Folie à Deux For One, Please.

Thursday, February 24 2005

I apologize to all for the lack of recent posts – I know that while BC and BE continue to expose you to 30 seconds of this site, the least I could do is change the view from time to time. However, if this were the Bible, the past week would be a big “begat” list – very boring.

With the exception of a non-911 call ran earlier this week. The patient was an 80 yoF nursing home resident 2xBKA, extensive other medical hx, requiring routine dialysis. We were told prior to transport that she had extreme dementia (A&Ox0) and was “noisy but harmless”.

I looked in on my patient on the way to the nurses station to do paperwork. She was supine in bed and had removed all her clothes, and was busily trying to remove the diaper she wore. She was quite loud and chattering away to herself; the words were difficult to make out because they were of the “veryquicklywithouttakingabreath” variety.

Paperwork was taken care of while the nurses dressed the patient for her trip. We loaded her (strangely subdued) onto our cot and into the ambulance for her 15-or-so minute ride. My turn to tech, so I’m in the back when she starts writhing around on the cot and the fast talking starts up again.

In French, I’m sure of it. Very very fast French.

Now folks, DTs hasn’t spoken French since 1978. Even when I worked near Embassy Row in DC one could have expected at least one encounter with a French-speaking person. No such luck. I am told by reliable visitors to that country that the French would rather speak English than hear your poor efforts mangle their language. My source tells me you can construct a perfect sentence but say “le” instead of “la”, both of which mean “the”, and they’ll cock their heads and discard the entire sentence as unintelligible. My source usually finished this observation with, “So f* the French.”

But I try anyway, stuttering out “n’est ce pas tres vit, s’il vous plait” which think I remember meaning, “Not so fast, please”. It must be close enough. My patient repeated slowly and clearly, “Mon dieu! Ma derriere blesse!” – “My god! My ass hurts!”.

I can’t help it, I’m a bad person. I laughed, big time. “Je me regret! Je me regret, mais nous sommes ici, la maison dialysis, dans cinque minutes, je, um, dit le doctor” and while the French is poor, my meaning of “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but we’re here, at the dialysis place, in five minutes, I’ll tell the doctor” seems to get through and she calms down. I get the word “dormez” or “dorm-” something as she closes her eyes – she wants to sleep.

Suddenly she doesn’t seem as demented.

Both the folks at dialysis, and the nursing home, knew that she was indeed speaking French; she still had dementia, it turns out. She just had a fleeting moment of lucidity with me when I seemed to “get it” and she calmed down.

Which was a nice thing to happen, to me at any rate, and led me to consider the whole language thing. A subject for a later post, methinks.


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