2007-11-30

Urgences

The emergency room in Grasse.
Last Sunday morning about 2am Sam woke up screaming at the top of his lungs. The master bedroom is downstairs and on the other end of the house so it took Dave and I a couple of minutes to realize we weren't dreaming the horrible noise.

When we both groggily reached the top of the stairs we woke up quickly. I found Sam doubled over in his bed in total agony, screaming "I feel like I'm gonna die!" He kept writhing around on his bed holding his abdomen, and no matter what we did we couldn't get him to hold still. It was obviously pretty bad.

We brought him to the bathroom and began interrogating. This is difficult when someone is already screaming. But we did our best.
"Do you need to throw up?" No. (more writhing).
"Do you need to go to the bathroom?" No. (Still writhing).
"Are you really hungry?" No. (Still writhing. And screaming).
"Does it hurt here?" (press on stomach) No.
"How about here? " (press on appendix) No.
"How about here?" (lower intestinal region) YES YES YES YES OWWWWW OWWWWW!

Naturally, in such a situation every parent is afraid their child has a serious illness like appendicitis. A stomachache becomes a brush with death and no less than the hospital will do. I called my sister, who has done medical transcription for years and knows every malady that exists, including (probably) gout and bubonic plague. Plus, it was only 6pm in Phoenix.

"It's very possible he has appendicitis," she said. I felt very scared.

"What happens with that?" I asked.

"Well," she said. "He'll be in incredible pain for awhile but then it will rupture and the pain will subside, so you might think he's doing better. But in 24 hours he'll be dead."

"In 24 hours he'll be dead?" I asked, not realizing I wasn't alone, and that everyone else in the room could only hear my side of the conversation.

"I'M GOING TO DIE????!!!!!" Sam began scream crying.

Dave rolled his eyes. He just wanted everyone to be quiet.

"You're not going to die," he said. "Just calm down and take it easy."

But Sam would not take it easy. With him still writhing on the cold tile floor in the bathroom, we decided to take him to the hospital.

When Dave came to visit Mougins back in May, Virginie made it very clear that if anyone had to go to the emergency room we must go to the hospital in Grasse, not the one in Cannes. The one in Cannes is apparently a death trap. All the French people are afraid of it.

The problem is I didn't know how to get to Grasse. So we debated about who to call, going down our list of five or six options, eventually settling on my friend Gina. Ultimately I just decided it would be better to call someone that I can speak to in English, so I wouldn't have to struggle for words while Sam was screaming in the background. Gina is American but has lived here for six years. She speaks good French, native English, and is also fluent in Italian and Spanish. Her husband is Greek but was born and raised in Sweden so speaks those two languages perfectly, not to mention English. They speak English to each other. Gina speaks Spanish to her kids and her husband speaks to them in Greek. Their kids speak French to each other. They speak Italian to their grandparents. I've seen her do it. I don't know how they can keep it all straight.

So I called Gina and Kosta answered the phone. "Meet me at our house and you can follow me to the hospital," he said. With Sam laying in the back of the car screaming, I rushed off in the night to get to the hospital. Dave stayed home because we didn't want to leave the other kids alone.

The route to the hospital was very windy and confusing. I would never have found it in the dark. We were almost there when Sam let out a huge burp. He stopped screaming.
Kosta parked his car and mine and I carried Sam into the Urgences. Luckily for us, we were the only ones there. The man at the desk took Sam's name, our address and phone number. Two seconds later we were in a room and a nurse was checking out Sam. Since he was no longer writhing or screaming it all seemed a little less urgent. But after she gave him a tylenol suppository and some kind of anti-cramping medicine, he had one more bout of writhing and groaning, so I was *kind of* glad that they could both see I wasn't crazy. The nurse handed me a prescription and that was it!

"Do I get a bill?" I asked Kosta.

"I don't think so," he replied, "I think it's free."

As we got in our cars and drove home I was so grateful that 1) Sam was okay 2) Hospitals exist and 3) There are kind people all over the world, and I know a lot of them.

I'll let you know if I get a bill.

This is Gina, who deserves her own post!

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4 Comments:

Blogger Shanel said...

So, he just had a painful burp? Gina's family is quite amazing, I am impressed they can speak all those other languages and not get confused.

30.11.07  
Blogger Janae said...

I'm glad it was nothing too serious! Your description of the event was pretty funny.

30.11.07  
Anonymous Michelle said...

I am a little confused about what his actual diagnosis was. I'm so glad he's o.k.

30.11.07  
Blogger C'est La Vie said...

So the conversation was all in French and while I understood what she was saying to me, there was no translatable "diagnosis" per se. She said the word "intestines" a lot and squeezed her hands into fists indicating, you know, squeezing. Basically it was some sort of intensinal cramping due to . . . who knows what. The burp merely relieved some of the intense pain, but he was still groaning and breathing weird like someone was sitting on him. We are glad he is ok too, but I hope he never does that again. ;)

30.11.07  

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