It was my fault.
I should never have considered writing about the comparative merits of Europe’s hospital casualty departments.
Now we’ve visited another one, with Hannah this time, and the news was bad.
She has a greenstick fracture and an arm incarcerated in a plaster cast for three to four weeks – just long enough to show her friends back at school.
We were at a country fair, she was sitting, swinging her legs on the edge of a giant haystack, and seconds later was a screaming bundle on the ground.
When she stopped crying for long enough to speak, we gathered a small child had shoved her off, but by then it was too late to grab him and beat him about the head.
She said her wrist hurt, and as she couldn’t or wouldn’t move it, and she’d cried for longer than ever before, I guessed it was a fracture or a bad sprain.
We went home, wrapped her wrist in icy towels, and I took her to St Malo hospital, leaving everyone else at the house.
As I’m now used to the French queuing systems (nobody tells you which window to wait at, and when you get to the front of the window you chose arbitrarily, you’re told to go and wait somewhere else) I asked the people already there which window to go to first (if only we’d done that at the moules-frites evening…)
We were soon in the capable hands of a doctor who kept tickling Hannah. She was trying to make her laugh, but Hannah wasn’t in the mood to giggle at tickles from a strange doctor.
It was only after the X-ray and a lot of waiting around, when the doctor had delivered the bad news and was wrapping wet bandages around her arm, that she started to cry.
“I won’t be able to move my arm,” she wailed, “I won’t be able to do anything.” She was looking forward to going on more bike rides as she’s just learned to go without stabilisers.
An emergency bar of chocolate stemmed the flow of tears for the journey back, but it took her brother and her cousin to get her out of the car and into the house.
“I’m too embarrassed,” she explained.
Two days later, and she’s adapting to life with one functioning arm.
Making sandcastles takes longer, as does getting dressed, but playing hamsters is still possible, as is chatting to herself and re-assuring her arm that it will be OK.
“Arm-ey thought she was going to die,” she told me, “but I told her she’d soon be better.” (She often talks to bits of herself like this, and her body parts are always female – of course).
For the record, if you’re equi-distant from the hospitals in St Malo and Avranches – go for Avranches. It’s smaller, friendlier and less busy.
An altogether better casualty experience.