furax
Sans Plomb

egratignure

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Re the English writing on a very French wall: "I won't be offended by that," I tell my son, on noticing the "Jesus was a Skater, Jesus was a Punk" graffiti (...by the punk and skater artists, who seem to claim Him as their own).
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Thank you for the fun, delicious, charming, and quirky "Favorite French Words" that many of you shared in the comments box on Monday!
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une égratignure (ay-gra-tee-nyur) noun, feminine

   : scratch, scrape

Audio File:
Listen to my son, Max, who talks about his injuries (more, in today's story...) Download MP3 file

Maman, ce n'est que des égratignures, des petites blessures.
Mom, they are only scrapes, small wounds.

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

A Sunday Joy Ride
I never know when I am overreacting, especially as a mom. When in doubt I'll stick with the old French adage: deux précautions valent mieux qu'une: better to be safe than sorry.
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*   *   *
I look down at my son, who is resting on a stretcher, after one of the nurses agreed to have a look at him. We are "parked" next to the nurse station, in the ER once again. The sign above the door reads "Salle de Déchoquage"* beneath it, my son is crying for answers. I tell Max to calm down. For the past half hour his questions have been the same: Qu'est-ce qui m'est arrivé? What happened to me? What day is it? Have I finished my exams? I am going into 9th grade, right? Where is my sister? Am I back from camp? Is it summertime?
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When I have answered all of Max's questions (you have fallen and hit your head, it is Sunday, school finished two weeks ago), he begins the questioning all over again, finishing with the same conclusion: Je croyais que j'étais dans un rêve! I thought I was dreaming! With that he begins to bawl. 

*   *   *

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"Pourquoi tu pleures?"* the doctor asks, greeting Max. "Are you in pain?" With that, she begins to gently lift or press: his arms, his peau*--thoroughly examining her patient from head to toe.
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The doctor's skin is licorice black. Her head of braids is tied back into a thick queue de cheval.* She has a charming gap between the two whitest front teeth that I have ever seen, second only to the whites of her eyes, which are soft with sympathy.
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Max answers that he is not in pain, apart from his lower right side. The doctor pushes on it again, and Max's eyes press tightly together confirming la douleur.* He was crying, he tells her, because he can't seem to remember the accident, only the parts leading up to it.
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The doctor nods her head; before she has a chance to give me her professional opinion, I share my own: "He is probably fine..."
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I still wonder if I have overreacted... ever since the split-second decision I took to bring him here to the ER... His dad, who had asked me to wait, had initially suspected that Max was just "doing the cinema"* or putting on an act, in order to get out of the big trouble he was currently in. For what my husband saw, beyond les égratignures*--beyond the scraped elbows and the cut and bloody knuckles, knees, shoulders and nose--was a kid putting on a show for sympathy--for distraction--after having broken the rules, in favor of a dangerous riding spree.
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Jean-Marc rightly sensed that Max's friends (who swore to us that Max had only fallen off his skateboard) were lying and, until he had all of the details, he was unable to make an informed decision as to what action to take next.
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As for me...  things were not moving quickly enough!--not since Max was returned to us, thanks to the  driver who had pulled over in time to pick up our son off the street, before accompanying all three boys to our house.
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The clock was ticking and I could no longer wait until the boys got their stories straight! Meantime, Max was in a daze, repeating the same words over and over again, pushing me away when I tried to contain him.
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Enough was enough. What were we doing here at home?! Why hadn't Max been driven directly to the ER?! And why were we still interrogating these boys?! What was the use of grilling my son's friends when, meantime, Max was in distress? We needed to get moving! And so, when Jean-Marc went to call the other parents, I ordered the boys to help me get Max into the car, before the two of us sped off, direction les urgences.*
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(It was only a matter of minutes before Jean-Marc got the information that he needed; once he learned that Max had not only fallen off his skateboard, but had fallen off while holding on to the back of his friend's motor scooter, he then believed that the injuries might be more serious, and that a professional examination was in order.)


*   *   *

 

The doctor interrupts my apologetic explanation, about how I may have overreacted.
"It is not the dad or the mom whom I listen to, but the child." And while I might have taken offense, somehow her words relieve me. My child is in her hands now, and I can quit obsessing about whether or not I have made the right decision.
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"Your son's repetition--the fact that he is asking the same questions over and over again--this, and the L'hématome* on his head--is a sign of traumatisme cranien.*  We will need to do a scanner cérébral.* First, your son will receive une perfusion.* Then, after the scanner and the radiographie* we will have an ambulance transport him to the hospital in Avignon."
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Ambulance? Children's hospital? This is the last time I will ever doubt my maternal instincts!

...But my husband, aka "Papa Poule,"* has healthy instincts of his own. After I have reported the information by telephone to Jean-Marc (who is home, meeting with the parent of the child riding the scooter...) he encourages me to wait and see what the scanner and the radio* will reveal. "He might not have to go to the children's hospital after all." I hope my husband is right.

*   *   *

Five hours later and we are still at the ER. Max is feeling much better, good enough to correct my French as I respond to the doctor, who tells me that the scanner has come back "normal" and the X-rays show no head (or internal) injuries. The doctor apologizes for the wait, explaining that she wanted to keep Max under surveillance for a while, as a precaution.
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Things move quickly from this point on: a nurse hands Max a clear plastic cup, for a sample just to make sure there is no sang* in the urine. (Negative.) Another nurse cleans all of Max's wounds, bandaging them with gauze the size of a processed cheese wrapper. The application is so thorough and sterile--involving at least three instruments, including tongs--that I wonder whether I will be able to repeat the process from home in three days' time, when it will be necessary to change les pansements.* I decide that a mother's hands, cotton balls, and disinfectant will get us through the rest; the nurse assures me so.
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The doctor suggests my son have one more perfusion of Dolipran,* but Max tells her he is not in pain ... and would like to go home now. Permission granted, we are given the X-rays, the ordonnance,* and a paper that reads "Surveillance à domicile en cas de traumatisme cranien chez un enfant."* (We are to wake up our son, two times, during the night, and contact the doctor in case of vomiting.)

*   *   *

On the ride home Max tells me about the scanner, inside of which he went, after being told when and for how long to hold his breath, so as to remain completely still.
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"Mom," he says, "my nose never itched so bad!"
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My son makes me laugh and I think about what it's like, the urge to scratch, to interfere--yet to have to hold back. And it all brings me back to those inner instincts and the nagging need to follow them. This time I scratched that itch, followed that hunch; I may not have been right--but, boy, am I now relieved.

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Update: Three days later, and Max is almost back to his old self (just a little bit stiff when he walks). He'll begin his "jail sentence" for the virée, or joy ride, just as soon as his two-week arrêt de travail* is up... at which point he'd better be in shape enough to push the vacuum around this house, empty the poubelles,* and wash all the windows!

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Comments, corrections--or stories of your own--are always welcome and appreciated. Please use the comments box.
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~
la salle (f) de déchoquage = shock room; pourquoi tu pleures? = why are you crying; la peau (f) = skin; la queue de cheval = poneytail; la douleur (f) = pain; doing the cinema (from "faire du cinéma") = to put on an act; une égratignure (f) = a scrape, scratch; les urgences (f,pl) = the emergency ward; un hématome (m) = bruise; le traumatisme (m) cranien = head trama; le scanner (m) cérébral (IRM [MRI] = imagerie par résonance) = brain scanner; une perfusion (f) = drip; une radiographie (f) = X-ray; une radio (f) = abbrev. for radiographie; Papa Poule = Father Hen; le sang (m) = blood; le pansement (m) = bandage, Dolipran = pain medication, see paracetamol; une ordonnance (f) = prescription; Surveillance à domicile en cas de traumatisme cranien chez un unfant = home surveillance in case of child head trama; un arrêt (m) de travail = sick leave; une poubelle (f) = garbage can/bin



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