Angie Gray - AVKGray@aol.com
Desperate to see Dr Maigne in Paris, but unable to sit, I needed to find a way to travel lying down - and I did! Here's how:-
CAR - hired a Mondeo estate so I could lie in the back. Used large foam mats to lie on and big cushions either side to stop me rolling about. Partner also strapped me down using a webbing luggage strap (anchorage points are built into the flat floor of the car) - again this helped to prevent rolling about and, we hoped, would count as a seat belt in case the police stopped us (they didn't!). Plenty of pillows and cushions meant I could relax as much as possible (I even drifted off to sleep during one leg of the journey). July 2003 - 5 days car hire - £300 (+ petrol).
FERRY - although going by Eurotunnel would be quicker it would mean staying in the car for the whole journey; wanting to break the travelling - plus determined to enjoy it too! - we chose to have a cabin onboard a ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre. Crossing takes 5.5 hours ( you have to arrive about 1 hour before you sail). Sailed with P & O Ferries, and rang to explain I couldn't walk far. They were happy to allocate a cabin near a lift but said to mention this again when we checked in at Portsmouth. Doing so, we were given a disabled sticker and, driving onboard, directed to a spot right next to the lift. It was then only a very short walk to the cabin with comfy beds (and a toilet!). NB. Queuing to get on the ferry you could be 100-200 metres from the facilities block so it's best to arrive as early as possible. July 2003 - 3 day return - 2 people + cabin £118.
FRANCE - Autoroutes. We chose to use the autoroutes as much as possible. These do involve tolls but are much straighter and smoother to drive on and therefore mean less rolling about (the same is true with the UK motorways). Le Havre to Paris took about 2.5 hours. July 2003 approx toll costs £20 both ways.
PARIS - stayed at the Inter Hotel Prony - just a few doors away from Dr Maigne's consulting rooms! The hotel does have a lift but it's on the first floor. Patron very helpful and speaks excellent English. Rooms fairly basic but clean and cheerful, with comfy beds and a bathroom. Used private car park 300 metres away, July 2003 £14 per day. July 2003 - twin room + bathroom approx £70 per night.
X-RAYS - Radiology clinic is about 4 miles from the Inter Hotel Prony. We parked outside (which meant I could lie down until they were ready for me), the sit/stand X-rays were developed there and then and given to me to take to my appointment with Dr Maigne that afternoon.
CONSULTATION WITH DR MAIGNE - was quite happy for me to lie on his doctor's couch throughout the appointment - I'm sure he's seen this before!
Such a lovely man, again with excellent English, he immediately identified the problem and so, after 12 years of increasingly debilitating coccydynia, I at last have a proper diagnosis - the largest spicule (bony growth) Dr Maigne has ever seen, plus the coccyx doesn't curl properly when I sit! Next step is an MRI here and then another trip to Paris for the coccygectomy.
As you can imagine, I feel as if this trip has turned my life around and given me hope for the future. I'm just so thankful to have found a way to get there and hope others will benefit from my lying down travel tips!
See follow-up posting by Angie.