Thursday, August 11, 2011

Où est l'hôpital?

Ah, Paris: city of lights, romance and magic.

Although I personally had had enough of Paris (city of dirt, smells, and incomprehension) the weekend before, I still stuck us on a plane to France on Saturday night. My original plan had us taking the EuroStar train, but I waited too long to get tickets and flying turned out to be more affordable. We got into Paris late that night, took the metro to the hotel and crashed. We didn't even eat a proper dinner.

Sticker on a window across from the hotel.

The next morning Teresa ordered us a French breakfast (coffee, orange juice and croissants) and we headed for the Catacombs. There was a line. It wrapped around the block. We waited for more than two and a half hours only to find out that half of the tour was closed (reason: incomprehensible). I paid for the audio tours in English anyway. I didn't want a repeat of my Louvre experience.

I've been to New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns three times in my life. There is inevitably a group of people who decide to ignore the subterranean wonders and instead talk loudly while they power walk from the entrance to the exit.

It is the same for the Catacombs. The women in line behind us, who conversed (in English) using their outside voices as we waited for all those hours, didn't pause or hush once inside. I choose to let them pass; Teresa pushed to get farther ahead. It was inconsiderate to both the place and the other visitors.

The Catacombs were originally limestone quarries.

Stop! Here is the empire of the dead.

The collection of bones was massive. This was another place, like many of the museums, where no flash photography was allowed. The couple of pictures I took are nearly black. However, not everyone follows the rules; you can see many images here.

All this time, Teresa is not feeling well. She has an intermittent fever, as well as headache, and neck and back pain. We grabb a late lunch and head back to the hotel. At one point we come around a corner and get a surprise view of the Eiffel Tower. It would prove to be Teresa's only view.

The next morning Teresa barely made it down to the breakfast room before crawling back into bed where she tossed and turned. Her fever was higher and she had also vomited that night.

I don't take my kids to the doctor often. I figure that the treatment for most illness is rest and fluids. But in my mind (corroborated by Web MD), fever + vomiting + neck pain + young adult = meningitis. I asked at the front desk about an English-speaking doctor and was instead recommended to go around the corner to the hospital. It was so close that we had to call three times to get a taxi to come--the fare was just not worth the effort.

At the hospital they asked for Teresa's ID, but she didn't have to fill out any other paperwork before she was ushered into a waiting room. They seemed to move past meningitis pretty quickly and focused on her appendix. Over the course of many hours, she had the usual lab tests, plus an ultrasound, CT scan, and X-rays. They were friendly, thorough, and patient with our inadequate French and their inadequate English. At no point did any of the nurses or doctors exclaim "Sacré bleu! Trés mal!" so I figured that it was not life threatening.

Finally I was told that Teresa had a pulmonary infection in her right lung. She was prescribed pain meds and antibiotics and told that she could go. "But don't I pay anything?" I asked. The doctor looked aghast. "Non! Madame, this is FRANCE!"

We were at the hospital from 11am to 8pm, but with the dose of medication in her IV drip, Teresa was able to walk out of the hospital and down the street to our hotel. I ran out a bit later to a late-night pharmacy to fill her prescription and grab some takeout.

I woke her at four in the morning to head to the airport. Her two-day visit to Paris had resulted in a half day of sightseeing and the most unusual souvenir: a chest x-ray showing a shadow at the bottom of her lung.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Final Project: Photo Book

Our final project was to create a photo book using a Web 2.0 application. I used Shutterfly.

I had high hopes for this project at one point, but it never got off the ground, since I was so busy with everything else that had to be done. And then today I spent nine hours in a Parisian hospital--turns out my daughter has a pulmonary infection.

The book designer inside me (you know, the one with the Masters in Publishing) has crawled to a corner to die a quiet death, but it is what it is: on time.