Every chapter has a start and end but this is what the French call a “pause.” Basically it means a break. Not an ending. School closed after our class left bottles of Bailey’s (thanks to Maeve) and Champagne (thanks to Marcos.)
I brought latkes and applesauce and we had a little going away party. Just the 7 of us survivors and poor Dabin cried at the end knowing that she would not be joining the lone rangers in class in January. Her parents have moved her to another school, closer to where she lives. She was our baby in the class and we share a middle name. Just 20 years old and braver than any other kid her age that I know. She is in Paris for 3 years to learn the language for a year before she starts pastry school.
Antonia and I are the soul survivors from the start of the course in September with our new friends joining in at various times through the journey, so the good bye to her was hard. I am sure I will be in contact with them sine they are now my friends and this week I needed them.
I felt a pain on my ear, and it was familiar and scary so I took a prednisone that I keep for emergencies. I know it seems an odd choice of things to keep around. Having suffered Bell’s Palsy 3 times in my life, I have a hording issue with drugs in case I ever feel concerning symptoms.
The following day my ear still hurt, but no signs of any paralysis, so to be safe I took another pill. My thought at this time was that perhaps I was getting an ear infection and as an asthmatic, I know that often a small dose will help kick issues to the curb. By the middle of the night I was not sleeping and in terrible pain, I told Claude when he woke that I needed to see a doctor.
He was pressed for time and the office across the street that generally takes walk in was not open till 2pm which was during school. I decided in the interest of my health I needed to take a day off and in full fledge pain I took another prednisone.
After walking all morning from potential doctor offices to the next and no one being open, Claude had to leave for work and I cried for joy when I saw Gloria, who got a quick update from Claude and assured him she would take over.
We waited till all the doctors’ appointment’s had been seen and he squeezed us in. Knowing her, he billed it all to her social security. I am not sure what she felt but hearing her call me her daughter in law which in French is Belle Fille was comforting and I knew she had my back.
I made it home with drugs made chicken soup, worked on homework that Antonia sent me after class, and went to bed sure I would be right as rain by morning. You know that expression, you make plans and god laughs? I woke and instantly knew that there was something wrong. I went to the bathroom to discover the signs of Bell’s Palsy were real and I needed to get to a hospital quickly.
I woke Claude but he told me that he need his mother’s assistance to be sure we were at the correct place and didn’t get charged a fortune. I decided to practice my patience although everything in me said to follow the google maps to the nearest hospital and be seen immediately.
He couldn’t find his mom for several hours I tried to stay clam while my worst nightmare come true. In a foreign country getting ill was one thing, but Bell’s Palsy is a nightmare I don’t wish on anyone anywhere. It is a weird disease that not much research has been done on since it isn’t fatal.
This now is the 4th time I have had it, and until recent years they said you could only get it once. Luckily experience has paid off and each time I have gotten it, I have learned how to get better quickly and I knew getting a prednisone shot would help get the swelling down. The doses I had been taking were very small, and undoubtedly helpful, but a real dose was needed cause the battle was being lost.
Palsy is basically the inflammation of a nerve that travels thru a small hole in your skull behind your ear. This explains the ear ache and I why I suspected foul play. The pinching of the nerve causes the paralysis and it is very painful, but not as painful as the looks people give you when they are sure you have had a stroke.
Finally, Gloria picked us up and took us the hospital where they took me fairly quickly to get basic info with the help of Claude as my translator and then they allowed us to see an Intern, as Doctors are reserved for more important matters.
She was young and could be considered pretty, if she put on makeup, smiled, and was sympathetically while thoroughly checking for various signs of a stroke. Not believing that it was something to be concerned with she dismissed me with a hand full of scripts and no shot.
I was alone at that point as Claude went to check on his mom, and I lost my patience and yelled in English about her compassion being for shit, her carrier was clearly doomed due to her bedside manner. Not that any of that mattered, it just got me more worked up and that in turn made my face distort enough to freak Claude and his mom out.
I had been trying not moving anything on my face so that I looked normal, but this was the moment they both could see that what I was saying was true. At that, they took me to the second hospital where I was admitted quickly although, but stuck waiting in the next room for a couple hours while my face steady got worse.
Finally, I was seen and they recognized immediately what was going on without being told and assured me they would treat me shortly and not for a stroke. This too lead to a long wait but eventually they gave me a million scripts and sent me off without a shot.
It seems that Internes are not able to give shots. I’m not sure how this works, but we were supposed to go to the pharmacy to get the shots. We rushed off as it was late by then and didn’t want to risk them closing. When we got the duffle bag of the meds and realized no prednisone shot was include we returned to the hospital for clarification. Just to learn the Intern we had worked, had left for the night. The nurse that bandages me like Jack Sparrow was kind and spoke to the doctors. He sadly confirmed that unless I was admitted to the hospital there would be no drip of prednisone administered and with that I swallowed more pills.
I sadly went home fearing for the worst and exhausted I went to bed after my best Valley of The Dolls rehearsal. The following day I would know the extent of the damage as it peaks in the first day. I was happy to see the paralysis was not as bad as it could have been when I woke. I knew that staying home another day would not be a good idea so, I packed the drugs and took the show on the road.
I sent Pia and my classmates the information regarding the disease so they would not be horrified when I walked in like the Hunchbacks of Notre Dame. It was probably the best day of class I had ever had. My classmates were loving and supportive, they were patience with my lisp, the way I had to hold to hold my cheek to be heard clearly. They didn’t seem to mind the monster in the room at all.
Pia assured me that I could leave anytime and that I should take it easy, but I told them at home I would check the mirror too often. It would do no good, and I rather not miss another day of class. After class I rushed to the office of the person that can administer shots in town.
Socialized Medicine lesson number, what? 14? Since the interns can’t give shots, and doctors seem to be the Wizard of Oz, they have special places for you to go to. The call her title something funny like a person that pokes you, totally appropriate but odd. No clue her credentials, she was very kind and laughed when I rolled up my sleeve pointing to my butt.
I was very surprised they took my request for B12 seriously at the hospital knowing the last time I had palsy it worked wonders and went home to bed hoping for rest. Her office was not open till the afternoon, so I was forced to get the shot late in the day it mad it to sleep but rest was good.
As routine, in the morning, I woke and stayed in bed evaluating what I could feel on my face before the dreaded mirror. It felt better and I gained courage to look. Too my surprise the palsy had subsided a great deal in the night and my thought was that perhaps my early induction of the prednisone and the addition of the b12 was working faster and better than expected.
In the past, that would be the only visible change for the day, and I would need to reevaluate the following day for progress. Oddly as the day continued I kept getting better. I had spoken to another palsy victim before who told me that he often gets it for a week or two and very frequently, but I had had it 3 times and each took several months to recover. I never imagined it could be any different.
On my last day of class, I looked normal. I still feel the effects and it is more apparent when I am tired which happens fast. My critical eye I can see the drop of my lip and the expansion of my eye, these are details no one but another palsy person or myself could notice.
I say this because there are several famous people in the work that have suffered the same fate, and I recognize it in there features. My favorite being George Clooney and if you analyses him close enough you can see that he is not perfectly symmetrical.
None of that matters as long as I continue to get better and Claude and I consider it a wakeup call, to pay attention to the stress level in or lives. That and the fact that my immune system has been neglected. I have been so busy making sure he is set up for success that I haven’t taken as good care of myself as I should and with three weeks of vacation coming at the right time.
The break will be an interesting time for time to start a new routine. As I left class with Pia and discussed my weakness, and she assured me over the break should would email ne back the homework I had done poorly if I chose to correct and search out better understanding. She assured me that my lack of fear in talking was the key to my success and I assured her that she was a friend for life.
Pierre fell ill the same day as me and was forced to stay in Buenos Aries leaving Claude, me and Gloria to clean out his apartment. This doesn’t seem like a reduction of stress but it is a good opportunity. I spent the bulk of the day with Gloria taking loads of trash out and packing expensive items carefully and organizing for the city pick up in 2 weeks. We had lunch, I choked down dutifully the slop she had brought she brought me home with new treasure’s for the house including canvases and paint.
I am committed to helping the family out, but studying is also a priority. I want to go to some museums and French movies. An aisle waits patiently at Pierre’s, in the corner for the next I have transportation as well.
I know that I have been given an warning from the universe. My fear came to fruition and it was met with a different approached than I was comfortable with, but in the end it worked out. France continues to be a dance of two steps forward and one back, but at least the back wasn’t as bad as the last time. Maybe facing your fears pays off, maybe it’s just Paris encouraging me to stay a bit longer and grow a bit more.