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LSS again visited La Source, where she had a meeting with the Social Services officer of the Geriatric Department. Officialdom has now finally agreed that the Aged FIL can no longer receive the appropriate level of care at home; and when (actually more likely IF) he recovers sufficiently, he will be moved into an EHPAD (French nursing home for the elderly).

If he refuses this (which, knowing him, is highly likely), the necessary steps will be taken to have him declared incompetent, and LSS will then have the final say. However, his condition has not improved much since he was admitted; and the doctors have told LSS to prepare herself for the worst. “It could be weeks, or just a few months,” they said.


LSS heard back from the lawyers regarding the “medical malpractice” affair with the Aged FIL. “Yes, everything is in order. However, in order to proceed further, we need signed witness statements from Seven Vestal Virgins, countersigned by the President.”

No, not really. But in other words, they cannot proceed without any written witness statements. LSS is trying to trace the chap who was in the bed next to the Aged FIL when the “incident” occurred. But is not having much luck.

In the afternoon LSS went back to Orleans La Source. The Aged FIL has now been transferred to the Geriatric unit, and has had the scheduled X-Ray for his broken arm. Apparently when he was last at this hospital, he discharged himself; even though they wanted to keep him there to make sure his arm was starting to heal.

Well, they’re keeping him now. For a while, anyway.


Just after lunch, the hospital called LSS. “The Aged FIL has been repaired. So we’re sending him back home.”

“What, already!” exclaimed LSS. “Are you sure? The Home Nursing Service asked me to tell you that he will not be able to get the amount of specialised care he needs at home; therefore he should either stay in hospital until he’s completely better, or he needs to be referred to a retirement home catering for patients with special needs.”

“That is unacceptable,” said the hospital staff member. “He’ll be better off at home. His family should be looking after him, not us. So we’re sending him back now. Goodbye.”

Um, his family should be looking after him? What? That means LSS. Is she medically trained to operate lève-malades/change catheters/bed-sore bandages/nappies? No.

Gosh this hospital is good: curing someone of all their complaints within 24 hours! If you know anybody who’s ill, I strongly recommend that you send them to La Source in Orleans. Even Lourdes* is not as effective.
(/end sarcasm).

When the head of the Home Nursing Service was made aware that the Aged FIL had returned home, she telephoned the hospital herself. Unfortunately she received an ear-bashing instead of any assistance.

I suspect that tomorrow, or the day after, LSS will receive a telephone call from one of the carers, along the lines of “The Aged FIL is having <insert random problem here> again. Call the doctor quick!”
To which the reply will be “Unfortunately the local doctor is now on holiday. And there is no locum.” (True on both counts)

So the fire brigade will need to be called, to send an ambulance, to take him to hospital. Rinse and repeat.

Health Service? Don’t make me laugh.
We are considering selling the film rights to this story.

*A French town reputedly known for apparent miraculous healings


A further update to the previous update’s update: Yesterday La Source sent the Aged FIL back with his arm in a sling. We’ve now had 24 hours of peace and quiet. There was a major meeting at the Aged FIL’s house containing most of the Management staff of the carer’s association, and the Management staff of the Home Nursing association. In brief, they said “Aged FIL, it would be better for you – in fact it would be better all round – if you went into a special-care retirement home. Just for a short while, you understand, until your condition has improved.”
His answer was very simple, and consisted of one word.

During this twenty-four-hours-of-down-time, LSS discovered that the Aged FIL’s house insurance policy just so happens to include a thing called “Legal Cover”.

“I wonder if?” LSS mused.

So she rang the number provided, spoke to the lawyers, and explained the situation. “Oh yes,” they said, to the background sounds of ringing cash-registers. “What you’ve described to us about your father’s treatment amounts to what we call in the legal profession, ‘Medical malpractice’. Don’t worry about a thing. Send us all the documents and we’ll take care of it. We’ll send an RL (Registered Letter) to Monsieur HHH (Hospital Head Honcho), and then discuss CC (Compensation Claims). After all, caring for the Aged FIL is now going to be a lot more expensive, non?
Marvellous. {Please understand, I’m summarizing here.}

Well, this evening, as we were putting our feet up and pouring a well-earned glass of Martin’s Wallop home-brew, the phone rang. It was the carer at the Aged FIL.

“He’s having trouble breathing, you need to call the doctor.” Yes, yes, all well and good. But the time happens to be 18h40. The doctor works office hours.

And, guess what?

Correct. There’s no reply from the doctor’s telephone number. LSS abandoned her half-finished glass of Martin’s Wallop finest home-brew (accept no imitations), and went next door to see what was what.

I eyed her half-full glass speculatively, but decided that discretion was the better part of valour, so left it alone.

The ambulance was called (i.e. LSS called the emergency services, which is the fire brigade, which sends an ambulance)… and the Aged FIL will shortly be whisked off to the hospital. Which hospital? Well, the one the fire brigade here normally uses, of course.

And which one would that be?

Answers on a postcard to… no, I’ll save you the bother. Romorantin.

I wonder if they’ll break his other arm this time.

NEWSFLASH…. LSS put her foot down. And to everyone’s surprise, asked if the ambulance staff could take him to La Source in Orleans instead. “Oh,” they sighed. “Well, I suppose we could make an exception. Just this once.”

Stay tuned for more exciting developments…


Oh yes, I meant to add this last time. It’s a photo of the Aged FIL’s upper arm. You can see the marks left by fingers. Not very pretty I’m afraid:

And the Aged FIL is now on his way back from Romorantin’s X-Ray department.

As seems to be fairly common these days, someone returns from a hospital in a worse condition than when they went in.

The result of the X-Rays?

He has a fractured upper arm. That’s the French National Health Service for you.

So LSS arranged for another ambulance, and today he has been taken to La Source, Orleans. Let’s see what damage this medical centre does. By the way, the prognosis for fractures in the elderly is not good…


Today’s post can be summarised as a health report update.

So the onset of warmer weather has had its customary effect on the Aged FIL. He’s constantly complaining that he’s cold. So the carers turn up the output of the electric heaters. (His electricity bill is over €300 per month, not kidding. EDF management have now placed an order for individual Bentleys as company cars). At the same time, he’s in bed; wearing a t-shirt, and cardigan. The bed-cover is a duvet, and because of his complaints of chilliness, the carers lovingly cover him with a blanket as well.

Now with an outside temperature well over 30 degrees during the day, you can gather that it’s been somewhat hot. Of course, despite the carers’ best efforts, the Aged FIL doesn’t drink much in the way of liquid. So the inevitable happened; overheating. The Monday-morning carer found the Aged FIL unresponsive and drenched in sweat. He had also vomited copiously during the night, and inhaled some of the fluid. So an ambulance was called, and the Aged FIL was carted off to Romorantin hospital where he was diagnosed with a lung infection.


The head of the home nursing service called the hospital to brief them on the situation. Pay attention, now. You’ll need to remember this information later. She informed them of the following: In summary, the patient has spent 6 years in bed. He does not have bedsores because he has a special electric air-pump mattress and daily leg massages. There is also a machine called a verticalisateur; a hydraulic lifting mechanism to lift him out of bed; you cannot simply grab an elderly person by the arm and pull them upright. Well, you can. But you shouldn’t. Because it damages the person being lifted, leaving them covered with bruises. Especially if the person is on blood-thinning medicine. The patient has a daily medical wash, and is also attended to three times a day by a carer whose duties include feeding him, and changing nappies.


When LSS visited the Aged FIL in hospital a couple of days later, she was surprised to discover he was in an ordinary hospital bed. No special mattress or verticalisateurs in sight.

One week later, LSS received a telephone call saying that the Aged FIL was being discharged. She was requested to organise an ambulance to bring him home. (This is not done by the hospital; ambulances here are privately owned and organised individually. Excluding, of course, incidents like road accidents or life-threatening emergencies, in which case the Emergency Services’ brightly-painted vehicles with flashing lights and sirens are used).

The ambulance was arranged, but on the day of discharge LSS received yet another telephone call. The attending doctor had discovered that the Aged FIL still had an elevated temperature, and had decided to keep him in hospital for a few more days.

Upon the next visit to the Aged FIL, LSS discovered that he was now reclining on an air mattress, and one foot was heavily bandaged. Now, what does this tell you? Were you paying attention earlier? Stop reading here, and think for a minute. What could possibly be wrong with the Aged FIL’s foot?

Another week went by. Then the hospital telephoned LSS to say the Aged FIL was being discharged, and an ambulance would need to be organised. Again. However, this time there was a difference. “By the way,” the nurse said, “we don’t quite understand why, but the Aged FIL has a very bruised arm. Just thought you’d like to know. Oh, and he’s also constipated.”

Once again, what does this tell you? Stop reading here, and think for a minute. What possible reason could there be for the Aged FIL to have a bruised arm?

Fill in the blanks:
The Aged FIL has a bandaged foot because he has developed ___ _____.
The Aged FIL has a very bruised arm because a _________ was not used to lift him out of bed.

Correct. The two answers are: bed sores, and verticalisateur.

Now, did you notice a particular word which the nurse mentioned? I’ll remind you. Constipated. Now what does a hospital do if someone is constipated? Well, one of the options is to give the patient a medicine to … um … UN-constipate them. And in some instances this can take a few hours to work.

Can you see where this is going?

So, the Aged FIL was back at home in bed soon after lunchtime. At around 6 p.m. the carer arrived to give him dinner. Unfortunately, the laxative medicine had now taken effect. Copiously. And the carer was unable to help single-handedly as used to be the case. You see, the Aged FIL was usually assisted to a sitting position so that the sling of the verticalisateur could be used to lift him out of bed. But as soon as the carer touched the Aged FIL’s arm, he yelled his head off in pain. Not only that, due to the bedsores on his foot, he can no longer support any of his weight on his feet. So in order to change his nappy/clothes/bedclothes (all of which were, shall we say, contaminated) the carer had to call for assistance.

To cut a long story short, the local doctor has now visited, in conjunction with the head carer, and the head of the home nursing service. The verticalisateur is no longer fit for purpose. Instead it will need to be replaced by another hydraulic machine called a “lève malade“. This is a contraption primarily used for paralysed patients, consisting of a sling which is attached to an engine-hoist type device. It hasn’t arrived yet, but I looked it up. You can see an example here:

The disadvantage of this is that there will now be TWO carers required to look after the Aged FIL at every mealtime, with the resultant doubling of cost. There goes the remainder of the Aged FIL’s pension money and savings. Well, I suppose you can’t take it with you.

Regarding the constipation, the hospital doctor had prescribed a course of “home enema kits”. There was a general consensus of opinion that these are NOT going to be used due to the resulting fallout. (Pun partially intended).

The doctor examined the exceedingly painful bruised arm, and suspects a fracture. So guess what? On Monday, LSS has had to arrange for …

… an ambulance, to take him to …

the hospital at Romorantin, for an X-Ray.

Watch this space.

Ne jamais acheter MTD ou Kawasaki

L’année dernière, nous avions besoin d’une nouvelle tondeuse à gazon, car notre Briggs & Stratton de 2 ans a simplement décidé de rendre l’âme. Et oui, voila ce qui en est des produits américains fabriqués en Chine. J’ai donc étudié les tondeuses à gazon. Une tondeuse avec un moteur Honda aurait été bien, mais était trèèèèès au-delà de notre budget.

Ensuite j’ai vu une tondeuse MTD à un prix raisonnable, avec un moteur Kawasaki. Maintenant Kawasaki (bien que n’étant pas Honda) est quand même japonais. Ca doit être bien, non? Non seulement cela, la machine est vendue avec une GARANTIE DE DEUX ANS! Nous l’avons donc achetée.

Utilisée à quelques reprises, et elle a fait le boulot. Eh bien, ce printemps, nous l’avons sortie de la cabane de jardin pour recommencer à couper l’herbe. Et la, rien. J’ai changé le carburant. Rien. Vérifié la bougie d’allumage. Elle marchait bien. Alors que j’étais sur le point de commencer à démonter le carburateur je me suis souvenu : GARANTIE DE DEUX ANS!

Nous l’avons donc ramenée chez Weldom à Aubigny où nous l’avons achetée. Leur réparateur a jeté un coup d’œil, et a constaté que le carburant n’atteignait pas le carburateur. Il a joué avec le mécanisme du flotteur pendant un moment et fut récompensé par un jet de carburant dans la main. « Voilà, dit-il. Tout est réparé. » Nous avons donc ramené la machine à la maison.
Oui mais.
Bien que le moteur démarrait bien, maintenant il manquait de puissance.
Le jour suivant, retour chez Weldom…

Le spécialiste a jeté un autre coup d’œil et a diagnostiqué un carburateur défectueux. Il devrait apparemment être envoyé chez un autre spécialiste pour le nettoyage, alors nous avons laissé la machine avec lui.

Une semaine plus tard, pas de nouvelles. LSS doit appeler pour savoir que rien ne se passe.
Deux semaines plus tard, toujours pas de nouvelles.
Dix-neuf jours après avoir ramené la tondeuse chez le concessionnaire, nous avons reçu un appel téléphonique.
« D’accord, votre machine est prête. Le carburateur avait un problème, alors j’ai du en monté un nouveau. Et ceci n’est pas couvert par votre garantie, donc ce sera 137 €. Merci, kerching (bruit de tiroir caisse…). »

Nous sommes allés chercher la machine.

« Oui, je suis désolé pour ça. J’ai parlé à MTD, et ils m’ont dit d’installer un nouveau carburateur pour résoudre le problème. Mais c’est une erreur de l’utilisateur (on n’a pas vider l’essence en hiver), donc ce n’est pas couvert par la garantie. Je ne peux rien y faire, j’en ai bien peur. Vous pouvez payer à la caisse là-bas. Étrange cependant, nous avons vendu dix de ces machines l’année dernière et la vôtre est la seule qui soit revenue. »

Alors soyez averti. Les garanties de deux ans ne valent pas le reçu de caisse sur lequel elles sont imprimées.

Oh – et si vous êtes sur le marché pour une nouvelle tondeuse à gazon – achetez plutôt une chèvre.

Ne pas acheter une tondeuse à gazon MTD, surtout si elle a un moteur Kawasaki. Certaines technologies japonaises ne sont plus ce qu’elles étaient. Kawasaki est, fondamentalement, Krap*. (Kawasaki atteint rarement la perfection).

Vous êtes prévenus.

*Krap = mdr…

PS : Nous avons 3 autres machines âgées de 3 a 35 ans pour le jardin dont l’essence n’est jamais vidée en hivers, et au printemps elles marchent toutes sans soucis !!

Do not buy MTD or Kawasaki.

Last year we needed a new lawnmower, because our 2-year old Briggs & Stratton gave up the ghost. Yes, Chinese-made American rubbish. So I researched lawnmowers. A Honda-engined one would have been nice, but was waaaaaayy beyond our budget.

But then I saw an MTD, at a reasonable price, with a Kawasaki engine. Now Kawasaki (although not a Honda) is still Japanese. Got to be good, right? Not only that, it came with a TWO YEAR WARRANTY! So we bought it.

Used it a few times, and it did the job. Well, this spring we trotted it out of the garden shed to start cutting the grass again. It wouldn’t start.
I changed the fuel. Nothing. Checked the spark plug. Sparking fine. So I was about to start dismantling the carburettor when I remembered. TWO YEAR WARRANTY!

So we took it back to Weldom in Aubigny where we bought it. Their repair boffin took a look, and found that fuel was not getting to the carburettor. He fiddled with the float mechanism for a while and was rewarded with a gush of fuel all over his hand. “There you are,” he said. “All fixed.” So we brought the machine back home again.
Yes, but.
Although the engine was now starting, it lacked power.
Back it went the following day.

The boffin had another look, and diagnosed a faulty carburettor. It would apparently have to be sent away for cleaning, so we left the machine with him.

One week later, still no news.
Two weeks later, still no news.
NINETEEN DAYS after taking the machine back to the dealership, we received a phone call.
“Right, your machine is ready. The carburettor had a problem, so I fitted a new one. And this is not covered under your warranty, so that will be €137. Thank you, kerching.”
We went to get the machine.

“Yes, I’m sorry about that. I spoke to MTD, and they told me to install a new carburettor to resolve the problem. But it’s down to user error, so it’s not covered by the warranty. Nothing I can do about it, I’m afraid. You can pay at the cashier over there. Strange though, we’ve sold ten of these machines last year and yours is the only one which has come back.”
So be warned. Two-year warranties are not worth the cash register receipt they’re printed on.

Oh – and if you’re in the market for a new lawnmower – buy a goat.
Do not buy an MTD lawnmower, especially if it has a Kawasaki engine. Some Japanese technology is not what it used to be. Kawasaki is, basically, Krap. (Kawasaki Rarely Attains Perfection).

You have been warned.


Orange (formerly France Telecom) has been annoying us again.
Since the end of December, the status light on the Livebox has been performing like a traffic light. Red. Orange. Green. Repeat. With more of an emphasis on the red status. Just like a traffic light. So we’ve had intermittent phone and internet service. It seems to be at its worst when it’s windy; although it does also go down on perfectly windless days. And even when it IS working, the Internet connection is somewhat slow.Speed test Fortunately (since the last Orange debacle) we now have Satellite Internet as well. Which is much faster (see the spike in the “History” section of the above image). Unfortunately we have a 20Gb per month limit, so we tend to use it only when Orange is not working.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, an engineer visit was arranged.
When he arrived, he took one look and instantly diagnosed the problem.
These guys are GOOD. And experts in their field.
No, not really.

“Ah-ha!” he said. (In French of course). “I have taken one look and instantly diagnosed your problem. Come with me.” We went outside. Now the Orange phone line is attached to the EDF electricity pylons. Which run alongside the communal road traversing the property. And underneath these pylons is a hedge. Well, I say hedge. It’s a mixture of birch, oak and sloes in a line. And their upper branches are rubbing on the cable, which is approximately 4 metres from the ground.

The engineer explained that the rubbing of the branches on the cable was causing the problem, and he was unable to fix it until we cut all the branches. Now I will point out that further down the road, the telephone line is in a very poor state, having come off several of its support brackets. It is nearly touching the ground in places, and is obviously fairly old. It is no longer black in colour, but a sort of pale green due to the covering of moss and lichen. According to the engineer, the problem does not lie here; but rather with the approximately 5-year-old wiring which Orange installed after we’d moved in. Now I’m not an Orange engineer. But I very much doubt he’s right. Still, there’s nothing we can do about it other than carry out his instructions; they will quite obviously refuse to repair anything until such time as the line is completely branch-free.

So pretty much all work on the barn had to stop in order for us to take care of the hedge. We’ve now cut the entire lot back, by hand, to a height of approximately two metres. I suppose a couple of good things have come out of this exercise. We have some firewood. And lots of smaller branches which can be chipped and added to the garden as mulch. By the way, it does not matter which brand of gloves you use when dealing with sloes. You still end up with thorns embedded in your hands. They’re called Prunus spinosa for a reason.

Here’s what the hedge looks like now (note the branch-free Orange line – the lower of the two):

Orange telephone line

The trimmed hedge

And as we were in the mood for trimming stuff, the ivy over the garage had a haircut too:

Trimmed ivy

Drastic haircut

The ivy had reached the ridgeline of the roof, and had also grown through the eaves INTO the garage, where it was busily engaged in colonising the interior walls, and engulfing all the bits and pieces we have stored there.

We’ve had our first sub-zero temperatures of the season. Nothing spectacular; minus 8 degrees C is the lowest so far. And two full days of snow – although not consecutive. At the time of writing it lies approximately 10 cm deep.

“But hang on a minute,” you say. “What about Orange? Is it working fine now? Was the engineer correct? Were the branches the cause of the problem? Are you eating humble pie? With ketchup?”

In a word, No.
Since the hedge has been trimmed, the Livebox is still behaving like a traffic light. We’re going to have to ask for another engineer visit. Not at the moment though; with all the snow, the roads are considered impassable for school buses and Orange engineers. Although LSS is still happily out and about giving English lessons.

There’s fortitude for you.