Friday, February 21, 2014

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Yesterday was easily one of the worst days of my life. I had my monthly check-up at the hospital. It had been nearly three weeks since I'd gone into premature labor and was put on strict bed rest. I had left the house once to do my blood test for gestational diabetes (5-minute walk down the street) and once for an ultrasound (took a taxi both ways, for what would normally be a 10-minute walk).

I've turned into a bit of a hermit these days, so I was overly apprehensive about going all the way to the hospital for my appointment. Mika had ordered me a taxi, and the driver did me the favor of showing up 10 minutes early so that he could start running up the meter. Luckily our apartment has a view of the street and I saw that sneaky devil so I waddled down the stairs and got in that taxi early. The meter was already at €9.20. Gee, thanks.

David Salafia / Foter / CC BY-ND
I asked him to drop me off at the ER, simply to avoid walking up the hill and stairs at the regular entrance. But he didn't know that - for all he knew I was going to the hospital to have my baby.

The meter stopped at €11.80 so I handed him €20 and asked for €8 back. Hey, I'm practically French now so I don't have to tip taxi drivers anymore. That's when he proceeded to yell at me. A pregnant lady being dropped off at the ER.

The taxi driver

"What's with you people? Everyone expects me to make change. I'm not a bank! Why don't you people ever go to the bank and get change? You just expect me to make change! It's ridiculous."

Um... what? I wasn't asking him to break my 20, I was asking for change back on my 20 for a service provided. Totally different. It's not like I flagged down a taxi hoping he could make change so I could then do laundry. And paying a €12 fee with €20 is not ridiculous. Unless I had a 10 and a 5 or exact change, there's actually no smaller way to get the job done.

But more importantly, why was he yelling at a pregnant lady he had just dropped off at the ER? Who does that?

"I'm really sorry, sir, but I haven't been allowed to leave the house for three weeks." I tried to lighten the mood with a laugh. "I'm lucky I even have €20!"

He grunted, gave me my change, then opened the door for me (at least that part was nice). I held it together until I made it inside the hospital, then started crying. Great.

Next up, more crying, this time from the sage femme (midwife).

I was ready and sitting in the waiting room at 2:28, two minutes before my appointment. Technically I'm supposed to be laying down at all times but I really didn't want to lay down on the gross hospital seats. I don't know why I cared - I should have just done it - but as each minute ticked by I thought "Surely she'll call me soon so it would be pointless to lay down now."

After twenty grueling minutes had passed, where I nearly fainted from the heat in the waiting room and really felt like I needed to lay down, the sage femme came out and spat at me "Madame Lesage? Your dossier wasn't included in the files they gave me." And then she just stood there.

What did she want me to do about it? The hospital is responsible for my ginormous dossier, not me. But since she looked like she wanted an answer I said, "I was transferred to Port Royal when I went into premature labor so maybe they still have my dossier?"

She clucked - literally clucked - then stormed off to look for my dossier.

What did I do wrong? Was I supposed to work a part-time job (while on bed rest) organizing their files? I showed up with MY dossier but I can't control theirs.

After 10 minutes she came back and spat out, "They couldn't find it but I have another place to check." She sighed. "Can you wait here, please?" Then dashed off.

This encounter was slightly nicer than the first, but she somehow managed to ignore my green face and the tears forming in my eyes. What kind of a medical professional does that? I figured I might have another long wait ahead of me so I finally just laid down on the damn chairs, looking ridiculous but caring more about the safety of my baby than what the chic Parisian bitches in the waiting room thought.

After another 15 minutes, she finally returned and brought me to her office. There was a student in there as well. Wonderful. The more the merrier. I set my stuff down on the chair and immediately felt like I was going to faint.

"We still don't have your dossier," she said in an accusatory tone.

I still didn't understand why she was so mad at ME about it, but I didn't have time to care. I needed to lay down on that exam table, stat, or I would faint. So I handed her my dossier, explained that the most recent papers, including the summary of my hospital stay, were on top and said that I didn't feel well and I needed to lay down. Then - horror of all horrors - I went to lay down on the exam table before she had given me permission. Because, you know, when a patient is feeling ill and has already been waiting for nearly an hour when she's supposed to be on bed rest, the important thing is that she ask permission first and be polite to the medical professional who is supposed to be helping her. The ensuing conversation was unreal.

The midwife

"Madame, you are not allowed to talk to me like that."

What? Talk like what? I'd relayed the information nicely and then simply went to lay down without asking. We all know I'm going to have to lay down on that table at some point, better to do it before I faint. So I guess the stress of it all got to me and I said, "I'm sorry but I'm not feeling well. I'm supposed to be on bed rest so I really need to lay down. Something I wasn't able to do while I was in the f-ing waiting room for 45 minutes." I know it's wrong to drop the f-bomb but I felt the situation had warranted it. It WAS an f-ing waiting room and I wasn't feeling well.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Madame," she shouted. "You need to calm down. You are NOT allowed to talk to me like that. I will NOT be treated like that." Still shouting.

"I'm sorry but I'm not French so maybe sometimes I don't use the right words." I mean, I did know what putain meant but I had to try something to calm her down. Because, you know, as the distressed patient, it's MY job to calm HER down.


"Then I will just stop talking."

"I'M SERIOUS! YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN, MADAME. CALM DOWN! CALM DOWN! CALM DOWN!" Was she talking to herself? Because SHE was the one who needed to calm down. Any minute now her head was going to start spinning around and spitting pea soup.

At this point I was curled up in a ball on the exam table, crying my eyes out. Then - yay! - I had a contraction.

"I'm having a contraction."

"Then you should calm down."

"It would be easier if you stopped yelling at me, please."


More crying. I had my back to her and decided to just not say anything for the rest of the appointment.

Two silent minutes passed, the only noises breaking the stillness were my sobs. This was the exact opposite of what I needed to be doing to keep my baby in for another two months. I figured my best option was to remain quiet and kiss this bitch's ass, for the health of my baby.

Finally, after shuffling through the dossier I had so thoughtfully brought, she came over.

"Bonjour, I'm Sage Femme Bitchface. I'd like to start us off on the right foot. Can we do that?"

I wanted to say "I f-ing hope so" but held my tongue. "OK," I managed to say nicely.


The rest of the appointment she walked on eggshells around me and seemed nice enough. I furnished as much information as possible and strained to use the most polite tone I could manage.

The good news is that nothing has gotten worse since my last appointment, so I just need to keep on taking it easy. Which should be easy to do since I don't have another appointment with that bitch until next month.

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Life's short. Laugh more. Buy my books at

Vicki Lesage, Author