Archive for September, 2014

French Justice

September 24, 2014

Several people I know have been going through divorces recently but the case that really shocked me concerned one of our home nurses.

She was married to a younger chap for about 20 years and he often went off with other women until he finally decided he would leave her and ask for a divorce.  He asked her if it could be an ‘amical divorce’ and before seeking advice she agreed.

Now, despite the fact that she was the wronged party she has to pay him 500 euros a month as well as sell the house (that she bought and is paying for)  and give him half of the ;proceeds. This is because she works fulltime and he’s a lazy so-and-so who doesn’t work. However, he has moved in with his new partner who is quite well off.

It seems there’s no room for common sense in a French divorce case!

Friends tell me that French legal system moves slowly but it was well over a year ago when Florence and Pascal were heartbroken because their son’s partner suddenly decided that they couldn’t see their grandson. There was no good reason. She just didn’t like the fact that they bought him toys to play with when he went round their house. Their son didn’t have the guts to stand up to her and so they had to take it to court.

I willingly wrote a letter in support as it was obvious how much they adored their only grandson  and thoroughly enjoyed spoiling him and playing with him.  But the months went by before it came to a preliminary hearing and the son and his girlfriend didn’t even bother to turn up. Pascal and Florence ‘won’ but still didn’t have the right to see the little boy until it went before another judge.

Meanwhile they had to content themselves with saying hello to him through the school fence..

Then, yesterday I had a call from Pascal. It has been finalised at last and they can see him one weekend a month and for a week during the school holidays.

Let’s hope the parents don’t make life difficult. Heaven knows how long it would take if they had to fight through the courts again.

Cracks in the French Health System

September 13, 2014

Several people have been warning that the French health system was ‘becoming like the English NHS’ and this may well be true.

Our local hospital doesn’t have a good reputation despite being newly rebuilt during the last five years or so. The nurses who went to CC’s English classes said they wouldn’t want to work there after doing their practical skills and it seems to be more and more difficult to recruit doctors.

Most people prefer to see consultants in Reims and if it’s a case of an operation then they are prepared to travel to Reims, Paris or Chalon rather than trust themselves to the local surgeons.

But I can only speak from experience and with Bear and Whale that’s quite a bit.

Communication seems to be a major problem. Some years ago after Whale had a stay in hospital he came out with a series of appointments which they had made for him. One was with a urologist and we duly booked an ambulance for the given date. He was running late but it seemed that many people who turned up after us went in before us until we were the only people left in the waiting room.

After nearly four hours we went in.

“What brings you here?” asked the doctor.

“I don’t really know. It was Dr H who made the appointment when he was in hospital two months ago.”

But, obviously there had been no letter of explanation.

The consultant asked a few basic questions but didn’t even examine Whale. Then he just dismissed us saying,”Carry in as you have been doing.”

With this in mind, when the oncologist that Whale saw a month ago said he was making an appointment for him to see a gastroenterologist because of his chronic constipation I decided to write a little note of the problems myself as i wasn’t free to go along last Monday.

Sure enough, there had been no communication from Dr R and Whale said Dr F read my note but didn’t bother to examine him. He decided that he had ‘false diarhoea’ and would need a scan. But he didn’t give him a prescription for one!

I learned later that the doctors at the hospital are penalised if they ask for too many examinations so they leave it to the GPs to sort out.

As I was going to see our doctor on Thursday (to have my ears syringed) I thought she might have heard something. She hadn’t, so I explained the situation and she made out the prescription for a scan.

Our home nurse rang to say it was an urgent appointment and they are doing it on Monday, which just gave her time to do the necessary blood test and get the results – plus a ‘bon de transport’. She brought the injection that Whale has to take with him and all the paperwork in this morning, bless her! All I had to do was book the ambulance.

The nurse agreed that there was a less than caring attutude among doctors at the hospital and told us of other cases where they were bordering on negligent.

Let’s hope we remain as healthy as possible so we don’t have to test the theory ourselves.

The Garden

September 7, 2014

Pat’s garden always looks well cared for and colourful and I’m hoping that I may be able to say the same for mine in a week or so.

The problem is finding a gardener.

Last Autumn, in sheer desperation I  found a chap on the internet who advertised ‘multi travaux’. I should have known better as I suppose this could be roughly understood as ‘Jack of all Trades’.  He came round to list all the work that needed doing and promised an estimate.

It came within a few days: 280 euros for quite a long list of work so I accepted. It meant waiting for over two weeks but then he phoned to say he would be coming one morning with his son.”So, they’re making a start at last”, I thought.

“A start”? They got through the whole list in less than two and a half hours. The father used his heavy duty strimmer to flatten virtually everything – plants and all, while his son did a pretty good job of cleaning the greenhouse. On the plus side, they removed all the rubbish, carting it through the house to their trailer as there’s no other access to the garden but they left more of a trail of devastation than the neat garden I was hoping for..

In May this year I thought the problem was solved when I happened to bump into the man in the village who used to be responsible for all the flowerbeds and shrubberies. He had retired but was looking for a bit of work on the side. He agreed to come.

He inspected the jungle and proposed weedkiller but I said I wasn’t happy about that. Nevertheless, he sprayed Roundup all over what was the vegetable patch, the raspberry canes and some of the weeds. I explained as politely as I could that I wasn’t happy and he promised not to do it again. He cut the grass a few times and one day he even dug over a flower bed but more often than not he would arrange a time to come and then not turn up – or he would say “I’ll come next week” and I wouldn’t hear from him for nearly a fortnight. When he said he had health problems I gave him every opportunity to back out but he said he had cut down his work to just three clients, including me so I felt bad about sending him packing.

But the final straw was when I told him I was expecting visitors the third week of August and I would like the garden to look reasonable. He came ONCE, promised to come “next week”  but I never saw him again. I decided to give him till the end of August and then look elsewhere. There hasn’t been one word from him so I left a message on his answerphone to say I was looking for someone else.

Bear’s physio gave me the name of a chap who does his garden and I rang last weekend. He came on Monday morning, tutted and scribbled in a notebook and said he would give me a price but he couldn’t start till at least October as he was very busy. Oh dear, I didn’t like the sound of that but beggars can’t be choosers.

Then I found a card in the chemist’s advertising a gardener living in the village. I rang him, he came round yesterday morning and agreed to do it. He says he will start on Wednesday morning and the only thing that could stop him is if his wife goes into labour with their third child. I wonder if he’s planning to take a long paternity leave. . . . . . . . .

Update 11th September.

He came and he worked wonders in just three hours. The grass was cut and cleared away. He dug over  and weeded two places which should become a flowerbed and a hedge eventually and he laid some slabs. He also cut off the broken branches of Magnolia and lifted some logs that I had put down to separate the grass from the flowerbed but which just encouraged the weeds and made them difficult to get at. The logs were cut in half and stored ready for use when they’re dry. He is due to come back on Saturday but the baby is due within a week.


September 6, 2014

Keith has emailed to say he can’t post a comment. He’s looking into it for me  as I’m not good at computers and I can’t see any means of putting it right myself.

If you’ve tried and failed to comment please don’t give up. I do value your messages.

The Ashya King case

September 3, 2014

This story has occupied much of my time these last few days and I even joined the Facebook “Justice for Ashya” group.

Of course, it’s not easy to learn the facts as an outsider but thousands of people saw a grave miscarriage of justice when the parents of this sick child were arrested and put in jail several hundred miles away from the hospital where their son was taken -under police guard – and, at first, denied visits from his siblings.

How inhumane is that? What led the Spanish Police to come down so heavily on this unfortunate family?

The British Police had issued a European Arrest Warrant which should normally only be use in extreme circumstances such as terrorism. No wonder the Spanish thought they were dealing with hardened criminels and it looks as though that’s how they were treated.

So why did the British Police act in this manner? Well, it may have been a bit OTT but in my opinion (shared by a large number of others)  the doctors at Southampton General overstated their case when (after 6 hours!) they realised that Ashya had gone missing. They must have known his parents well enough to be sure that they wouldn’t do anything to harm their son: they may even have been aware that the family understood and could manage his feeding, and yet they set off a hue and cry for a boy whose life was in imminent danger and whose neglectful parents had whisked him away.from the care he urgently needed. (Since their release Mr King says he told the hospital they intended to go to Spain)

The family, blissfully unaware of all this were on their way to Spain to sell their house to fund Proton beam treatment for Ashya. Hardly the actions of uncaring parents!

As soon as they saw their pictures on TV and in newspapers they put up a video  on Youtube saying Ashya was fine. They had bought plenty of food online and had the means of charging his feeding apparatus batteries. In fact, he seemed happier than he had been in hospital. The dad asked that ‘this ridiculous chase’ could be called off.

Maybe it was too late  or maybe no-one would have tried to put a stop to it but they were recognised and arrested.

What a nightmare for the parents of a five year old boy with stage 4 cancer to be dragged away from their son. How terrible for the little boy to be taken to a foreign hospital where even his brothers and sisters were not allowed to see him immediately.

By now, a petition  with over 100,000 signatures had been presented at Downing street and the hospital had put out a damage limitation statement. They were sorry that communication had broken down and that the Kings had lost trust in their consultant. But they did NOT say sorry about the nightmare they had inflicted on this family.

One can only imagine the reasons behind the consultant’s actions but I believe Mr King when he says that he was afraid his son would be put under a protection order if he questioned or dared to disagree with the treatment on offer. This would mean he would be barred from seeing Ashya. The hospital may claim that Proton Beam therapy was discussed but then there are two versions: one,they didn’t think it would help in Ashya’s case and two:  they would have been prepared to offer it if they thought they could pay privately. They also let it be known that the family were Jehovah’s Witnesses (who are known for refusing blood transfusions) but this had nothing whatsoever to do with Ashya’s case. There was absolutely no reason to make this little boy a ward of court and insist he be returned for treatment.

Some doctors like to be regarded as pretty infallible and omniscient but people nowadays realise that they are far from it. . The internet does have some whacky information but an intelligent person can usually search and find sensible alternatives. It doesn’t take a doctor’s qualification to see the advantages of a single beam targeting cancer cells instead of the usual radiotherapy that burns healthy braincells as well. (In the latest news bulletin Dr Nicolin is quoted as saying Ashya needs two sessions of chemotherapy before he can have the Proton Beam treatment. First, how can he have the nerve to make ANY suggestions after the way he has treated the family and secondly, can he really justify chemo which will weaken Ashya still further and make him feel really ill? Hopefully the oncologist who is being sent to Spain to advise the family will have a better idea – such as sending him directly to prague where they are ready and waiting to look after him.)

It didn’t take long for the public to see how wrong it was to hunt this family down and separate a child from his parents at such a crucial  time. No-one was even saying that a crime had been committed so the big question is:

Why did it take so long for the authorities to reverse these idiotic and totally inappropriate decisions?

You would think that someone had the authority to pick up a phone and admit it was all a big mistake and the parents should have been reunited with their son within hours not days.

There’s something wrong with the way things are done if a blatant mistake is allowed to carry on because of what? The right paperwork and procedures?