Hospital Opium

Day 4. Still here. The hospital is starting to feel like home. But without the cooking, cleaning, washing-up, dishwasher unloading, shopping, tidying, hoovering, laundry-folding, dog-hair collecting. It’s a sort of holiday. Except that there’s also no big double bed, plants, books, view of the valley, sofa, bracing walks in the fresh air, coffee in the sunshine, and most importantly, no L’Homme nor Tommy. They come and visit though, turning up every morning and staying until after lunch. Tommy thinks hospital is FANTASTIC. “C’est la fête, Daddy!” he said on their way here this morning. He gets to spend hours in the playroom here trying out all the toys, leafing through the books, making us plastic meals on the mini kitchen hob, playing table football, doing jigsaw puzzles, chatting to the nurses and doctors and racing down the corridors on various bikes and scooters. He loves sharing my lunch, brought to me steaming hot on a tray (even the food is pretty good here), and he loves the fact he gets to drink a hot chocolate from the coffee machine (which means an exciting journey in the lift and much button pressing), sitting on a plastic kiddy armchair in front of a load of cartoons on the telly. He thinks it’s all great and probably hopes his little sister will be poorly until the springtime.

Which may well be the case.

Her cold has indeed moved southwards to her lungs and the bronchiolitis demons are threatening to claim her as theirs. She’s coughing like she has smoked Gauloises cigarettes all her life (29 days to be precise) and wheezing heavily. When the doctor heard her he immediately ordered an opium machine to be installed in our room. Well it looks like an opium machine, and it seems to have a similar effect on both Léonie and myself. Apparently it’s just a huge vapouriser with eucalyptus oil in it, but Léonie has been cross-eyed and totally out of it since they stuck the tube beneath her nose, and when I tried it I nearly slid down the wall.

The muscle-bound ‘kinesitherapeute respiratoire’ came by this evening. Here in France they have a technique for expelling mucus and phlegm from the lungs. It involves one of these experts pushing down and upwards on the childs chest and making him/her cough the nasty stuff up. Léonie is so tiny though, it looked like he was kneading a lump of dough and then flattening it into a chapati. She screamed of course, that is, when she was able to scream, as when he was squashing her into the table she wasn’t physically able to do anything but let herself be squashed into the table. But not much came out as apparently it’s too early on. So he’s coming back tomorrow morning when her cough will have ‘ripened’ (as they put it) to make some more chapatis.

At this rate I doubt very much they’ll let us out before the week-end. And on Monday L’Homme goes off on tour for five days, so I have no idea how we’re going to organise ourselves. Tommy will probably be more than happy to move into the little plastic house in the playroom here and live on machine-made hot chocolate for a few days. Or he’ll go on tour with his daddy and live on machine-made hot chocolate for a few days.

In the meantime, back to the opium machine.


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