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« Two weeks I don't remember in the most beautiful city on the planet | Main | Freaking Europe »

Freaking Europe, part 2

Next installment, but the same day.

After hours sitting across the street from the hospital, we decided to attempt to get back to the flat. French is not one of Clay's languages, so we had planned all along that I'd be our navigator, especially on the Metro. Following the previous near disaster in Dusseldorf, I was determined to regain my reputation as subway/ train authority, and I caught on pretty quickly our first few days there. This day, however, I barely knew my own name, much less the web- like maps on the Metro walls. I'm honestly baffled as to how we got back to the apartment. Soon after we fell through the front door, though, I seized again. This time, however, Clay was able to run to the cafe on the corner of our street and enlist the help of a bartender we'd befriended. Bartenders seem to enjoy us; I don't know why...maybe.
Anyhow, our new friend called an ambulance and shortly a crew of EMTs were flooding the apartment. They carried me from the bathroom, where I had chosen to dissolve in a heap in order to be closest to the toilet- apparently a side effect of a seizure is incessant vomiting. Anyhow, they were able to get me to the street and onto the ambulance. As the rest of the day had sucked, it was apropos that the only EMT who spoke English was the driver. On the bright side, I did learn the French for 'here, puke into this'.
They dropped us off at another hospital where I was put into the ER, but not for long. One fact our research about Parisian life had not turned up was the protocol of French socialized medicine. As it turns out, regulations mandate that any citizen can find a place to spend the night in any public hospital waiting room, regardless of medical need. It's a little like a Greyhound bus station, with blood and other effluences. Anyhow, after spending a short time with the non- English speaking staff, C3 and I were sent back to the lobby, me with a mobile IV in my arm, to wait...
And we waited. It was Friday night on a festival weekend, so the lobby was a busy little terminal. We sat from eleven o'clock or so until well past dawn. I have seen some crazy before, but that night was the ultimate experience. There were people sleeping on the benches still clutching their bottles of wine. All night, stabbing victims staggered in with the help of their drunken friends and were placed on the floor to wait. The bathroom doors were controlled by the nurses behind bulletproof glass (probably the best idea this place has made the norm), but after seeing those using the facilities, I tried my best to avoid them. After five hours, though, I just had to go. Inside the ladies' room I encountered a very short, rather dumpy transvestite clad from head to toe in cheap velour leopard print. She(?) pointed to the stall, said 'meirde! No no! Meirde!', and proceeded to spray me with Jean Nate. Fortunately, I'd been vigilantly in covering the needle in my arm all night, so I was spared death by cheap perfume.
In the morning, twelve hours later, we were discharged with a handful of medical French. In the first stroke of luck we'd had in a while, there was a doctor who was trying to practice his English, and he translated my diagnosis...epilepsy. He was also able to explain the prescription (Keppra) I was given and some part of how to take it. And then again, we struggled back to our flat.

Next episode: Paris from the realm of barbiturates.

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