Find Travel Advice for Parisian Healthcare
What to expect from an emergency room experience in Paris, France and how to provide care for a person having a seizure.
About 48 hours ago, Boyd and I evacuated Miami on a preplanned trip to Paris, France for Fashion & Design Week in Paris which includes one of our largest trade shows of the year, MAISON&OBJET. Along the way, we have had a HUGE wake-up call and health scare and I hope and pray you can learn from our experience.
We had an uneventful but restless 9-hour AirFrance flight over. Not AirFrance’s fault, but either of us slept well (if at all) so we decided to take a nap before heading to the events for the evening. When we woke, we both answered a couple of emails to ensure our Tasker Agency, Tasker International and PuTTin’ OuT teams and clients were taken care before heading to the pre scheduled Design + Fashion Week Pressé events. I noticed that on the way to the events Boyd was quieter than normal. He said nothing was wrong that he was just a little tired but that was all. The events were beautiful, amazing and filled with great products, food, and people. Still, I noticed Boyd was much quieter than normal but he was still posing for photos, smiling, and taking part as normal he just was NOT his talkative, humorous, British-self.
After the events, we attended dinner with some great friends all here for the same events. Boyd was still not jovial. He ate very little. He said he wasn’t that hungry which is normal when suffering from jet-lag which is a condition almost everyone gets when flying over various time zones. Currently, we are 6 hours ahead of Miami time. I was still worried because he just did not seem anything like the Boyd we all know other than he was persistent that I “should not worry”.
When arriving back at the hotel around midnight, Boyd turned on the television to check the Hurricane Irma that is on it’s way to Miami, Florida where my mother and baby (aka. Bentley, the Traveling Poodle on Instagram). To further check the status, he pulled out his laptop to further research Irma’s updates. I fell asleep.
Around 3:15 I awoke to a what I thought was Boyd having a bad dream. I touched him and he felt different than nightmare state. I immediately switched on the light and saw him foaming at the mouth. Scared out of my mind, I jumped up and started to turn him on his side. In the process, he bit his tongue which made the situation look worse and even scarier. His breathing was labored and he was gasping for air.
After what seemed like a forever minute or so the convulsing slowed down, and me desperately wanting to call 911 I knew that number was not going to help me here, in Paris!!!!! I thought I had lost him!!!! I seriously thought he had died. And I felt terrible that I could not pick up my phone and call for help by his side. His pulse was weak and he was NOT responding in the least. I knew I had to leave him to get help because I had no idea what else to do nor did I really know if was a seizure, heart attack, or stroke. Fortunately, I have never seen anyone in distress worse than a diabetic coma which is also pretty bad, but this was much worse.
I went out of our room and started screaming “Ambulance, police, doctor help! I think my husband is dying!!!!!!!!!”
The people in the room next door came running. Fortunately, they did not worry with dressing they just came to my rescue, underwear and all. I was grateful because I did not want to leave Boyd alone in case he came to or the convulsions started back. I don’t really know how or why, but something came to me…I knew that if it were a seizure he would need help to stay on his size to keep from choking on the saliva/vomit or swallowing his tongue. And I could not bear the thought of him being left alone. While the neighbors stayed with him, I went to the lobby and was still screaming for help. It felt like an eternity for the front desk person to come out. He grabbed the phone and ran upstairs with me.
Boyd was still not coherent and the nice man from next door was still trying to find a pulse or get Boyd to respond. I was yelling and saw his eyes rolled back in his head without response. It didn’t appear the paramedics were on the way so I yelled at the very nice hotel guy to tell them to “COME NOW!!!” I didn’t know what else to do, because I felt I my emotions and tone would help relay URGENCY. It worked. He said they were on the way and shops arrive in 5 minutes.
The hotel personnel was on the phone with the emergency personnel. While they were speaking French I FaceTimed my daughter, Macy and future son-in-law, Alex; they were both in Georgia, USA. Alex is a Lt. Fire Chief and works as a part-time volunteer firefighter and paramedic. Macy is in school to be an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). I felt like at least they could help calm me down and analyze the situation even though I would have to follow directions. They didn’t answer at first but rang back in seconds later. I felt better knowing they could both see Boyd’s exact state and guide us if there were immediate things that we needed to do to save Boyd’s life.
During the 5-minutes it took the paramedics to arrive, Boyd began to come to through his eyes but wasn’t really saying anything. He couldn’t speak. He could not squeeze one hand at a time much less squeezing both at the same time. Macy and Alex proceeded to have me ask him routine basic questions such as his name, birthdate, who the President was, etc. Still no real response other than he was okay with me by his side but when he looked at the man, he would twinge. I took that as a good sign because he had never seen the man next door.
The paramedics arrived and were very nice, although compared to American first responders, they did not appear so concerned. When I didn’t think it could go any lower…my heart sank again. Why? I did not know what to expect and I normally (or so I think) try to think of everything. Totally my fault and misjudgment.
The paramedics asked me a couple of questions, for Boyd’s passport, and asked me to get dressed. I looked down thinking I was nude. Fortunately, I had slept in shorts and a T-shirt so I avoided the nudity embarrassment. I quickly dressed and put on Boyd’s shoes and a T-shirt. And before I knew it Boyd was hoisted into the upright chair because a typical stretcher will not fit into the halls or elevators of the historical buildings and almost every building in Paris is historical. He was okay sitting but appeared very weak and still not understanding what happened or really cognizant.
We arrived at the quaint emergency room. There was not a lot of activity occurring so they took him right in and asked me to wait in the emergency room. I felt better, but I did not want to leave him. The hospital was just not what we know if hospitals in America and it was simply not busy. And there were homeless people sleeping in the ER waiting room.
I connected to wifi and connected with Macy and Alex to ask for advice on the type of care and tests that would be normal in America for Boyd. He had a full craniotomy 15 years ago, so I needed the doctor to know. Again, I like to be knowledgeable and prepared plus this is my husband’s life in their hands! No amount of life insurance can replace him!!!! Macy texted the list and thanks to google, I translated the message for the doctor with Macy on FaceTime. In broken English, the doctor proceeded to tell me that they did not have the equipment for the but asked to X-ray Boyd. I agreed to anything that he thought would help.
Worried and not knowing anything about the Parisian healthcare system I rang Boyd’s brother who resides part-time between Nice and London. He basically told me that I was not in America but I should be grateful that we were in the best healthcare in all of Europe! Paris is known to spend more money on healthcare and resolve issues. As an EU citizen Boyd was admitted with no signed paperwork, authority, or even question of payment, only concern for his care and what they could do.
After the doctors completed the X-rays that we later learned were CAT scans and an EKG versus a typical X-ray. When he began to become fully conscious his first concern was protecting someone else, my mom and Bentley were his concern. If you know Boyd, he will do anything to help you! Boyd asked me to call our amazing handyman at Wynwood Casa, John and ask him to make one final pass to check the property before Hurricane Irma takes her toll. And when John found out about the morning’s occurrences and Boyd’s condition, he immediately pulled over from driving to tell me about his experience with wife’s seizure. He said that everything would come back normal on the tests and that seizures can often be brought on by stress.
Fortunately, like John’s wife, Boyd’s scans came back normal and did not show signs of epilepsy. As we know it through broken English, there was no real reason as to why Boyd suddenly had the seizure. He walked out of the hospital and was once again, not posing for me to take his photo. He will follow up with a doctor on Monday for a couple of additional tests. He was released from the hospital within 4-hours of being admitted with his scans for the doctors in hand.
I am grateful to have taken my remarkable husband on an Uber ride back to the hotel to care for him and do my best to nurse him back to good health. I’m not such a great nurse so prayers are in order, please.
I tell you all this story so that hopefully, you can learn from our tragic experience. Here is a list of my advice:
- Always know the emergency number in the country when you plan to travel internationally. For those of you wondering, Paris’s emergency call number is “18” and London’s is “999”.
- Confirm the location of the hotel room phone and confirm it functions.
- When staying in a hotel, always sleep in pajamas.
- Ensure that your medical records and prescriptions are translated to the language in the country you plan to visit. Don’t worry…I’m already contemplating an app for that unless someone knows a good one?
- A ticket to MUSEÉ D’ HOSPITAL PARIS is not worth the time or experience although we appreciate the doctors and service providers. Although, they are very handsome and knowledgeable, please meet them outside the hospital. And you could have a crazy guy like we did in the same general area. Subscribe to our Youtube Channel to watch the video that I recorded to see what I mean first hand. It’s uploading now.
- After Boyd came to, I was telling him how I couldn’t even think of why or how I would have known to roll him on his side. He recalled telling me his own stories regarding his friend in High School with seizures when I was telling him things I learned to do for a blind man thanks to my ex-father in law but still good friend Tommy Edgar. Share your stories with others, you never know when someone else will need your life lessons.
- Know what to do in case of a simple thing like a seizure or CPR. According to what I’ve read seizures are shockingly extremely common. My best chica in Georgia had a seizure while driving and was involved in an accident. Watch this to learn what to do when someone is having a seizure:
- If you notice something odd with your body, please tell someone, Boyd later confirmed that his tongue felt heavy, tingly and he felt dizzy during the press events and all through dinner. Our friends would have totally understood us skipping dinner or missing the press events. Listen to your body, it does tell us things and the people around you knowing how you’re feeling could play a big role in a treatment program. Don’t be prideful! Tell someone if your body tells you that you’re not normal. It’s better safe than sorry
- Join Boyd and me in reducing stress. Life is too short. If we all take care of ourselves and do the right thing for your bodies and health most scares like this can be prevented.
- Use the Google Translate app to confirm any medical information or instructions from the doctors. You can even use the Translate app in scan your documents or menus which is half of my excuse for not making time to learn to fluently speak Spanish or French.
I will no longer take life, my husband, or sleep for granted. Boyd is resting well now and I am headed there. For those of you concerned, he is in great hands and we will be trying to get him into a doctor before we leave Paris. We do have a lot of great connections here and people are simply helpful. Please don’t worry but do say a prayer.
Feel free to share this message with those that you love. I would love to keep anyone from experiencing what could be the scariest experience of their life.
Thank you all for prayers, thoughts, emails, phone calls, private messages, and texts.