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When the Sunshine & Daisies are Gone

From last October through May 2018, I had been dealing with an unforgiving virus with complimentary stomach flu- like symptoms. I initially thought that I had just caught an airborne virus that was going around the city. When it came around a second time, I just figured that it was an unlucky second catch. I started to get skeptical by the third occurrence, but pinned it on possible food poisoning. (Intensely fresh Provence produce really only stays fresh for the immediate days; perhaps leftovers were just not a thing over here?) But the fourth episode of it all was when I started seeing the doctor...Unfortunately only to have been told that it was yet again a virus picked up by the flu-season that was running throughout the country. Mind you I had two separate sinus infections in between the weekly visitation hours of my dear stomach flus. The sixth episode called for a trip to the blood center to receive a blood test...which only showed that I had healthy levels in all categories.


🎅🎁And on the seventh week of Influens-a my true love gave to me, a Hospital trip.


It had been a frustrating season for my insides as it started to feel like having a healthy week was now a rarity, and waking up to deadly stomach aches were the new norm. I needed answers. Luckily the club here in Venelles is filled with an incredibly helpful staff and a couple of them were able to come save me.

Though I really have not experienced many trips to the hospital before, this particular French emergency room was one that I will never forget.


Let's bring it back to explain what it was like visiting the infirmary in la France...

It was 1:30 in the morning when we got back from Cannes after a tough loss to Volero Le Cannet in playoffs, ending the season. I had an alarm set for 8:00am to be out the door by 9:00am for the train station. It was time to start my Post-Season-Trip to Luxembourg to see myyyy sugar!


Unfortunately, my body clock woke up about two hours earlier to violent stomach pains and a massive headache. Watching each minute tick by, I felt my body slowly fall into worse and worse condition. As 7:00am rolled around, I started throwing up. I remember thinking to myself, "Okay okay you're allowed only 2 hours of this and then it's GO TIME."

7:30am came and went in a rather ugly fashion.

8:00am, no better than before.


8:45am... alright Linds. LOCK IT UP.

Ya know what: Sometimes the world just says no.

Nah Linds, I know you wanna get on a train right about now, but instead you're just gunna spend some time expelling your soul.

Because you're really just a pon in this equation.😧.

So it was clearly decided that I was absolutely going to miss my train to mon chère thanks to a date with the expelling of last night's din. I texted my ride to the train station about our new situation. Instead of riding to Luxembourg with a happy smile, it was onward to le Centre Hospitalier du Pays d'Aix.

Lord baby jesus. ya girl Barely made it to the hospital. The entire car ride consisted of heavily focusing on my breathing in the passenger seat of the car. The walk into the ER was more of a Quasimodo two- step. There were a lot of words happening around me, though I really couldn't tell what exactly was being said because uh, language barrier + stomach flu summoned from the devil himself = Mind to Mush.


While sitting in the waiting station with my eyes closed and inning with the nose and outing with the mouth, I felt Dominique (the wonderful human and employee of the club who took me to the hospital) grab my hand as she crouched down to my eye level. "Tu es jaune." (You are yellow) .

"Yes thank you." I said.

Behind Sliding Door #1

Luckily we were taken in rather quickly after. (Which was really better them, otherwise I'm sure I would not have made it without sharing some Lindsay guts on the floor.) As they took my blood, they had me lay down on one of those wheeling hospital beds. Let me tell you, they are not as comfy as the movies make them look. Five vials of blood were taken and one smaller vial stayed the most uncomfortable way. Shortly after, the two doors to my right split open and a chorus line of hospital beds and sicklings laid in a single file line across the room. My eyes got real big.😳.

Each person was laying in a bed identical to mine and looking in equal to more amount of pain. One woman seemed to have sliced her hand open and was holding an excessive amount of red gauss in her hand which I'm pretty sure came out the box white.Five beds down in the corner laid an elderly man who sounded to be literally coughing up his lung, every other minute. In between each ear-splitting cough upheave, he managed to fit in a large amount of French curse words looking furiously upset that that he had to wait his turn for help.

The nurses had to take turns telling him to lay back explaining that others had come before him. This only made him angrier. (This of course was all happening in French, but body language and context will always tell the clear story.) He kept getting out of his bed, each cough slurring with a terrible dry heave to the room's ears, desperate to speak with a doctor. But with every attempt came a different nurse giving the same exact instructions. I kept sitting up because I felt a bit weird lying in the bed after seeing all of the other Urgent Care Contestants in front of me. I felt as ugly as you could possibly get but I mean, my bones worked, my body was all together, I could totally hobble-walk to the room if I needed. But they kept insisting, "Lay back, relax. We're gunna take you into the next room."


I'm gunna be real right now, it's a bit difficult to relax when you just opened the gates to the Black Plague of 2019.

Black Plague of 2019

As the nurse rolled my bed back into the 1300s, I started to hear something familiar. Someone was speaking English. The nurse then said to me, "I'll put you next to a friend." We rolled towards a kind lady wearing a teal and pink top with matching shorts. Perfect April Provence weather attire I might say. She instantly said, Oh! You speak English! Oh this is so nice! She then quickly explained that she was on a trip with a friend of hers sightseeing Marseille. They were on a small hike as she missed seeing a step beneath her and ended up breaking her patella. "Of course I need to have the doctor diagnose it, but I know what it is. Look you can already see how deformed it is. Look! I just need to get through those doors to find a doctor to show. I nodded in agreement, trying to be kind yet still desperately waiting for the IV to come.


It's really comical to me (and I remember noticing this my first year in Switzerland) that whenever Americans make the trek across the great Atlantic, the second they meet up with a fellow USA'n, they tend to act like they've reunited with their very best friend of 30 years. And miss teal and pink Donna Fischer -my new bed neighbor- was just living proof of this. She quickly began to share her life story with me, Originally from Pennsylvania, she and her husband used to travel together back in the day up until it became too much for him. So, now she travels with one of her dear girlfriends, Karen. This wasn't Donna's first time in Europe. No, she had done a ton of travel across Western Europe and also throughout the beautiful land of the free, oo ess aww (USA). She asked what a young girl like me was doing in the South of France and I told her that I was a professional volleyball player here. She then told me that one of her grand daughters plays at a college in Illinois. She then went on to share that her grandson is currently on a full athletic football scholarship, and her other granddaughter is playing club and very much enjoys the sport... Again, 100% fulfilling the "Americans Abroad All Barriers Knocked Down" prophecy.👍

Halfway through her story, one of the nurses came up to my bed and hooked the vial sticking out of my arm up to an IV, which was clutch because I was half listening to Donna's story and half focusing on the cadence of my breathing to avoid another vomit spell. As the conversation took a small break, I was able to turn my head and close my eyes. It was a long morning already and I was desperate for a bit of quality sleep.

Our playoff game the night before was away at Le Cannet, which was only about an hour and half away from Venelles. But since our games in France start at 20:00, we didn't get home until 1:30am. Upon arrival in Venelles, we were told that our report day was next Monday. (Usually the end of season means a free week, and then final meetings with the club and a number of sponsor events to wrap up the season.) Playoffs are scheduled to be a two-out-of-three series in each round. If we had won, then we would go to a tie break match the following week. Since we weren't sure how the game was going to go, I couldn't make any plans. So I of course spent the next three hours into the morning searching for trains to see ma man. Which meant that my night of "sleep" started at 4:30am.

Which happened to get unexpectedly cut short at 7:00am, to violent stomach pains.

I was able to get a little bit of shut eye, until I quickly woke up to an upheaving of deadly coughing from Sir Rebel in the corner. As I raised my head, I


saw that the coughing and cursing was now seven beds away from me, each bed with its own virus- of- your- choice- carrying patient. It was a sight to see. At that point I had a different neighbor sitting in a wheelchair next to me; the Pennsylvanian must have made her way through those desired doors to see a doctor. The room seemed to have been filling up with more patients by the hour. And as every bed came in, the closer to my shirt I started to breathe. No way was I about to get a lung infection in addition to whatever monster was taking over my body. The nurses that took care of me upon arrival kept running in and out of our room...and I just followed them with a sad puppy dog face hoping to be taken through the doors.

But they never came.

Not until four hours later that it was finally my turn.

I told my nurse that I could walk to the back but again, they insisted that I stay in the bed.

Beyond the Desired Golden Doors

I had never been in a French hospital before; well, I've actually never been in any hospital that I can remember. But let me tell you, this hospital looked verry different from those in the movies. This was rather plain and stale. And also, I half expected the space behind those Golden Doors to be wayyy cooler. Maybe some paint on the walls maybe some music playing maybe some diagrams of the human body. But ya know what, it was nothing but white walls white lights and an echoing emptiness of ambiance.

I was first wheeled up next to a wall, assuming that all rooms were full of other patients. I tried to get as comfy as possible but it was quite difficult seeing that these beds were more like wooden slabs, and the temperature dropped a good ten degrees since getting through to the second half of the hospital. My opinion on those doors took a drastic turn towards hatred and betrayel.

I closed my eyes and snuggled into my sweatshirt to make the time pass, just in time to hear a familiar voice across the hall.

The voice of a one Donna Fischer.

I looked up past my feet and there she was, good ol' Donna, laying in a hospital dress and rocking a hair net.

"Heyyy Lindsay! Nice to see you again and congrats getting through those doors!" - It turned out that Donna was right on the money diagnosing her own broken patella. She had prepped for surgery and was then wheeled out next to her respective wall in waiting. Probably to free up a room for the next waiting-room-victim. As she started to tell a second story about her grandkids, my bed thankfully began to take off towards the room around the corner. "Op sorry Donna, I'd really love to hear this but I'm just a passenger in this bed!"


Still exhausted from the day and having the waves of nausea coming in and out, I was relieved to have escaped the story time. I was now in a desperate need for a deep sleep. As I rolled into the room, I realized that it wasn't labeled a "room," but instead a "BOX."

Inside the Hospital "Boxes"

Yes, a box is what they wheeled me into. A tiny little shoe box of a room, large enough to fit two body-sized beds with 3 feet in between.

Not that I was expecting a corner view with warm-toned walls and carpeting, but it's a little tricky to feel relaxed when you've just been wheeled into a contamination casket. At least you could give it up to them for being 100% straight up. When they say box, you get a box.


As if the casket wasn't enough, the lady in the bed beside me must've been having some gastric issues because I kept getting some unfortunate whiffs of intestine gas that I have googled to properly refer to as flatulences

...Also known as, farts.

Thankfully the door to the, box, was kept open. Not-so-thankfully, it was open to Donna's rest-stop on the wall.

This doctor could not come soon enough.

There I laid, desperately trying to cut off three of the five basic senses: Breathing deeply into my sweatshirt to avoid the next passing of gas from my casket- mate. Shutting off my hearing in hopes of missing Donna's fifth phone call explaining that she already knew her patella was broken before the doctor's diagnosis. And desperately trying to touch as little of the bed as possible as I was quite unfamiliar with the cleanliness of this wooden slab, seeing how quickly they offer these things to the next black plague contestant in the first room.


I was finally able to get about an hour of good shut eye when the IV started to kick in. Now remember, with the IV comes a large amount of liquids. And with a large amount of liquids comes multiple trips to the toilet for a pee break. The problem is, once you start, you never stop. I took a total of SIX trips to the baño in an hour and half...and each time, my route taking me past sweet Donna Fischer. The first was a delightful greeting with her. The second was a playful joke that I was back for round two. The third was a face of concern, while the fourth, fifth and sixth left for an absense of words. I just walked with my head down dragging my IV on a pole, and any energy that was ever inside this body, slowly behind me. The small talk had finally met its match.😅


Finally, a total of seven hours in the infirmary later, I received my test results and was released from the hospital. Feeling slightly better but terribly defeated by the day, not to mention in a desperate need for a shower, I made my home. I walked into my apartment and played back alll that had happened in the day..


"Welp, at least it made for a good story."

Other than the consistent stomach flus who've been popping in and out every once in a while, France has been a dream.

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