Gwilym phoned 15 and talked to them about Pat's thumb while I looked for different ways to stop bleeding. My favourite - pressure and frozen peas - was near the top of the list, and they told Gwilym that we had to go to urgences.

At Hôpital Pellegrin there's a special department for A&E Hands, so that's where our friend Rhian took us. She dropped us by the sign "Urgences Main" and we followed the arrow. Then the next arrow. Then the next arrow. We found a reception area, deserted apart from a small group of zombies disguised as humans who wandered aimlessly, hopelessly, sightlessly round the entrance door, attracted by the lights, perhaps. 

A guy in a white coat was smoking outside. "You work here?" "No." Perhaps he just likes white coats.

Another guy came along. He was very tall and walked quickly and purposefully. "Can you direct us to Urgences Main?" "You have to go upstairs, look there's a lift, it's upstairs." When he pointed we saw that he had the hand and arm of a gibbon. It augured well. If they can give a man a gibbon's arm they could surely fix Pat's thumb.

We took the lift, by now a bit spooked, and followed the deserted corridors. Urgences Main - 8h30 - 19h30. said the sign. It was 20h00. We were becoming discouraged. The next door said "Urgences Main Sonnez et Attendez". We rang, we waited.

A charming nursing auxiliary unlocked the door, looked round, then hurried us into the department. A nurse came and started filling in the forms and entering us on the computer. It was Pat's third visit to A&E so she was already on the system.

We waited for the doctor. The nurse gave Pat some paracetamol and a tetanus jab. A nursing manager came. He was very charming. Then a junior doctor. He was also very charming. Then the doctor came. She looked at Pat's thumb then charmingly said which protocol would be used, at which the nurse started dressing Pat's thumb with plastic film, followed by a large compression bandage.

"You'll be coming back once a week to get the dressing changed", said the doctor. "The protocol we're using keeps the wound covered, clean and moist. It may smell bad, but it gives the best results in healing and regrowth of skin and tissue, avoiding scarring and loss of sensation."

The nurse showed us a rear exit where we could scuttle down a fire escape stairway and get out of the building without passing all the scary people. Our friends, Xavier and Rhian came and took us home.   


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