I wrote nothing on this blog for five months. Not because we did nothing, but because we were given new roads to travel on and they weren’t so easy, so it didn’t seem like a nice thing to write about.
Since 2011 we are driving on the wrong side of the road here in France. Quite a tricky thing to do at first, but after almost three years, its not strange anymore. Sometimes life gives you a new road to take and you wonder if you will ever get past the ‘tricky’ part… but you do.
On 23 December last year our 16 year old, Mandi, was diagnosed with leukemia. We got a bit of a fright, no… we got a really big fright and we knew that this was a whole new journey. So, the day before Christmas we tackled the first appointments by train. We take the train at our town’s little station and get off at Montparnasse in Paris. Then two metro rides and a short walk to Institute Curie, just around the corner from the Pantheon.
Then more train trips. More appointments. We spoke french to doctors, who did many blood tests, biopsies and scans and on 12 January she went to hospital. Our friend Marius took us in his car for this appointment. He is from Reunion island and his wife, Vimala, from Mauritius. We almost feel like family, because we all come from the Southern parts of the world. We drove along the Seine, saw the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre on our left, and I wondered whether Paris will still be beautiful after this difficult journey.
Mandi stayed behind in Institute Curie and I was back on the train. Going in early mornings and coming home late evening.
There were complications and our routes changed again. She was sent, via ICU, to Trousseau children’s hospital in the South-eastern parts of Paris. She had to stay for five more weeks. We thought it would never pass. I was back on the train every day. A different metro line now and a new path to walk. I felt like a real Parissienne. I ran for trains. Jumped on the metro with the doors closing behind me. Got tired of the walk and discovered the bus. I knew the train times off by heart.
Early March, after more complications and another little detour in ICU, she could come home at last. How happy we were! Trains were now forbidden for her. Too many people and too many germs for the low immunity. We came home with a taxi.
Now we again have new roads to travel on. The weekly treatment is done in Poissy at the day hospital. We drive their in our own Opel along the corn and canola fields. She still has appointments in Paris. Then we go in madame Benard’s taxi. We are ready with plastic bags and tissues against the nausea, but the kind madame Benard only say: ‘Its nothing, just open the windows a little bit.’
Five months later we are still on this road. The treatment works well and we are thankful! The side-effects are bad and make us scared. The road ahead is still long, but our hearts feel warm. We get lots of love from South-Africa and we have new french friends to hold us tight.
I look around as we drive and see that winter has come and gone. The trees are green again and there’s flowers everywhere. Summer is here and Mandi is doing so much better.
I look again… and I see… Paris is still beautiful.
Franci’s messages on the blackboard for Mandi : )
Hospital visits : )