On today's "reading options" menu (alternatives to what may be, for some (including myself!), a gruellingly long retelling of a short hospital stay), we've got drunk birds (the ones who dip through our vineyard each winter) ...and (option two) continue reading the latest installment in the skin cancer chroniclesVoilà, the choice is yours: a) Drunk Birds (click here) or b) Drunk Patient... either way, je vous souhaite bonne lecture! Wishing you happy reading! Note: there are really no drunk patients in the following story, though a shot of pastis might color up the narrative!

patienter (pah-see-ohn-tay)

     : to wait 

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read the following French words. Download MP3 or Wav file

J'ai patienté à l'extérieur du bloc opératoire.
I waited outside the operating room.

Verb Conjugation : je patiente, tu patientes, il/elle patiente, nous patientons, vous patientez, ils/elles patientent

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Bottoms up, Doc!: A patient's overactive mind

The hospital was unmistakably French. Beyond the occasional quirk, that Gallic "something" came through the very walls, which were painted deep lavender, a colorful reminder that this was Provence.

I looked at the deep purple walls and listened to the hum of the busy 'scrubbers', that is, the nurses and doctors in uniform. From this horizontal position, on a stretcher, or brancard, midway down the hall, I was in the middle of the action, with, depending on how you looked at it, the very best seat in the house!
Waiting my turn for surgery, I spied the hospital staff as I listened to secrets and avowals, to wishes and regrets and, oddly, to news about funny-looking garden pets....

"J'ai ammené les nains de jardin!" "I've brought the garden gnomes!" one of the nurses notified her colleague, and I had to check myself to make sure that the calmant, or happy pill, I'd been given really hadn't kicked in... In fact, had I heard the nurse correctly?

"Yes! I've put them on your desk." "Oui, je les ai mis sur ton bureau," the nurse replied, confirming the whereabouts of the bearded creatures. I quickly reasoned that someone would be gardening this weekend, and I rested there, assured that the hospital staff were not desperately short of help....

Doctors and nurses breezed in and out and I caught spicy snippets of conversation. One nurse answered a phone in the bureau, opposite, and I became curious when her voice lowered (and were those giggles?) as she discreetly closed the door. There was nothing left to assume or imagine or invent... except that the breathy nurse was planning an amorous cinq à sept: the famous afternoon tryst that is rumored to happen in France sometime between leaving work (5 pm) and arriving home (7 pm). Meantime, it was only 1 pm in the afternoon, and I hoped Breathy Nurse would come back to her senses in time to check on the whereabouts of my surgeon....

Oh, there he was now! "Hi, Doctor!" I managed to lift my head, but my chirurgien breezed by, disappearing around the corner. In his wake three nurses appeared, chattering about their plans for lunch...

Lunch! Yes! So it was l'heure du déjeuner! Oh, gosh, I hoped my doctor was headed for the cafeteria. He was on his way to the mess hall, wasn't he? After all, what brilliant surgeon could operate on an empty stomach? Let me rephrase that: I know just how shaky and good-for-nothing I get when lunch hour arrives....

Then again, I hoped Doc didn't eat too much! I always feel so lazy and slack after that regrettable second helping. And what if there was wine at the cafeteria? Would Doc help himself to it? A glass? Two? A little wine might steady his surgical hand, but if he threw down half a carafe... well then...

Just when my mind began to draw up all sorts of Dionysian disasters--or wine-fueled fiascoes of the surgical sort--I heard a deep voice beside me....

"I am your infirmier-anesthesiste." It was a male nurse, who had come to hook me up for the general anesthesia. Oh no, I thought, not you! And it could have been any nurse-anesthetist: male or female or garden gnome. It wasn't their gender that I held against them....

"Let me see your arm," the nurse ordered, and his eyes followed the green line from my hand, down to the top of my wrist, where, a little farther along the top of my forearm--in that awkward spot--he pushed in the sharp aiguille.

I really felt only the needle's pressure and I thanked the nurse for the absence of douleur.
"Je suis trop fort." "I'm a pro!" he told me, and swaggered off.

 "I'm a pro!" I whispered to myself. "Je suis trop forte!" I affirmed, lest any pre-op fears remain. If it worked for the confident nurse... it might just work for me. Now to figure out how to swagger on into the bloc opératoire....


In the next episode we will, hopefully, bring this saga to a close! In any case, Friday's installment should bring us up to date with the post-surgery letter. And then I ought to tell you about yesterday's check-up, where I saw beneath the bandage for the first time in two weeks... and wondered what the results might have looked like... had I chosen the gut surgeon, after all.

Le Coin Commentaires

Corrections, comments, or stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box.


French Vocabulary

un brancard (chariot-brancard) = stretcher or bed on wheels

le bureau = office

le cinq à sept = amorous tryst

le chirurgien = surgeon

l'heure (f) du déjeuner = lunchtime

une aiguille = needle

la douleur = pain

Je suis trop fort! = I'm so good at this!


  Harvest King (c) Kristin Espinasse

 A proud Chief Grape congratulates this year's Harvest King: Jamie Song. See another picture of Jamie, at Vince's blog.

   Exercises in French Phonics
Exercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.


It might be worth your while... to meet the character in the following story. You'll never look at a plastic flower in quite the same way... Click here and enjoy the photos, from Caromb, which accompany this tender tale.

If you enjoyed today's edition, please take a minute to forward it to a friend. Merci beaucoup!

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety