Posts Tagged ‘experience’

Le Médicin

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

I had been putting off going to the doctors for weeks. Months actually – I had even waited until I was back in Australia in June to visit my own GP for a particularly grumbly stomach. What my doctor prescribed me just made matters worse but I couldn’t go back for more advice as I was already back in Paris. Dang.

Finding a doctor in a foreign country isn’t high on my “Fun Things to Do” list. It generally makes me feel even sicker – what questions will they ask me? How do I find one? Do I have to ring and make an appointment? Will they understand what I am talking about? Will they make me take 500 tests that will cost me so much money that I won’t be able to afford to eat? Will they tell me I am dying?

So, as you can see, I put it off like I do with most things I don’t want to do. But eventually the constant feeling of nausea that I was experiencing won and forced me to ask a friend for advice on where to go to find medical help. She gave me the name and address of a doctor who is located on the other side of the canal and the opening times when I could just turn up and see her. Perfect.

It was very odd. Her office was located in a building that looked like any other building in Paris – signless. There was nothing to suggest you would find a doctor inside, apart from a small golden plaque that said “Médicin” next to the front door. To enter, you had to push a call button and wait for the door to be opened. Once you were past this door, you had to find another button for another door and wait again. (I later discovered that it was the doctor herself who would answer the two phones in her office that would make these doors open.)

Her office was on the fourth floor, so after a ride in a very rickety lift (at least medical help was close by) I stepped out into a space that had four faceless brown doors. Which one to open? I spotted a piece of paper stuck to one of them that said “Médicin” so following these clues I eventually stepped into a waiting room.

The room was rather large for Paris and around the edge were a range of chairs. There were people already waiting but no sign of a receptionist or a ticketed number system. A woman had arrived at the same time as me so I followed her lead and just sat down. It seemed people in Paris can remember who is next in line to be served, unlike Australians fighting at the deli counter at Woolworths.

While I sat and waited 20 minutes or so for my turn an interesting phenomenon occurred that made me giggle with delight each time. The note on the door to the office instructed you to ring the door bell and then enter. So each time a new patient arrived there would be the sound of someone walking outside, the door bell would ring and then the door would open. But then came the best bit – everyone in the waiting room would greet the new arrival. A chorus of polite “Bonjour”s would reverberate across the room, welcoming the new person as they found a seat. It was like an instant breaking of the ice – yes, we are all sick and waiting to see a doctor for a range of unknown reasons. We are all the same. We are all accepted.

Once it was finally my turn, I was welcomed by the doctor and told to take a seat. I was pretty nervous by this time as I had been trying to work out in my head the best way to introduce the fact that:

  1. I didn’t know what was going to happen next
  2. My French was limited in medical vocabulary
  3. I just hate going to the doctor.

I ended up fumbling out something about this being my first time seeing a doctor in France and that I didn’t know what the procedure was. The doctor looked at me kindly, like a manager who is just about to fire their incompetent assistant, and asked where I was from. And then the consultation began.

Turns out she was brilliant and I should have gone earlier. She spoke to me slowly, asked lots of good questions, listened to what I was saying and threw in a few “keeping it friendly” questions to make me feel comfortable. She told me I wasn’t dying and prescribed some tablets for my stomach. She even spotted the GIANT HOLE that is still on my leg from when I fell off the bike and wrote a prescription for some antibiotic cream to make it heal faster. What a doctor!

Then she filled out a piece of paper, explaining I could take this to my health insurance (which I don’t have) to get my money back. My 23 Euros! That’s all! I couldn’t believe how cheap it was – 23 Euros to be cured of my diseases. It felt quite strange to hand 23 Euros over in cash to a woman who had studied for an extensive period of time to be a medical doctor. It felt a bit like we were doing a black-market exchange – at least I went elsewhere to buy my drugs. Those were ridiculously cheap too! Just 12 Euros for miracle stomach medication and leg ointment!

I think I might now go to the doctor every day as a form of cheap entertainment. I’m sure I could come up with that many ailments. I am glad I managed to overcome my ridiculous phobia as whatever she gave me worked instantly and I now don’t feel like throwing up! BRILLIANT! So I can now officially say that the French medical system is a wonderful, wonderful thing. You should add it to your list of things to do next time you visit France – Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, visit a doctor, buy cheap medicine.

Bienvenue, 2012

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Apologies for my recent lack of contact. The last few weeks have been particularly busy with completing my work for the exhibition, playing tour guide for my friend, Rachel, and my brother, Ben, and now Christmas and New Years adventures in Germany and the Netherlands. I am writing this from the loft of my second cousin’s house in Gouda (yes, like the cheese except with the correct Dutch pronunciation – Gcchhhowda.) To my left is a view of apartment blocks surrounded by a Dutch morning sky – grey, foggy and wet. No snow in sight. It seems that all of Europe has been hit by some sort of strange heat wave and snow has been rare this winter. Very disappointing but somewhat expected as I am here and hot weather seems to follow me where ever I go. I have now spent two snowless winters in Europe. I need to work on this.

So today is New Year’s Eve, the day when everyone is supposed to reflect on their past year, examine what they have achieved and what they need to put on their “To Do” list for the next year. We all know I love a good reflection so let’s do it.

This year really started for me in February when I moved to Paris. It is still hard to believe that I only have one month left of my year away. If I hadn’t planned on extending my stay I would now be in a state of complete and utter panic, depression and general Oh-Woe-Is-Me. I am still very nervous about my approaching trip back to Australia and Sydney to visit the French Embassy to ask for a second visa, but at least it is going to happen. I think I can grandly announce that this year has been the best year of my life thus far but how could it not be? I have lived in an amazing city, met awesome people, visited wonderful places and eaten some of the greatest food of my life. What’s not to like?

Next year I plan to continue this current way of living while also endeavouring to put more effort into my writing and ‘stuff’. When I first made my Zaum business cards, I kept my options open by declaring Zaum was a business for “Writing and stuff”. I am still trying to find out what that stuff is and how exactly to do it but my recent sock laboratory adventures have put a few ideas into my head. I have so much I want to do and try – I just need to work out how to do it. According to my horoscope in the Dutch tv magazine, the best time of the year for me to work out what I want to do with my career is from March to June of next year. Sounds like a plan.

So this reflection has become a bit of a pathetic thing but to be honest my stomach is grumbling and I want to go and eat some breakfast. At 10am I am expecting to hear the onslaught of hundreds of fireworks being set off. In the Netherlands, it is legal to purchase fireworks for a few days leading up to New Years and then legal to set them off between 10am and 2am on New Year’s Eve/Day. It is now 9.30am and apparently the existence of sunlight doesn’t put people off. Should be a fun day.

Happy New Year to all – I hope 2012 is exciting and fulfilling for everyone. I highly recommend running away to a foreign country and eating food for an entire year. It has worked out for me rather nicely.

And a special Happy Birthday to two of my most regular readers, Heather and Brendan. I hope people remember to say happy birthday amongst the happy new years.