I was anxious for the day to begin today….I have my rendezvous with Dr Afriat this morning and I’m hoping for good news. We arrived at PolyClinique ahead of schedule. Good thing, too, because the Secretariat sent me for new radiographies. After four x-rays of my tibia and two of my fibula, I was presented with a bill for 38.88 euros….how can this be? Oh, that’s right….socialized medicine :-). With new x-ray’s in hand, we returned to await my rendezvous.
Dr Afriat met us in the hallway, greeted us warmly and escorted us into his office. He then apologized and said he would return shortly but first he had to check on a patient. While waiting, I compared his office to Dr Leroy’s. Dr Afriat’s is very different….a modern dark leather desk edged with light stitching, dark Scandinavian-design bookcases with frosted glass doors, large scale models of boats on the bookcases, watercolors of the canal on the walls, a working model of a knee joint and, among his medical books, a green leather-bound copy of Jules Verne’s “Geographie de la France.” An interesting mix that makes me wish we could get to know him better.
He returned and apologized for his absence, but it’s this concern for his patients that won me over when I was frightened and feeling very lost in a hospital in a foreign land. He reviewed my new x-rays and, with a twinkle in his eyes, said “the guy who put these pins in your leg….he is incredible.” He then came around from his desk, stood in front of me, took my hands in his and asked me to stand. This was accomplished with some trepidation on my part. He then asked me to take a step. My foot stayed resolutely in place. He gently encouraged me and finally my left leg moved! Followed quickly by a shooting pain starting at the base of my foot and moving up. Voilà….he had the information he needed to write the prescriptions for my kinesiotherapy….I’m to start with 20 pounds of pressure on my leg. Although he was disappointed that my therapists don’t have a piscine (swimming pool), he was pleased with the range of motion they’ve accomplished….so he gave me two prescriptions…..three days a week with my current therapists and two days a week at PolyClinque’s therapy pool (hope I can still fit in my swimsuit). I am to see him one more time before our return to California in September. He is my hero.
We celebrated with lunch in Port la Nouvelle, a working port town on the Mediterranean. The town is bordered by water on two sides….the port and marina are on one side with ocean-faring ships and local fishing boats moored along its quays….a left turn at the end of the marina takes you to the Mediterranean and the tourist side of town. Its long, sandy beach is separated from souvenir stands and restaurants by a road that’s home to the town’s market on Saturdays.
Although all of the restaurants had tables set-up along the sidewalk, we chose one of the few restaurants that had additional seating available in an open-air pavilion right on the beach. Le New Pole was full of locals enjoying lunch….always a good sign. I moved from the wheelchair to the cannes and finally to a REAL CHAIR!
We asked for a recommendation and our young waitress proposed the “Gambas”…..six large au-natural prawns (i.e., heads and legs intact) arrived, dripping with olive oil and garlic. topped with a drizzle of a mild parsley pesto, accompanied by crisp frites and a small artistic serving of greens in a chilled ramekin; a basket of bread helped to scoop up the tasty juices….it was finger-smacking delicious. A cold Heineken was the perfect counter-point for our sea-side meal. It was a hot afternoon….close to 100 degrees….but with the pavilion shading us and the sea breeze cooling us, we enjoyed our lunch in utter comfort.
Although sated, their desserts of house-made ice cream, proved too difficult to resist. We shared a Poire Helene sundae….a delectable concoction of creamy vanilla ice cream, warm chocolate sauce and pears topped with crème Chantilly. A perfect finish for today’s celebration.
As we drove home, the temperature rose….102, 103, 104….it crested at 105. Although warm, the temperature inside the cottage wasn’t unbearable…..the thick stone walls providing a defense against nature. In the late afternoon, when the evening breeze returned, we adjourned outdoors with tall, cool drinks in hand (well, ok, the drinks were in Craig’s hands….I’m still bum-scooting down the stairs….I need more strength….and courage….to tackle them upright).
The tourist boat, “La Capitaine,” cruised by but this wasn’t their usual trip. They had a party group on-board and they tied up along the canal bank opposite us. Some revelers jumped into the canal for a swim, others mingled on and off the boat with drinks in hand. Soon, we were all serenaded by a crew member singing lively boating songs with accordion accompaniment…..so very enjoyable….so very French.
La vie est belle….Life is good