Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Journey Towards Healing

August 22, 2006

Kidney stones are not a girl’s best friend! For my first birthday in France, my body was kind enough to celebrate the day by giving me kidney stones. I however, had quite a different idea concerning birthday revelry. Many of you know that my medical history is a trail of doctor and hospital visits and treatments that stretch practically to the moon and back. Well my medical adventures continue in the fashion in the South of France. Most of you won’t be surprised by the story I am about to tell you of how I celebrated my first French birthday.
August 22nd, 2006 was a beautiful morning in La Cote d’Azur. The sun softly glistened from the skylight in my chamber, warming my face and causing me to stir and awaken. I was all packed and ready to hit the road for an exhilarating mini-break in Barcelona. After living in France for over a month, I was extremely excited about being in a country where I actually spoke the language. My uncle kindly paid for me to stay at one of those ultra modern hotels one kilometer away from El Mar. I bathed while enjoying happy thoughts of discovering the country of my ancestors’ forefathers. I could almost smell the paella and hear the deep and sensual rhythm of the tango. As I shampooed, a vision of bronzing in the sun and sipping sangria poolside hypnotized me. All it would take was one glass of sangria and my tongue would remember to lazily roll my “rs” instead of gargle them at the back of the throat.
Then, out of nowhere, I am doubled over in pain. Pangs of stabbing pain dug deep into my back and ricocheted down my right side. Once the pain dulled, I optimistically brushed it off thinking I was still recovering from the kidney infection that had me bedridden for seven days the week before. Nothing was going to stop me from celebrating my birthday speaking a language I didn’t have to think first to speak. I carefully finished getting dressed and limped down the stairs for a glass of cranberry juice. And when I say limp, I mean LIMP! It took me five minutes to make it to “le cuisine” to join my bosses for breakfast. We were chatting lightly about my impending excursion and then suddenly shots of burning pain in my right side so intense that that I knocked the breadbasket off the table and into Monsieur’s lap causing him to wear his breakfast. I would have normally been humiliated, but I didn’t give a damn about anything but my aching side. After an agonizing ten-minute interchange about the source of the pain, I reassured both Madame and Monsieur that I was fine and that I was just experiencing a relapse. I almost had them convinced until the shoot pain returned, causing me to go limp on the kitchen floor. The last thing I remember is Monsieur carrying me up a flight of stairs to my suite. Half an hour later I found myself in my bed riddled with fever and sadly calling Hotel Vincci Condal Mar to cancel my three-night reservation. Hour after insufferable hour my body raged with fever, then the chills, and the fever again. After two days I could no longer endure the pain; I had to call Madame at work. I agonizingly climbed back downstairs to fetch the number of the family restaurant.
Monsieur was kind enough to return home an hour later to cart me around to the doctor’s office. After a ten-minute symptom synopsis with Docteur DuBois, he pressed the tender areas of my abdomen with great care. He suspected kidney stones, but he sent me for tests to verify his theory. Being examined by a French doctor was a considerably more comfortable experience; it was the first doctor’s visit where I didn’t have to remove my clothes during any point of the examination.

In short, kidney stones attacked for the third time in my short life. To celebrate my birthday I managed to dress in a few items from my vintage collection and enjoy a nice luncheon before the strong painkillers took hold. Kidney stones changed my birthday plans a bit, causing me to sip Perrier, instead of Sangria and dine on quiche on the veranda, instead of poolside in Spain, but as far as I am concerned, to enjoy a birthday living in France is still a dream come true.

I can’t tell you much about the subsequent week because the hours blended into days as I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Only daylight peaking in from the skylight marked the time. I read Monsieur’s entire collection of English books, most of which I was too delirious to remember, and took lots and lots of antibiotics and painkillers. You may think the experience to be jolly, doped up on Vicodin while relaxing in bed. Interestingly enough painkillers prescribed by French doctors are not laced with opiates and yet are just as affective. The focus of the medication is to dull the pain but allow one to remain cognizant. A very different experience than in the States where painkillers have been proscribed to me kill the pain, but keep me comatose. That isn’t the only difference I have noticed between the French and American medical field. My doctor impressed me greatly. He used my pain and symptoms as a guide to find the underlying illness, and then treat it.  I am accustom to visiting an array of doctors who play the guessing game by masking the pain with pill after pill or play Russian roulette by prescribing pills and hoping one of the hundreds prescribed will provide the cure. The French climate and lifestyle have just about cured me of most of my pain. I am glad that I am not as sickly as I thought. Living cooped up inside cramped apartments and working in stuffy offices gave little opportunity for nature to heal me. As it turns out sun, trees, breathable air, and whole foods are all a body needs to heal itself. Having made hundreds of doctors and hospital expeditions gives me an expert opinion. It amazes me how it took ONE visit to the doctor to discover I had kidney stones. Of the myriad of illnesses that I have suffered, even kidney stones, many have gone misdiagnosed and undetected after at least two doctors and/or hospital visits. While other symptoms still puzzle my doctors and have remained unsolved mysteries to this day. I now see that there are other healing paths to explore and this experience has inspired me to search out one that is right for me.
Lesson one: when ill in a foreign country, pray that you are in France, they have excellent healthcare. Lesson two: having kidney stones can be rather productive. The pain was dull enough to unpack the remaining two days my stone passed. I had quite a lot of time to unpack the last two boxes of personal belongings, making my room a bit homier. All in all, kidney stones in France were a painful, yet surprisingly educational experience.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home