The Little French English Improvement Project

little french person trying to improve her english, little french english person trying to improve herself, french english person trying to improve a little bit… and blogging along the way. (Now in Deutschland)

Posts Tagged ‘health’

Cure for all ills

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on February 25, 2013

Some of you might have heard me say that carrot cake would cure anything, even political despair. Give them cake, right? Chocolate cake, Frau Boxler’s mocha cake, macaroons etc would take care of the rest. But recently I have driven around the countryside with my grandad in tow and now I know better. You see, although I still don’t have a driving licence (at 25; shocking I know), I can drive when accompanied by an adult who knows how to drive. Never mind that I feel safer with Papy sitting in the passenger seat where I can see him than if he were driving himself.

IMGP9282So anyway, in order for me to acquire experience of driving along narrow winding roads with a rockface on one side and a ravine on the other, we go together to visit his friends from way back when; old grannies and grandads who went to school with him, or sat next to him and my grandma on coach trips to Lourdes or somewhere. Nowadays they sit around their front rooms wrapped up in shawls and scarves, waiting for winter to be over. We have long conversations about the weather, the war, farming, and grandchildren like myself who should really be looking for a husband and produce offspring. Someone heats up coffee in a pan on a wood-burning stove, which we drink from worn out bowls or cups or glasses. As the conversation goes on, an old bottle is brought out of a dark cupboard and someone will ask, or rather state: “You’ll have a little drop, won’t you.” “Une goutte”, a drop, “of eau de vie” of course. My grandad chuckles and protests, just a bit.

The bottle itself if usually a little sticky and dusty; it has been kept in there for so long. The stopper never quite fits, so there’s an accumulation of “stuff” round the neck of the bottle – you don’t really want to know. Sometimes, as a conversation piece, there’s a pear floating around in there (my grandfather’s godfather put that in there), or a stick, an articulated wooden doll, or even a snake or two. Someone explains: it’s quince, pear, plums, marc de raisin or some other fruit, and you have to take their word for it because really, you could not tell the difference. Either it tastes like pure alcohol and will burn your tonsils off, or if you’re lucky, it tastes of sugar. If it has any flavour at all, it will be of coffee because it is poured straight into the warm cup or bowl you’ve been using, even if you have explained that you’re supposed to steer the car all the way home and it’s getting dark. “Come on. Just a drop. It can’t do you any harm.”

Because whatever the shape and size of the bottle, the percentage of alcohol or sugar and which members of the extended family were involved in the distilling process, it’s good for you. So far, it has been recommended to me as an aid to digestion, a cure for the runs, the solution to headaches (hair of the dog perhaps), and as a panacea for all coughs, sneezes, tickly throats and bad colds. For internal and external use. If you have a sore throat and a runny nose, imbibe cotton wool in eau de vie and tie it around your neck with a scarf. That should sort you out. And make you smell like an alcoholic.

Well I spent hours outside in the cold over the past few days, shovelling never-ending piles of snow from the yard, and although my many layers of clothes made me look like the Michelin man, I got the sniffles. Maybe I should try the “goutte” remedy. But Mam went to the chemists today and bought some Fervex. Just in case.


Posted in Family, Food, France, Life, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A rapidly evolving situation

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on February 3, 2012

Over the past few weeks I must have started writing half a dozen health-related blog entries. Typical subjects were:

Three days and a lot of medication later: massive improvement

  • having the sniffles
  • having the sniffles and a headadache
  • surviving a first day at work on throat lozenges
  • waking up buried under mounds of used up hankies
  • comparing tonsils with aggressive difformed little jellyfish recently discovered by R. Attenborough
  • unsympathetic doctors
  • the uselessness of homeopathic medication
  • oh, the homeopathic stuff does seem to be doing something…

And all of these just wove in and out of each other. Not enough time to finish one paragraph: whatever I had written five minutes earlier would no longer be relevant ages before I got that far. It was a rather busy week. And it all eventually culminated with me writhing on my bed at 5 in the morning covered in angry red blotches, trying not to scratch and just shaking incontrollably whilst waiting for the on-call doctor to get extra-medicine from his practice.

My very first allergy! How exciting! I would love to linger on and tell you all about it, about the inadequacy of of the the verb “to itch”, about tiredness and recurring eczema and nice mad doctors, fairytales, medical students, ointments creams tablets and drops… BUT I am now quite far behind in my revision “plan” and exams are looming ever nearer. So I’ll just leave you with this lovely picture from last week and a suggestion for low-budget horror film makers. You know, if you need a good zombie look.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sports: as fit as a cello

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on May 24, 2011

I am lazy: those of you who know me personally will be keenly aware of this, and the rest should catch on pretty quickly. One of my favourite things in the world is going to bed to sleep, or staying IN bed in the morning, just lying there knowing you could get up, but deciding to stay there “just five more minutes”. And up until very recently most of my other favourite things were food related, with one notable exception: reading. None of these passtimes can really be described as physically challenging, unless you count climbing over rocks and into trees in order to find the best reading spots.

As a matter of fact, I hated sports and exercising in general, I couldn’t stand it and I couldn’t see the point of it. Admittedly when I was in school I was a bit of a lump, to the point that running was just a long wobbly ordeal, and the tought of me jumping high or low was a joke. Being a lump also meant I was very very aware of the way I looked (not in a good way), and I didn’t want the aggravation of being viscid and smelly. It just so happened unfortunately that my PE teacher at the time was very fond of running, or rather: making us poor pupils run, while he bounced pebbles off a wall. I grew (or rather did not but stayed short and chubby) to hate the track around which we ran and ran. It was a relief when I changed schools and got to try out new varieties of physical exertion, but alas, hopeless: it was ruled out I had no aptitude for table tennis and someone dropped me while lowering me down from a climbing wall.

I am glad to say though, this sad state of affairs is now happily over. Two years ago I started learning karate, and it’s brilliant! I’m won’t write a whole tribute to karate right now, but sufficient to say it’s reconciled me with sports. Now if I don’t exercise, I end up feeling restless and a bit guilty. It’s just become something to enjoy alongside cooking and sleeping and reading. I actually enjoy those things more now I know I won’t turn back into a lump even if I indulge in a couple of patisseries or spend an extra five minutes (to an hour) asleep.

OK, perhaps I’m not exactly as fit as a fiddle, I’ll never be a major athlete, and I know even the local newspaper’s sports supplement won’t come knocking at my door for an interview any time soon, but I certainly intend to continue karate and to take up running more seriously. My mam bought me a pair of running shoes on friday (the highlight of my weekend), and someday in the far distant future, maybe I could do the Great North Run. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

In the meantime, at least the sticky horrid wobbliness has mostly gone. As I was making my way back from training yesterday, some guys drove by and whistled and whooped at me. I know my feminist side should be horrified and outraged at that blatant lack of respect for me as a woman, but I can’t say I didn’t smile a little.

Anyway: pancakes tonight!

Posted in Life, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

What? Presents? What presents?

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on December 14, 2010

And yet again a small bit of eternity seems to have happened since the last time I wrote. Where does all this time come from, where does it disappear off to, and will I ever learn? And it’s not that I haven’t spent enough time in front of the computer or that I didn’t have time to spare. I have been doing precious little these past few days apart from coughing, sleeping and studying (in decreasing order). That little niggle I had, tickling the back of my throat last week has turned out just about as bad as it could have. I went to a doctor’s on Tuesday, and since I had a cough, he gave me cough treatment. So far so good. But he didn’t know me and my history. So it just got worse and worse. I think I reached the lowest of the low on Friday. The plan had been to get a train at about 2:30pm, then someone would pick me up and drive me to our usual doctor so he could pump me up with medicine and make me get better. Which he did eventually. But Friday lunchtime as I sat on my backpack in the freezing, draughty railway station in Clermont-Ferrand, fighting to keep my lungs inside my chest, all trains canceled because of an unexplained, unannounced strike, I felt I would never get there. In the end, my lovely dad came all the way from home to pick me up. At least he had no difficulties in finding me despite the station being so crowded: not only could he hear me a mile off, but people were giving me a wide berth. And apparently they were right: Docteur Pascal told me later on I was highly contagious… I hope I haven’t contaminated too many people (apart from my cousin Celia in England apparently – though how my germs reached her from my library all the way to her bay window desk in the north of England, I haven’t the faintest idea.)

But let’s talk about something else. I have literally spent the last week and a half thinking, talking, worrying almost exclusively about this and I DON’T LIKE IT! I am getting better though, thanks to a lot of cortizone, so maybe it’s time I changed the subject and wrote about something else that I’ve had to postpone so far… like Christmas presents! As you may have read in my “Books” post, I already have a couple of ideas for my own presents list (Maybe someone will have noticed?). However, being a very naughty, self-centered selfish girl, I have not yet even started on buying presents for other people! Oooops… It’s all the weirder since normally, I love buying presents for my friends and family (maybe partly because it means I can afford it). Normally I start looking out for stuff around mid-October, and I go through a series of ideas for each and every single person on my list until I have settled on what I believe is the best possible pressie. Well this year I suppose I’ll just have to follow my first intuition. I already have a couple of ideas. Of course I won’t write them here though. It is highly unlikely that anyone concerned by this Christmas’ present-making will ever read my blog, but why take the chance?

So it would seem I am going to have to be organized and effective… *crestfallen sigh*… This is so not me. I love wandering more or less aimlessly about town before Christmas, searching for ideas and criticizing the festive/extravagant/rubbish festive window setups, all lit up and tinsel-strung. But I have to admit, what the weird contradictory little person in me loves most of all is walking around the cold darkening streets, just waiting for all the illuminations to light up. And just when your nose starts to feel like it’s  about to fall off, stepping into a clothes-store and getting hot air blasted into your face by the gigantic automatic blowers they sometimes have right behind the door. Or walking into a chocolaterie, knowing full well everything in there is far to expensive, but taking all the time in the world to browse and look at every single one of those amazing chocolate/orange/nut/gold/caramel/roast/melting/spectacular/crunchy/round/square/star-shaped/dark/white/milky/bitter/sweet pieces of edible wonder, and maybe buying just the one truffle for yourself. (But shhhhh… don’t tell anyone about it!)

I must write a post entirely about chocolate…

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Things are looking up!

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on November 4, 2010

I like it, that a lot of the time, after any ofrm of crisis and stress, there comes a time when things slow down, you can heave a great big sigh and start putting everything back together. I am glad to say I have just about reached that point. Something has been done about both issues mentioned in my previous post, and her I am, during another library shift, feeling the constant bubbling and thrashing inside me settling down a little.

First of all you’ll be glad to hear that my little sister Lucile is a lot better. She finally saw a special doctor for her back yesterday. It took some time but we finally got there. Dad and I took in in turns bothering whoever we could find who happened to look a bit like a doctor and asking them if they had any news.  Apparently an aggravating factor to the situation was that last weekend’s intern had “misplaced” Lucile’s file. It feels so good to know my baby sister is such good hands… Anyways. On Tuesday a very handsome young man with blue eyes came and took a mould of Lucile’s torso to make a brace to support her back. He came back the yesterday with the finished brace (green motifs on black) and there were talks of her going home on Thursday as planned. Most people seemed to have completely forgotten about her seeing a neurologist at all. And then hurray! someone re-found her file!

There was some good news. For starters, someone actually described to us Lucile’s back injury. No-one had bothered so far, so since the nurses were so adamant she shouldn’t move her back AT ALL, and I have a very vivid imagination, I had considered all sorts of  horrible things. But in fact, a small part of one of the vertebrae was compressed a little. It is a fracture, but not a very bad one, and compared to her wrists, hardly worth mentioning. It’ll get better and in a few years’ time you will hardly know it ever happened. Massive sigh of relief. Phew.

And there was something else. Would Lucile like to take part in a study comparing two different treatments for the type of fracture she has. The first was the one that had been suggested at first: wearing a brace for three months which relieves pressure on your bone, allowing it to solidify again over time. The second: going through surgery and have some cement injected into your vertebra. The cement helps your bone solidify immediately and avoids having to wear a brace at all. This means you can perform ordinary tasks without having your movements too restricted by the brace, it makes washing easier and avoids your skin getting a reaction with the constant rubbing on the plastic. It also means your body doesn’t rely on the brace too much and it avoids your back muscles growing too weak. Of course it is no magical cure; it takes time to recover from any injury, but it makes the process a little easier. Lucile still won’t be able to play rugby for a while, but she will be able to do more things, easier, and whilst not wearing a very elegant black and green plastic shell.

The hospital has been using both treatments for years, and the study will ultimately decide which of the two techniques will become the default solution for this type of injury. All you had to do was to sign up on a list; your name then gets put through a computer which randomly decides which treatment you will get.  Lucile signed up, hoping to get the latter option and got chosen for vertebroplasty (cement), so good. She went through surgery late this morning. Of course, although we had been told it was safe, you can’t help but worry when someone has a general anaesthetic, so I kept going to and fro between Uni and hospital to check on her. I was the wing’s last visitor last night and their first one this morning, and came back during my lunch-break… And then Lucile came back, reclining (not lying flat as a pancake, reclining, almost sitting, even) on her bed.


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