• Day 199: The Sweet Side of Appendicitis!

    Date: 2010.09.10 | Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

    Possible #1 reason to move to France?  Their national health care system.

    Possible #1 reason to move to the south of France?  Well, if you get a killer stomachache that turns out to be appendicitis, you might land in a hospital room with a terrace and a view as good or better as any Four Seasons hotel in the world!

    Exhibit A above:  The view of Nice, Mont Boron and the Mediterranean from my recent nest of three days.

    After a tough night Monday in a full house (Lisa had just arrived from Maui via Cambridge where she dropped her daughter off for her freshman year at M.I.T.), that included dialing the SOS medecins (doctors who make house calls) at 2 a.m., we dialed the paramedics at 10 a.m.

    The SOS medecins thought it was only la colite, colitis.  Lisa, however, one among my army of girlfriends who is an expert on most everything with the conviction to match, was not convinced.  She was replete with tales of close friends snatched from the jaws of death because their appendicitises were not diagnosed correctly at first.

    Lisa (below) stopped marching around issuing dire warnings when we finally called the ambulance. I had to negotiate, though, while doubled-over in pain, not to be taken to the dreaded LA County-type hospital where ER patients are supposed to be taken.  I knew where I wanted to go.

    The top-rated Clinique St. George is high on the hill overlooking Nice, past the Chagall and Matisse museums and the ancient Roman ruins at Cimiez.  The doctor who came in to examine me was more Dr. McDreamy than any of the actors on Grey’s Anatomy – and funny to boot.

    They diagnosed appendicitis within 30 minutes and I was operated on that evening. The upside of bad stomach pain is that you don’t mind being wheeled into a Robin Cook Coma style bloc operatoire with a bunch of French-speaking strangers, at least one of which is going to cut open your abdomen while you are unconscious and helpless. You just want the pain to stop. Give me a bottle of Jim Beam, a bullet to bite and take a kitchen knife to it.

    I made a few lame witticisms about Grey’s Anatomy (obsessed much?) to the (also incredibly handsome) anesthesiologist who seemed practiced in the art of humoring prone, blue shower-cap wearing, possibly soon-to-be-gangrene-filled jokesters.  The next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room.

    The surgeon performed laparoscopic surgery, which involves going through your navel with a tiny video camera.  No scars, hardly any stitches. When he came to see me the next morning, Dr. Pascal Fabiani said my appendix, though it hadn’t yet ruptured, was particularly “sévère, brutale et aggressif.” And filled with gangrene.

    Since I’d never spent even one night in a hospital, the three I spent at St. George might spoil me forever.  Which is not to say that the food was good. Glorious French cuisine does not extend to hospitals.  I was fed a tasteless broth and sugar-free (!) applesauce and two cardboard biscottes for almost every meal. One dinner included a beige hockey puck labeled hilariously as veal.

    I was starving throughout and fantasized about food, especially all the food mentioned in the fantastic book, The Bookseller of Kabul, that I read during my hospital stay.

    One passage mentioned a feast of “pots with rice, large hunks of mutton, aubergine in yogurt sauce, noodles stuffed with spinach and garlic and potatoes with paprika sauce.”  I thought of the delicious Afghan restaurant on 9th Avenue in New York near my apartment and wished I could teleport there.

    I was only jonesing for candy a little when Andrew (left, bearing gift) showed up with, oh no, a bag from one of Nice’s best chocolatiers, Lac Chocolatier. Who remembers a silly vow of a year after you’ve just had major surgery? Well, me for one.

    And I could have easily gobbled those delicious chocolates, which remained just inches from my bed for all three days, if it weren’t for the fact that they might make me slip forever…

    The sweetest thing about having appendicitis in France?   The bill. (And yes we do pay into the system for it but still, compared to the U.S…)

    Total cost: $2060.18

    Amount I had to pay after insurance?  $160.33


    Feeling a little lighter if slightly sore…

    Gratefully yours,