Thursday, March 5th, 1992 (written on Saturday evening the 7th)
The day started out uneventfully. Slept late and didn’t really get going until nearly noon. After showers, we made hot water for coffee. It was our first experience with electric plugs. Jim figured it out after I nearly burned the heating element out with the wrong converter.
We drove around to McDonalds in the Sorbonne area, the Latin District. After which we walked the area around the university and into a park surrounding a beautiful palace (across from the Big “M”) that was built by Marie de Médici, widow of Henry IV, in the image of her childhood home in Florence: the Pitti Palace. We then got back into the car and headed towards the Eiffel Tower. It started to rain and of course we’d left boots and umbrellas at the hotel; it was a light rain so we continued. I videotaped the traffic as Jim drove and sure enough…we were running out of film by the time we arrived. Never fear…we backed up the film and only lost some driving time. Yep, you said it…troopers to the end we hiked up the first level and then on to the second...who needs an elevator! It was raining pretty well by now but we didn’t have our raincoats on. One of the best items of clothing that we brought with us was our raincoat.
Continued to view the sights of Paris from above…had café and hot choc and split a croissant at the mini bar. Then we left. Jim suggested we ride the elevator down, but you know who said no? Just before we descended; Jim stopped and snapped a picture for two American girls! Had my hand on Jim’s shoulder from second to first level. Took a while to find the down staircase from the first and just plain got careless. When my wet tennis shoes slid down three steps in a row….I landed on my tush but broke the fall with my left hand! Opps, I knew immediately that it was either a very bad sprain or broken.
I held my wrist with my right hand and proceeded to bottom. We were headed for the car when Jim decided we should look for first aid there. Sure enough they called the fire department. They came…put the arm in a plastic blow up cast and off we went to the hospital. Me and three young firemen, only one of which spoke very broken English. But, really nice boys. I told him that I also had a son who worked as a fireman…brought a big smile to his face. The sirens were loud as we raced through the streets of Paris
At the hospital, Hopital Boucicaut, they immediately taped it to a board and off I went to x-ray. First inkling of trouble was second set of x-rays and a chest x-ray just in case they had to do surgery! About that time Jim arrived. He’d had to find the hospital on his own after retrieving the car from the parking lot. Not an easy feat for anyone but especially not for an American on his third day in France for the first time!
Definitely not a sprain; they said they had to put pins in the bone. I pleaded my case but in vain. Before I knew it, Jim was off to admitting; with passports and a credit card. When he returned they said two days as surgery was full for the night. We walked outside and to the next building and two orderlies showed us the room. Into bed with still no pain pills and TV with only French. That was my companion during the night. Mostly because I couldn’t find the right button to turn it off.
Jim ate the dinner…I wasn’t hungry…and finally left for the hotel. He also called home for the first time, as we needed insurance information for the medical papers for the hospital. No...they were not billing the Insurance Company...we had to pay with the credit card...thank goodness for socialized medicine! Eventually, our Insurance Company did reimburse us for the cost after we were home. He spent the last night alone in our beautiful hotel. We'd planned to leave the next day but now he had to find another hotel.
It seemed like an eternity as I had no watch and the metal shutter on the outside of the window totally blocked the light. Finally I could smell and hear the breakfast but knew I wasn’t to partake. About ten they came in and cut off the bandages; brought in the gurney and off I went. Down the elevator through the basement, probably 300 to 400 years old. Peeling paint and all! Then up to surgery. Fortunately the doctor did speak some English. They gave me a local in the armpit which eventually knocked me out before they did the surgery. But before I went they kept picking up the arm and dropping it to see if I felt any pain so they could tell if it was working.
By noon I was back in my room. Lunch had come and gone while I was away. Jim arrived with news.
1) He’d had to move to a new hotel…St. Louie; a block away as ours was full. Said he hadn’t realized how much luggage we had. But, he liked the room as well if not better than we had.
2) Had two tiny pieces of chocolate that he had saved for me. They’d been on the pillow for our last night at the hotel, thank God…food at last!
3) Conversation from home was about some new lawsuit; otherwise they were fine and had contacted the insurance company; which should pick up all the cost of the hospital eventually.
He stayed for several hours, we mostly both slept…he in his chair and me in bed. Neither had slept well the night before. I finally sent him on his way to hopefully go see some sights on his own.
At about 7 PM dinner finally arrived. I was famished! The main coarse looked like Lasagna…tasted more like chili…green salad, a great small French roll, great slice of bland cheese, great vegetable. It was something that grows in the ground; they use it green in salads and when it gets white they cook it. It tasted something like cabbage and looked like corn husks. The dessert was some bland pudding. Ate half of everything and was delighted to have it. None of the nurses speak English!!
Also just before Jim left, the guy came by to collect a fee for TV. I said “NO”. I can’t understand it anyway. Slept the day and night away thanks to aspirin from Jim! They finally gave me something to take also. But the medicine was very sparingly given.
Note: In the photos of the hospital information you'll see a "pin"...that was one of the three pins....this one had worked its way out of my arm "before" we left for home. The other two were removed in a hospital surgery after we arrived home....that cost more than putting them in because of the socialize medicine available to everyone in France....medical procedures are very inexpensive compared to the USA.