Welcome to my first foray into the world of blogging. I hope it will be something that develops and improves with my writing style. It is my experiences of foreign cultures, many similar to my own and some completely alien as I live an expat life and throw in the odd journey or two along the way.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Where do I start?......

I knew moving to France would, like everywhere, bring its own challenges. From having done a lot of research and talking with others who have already trodden this path I knew about the long administrative processes and the French love of paperwork. I knew about the settling in process, how it is a bit of a roller coaster experience until you begin to feel more "at home". What I wasn't expecting was the accidents of life.

Snow was forecast for our area for Sunday 29th. It was our youngest's birthday and we had promised him months ago that he could go skiing on his birthday to make up for the fact that he wouldn't really know anyone well enough to have a party. We woke up in anticipation of a white-out. But alas, nothing. So we headed off to Ax-Les Thermes and the resort of Bonascre. It lies south of Foix about an hour and a quarter from our house. We had winter tyres on and so felt confident that we would be ok on the roads. The snow didn't appear until we got to Ax. We saw many people putting snow chains on and wondered if we needed them. The sports shops were selling them so we decided not to be macho and buy a set putting them on as we saw the hill we needed to climb to get to Bonascre.
Blizzard conditions up the mountain!

We got to the top and set about organising ski hire and ski passes. We then headed up the mountain in the gondola. The weather got worse with every metre climbed. We got out half way up and immediately found ourselves in a snowstorm. Visibility no further than a few metres. Not the weather the children are used to and certainly not what they were expecting. But they slowly got their "ski-legs" back and we wound our way slowly back down the mountain. After about 3 hours we decided that we would call it a day and head for some chocolat chaud. 

200m from the bottom I turned to stop waiting for our youngest to start off again so that I would be behind him ready to help if needed. I was going slowly, too slowly and in turning right the back end of my left ski didn't. However the leg and the knee did. I heard a "crack" and fell over. Having previously ripped my right ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) many years ago I knew what it felt like. So believe thatI have managed to do the same to my left!!!

The fun didn't stop there though. After being transported down the hill in the sledge head first, I was put in the front if the ambulance as there was a bloke on a stretcher on the back. As we're heading off down the very steep slope the ambulance starts sliding out of control towards the edge and the crash barrier! The other helper in the car got out and put herself between the barrier and the vehicle to try to push the car around so that it was back facing down the hill. After this I discovered that there was only one chain on one tyre as the second chain had broken. 

We crawled down the hill in first gear. Then about 2 turns from the bottom and the clearer roads we came upon a bus coming up the hill. It had stopped to put chains on. He hadn't thought about stopping before the hill! So we sat for ages watching the driver get in and out the bus inching it forward and back to get it aligned with the chains and every time  he got out he slipped on the ice. By then there was a huge queue behind us and one guy decided to overtake - then he realised why we'd all stopped as we couldn't get passed the bus! So he put his brakes on and slid right into the back if the ambulance! To top it all I had been needing the loo since about 11 am and had not yet been. I was now fit to burst and couldn't hold it in any longer so I told the ambulance lady and she got a sheet out and held it, with the help of my hubby, to maintain my modesty whilst I did the biggest wee ever at the side if the road!! Took us 2 and a half hours to go a journey that should normally take about 40!!! 

When we got to the hospital I was seen quite quickly and had my knee x-rayed to check there was no fracture. I was then given a full length leg brace to stabilise it and keep it straight. I have to keep it like that for 10 days waiting for the swelling to reduce. I had to then phone on Monday to make an appointment to see the specialist surgeon on Wed 8th. Which, perhaps unlike the UK, I got with no problem. The surgeon will then tell me how bad, or not, my knee is. Hadn't planned on experiencing the French medical system so soon. Haven't yet joined their social security system or taken out insurance - so lets hope the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) works! On a positive note my husband is till here to drive the kids to school and ensure we have some food - so something good has come of it. Who knows what will happen next week!

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