So we spent the weekend in our hospital room. The kids couldn’t leave it because they had the dreaded and highly contagious gastroenteritis virus, which apparently is violent this year, and I could barely leave because the kids wanted me to stay with them. Whenever they both dropped off to sleep I would sneak out for a shower or an over-priced, under-rated coffee, but otherwise there we were the three of us, reading books and watching telly programs about digging up dinosaur bones and polar bears hunting penguins (I had to switch that one off fast when our lovely, young, cuddly polar bear suddenly got good at hunting). I did a lot of staring at the strange Disney forest scene which took up the entire wall opposite the beds. It was clearly Disney characters – there was King Louis swinging from a tree and Baloo from the Jungle Book, Bambi, Dumbo and various other woodland creatures, but they all looked a bit wierd. Like they’d had bad plastic surgery which had modified them a little bit, not past recognition but just enough to make them look creepy. Maybe they’d just been in hospital for too long.
Both Léonie and Tommy remained wiped out for most of our stay. They would perk up a bit every now and again and then crash out not long afterwards. But they were getting better slowly. Doctor She-Devil (real name Doctor Voisin) came by twice a day and was overly sweet with us. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde. My friend Louise visited us on Saturday and brought me much needed sustenance : proper food, a good book and a couple of hours of company. I found a box of earplugs in my bag which made the second night much easier, plus the nurses had unhooked Léonie from her machine so no BLEEPing all night. A nurse even brought me a cosy blanket to snuggle under. On the Sunday morning, Doctor Voisin proclaimed the kids strong enough to go home. She also said she knew L’Homme would be arriving direct from where he had been performing the night before, so could take us home.
“What about the seizures Léonie had?” I asked. “She didn’t have a fever when they happened, so what could have caused them?”
Doctor Voisin shrugged. “Maybe it’s genetic. Is there a history of seizures or fits or epilepsy in your family?”
“No. At least, I don’t think so …”
“Then maybe it was just an effect of the gastro virus. I’ll go and do the papers so that you can leave when your husband arrives.” And she vanished.
When L’Homme did arrive he was horrified at how skinny the kids looked. Even I had lost a couple of kilos, and I hadn’t even been sick. One of the nurses came by with the kids’ “carnets de santé” (health books) and I noticed there were a couple of prescriptions in each of them. I tried to decode the scrawl and managed to make out “Valium” on Léonie’s prescription.
“Valium? What’s this about?”
The nurse took the prescription and had a look. “It says it’s in case she has another seizure and it lasts for more than five minutes. You should give her Valium.”
“What? The doctor didn’t mention anything about this. How come no-one has explained this to me? Valium? For a 13 month old baby? How on earth do I give it to her?”
“With a syringe.” And she too, vanished.
I had had enough. I just wanted to get the children home. So that’s what we did. And after another two days of having two grumpy rag dolls lolling about on the sofa, both Léonie and Tommy bounced back and have been devouring every meal set before them. Léonie has gained far more weight than she lost, almost as if her little body realised that she didn’t have enough fat reserves in times of crisis. She is now nice and chubby with the most nibbleable chunky thighs.
I of course called our children’s doctor and told him the whole story. He was very surprised that I hadn’t been better informed. He has booked Léonie in for an electroencephalography (a sort of brain scan) next month just to check the two seizures didn’t do any damage, and when we see him afterwards he is going to explain all about convulsions in small children. This is the sort of good health care I am used to in France, not the couldn’t-give-a-damn attitude of Doctor Voisin. I hope I never come across her again. Unless it is just as she is being lowered into a vat of scalding oil and I am the one in charge of the lever.