“They used glue?” exclaims the doctor in horror. “That’s very unorthodox indeed.” I grimace, and wish I’d omitted to mention the part where Tadpole fell in England, struck her face on an English manhole cover (which apparently is what happened – my friend went back to the disaster scene), and got fixed up by an English nurse.
“Yes, they used glue,” I say, “and I’m just hoping the wound is tightly closed, but I can’t really tell, it kind of scabbed over in the night and the swelling seems worse.”
“Well, I don’t mind taking a look if you want to bring her in,” the doctor replies, “but you’d be better off going to casualty and asking a surgeon to inspect the wound. Mind you, they might turn you away, because it’s no longer fresh…”
I sigh. A potentially futile morning spent hanging around in casualty it is. I don’t really mind, it’s not like I can work while Tadpole is home from school, deadline or no deadline. When I call Mr Frog to ask him for Tadpole’s carte vitale, he offers to come along too and I am grateful. In stressful situations his quiet insistence tends to be more productive than my short temper.
The urgences pédiatriques at Robert Debré children’s hospital are en travaux. The waiting rooms are freshly painted in turquoise, orange and butter yellow, but there are no toys for children nor coffee machines for adults. Mr Frog sneaks off for a cigarette, and returns brandishing coffee. Tadpole is pretending to read her Disney Princess magazine, her brow furrowed in concentration. Apart from the fact that the right side of her lip is about three times its usual size and covered with dried glue and scabs in various autumnal shades, she’s as right as rain.
“Vous m’entendez?” says a woman’s voice, loud and clear over the PA system. “It this thing working?”
“Indeed it is,” I reply, although we are in a separate waiting room, far from the main desk, and my feedback is not actually being sought.
“Rentrez tous chez vous et arrêtez de nous embêter!” says another, lower voice. The assembled parents exchange amused glances and I accidentally snort some coffee down my nose. “What?” the second voice says frantically. “You mean it works even when the button isn’t pressed down?”
The doctor tuts as he examines Tadpole’s face. “We never use glue on lips in this hospital,” he says. “Stitches are better, because lips swell and the wound can weep.”
“Is there anything we can do to improve things now?” I ask cautiously, not really relishing the idea of slicing the wound back open and pinning Tadpole to a table, but terrified that she will be permanently disfigured.
“No, no, it’s more than six hours old, nothing I can do here… It might be fine, it looks clean and dry. We just would have done things differently, that’s all.”
He hands back Tadpole’s carnet de santé and returns to typing something at his keyboard as I lift my daughter down from the examining table, biting my own lip.
“Oh well, I suppose it was worth checking,” I say to Mr Frog as we gather up our bags and jackets and make for the door.
The doctor looks up from his screen. “Yes, he says, “but what a pity she didn’t fall over in France.”