comme ci comme ca


A bandagiste on Rue Sade in Antibes. Notice the flirty lace curtains... consider the street sign (what an address  for "wound repairer"!) I think the sadistic French writer, long since deceased, might appreciate the irony in it!

Merci, merci--merci beaucoup! for your letters and comments and lovely caring words regarding skin-cancer surgery. I have read and reread every note and commentaire and have been uplifted by every word! May all these wishes and prayers be shared right back with you, for healing and improvement in any area in which you may need them!

le pansement (pahns mahn)

    : bandage, dressing


panser une plaie or faire un pansement = to dress or bandage a wound


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

Out of Sight out of Mind

Ironically--and frustratingly!--any scars that remain as a result of the surgical wound on my forehead may well be my own doing -- as opposed to the plastic surgeon's handiwork!  

It happened the other night, when I awoke to tickling trickling. Lying there on my back, I felt the gouttelettes slip from the center of my forehead down to my temples and into my hairline, just above my ears.  The sensation woke me, petit à petit, until, I became conscious of the situation: my pansement had been broken through!

I wondered, was the bandage about to burst? Braced for what I might see next, I got up and stepped before the bathroom mirror...

Jean-Marc called me back to bed: "Ne t'inquiète pas! Everything is going to be okay," and I listened to his assuring words as I examined my leaky plaies.

The incision wound, up till now maintained behind a see-through layer of colle chirurgicale, was draining. I stared at the horizontal red lines that ran from the end of the wound, beyond my temples, and into my hairline. A thick red boule formed near the center. I calmly reached for a square of gauze, and stamped it out. Grabbing another compress, I returned to bed, and placed sterile cloth, gently as a fallen feather, over my dripping front. When next I woke up I went to remove the compress... only, it was stuck! The blood had hardened. In a slight panic I tugged it off....

Though my forehead felt nothing (still numb from surgery), the resistance, felt by my tugging hand, alerted me to my bêtise... and I realized then that I had pulled off more than the gauze.... 

Too horrified to look at the compress, I threw it into la poubelle and called my doctor.


It's four days later, now, and I am grateful for the new, thick white bandage which completely hides the wound (the doctor, assuring me it was only superficial, put a piece of tulle gras over the skin, to repair my accidental déchirement). A local nurse now dresses the wound every two days. Quel soulagement not to have to see straight into the wound!

Ever since the surgical incision has been completely covered, I have experienced a greater peace of mind... leading me to a new appreciation of the old saying "loin des yeux, loin du coeur", or "out of sight, out of mind".

Speaking of coeur, I've been doing a lot of heart work, lately, wondering about that health-mind connection... specifically the connection to healing. I've been thinking about fear, love, forgiveness, stress, a tendency to people-please... resentment and other issues that crop up... in time to clog up our immune-system channels. I am learning about breathing and releasing and believing. I am being careful not to allow worry to worm its way back in. I sometimes wonder whether worry isn't where it all began...

Finally, I am meditating on this idea: L'amour guérit toutes les blessures. And, truly, if love heals all wounds, then the letters and the comments that you have sent in, in response to my previous post, are the ultimate balm! My wish is that the generous and caring words of support and love that you have shared... will have a rippling return effect... in time to heal your very own hurts, whatever they may be--physical or psychological or still a mystery.


Speaking of your comments, I got a good laugh out of your solutions and recommendations, should anyone wonder about the surgical wound on my forehead... "Corky", a melanoma survivor, offered to let me use her fave response: re "the large red, ragged scar I simply told them it was the result of a bar fight". 

I also received an accidental suggestion from our local supermarket clerk: "What happened to you?" he asked. When my complicated answer ("enlevement d'une mechante peau", or "the removal of a 'mean' skin") wearied him, he summed it up in a no-nonsense answer. Knowing that we are local winemakers, he guessed: "You mean you were stabbed by a vine branch during the harvest?!" 

"That's it!" I agreed, and it does, after all make for a good story!


Le Coin Commentaires

Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box. Thank you in advance!

Note: The stories in this thread are filed under Skin Cancer. If you've missed an installment, click here to catch up!


French Vocabulary

la gouttelette = droplet

petit à petit = little by little

le pansement = bandage

la colle chirurgicale = surgical glue

le déchirement = ripping, tearing

quel soulagement = what a relief

une plaie = wound

une boule = ball 

le front = forehead, brow

la bêtise = mistake, blunder

le tulle gras = "oily tulle" ("consists of fabric impregnated with soft paraffin (98 parts), balsam of Peru (1 part), and olive oil (1 part), which prevents its sticking to wounds, but means that it needs to be used in combination with another absorbent dressing." -Wikipedia

 le coeur = heart


Aqui sian ben (c) Kristin Espinasse

The painted sign, translated here from Provençal to French, reads: Ici on est bien. Indeed, here (and now!) we are well... or we are well in the here and now! Just the reminder some of us need. (Photo taken in our old village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens).

Do you have a minute for another story? In this one, my daughter learns to pray.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Oh Kristin,I've only just been catching-up on recent "word-a-days". Poor you,I do hope you are feeling better.You are brave to share all this.As for an explanation to anyone who asks what has happened - you should just say "you should've seen the other guy!!" Take care and wishing you happy days.
Angela xx

gail bingenheimer

Si j'arrive en retard, c'sest qu'il m'a fallu attendre longtemps chez le médecin.
If I'm late, it's because I had to wait a long time at the doctor's .
Comme il fallait attendre une heure ou deux pour voir le médecin, j'ai décidé de revenir le lendemain.
Since it was necessary to wait an hour or two to see the doctor, I decided to come back the next day.
Comme il fallait attendre un heure ou deux pour voir le médicin, j'ai pu lire un tas de vieilles revues.
Since I had to wait an hour or two to see the doctor, I was able to read a stack of old magazines.

Bill in St. Paul

It's good that you have a nurse changing the dressing every other day. That should relieve any worries about the wound healing properly. My and my wife's initial reaction to seeing your wound was "Oh, my!" but what little I've seen of plastic surgeons' works they tend to look worse than the final outcome, i.e., the scar. Going along with how you got the scar, if you're a fan of Harry Potter you could just say that Voldemort did it to you.

Lynn at Southern Fried French

Hi Kristin,
Yikes! Got behind a bit and didn't realized you'd had surgery. An unwanted adventure, but you, as always, make a good story out of it. Happy, healing thoughts coming your way from Lynn and Ron!


Mending of the heart, mind, and soul is always more difficult than that of the body. Keeping our minds from "picking at the wound" is often the most difficult of tasks. Thank you for being open and sharing your thoughts with us. Thank you for teaching us such phrases as "loin des yeux, loin du coeur". As a subscriber, I use your posts as an entry to the Internet so that I don't have to face the tragedies of society on a large scale before breakfast. Even your account of blood in the night is manageable because I know it is part of your healing process. And you are healing day by day. You continue in my thoughts and prayers.

Lauren Averill

Dearest Kristin-First, let me send all my healing and positive energy your way. You are surrounded internationally by a circle of readers who love you and your words, and I can just imagine all that wonderful force heading right to southern France.
Second, I will tell you that no matter how many people tell you nice things about your scars, and the way you look, (they DO mean well), it is still difficult to be the one "wearing" them. I've had scars on my neck and chest for over 50 years now from thyroid cancer and I would honestly say that it took me a great many years to accept them. Please note that I was 12 at the time, and adolescence is a bit harder on the ego!! Also, my mom was not as incredibly supportive as yours....She bought turtleneck shirts and made sure the scars were covered up when I went out of the house..Hmmmmmm. No wonder it took me so long!! In any case, I was recently reading Little Bee, the novel by Chris Cleave, and one of the characters talks about scars and how instead of being ashamed or embarrassed by them, one should be proud of surviving whatever caused them. I've taken that statement on as a personal goal. You are a strong, amazing woman, and I wish you the best on this journey.


Dear Kristin, All my best wishes for your recovery. It's a scary time to go through. I agree with Lauren; scars are trophies to be worn proudly.
When George had a melanoma removed from his wrist, he had a 4" scar with a large lump, about an inch high, of bunched up skin at the end. Now, a year later, it is hardly noticable. As for comments, I like the bar fight or "other guy" responses. Also the Harry Potter one. Or perhaps, "My fencing instructor slipped!"


Dear Kristin -- Healing thoughts for you. Thank you for sharing your experience. Here's to good thoughts that your wound will heal and only be a small reminder.

A little story to share: When I was in college, my new husband, had a cancerous growth on his face and had to have surgery. Being in college, we had only my University insurance, so he let the dermatologist remove it (back then -- the mid-70s not every dermatologist was a skilled surgeon). The surgeon said maybe my husband would like to go to a plastic surgeon because he wasn't really sure he'd not leave a scar, but my husband, liked the dr (after all, he had caught the problem waaay in time!). Afterwards, my husband had quite a scar, but he wore it proudly and called it his "Red Badge of Courage" since it was his first (and ultimately his only) scar from surgery as an adult. (I had been in a life-threatening automobile accident years earlier and had had many, many surgeries resulting in many many scars). I loved him all the more for it, and it turned out to be one of those wonderful stories he loved to tell and people, oddly enough, enjoyed hearing!

Heal well. Thank you for sharing your journey. It's a wonderful read and truly inspirational as well as thoroughly enjoyable!


Kristine, Dallas

My apologies for missing your previous post regarding the surgery. I am glad you are healing both internally and externally. All the best,

Marti Schmidt

Dear Kristin,
I too am just now catching up with the last posts of FWAD . Wow, you have been through a lot, however , you always shine with such a positive light that I feel so sure this time will pass quickly and you will heal completely.
You have such a wonderful Mother! you are such a good reflection of her positive influence and love every day. Strong, confident, beautiful and kind.
It is obvious that you are loved by so many, even though we have never met you personally. You have always been so honest in sharing you life in my email box for years now, I've watch your family grow as well as the vineyard. Your flubs and triumphs, jokes and stories for all to see. And now you share with us your biggest fear yet. It takes a really brave person to do that.
Thanks for this!!
I too have been through some surgery, with scars in obvious places and I can tell you that the scars do heal and fade. Our bodies are amazing at healing the wounds. Each day you will see this transformation. All the best to you for full recovery soon.
You are one amazing woman!
Marti Schmidt

Sue Reddel

Best wishes to you Kristin on your speedy recovery. I'm getting ready for a trip to Northern France next week and enjoying your posts even more. Thanks so much for keeping up the great work.


Chere Kristin: You are doing so well & you don't even realize it. Breathe deeply every day; keep those worrisome thoughts @ bay........& as always merci a vous for your beautiful words to each of your readers who perhaps also carries remnants of a wound.


Happy to see that life is moving forward, I bet that scar isn't going to be as obvious and you might think right now...character indicator only. Blessing. Mary


My dear, dear Kristin, what a brave "soldier" you are. Cancer, any type, is a war and you have been incredibly brave. I did go to look at your post-op pix. Consider it your "Red Badge of Courage." However, I'm so happy to read that a nurse will be doing the dressings for a bit. You've been through a lot physically and emotionally. Now is the time to rest,regroup and to take care of YOU. While you're healing maybe you will think just a bit about the power of the word "no." Sometimes we have to put ourselves first. I'll give the advice given to me: rest, rest and then rest some more. May every day find you stronger.

Amy Kortuem

Oh, no. I'm glad you've got your own nurse to take care of you now.

I think your words about worry, fear, etc. clogging up our systems are so true. I wonder how much we really bring upon ourselves. I've been in such a funk lately that I went to an acupuncturist on Friday to help clear out anything that's blocked and stuck. I hope it helps.

And I hope you continue healing well! (Love the vine fight story)

Audrey Wilson

Dear Kristin
Further my other post when I mentioned hats . Think of the fringe styles you can try once the pansement is off . A new look for you eh ?
Courage mon brave !

Jennifer in OR

Ici on est bien -- loved how you ended with that door. ~be blessed today! xoxo

Judy Feldman

Kristin, you have such a beautiful soul. You don't need any "heart work" Your heart is bigger and better than you think! Glad you are on the mend. Follow your husband's advice, "ne t'inquiete pas!"

edith schmidt

Bonjour Kristin:

Healing takes time. I am currently helping my husband deal with a painful foot sore that is slow to heal. Today he goes for another biopsy to make sure it isn't cancerous. He's not the most patient of patients and is thinking the worst, but I have faith that things will get better for you both! Speaking of faith, I enjoyed re-reading the story about you and your daughter,
Take care,

Edie from Savannah


I hope your healing well from the surgery Kristi. Learning to let go of things that, 'clog up our immune-system channels' and 'learning about breathing and releasing and believing', is a very big adventure. But it can be such a freeing adventure, don't you think?

Pat, Roanoke, Va

Continued fast recovery, chere Kristin. If I could be there I would share some restorative yoga beautifully enhanced by breathwork. Yoga is all about our breath which guides us through the body-mind connection, and it's neither mysterious nor serious! xox, tu es dans ma coeur, toujours, Pat


"… I've been doing a lot of heart work, lately, wondering about that health-mind connection ... specifically the connection to healing …"

Kristin. You're definitely on the right track. Stay with it.
And it's not just wishful thinking. It's an application of universal harmony that gains traction in your mental makeup. It's YOU! The real YOU! In all your dimensions … mental/human/etc.
Keep at it. You're not alone in this quest. Look how the supporting thoughts of the Commentaires are obviously touching your thought/being. Look at your wonderful, inimical sense of humor through all of this!
Magnifique. Merveilleux.

Suzanne Dunaway

Kristin, I am a big believer in healing with believing you can. There is also another weird way to help healing. Take anything that looks like a scalpel in your house, small knife will do, and gently press the knife against your wound, trying to actually re-live the experience of the operation. The wound might begin to hurt a bit but keep imagining what you think went on in the operation, the surgeon cutting, stitching, etc. and go through the whole experience without thinking of anything else. In short, relive it. Then take the knife away and know that you sent healing thoughts from your own strong self to your wound. This is a technique used by many oriental beliefs and sometimes works wonders. I've had cuts heal up twice as fast, etc. by going through the experience, not actually, of course, but mentally.
You WILL heal and scars can be treated nowadays with wondrous success.

Rina Rao.

Glad you have a nurse taking care now.
Did pray for you and will do some more, after reading this.
All the best, Rina.


Kristin, I am thinking about you and sending you healing thoughts from Napa, California. Your story has so touched me, and you are so open and trusting to share with all of us. I have a good friend who has just been going through what you have been dealing with - same diagnosis. She had one removed from her chest just beneath her chin and then several weeks later from her back. It is interesting that the process here in the US is different from the one you describe in France. Here, she only sees the dermatologist - no other doctors. I know how hard it has been for her to go through the uncertainty. I am sending you many healing thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing. Frances

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

Bon Courage, Kristin. And as Julian of Norwich said, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

I loved the story of family faith and I want to live behind that green door!

Carolyn Chase

I've particularly enjoyed following your path through the surgery journey and am very proud of you. Your insights about what might damage or diminish your immune system are right on, and it will help to deal with some of these issues, in terms of your current healing process. The scars from my craniotomy are a bit more hidden under my hair most of the time than yours, but it helped me to give it a nickname "My $25,000 part". What occurred to me first seeing yours was a Harry Potter type wound! I also made a game of creating a new adventure as the cause, each time I was asked about it. Might as well get some mileage out of it!
My thoughts, prayers, love, and appreciation are with you. Take care.

BAFA Studio

I loved Jackie's thoughts, go Jules! Grandmothers are wonderful!

You are doing so very well and must agree that the healing is so much faster when we're not so fastened to it. Like the watched kettle that never boils right. All good thoughts Kristin!

Cynthia Lewis

Dear Kristin, I have been thinking often of you this past week, knowing that it would not be an easy week for you. Even though this is a "do it yourself" society we live in, you should not have been expected to dress your own "blessure". I, too, was happy to know that a nurse will be helping you with them now. ( I was an RN for many years and yet I still get a small "butterfly" in my stomach when I see a wound. I can only imagine how large your "butterfly" must have been!) My encouragement and very best wishes are sent your way, Cynthia

Cheryl in STL

I have been away from my computer for a bit and just now am reading about your surgery. It's wonderful that you have a nurse coming to change the dressings--that's not a favorite thing to do for me. I really love the suggestion from the clerk at the grocery store--I'd certainly be using that one! Many wishes for a speedy healing that not only involves the wound itself, but also for all of what makes you you!

Cheryl Anderson

Dear Kristin,
Your bravery will bring you through this. From all over, so many prayers and support will help you along the way. I agree that you should have had a professional dress your incisions. Many years ago I had to dress, daily, the burn on my 3 year old niece's face. It covered one half of her face. The marvelous medicine of course was the reason, but we all smothered her with prayers and there are no scares at all. There are such wonderful creams for scars and in my heart I know they will work for you and you will be pleased with the appearance. I do have a candle lit for you. Notre Dame de Laghet has been alerted. She has gotten me and my family through many difficult situations and all had positive results!!
Courage dear Kristin.


A timely post. Thank you Kristin. Be well. xo

Christine Dashper

I'm still sending those healing positive thoughts your way Kristin. The mind-body link is a strong one and it is great that you are making your well being a priority. Fantastic that the bandaging is being done for you, one less stress.

Take care and thank you for return good wishes and having the strength to keep posting

all the best

Linda W.  St. Louis, MO

You have a Coolibar on the site today! Maybe that means you're thinking of buying some cute sun-protective clothing and hats.
The things I've bought have been great. And their prices are quite reasonable. Disclaimer: I'm a regular person, not a Coolibar plant.

Rosemary in Kentucky

Dear Kristin,
I had a facial wound some years ago and when I arrived at work with a bandage on my brow everyone asked what happened. I told the true (and boring) story and one colleague recommended a better response, which hints at a fight: 'This is nothing! You should see the other guy, he's still in the hospital!'
Best wishes for quick healing and an invisible scar.


Hi Kristin,
It sounds like you are well on your way to recovery. Yes, like you, I believe how and what we think has a big impact on our overall health. Staying positive as much as possible is some of the best medicine there is.
Thanks very much for keeping up on your blog, and for your openness and honesty. You are a breath of fresh air!! Heal well and stay well---
Connie in Portland, OR

Anne Marie

"May all these wishes and prayers be shared right back with you, for healing and improvement in any area in which you may need them!"
What a wonderful thought. I certainly wish you well and hope everyone will pray and/or thing good thoughts for my daughter who is having major back and neck problems after two surgeries. Merci


Just love your photo of "Rue Sade" with the lacy, frilly bandage peeping out of the window!!

I especially love the worn patches of wonderfully iridescent turquoise and grey blue paint flecked over the wall...colours I love and tried to photograph myself when travelling through Provence many years ago!

There is something absolutely charmingly beautiful with non-perfection!



I am a week or so behind on your blog... working too much. I would like to join in the well wishes of a complete recovery. I know this has been a tough time for you. You are a strong woman and I believe you can get through anything in life. Hang in there! :)


Kristen, j'espere vous aurez un prompt retablissement. Mes penses et mes prieres sont avec vous.

Kate C.

Dear Kristen - All my positive thoughts, vibes, prayers, are headed your way along with those of so many others. A plastic surgeon performed a similar procedure on my face years ago now. I learned a new humility from the stares and whispers and thought how lucky that my "Hunchback of Notre Dame" period was only temporary. One more lesson to try to see what we all share and not focus on superficial differences. Now I drop little references to my plastic surgeon without specifics just to raise an eyebrow or 2 (non-Botoxed, I might add). You remain as beautiful as ever! xo, Kate

Melanie Peterson

Warm, healing thoughts to you. Your outer beauty will never be hindered as long as you continue to let your soul shine through. Wishing you a continued journey of mental and physical healing - what a bore this world would be if we were all perfect, n'est-ce pas?

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

I recently read Caroline Myss' Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason. You might find it helpful.

As my dad said to me, to Let Go and Trust is the way…must remind myself on most days! God speed to your healing my gracious friend!

Frank Chappell

I have always liked that Sufi saying "Speak to the wall so the door can hear." Well, it is hard to know what is the best thing to say to you. I just want you to know that I think of you.


Dear Kristin,
With what grace you have come through such an ordeal. Your reminder is very timely for me as I have fair skin and many spots. I WILL have them looked at.
Fascinated to see my next door neighbour's house in Les Arcs sur Argens with its 'aqui sian ben' sign. We have just returned to Australia after several months living next door to that sign and many people stop to look at it and try to interpret it as they pass.
The sign was painted by my neighbour's brother - who also painted the 'Les Arcs' doors on his 'cave' (you have a photograph of that, too).
Take it easy, wear a hat, and allow yourself to heal. All will be well. You are a survivor.
Much love and so many thanks for sharing your life stories with us all,

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

I'd go with the story about being stabbed by a vine during the harvest! At least it will make you laugh and laughter, as we know, is good for the heart and soul.

Eileen deCamp

Hello Kristin,
I know you are continuing to heal and thanks for sharing your journey. I love the painted door, "Ici on est bien."
Take care!

Leslie Sorensen-Jolink

Dear Kristin,

I know from my own experiences with both BCC and facial surgical wounds that you are doing a great job of maximizing your ability to heal. Keep it up! And thank you for your wonderful posts--I just discovered your blog and this is the second one I've received.

Looking forward to much more, Leslie

Marianne Rankin

I've had you in my thoughts and prayers, Kristin.

I copied the beautiful photo of "aqui sian ben" to look at on gray days.

Paula Behnken

When anyone asks about the scar left by melanoma surgery on my upper thigh, I tell them it's from a shark bite. Then the fun begins as I invent the most outrageous tale!

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