Tuesday, September 22, 2009


My plane to the UK is leaving in three hours time but I will not be on it. I have changed my plans. Over the last few days I have thought how daft it would be to spend time in London when I am not in full health. My back has been playing up so much that I can't stand or sit for that long and life is not very comfortable. I doubt that I could even sit through a show at the moment.

But I now know what is wrong with me. This afternoon I went for x-rays and it turns out that I've got osteoarthritis in the thoracic region (waist level), lumbar discs 1-5 are pinching the nerve ( which is why I have the pain in my right leg), plus there is scoliosis. Not much fun really - I'm not even old (unless 51 is old). But don't think I look like a crooked little person bent double with eyes on the pavement. I look quite normal - honest.

One good thing about the radiotherapy clinics here is that following the x-rays being taken you wait around for them to be printed and for a doctor at the clinic to explain what is wrong. You are then given a letter, x-rays and CD-rom with the images to hand to your GP. There is none of this waiting a week or so for the results to be sent direct to your doc - they are in your hands more or less straight away. I've got it all ready to take to my GP tomorrow afternoon (yes, you can get doc appointments for the same or the next day here). After all France is ranked numero uno as the country with the best health care system in the world (check the link to see where your country comes). Here is another link to the WHO site itself.

At least this diagnosis will keep me on my diet. The lighter one is the better with these sort of ailments.


Bill Stankus said...

I visited the link you provided - there are definitely a few wingnuts providing commentary on 'socialism' ... the new buzz word for disagreement towards progressive trends wedded w/ angry hate.

Steve said...

Sounds very painful - sorry you've got this! But at least they've identified the problem. Let's hope they can do something effective about it!

ewix said...

Poor old you!
Do hope the pain subsides somewhat.
We are in the US with one of the WORST healthcare systems in the developed world.
I'm sure you are better off in France.

Frankofile said...

It must be a help to have a diagnosis; and like you I've found the French health system very speedy and effective.

Too much bending over your studies? I do hope not.

cheshire wife said...

I hope that they have got the diagnosis right and that modern medicine can make you good as new.

Completely Alienne said...

Wow, that is efficient. So now you have the diagnosis, can they actually do anything to remedy it or relieve the pain so you can get on with your life?

Blu said...

Ouch sorry to read this, wishing you all the very best! blu x

the fly in the web said...

Goodness, they'll do anything to keep us thin these days!
It is great to have your results in your own hand and great to be able to have appointments at will - my mother has great care, but it's not as swift as in France.
However...we have a great G.P...but do your own homework. French specialists are as arrogant as anything in the U.K.

the fly in the web said...

Oh and thank you for your kind comments about my blog on Ayak's..
I find her's wonderful..she reinforces everything Turkish friends say about their country and culture, so, despite the language problems she is clued in.
Which leads me back to the British expats in France....why are they not clued in?

willow said...

Sorry to hear about your back, FF. Your health care system is lust worthy, indeed. Ours needs a complete overhaul.

Ayak said...

A very good doctor in Avanos told me that the worst thing for osteoarthritis is inactivity. Exercise is essential...walking and swimming are particularly good. Try sleeping on your side rather than on your back. When getting out of bed, avoid sitting up if you are lying on your back. Turn on your side..sit up from that position,swinging your feet on to the floor so that you are sitting, then stand.

Rob-bear said...

Darn this is sad news. Bad back; blown trip.

I can commiserate; I have a bad back as well, with some symptoms similar to yours. (The result of an injury about 25 years ago.) Sore back is, indeed, "very high nuisance value."

Good suggestions from Ayak, btw.

When you see your GP, will you be discussing a back transplant? Non? Pourquois pas?

Ann said...

Oh dear FF, you must be devastated, and not going on the trip is awful for you.

I too agree with Ayak, my M-I-L had something similar, and the doctor advised her to move about, not that she didn't anyway, she was always very active, and she took Brufen, and just got on with things, which was not difficult, her house was always full of family, and she was forever making meals, as soon as you came in the door, you had to sit down and eat, whether you wanted to or not.

Hope things improve and you are able to go on your holiday.

Jean said...

I had a similar problem with my back about 10 year ago, caused by almost falling off my motorcycle but heaving it back up to vertical. I can recommend a very good book called the "back sufferer's bible" by Sarah Key. It helped me to understand the problem and encouraged me no end. The exercises were easy to follow and worked well.
You will need lots of patience and to learn not to expect too much of yourself. It's incredibly frustrating. I was afraid to go anywhere where I had to sit or stand for more than a few minutes, to the hairdresser, the dentist, out for a meal, out shopping. Diazepam also helped as it eases off the muscle spasm.
My visits to various osteopaths, physiotherapists and chiropractors were only slightly helpful - I tried the lot in desperation.
Champagne works best for the pain. Yes, really - must be the bubbles.
Good luck. Jean

Carol said...

Oh hon that doesn't sound good! (and before I go any further can I just say that you certainly don't look 51!!!). Now you have a diagnosis is there treatment you can have that will help ease the pain?

I think you were right to cancel your trip...wait till you can enjoy it properly!

C x

LadyFi said...

So sorry to hear about your pain. But glad that you now know what is wrong so that you can start treating it.

Dedene said...

Have faith that French health care is so good and so prompt. I've always had great care for my back here.

I am sorry you're in pain and that it's arthritis related. Doctors are doing wonderful things these days for bone growth and healing. See the best specialist you can!
Bon courage.

Dottie said...

Oh Frenchie I'm so sorry to hear about this, but like others have said, it is good now to know what is going on there. So this is the first day of a new life, when you think about what you CAN do, not what you used to do. Keep your head up, girl.
Gentle hugs to you, Dot x

Jennysmith said...

You're in my thoughts and prayers, FF. No, disappointed as England will be, its not worth coming if you're in pain.

Please don't say 51 is old! I'm gonna be that age soon!

Hope your pain eases sweetie xx

Not Waving but Drowning said...

You poor thing!

Thank goodness you're in France, and if you have to have treatment, I shall keep my fingers crossed that you get a seriously dishy Dr to help with the pain.

Get your feet up, rest and read trash.


French Fancy said...

Bill - I was hoping to actually find a more professionally-compiled list of the countries but this was all I could (quickly) find - hence me also linking to the WHO site itself, which is from 2000. I think the order of countries is still the same though (agree with you about the nut jobs on that forum)

Steve - now I know what it is I feel much brighter about the whole thing. In pain but good pain if you know what I mean

ewix - It's not free - Mr FF and I pay about €2.5k a year to be covered and he also pays a proportion of his liberale professionel levy towards it too. But it is worth and the paying is compulsory if you are working

Frankie - I do slouch terrible over my little lap top - despite having all manner of cushions from various back shops. I've got to try and sit up straight - and I'm also going to look into getting a special 'ME' chair (especially now I've saved a few quid by not going to London)

cheshire wife - the trouble with modern medicine (sorry to tell you, the pharmacist amongst us) is that the side effects are as bad as the original ailment

CA - well the doc gave me some pills last week for the pain but I really don't like them - I think I prefer the pain. I'll be looking into a TENS machine I think

Blu - oh thank you :) - I'm not going to let it stop me doing stuff I hope

flyintheweb - Now that we've been here for quite a few years we do feel clued up here really. Do agree with you about French specialists though - thank goodness our French doc is lovely

willow - lust worthy - what a great phrase

Ayak - I agree with all you put and as for sleeping on my back - I can't it is too painful. I also can't sleep on my left side because the sacro-iliac joint that side is not too great. Thus I sleep on my poor old right side and do indeed swing my legs out to the floor as opposed to raising the body.

I can't swim and even if I could the area I am in is not blessed with swimming pools. If there was aquarobics here I would in fact go because I loved doing it in the UK - sadly nothing like that exists around here. I am very active though - I've never been a stay in bed type

Rob - it's a bugger isn't it. Poor us but the dogs will take our minds off things. I still have to creak down the stairs at the crack of dawn to let our two out and give them their breakfast - pain or no pain

Ann - I have to be careful with things like Brufen and Iboprufen (both NSAIDS). I have stomach trouble due to no gall bladder and an ulcer. Blimey - I'm sounding worse and worse. I do have what they call a 'sunny disposition' - I'm not a Sick Person. I also move around a lot - I'm refusing to curl up and rest.

Jean - I have the book already and in fact have been doing her exercises for the sacro-iliac joints for some time. I was even thinking of sending off for the wedge that she mentions.

As for champagne - it is my favourite drink :)

Carol- people are always amazed when they find out my age (and I like to think it is not just politeness). I think it is not having kids - the worry lines stay away.

Ladyfi - exactly - I feel this is a very positive step.

Dedene - I dont know if I want to see a French specialist - or any specialist come to that. The pain is tolerable - a bit inconvenient but I am trying various mental exercises to try and lessen its impact. This is something I tried to do with my neck problem all those years ago

Dottie - hurrah for the spirit of your comment. I've got my new OU course now - that will keep me occupied (creative writing)

Jen - nah, 51 is nothing - especially as Mr FF is 35.

NWBD - I can't put my feet up - too much to be getting on with. :)

A Super Dilettante said...

Oh my dear FF, I'm sorry to hear that. But London will always be there! Your health is more important. How uncomfortable it must be not being able to sit or sleep at night!! But you are in good hand my dear! I have faith in the French healthcare. A nice handsome doctor with some good manners is half the battle!!

Jean said...

I forgot to mention another drug called amitriptyline which is very good for nerve pain (sciatica). It helped me a lot, especially enabling me to sleep properly. I had to suggest it to my GP though and ask for it - a friend had recommended it to me.
PS the only drug I take these days is the champagne.!! Fortunately in the Loire we can get a bubbly that is almost as good and a fraction of the price.!!

French Fancy said...

ASD - well our doctor is not handsome but he is lovely and warm and funny and kind. We have the same birthday and often joke we are kindred spirits. He collects flags and likes to go on about them during our meetings.

Jean - thanks for that recommendation and I've been looking it up. Atm (i.e. today) the leg pain is manageable and I'm trying to avoid heavy sedation. I hate that heavy heady feeling in the mornings. But I've written it down in my little notebook for further thinking.

Isn't it weird how good champagne can also be so cheap in France.

Incidentally I think the best thing I can do for my body is lose three stone and I'm serious about it now. It's not just for vanity any more.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Sad about that trip. But best to get sorted as you say and do it another time. My 13 year old has scoliosis, apparently it very common and often goes undiagnosed. Best of luck FF.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Best of luck, FF, hope you can get it sorted. Hxx

Lulu LaBonne said...

Great you've got a diagnoses, I know what a relief that is, sorry you're having to miss London but I guess it'll still be there when you're better - all the best with the treatment

French Fancy said...

Reasons - yes, I've been looking up all my ailments and it does seem that kids are more prone to scoliosis. Maybe I am a big kid after all

Hadriana - thank you sweetie

Lulu - exactly - I do feel better in my head now that we know what is wrong. I'll get to London eventually

Susie Vereker said...

Sounds worrying but good thing you are in France, as you say.

Ken Devine said...

I'm sorry to hear this FF. I'm hoping that the pain can be greatly minimised following diagnosis. Thank goodness you're in the best country to offer hope and support. Stick in there! You have a great attitude that is a credit to you.

Not Waving but Drowning said...

Be careful with the Tramadol, if you start feeling sick, stop taking it immediatly.

A lot of people are allergic to Tramadol, (including me) so proceed with caution and get better soon,


French Fancy said...

Susie - I wonder why your name sounds so familiar. Hello and you are absolutely right.

Hello Ken and thanks. I'm lucky our GP here is a terrific bloke-one of the best and a real Anglophile. He speaks English as well as we do and his surgery is decorated with samples of his heart's love - flags. He has a flagpole in his garden and waves a different one each day.

NVBD - I'm having funny reactions to the mild pain killer - Effergal or something like that - goodness knows what I'll be like with the hard stuff. I'd like to know more about your experiences.

e said...

Bonjour French Fancy,

This is my first visit to your blog and I am sorry to hear of your arthritis and medications, etc.

As one who has dealt with a disability since birth, first abroad and now in the American health care system, I can say that you are fortunate indeed to be in France, from the sound of things. If all you pay is 2.5 K annually for insurance, that is another thing to be happy about. Such payment here is equal to a mortgage monthly for me and rising, and the care is mediocre to bad sometimes, despite receiving it from a reputable medical school and associated clinics.

You are right to keep your attitude up and find ways to exercise and reduce the pressure on joints and spine. Swimming, strength training and some yoga postures have helped in my case. I hope you can find ways to help with the pain. I would be interested to read about that since it is something I am researching for myself. Take Care.