Thursday, August 31, 2006

Convalescence - day 7

I can't believe it's already a week since I went under the knife. This staying at home watching films lark is pretty great actually. I read something somewhere about people who stay at home too long becoming almost institutionalised and not wanting to leave the house because of agoraphobia which develops when you spend long periods alone.

Having watched the whole of series one of 24, I'm now not only agoraphobic but have recurring nightmares about being kidnapped and no longer hear a noise in the apartment without thinking someone has come to get me! I finished the series yesterday, so today has been a lot more tranquil.

Aside from watching Kiefer Sutherland attempt death-defying stunts, this week I have made the following things to eat :

1. Rocket, parmesan and avocado salad (twice)
2. Tomato and mozzarella salad
3. Lasagne
4. Aubergine parmesan
5. Boeuf Bourgignon
6. Thai hot and sour soup
7. Dried beef and carrot salad with sesame oil
8. A chocolate orange cake (that's chocolate and orange, not as in Terry's)
9. Orange salad with cinnamon and orange blossom essence

As you can see, I haven't been sitting on the sofa all day. We've had friends or G's family over every night this week except last night; it actually gives me something to do. In the morning I do the washing-up, then sit and let my scars heal some more. Then in the afternoon I cook again and lay the table then rest again. I'm not supposed to walk very far or stand up for long periods, so I've nicely managed to marry cutting vegetables with tv watching. Very productive.

It's the second to last night tonight of entertaining and it's G's sister and her husband. We're also going to discover the start of a new series (in France), Prison Break. I know it's been on in the States and the UK for ages, but we're only just getting it on tv here now. I sound like a tv series addict, but believe me when you're supposed to be lying down for most of the day there's little else to do. (I know, I know, but I've already read two books this week, AND done a counted cross-stitch).

Now if you'll excuse me I'll have to get back to planning the final meal for tomorrow, it's my sister and her husband this time.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Convalescence - day 4

I have discovered 24 - the series with Kiefer Sutherland which takes place over 24 hours. I've watched from 12am to 4am already and I'm completely addicted.

G's parents are coming for dinner tonight so in between episodes I've made a lasagne and now I'm going to pop out to Monoprix and pick up some flour to make a Victoria Sponge. I thought I'd avoid trying to cook French food since I'm trying to impress!

I'm delighted to say that given the chilly weather we're being subjected to in Paris at the moment, there are no mosquitoes darkening my door. I'm bite-free, but unfortunately not quite pain-free yet. The cuts from my op are still hurting a bit and it's worse when I walk, so no métro for this week. I think it must be the very first week that I've lived in Paris that I haven't taken the smelly underground. No bad thing really. I prefer Kiefer Sutherland to dodgy métro men any day.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Convalescence - day 2

Yesterday I watched 2 films, one with George Clooney and one with Clive Owen. I did a counted cross-stitch of The Lion King and made prawn Thai-style noodles. That really is all I did yesterday. In the name of rest and relaxation I've bored myself stupid already, and I'm not even close to halfway through my 'arrêt de travail'.

Today G has been at home so it's been pretty much like a normal Saturday except I've had pain where my scars are forming. Thank goodness for Doliprane which has really helped to ease the soreness. Still, James Bond's Goldeneye took my mind off it for a couple of hours today.

Tomorrow I'm having some friends over from the band and the choir so I'm really looking forward to that. It'll be nice to be active in a conversation rather than imagining that everyone around me is in an action movie.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Convalescence - day 1

In the place I live - Paris, or even more realistically, France, at any mention of illness or pain the French jump on different kinds of treatment the same way an energetic labrador jumps on his long-awaited owner. I have experienced a few minor colds in the 6 years I've been living in France and people have given them names I can barely pronounce. Rhinopharyngite is what they call a common cold in France, then you have bronchite which I suppose should be bronchitis but it's far more common here than in the UK. More people than I can count on two hands complain of having migraines here whereas at home I knew of one person who suffered from them.

All that to say that when I have really needed medical care I have thanked my lucky twinkling stars that I do live in France.

Today is one of those days. Yesterday I went into hospital to have five moles removed. No tests were done prior to my admittance to hospital to find out if these moles were dangerous, but my dermatologist thought it would be prudent to have them removed.

I presumed that being a dermatologist, she would be the one to lay me down on the table, inject a little local anaesthetic and whip them off herself with a brisk slice of a fifteen blade. But no, this being France, medical things have to be done more than properly. She referred me to a wonderful plastic surgeon, another lady, and promised me that as I was a young woman, it would be better for me to have my surgery done by a true surgeon whose work was "vraiment beau". I suppose she meant, contrary to The Carver, that Beauty Is Not A Curse On The World, but should be sought out at all costs. I have to say, it's a trait to be cherished in skin specialists. (By the way if you haven't seen all of series 3 of Nip/Tuck don't read the link on The Carver).

So, yesterday with a full ten page dossier under my arm, and a full family of butterflies in my stomach, G and I set off to the hospital.

The experience was completely stress-free from start to finish. I was welcomed warmly by the nurses, the room they gave me (even though it was just for an afternoon) was modern and comfortable and I even had a post-operative snack. Again, this being France I was given fine biscuits and a little packet of very good soft cheese with a roll.

I found it extremely interesting to be awake during the operation, although awake is perhaps a slight exaggeration. The very kind and friendly anaesthetist (not unlike Liz) gave me an injection to make me relaxed and it soothed any remaining anxiety I may have had left while I was lying on the table ready for the knife. I was disappointed that there was no cool auto-CD player on to accompany the op like there is for Nip/Tuck.

So now I'm back home with five wounds to tend to. Because they're all in different places it's very difficult to remember not to catch them. I have little pieces of medical tape over them so I can't see the gory details yet, but I thought I'd leave you with a pre-op photo of the one behind my knee in all its former glory. It's now on its way to the lab to be analysed along with its four friends and I have to stay at home for ten days while the wounds heal.

Being a very active, busy person I don't expect to enjoy myself over the next ten days, but my blog will probably get a lot of attention. Watch this space for signs of insanity creeping up on me.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Back to School Blues

I don't really have to go back to school, just to work, but it feels like those last few days of holidays when you're thinking about all the nerve-wracking tests, new teachers and old bullies that you gleefully left behind in a swirl and a skip at the end of the summer term.

Truth be told I have had great holidays this year and they're not really over just yet. I visited the Dordogne region of France recently for a wedding - a high school friend of G's.

The village where we went, le Verneil, is an amazing place. It was created, literally, in the early seventies by a group of friends who wanted to leave Paris and live in the country and in true hippy style. They bought some old ruins of an empty hamlet and set about reconstructing the ruins into habitable houses. Now in their fifties, these people have successfully built their very own village, and bought the forest of several hectares surrounding it to avoid unwelcome newcomers to the area.

As friends, we were welcomed with open arms however, and life in the place is very warm and friendly. No doors are locked, people move in and out of each other's houses with a freedom rarely seen since the fifties. All the houses (there are 4 or 5) are private and there are common areas like the swimming pool (hippies but not poor...) and the grange where we had the wedding reception. The bride is the eldest daughter of one of the inhabitants of the hamlet, and the love they all share was palpable during the whole time we stayed there.

They are not completely self-sufficient in Le Verneil, but they grow vegetables, flowers and there is even a very generous man who picks mushrooms (ceps, no less) from the surrounding forest and sells them for a living and gives the rest to his friends. Suffice to say that we ate delicacies that in Paris cost over 20€ a kilo completely free.

Arriving on the périphérique yesterday evening I heard a carhorn beeping for the first time in over a week and it gave me the little stomach flip that nerves bring. I do have another four days before work starts again but knowing that I'm not going anywhere new or doing anything different does make me feel a little down.

Now, that pile of dirty washing is not going to put itself in the wash, and my newly purchased mosquito net seems to be winking at me from its sleek casing. Where's my stepladder?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Beautiful Blighty

I have just returned from a brief trip to Châtelet to exchange an ill-thought-out dress purchase made before I went on my England tour, and I'm already wearing my Paris face.

In the last few days G and I have visited Yorkshire, Derbyshire (I recommend the Heights of Abraham), The Cotswolds (I recommend The Slaughters) and Winchester. We have been visiting friends and family and it has been a truly lovely experience to drive through the country I love seeing special people who I miss when in the day-to-day Parisian routine.

While I've been away I've realised that England is not the same as it was when I left. The most shocking thing was the size of the people. I do not mean the people we stayed with, of course they are all gorgeous, what I mean is the general size of the population is larger than it was 5 years ago when I left the UK. I'm not sure why this is, because I ate pretty much what I would eat in France (give or take the odd curry or cake) and definitely about the same as what I ate when I lived in England before.

What I think has changed is food preparation. We went to two supermarkets while we were away and the thing I noticed the most was that now you can buy absolutely anything in a packet. ANYTHING! I noticed mashed potatoes, ready prepared and refridgerated - with a pat of butter ready on top! I noticed frozen meals, not just pizza but roast beef and yorkshire pudding with vegetables, all ready to heat up and consume. People who don't want to cook really don't have to now, as long as they have a microwave and a large rubbish bin to throw away all the superfluous packaging.

I have to add at this juncture that we ate extremely well with all the people we visited and I never once saw a frozen meal in any of their freezers!

So, our tour of England is over, but now we're on to our mini-tour of France. Tomorrow we start by visiting G's family in Chablis for his mum's 60th birthday, then it's down to Périgueux for a wedding, one of G's high school buddies is tying the knot in the Dordogne region. I've bought a new outfit for the wedding in next season's (apparently) gold so I'm looking forward to getting dolled up. Going out in England always involves long hours of preparation, but in France I tend to be lazier. A wedding is the perfect opportunity to pull out my glad rags and I'm looking forward to it.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to see if I can still get into my new dress.