, at least it has some other times.
But this one kept on getting larger and larger. Sadly, it got to the size of a lemon, a large lemon.
At that point, I did what anyone would do, I took a selfie and emailed my dermatologist, a wonderful doctor at Mount Sinai. When I trust; I trust.
He responded promptly and told me to go get it lanced and get antibiotics. Good idea.
Now, the only downside of a cruising life is that one loses track of the days of the week. It turned out it was Saturday. So no doctors are working, I would have to go to the emergency room of the local hospital.
The marina office gave me the directions: a 10-minute walk, a two-minute little ferry ride and another 10-minute walk. No bad.
I arrived just after 09:00, good because they did not open until 9:00 a.m. Umm, French know when not to get sick.
There was only one other patient waiting and the nurse on duty spoke to me in very good English within a minute of my arrival. I pointed to the lemon on my cheek. They had a basic form to fill out, name, address and phone number. That’s it. There was a little section on my normal doctor, but I was told to leave that blank. I was taken into an examination room. There, a doctor’s assistant took a look, felt it, asked me some questions as to how long and any pain and called someone.
Only a few minutes later, I was back with the first nurse and she told me that they had made an appointment for me at 2:00 p.m. at the “big” hospital in Quimper, about 30 miles away. It was Saturday and thus this local hospital in Concarneau had no surgeon.
I was given a sheet of labels with my name and number. I just had to give each person I saw a label. I thought I was also told that the accountant was not work on the weekend, so I needed to return Monday to see her about payment. That was fine with me.
So, as I thought about this development, I figured that my not dealing with this problem during the week had cost me maybe a hundred Euro taxi ride.
But, it was not to be. My wonderful nurse, then told me that, while they had no responsibility to get me to the big hospital, their ambulance was heading that way in a few minutes, with a litter patient in the back, so I could ride “shotgun”.
I was so happy. My first ride in an ambulance. Though no siren, I suppose you can’t have everything!
The ambulance driver, a wiry woman, was very good, though she spoke little English. But like everyone I met, she really wanted to take care of me. Was the window open OK? I could open or close it as I liked.
Then since I got to the big hospital so soon, I read my book and was quite happy knowing this thing I had been living with for almost a month and feeling like a freak for the last two weeks would soon be taken care of.
So, just after 2:00 p.m., the doctor shows up who is going to do my “surgery”. I could tell he was the doctor because he just looked it. Small, compact man, certainly handsome, wearing jeans and a long sleeved shirt. Like everyone I’d met, he just came across as both caring and so professional.
I could not NOT trust these people and this system. From the first moment earlier that morning, I had no doubt that I would be taken care of well and promptly.
So after an examination, he put a patch on my cheek that was an anesthetic and told me it needed 20 minutes. So then about 25 minutes later, I was taken to a room that seemed to serve as both an examination room and an office. A really cute moment was when his assistant reminded the doctor he should ask me my “level of pain” (Yes, the same 1 to 10 scale, but without the smiley faces). He asked and I said one, no real pain.
They laid me down, put a bib over my neck and chest and his assistant appeared with a little tray of instruments and they got to work.
It felt like it took an hour to drain the thing, but it was more like a few minutes. I felt no pain, but I do have an active imagination so I become tense when I think I should feel pain. Again, his assistant noticed that and put her hand on my leg which did help to calm my nerves.
Maybe twenty minutes later I was walking out with a few prescriptions. I asked for a taxi to take me to the train station where I figured I could get a bus back to Concarneau. While waiting for the taxi, I started walking and by the time the taxi came I was walking down the road, having figured out town was just a 15-minute walk.
The 40-minute bus ride cost only 2 Euros ($2.20) and that was my only cost so far.
The first few bandage changes and having to continue to drain the thing were pretty disgusting, but sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do (but I try to avoid that).
Today, almost a week later, I’m almost back to new. Well, maybe not new, but back to normal.
And tomorrow we leave for Spain.
My time in France has been pretty much as expected: wonderful wine, beautiful women and food, what can I say about the food, the French could cook a tree and it would be tasty.
But most of all, wonderful, helpful people in virtually every person I’ve encountered. IF I ever have to go to the hospital again, I may just return here.
Oh, by the way, on Monday morning, planning on leaving for our current stop in La Rochelle, I walked back to the hospital in Concarneau to see the accountant lady.
Upon entering the emergency room again, the nurse (yes, I actually do think they are real nurses) remembered me from two days earlier and when I told her I had come back to pay, she told me there must be some misunderstanding. I didn’t have to pay anything. On that, I thanked her and walked back to Dauntless to cast off.
My one disappointment in the whole affair, I still have my chipmunk cheeks!