A House in Provence Chapter 12


Flowers in market in Aix.

This Chapter was written about a year ago. Problems still loom.

Chapter 12

Brown Water and Backs

Maurice continued to have very bad back pain for months. It was so bad and he had so much trouble sleeping that the doctor put him on a prescription of morphine tablets. Now Maurice doesn’t react to medication the way that most people do. Sleeping pills that will knock me out for ten hours don’t phase him. Antibiotics seem to be the only medication that work on him as they should. The morphine turned out to be one medication that affected Maurice. The first night he took a tablet he slept like a baby for eight hours, something that hadn’t happened in several weeks. Of course, morphine isn’t something that you can take indefinitely and the time came when he had to stop. By this time he had been having some physical therapy and, what seemed to help the most, an injection of local anesthetic and cortisone in his spine at the point of injury. We had also been to a spinal neurosurgeon who told Maurice that his back would slowly return to normal if he kept up the physical therapy and didn’t overdo it with physical activity. Surgery, thank God, wasn’t going to be necessary.
The problem was getting off the effect of the morphine. Maurice tapered down taking less each day and then went through months of disturbed sleep. The morphine seemed to have affected his system and he couldn’t get to sleep without it. Most nights he could sleep an hour or two, if he was lucky, but then spent the rest of the night tossing and turning, finally falling asleep around 8 AM and sleeping until 10 or so. Some nights he would get up and watch TV for several hours. I had nights where I would go and sleep upstairs in the guest bedroom because his thrashing about in bed gave me sleepless nights as well. We had several very bad months for a while there. Eventually Maurice returned to his usual sleeping paterns. Some of his sleepless nights, of course, was due to the stress and worry of the plumbing.
Our shower finally ended up being pulled up three times before, and we still aren’t sure about this, the problem seemed to be taken care of. Luckily, the expensive shower covering survived being removed so many times and all of the tile that had been damaged was replaced. We could now use either toilet or bathtub. Maurice is puzzled why I remain negative about the plumbing, very suspicious anytime the toilet doesn’t flush with vigor. It may be years before I don’t think twice before flushing one of them.
One day I filled the tub with water and used some new bubble bath. I got into the water and then noticed that the water seemed reddish brown. For a minute I thought that perhaps the color was due to the bubble bath. It was lavender in color and I thought perhaps the formula dissapated into a brownish color when it dissolved. Just then Maurice came in and said the water in the toilet was brown. I had an awful feeling that the color could be due to some plumbing problem and wondered what I was sitting in. When I let out the water, a red-brown ring remained in the tub. It looked and felt like dirt. This was when I resolved to start drinking bottled water while in Provence. I could almost hear my poor kidneys making grinding noises trying to work all of the grit through the delicate little tubes as they did their cleansing thing. It turned out that it was due to the water and old pipes in the area, not our plumbing.

2 thoughts on “A House in Provence Chapter 12

  1. I am reading Peter Mayle’s new book “A good year” which they are turning into a movie (by the man who made Gladiator). Have YOU read it?

  2. I have read this book. I was looking for Russel Crowe any time I was in the neighborhood of the movie set, but never saw him.
    I enjoy all of Peter Mayle’s books. Of course I read, A Year in Provence, and then wondered where all of the cute characters were-didn’t see any building the house. Linda

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