As I dropped Leo off this morning at the hallowed Chelsea training ground in Cobham I was more than usually relived. It is always a joy dropping him off at any sporting venue, but this was particularly poignant because only a few days ago he was lying in hospital with a gas mask on having a false toe-nail sewn on to his middle toe. And for two days after that he was hobbling about on crutches.
On our last evening in France he was racing around a beach-front restaurant when he caught his foot between some floorboards and his toenail came off. I immediately decided to take him home but a wise man at the dinner suggested I go to hospital with him. Turns out it was much the right thing to do. A toe-nail that has been ripped from its home will apparently not grow normally again unless treated. And actually seeing the damage in the hospital lights made me realise how serious it was. As always the French hospital experience (apart from my little boy suffering of course) was incredible. Say what you like about the French, the horrendous taxes and so on but I know where I’d rather lose a toenail. As Leo lay with a gas mask on telling me he loved me and giggling in between brief stabs of pain as the needle went in with the anaesthetic into his toe, one of the nurses asked me what I do. I told her I am a journalist and a writer.
“Oh we had a lovely lady in here on my first day,” she said. “She came in with her daughter and wrote a whole article about us in the Sunday Times.”
I asked her when it was. She told me it was in 2005.
“That was me!” I said. I had been in with Bea who had a very nasty splinter that looked like taking over her entire foot. At least I think that was incident. I have been there so many times with poor Bea it could have been that or the torch on the head incident or the dehydration episode etc etc.
As we left she said goodbye. “This is my last day,” she told us. “So you were here for my first day and my last.” She said she was going off to do “something else”.
I was of not happy to be there on either occasion but as far as hospital visits go, they were both as good as they get.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2013