05 May 2015

Springtime Countryside and a Visit to the Doctor

Right now in Normandy, everywhere you drive there are expanses of lush green dotted with very linear fields of yellow. It's rather breathtaking. And if you get a sunny-day view from a hilltop and and spy them all over the countryside ... marvellous. Norman winters are are hard but springtime is glorious.

The photo above was on my drive from the doctor's office. My headache continues to vie for attention and I decided I was ready to brave the medical offices of France.

We have managed to avoid going to the doctor thus far, even though last weekend involved a tick removal (scary, but all is well) and a carving-tool/split-open hand incident (butterfly strips). Doctor's appointments here generally book out 6-9 months in advance or you can go to the emergency room. Blargh. Plus, you have to manage your French. Blargh, blargh. Self-care is preferred, when possible.

Side note, self-care is so different here. The ubiquitous green-cross pharmacies are everywhere. Ev-er-y-where. They are rather magical, as a source of coveted skincare creams and ointments that people from around the world literally travel to purchase. The French are into skin. But the pharmacies are also where you will buy almost everything else. Prescriptions? Go ask the pharmacist. Tylenol? Go ask the pharmacist. Hydrogen peroxide, throat lozenges, ibuprofen, vitamin C, antibacterial ointment, bandages, cough syrup ... even floss ... you go ask the pharmacist. It's all available, but you can't peruse the aisles or dash in and snag what you need. A request and conversation must take place first and then typically they decide what you need. Most of the time this works out ... but sometimes I get home and realise ... no, this really wasn't what I wanted. So back I go again.

However, with the help of a sweet friend, today I managed to get an appointment with a doctor in a nearby village to deal with the headache saga. His office was a "triangular building after the railroad tracks and across from the WWII tank." (This is very standard ... directions via landmarks, not actual addresses. Perhaps because the streets are so small and complicated you'd never find your location any other way?) I walked in and was shown to the waiting room of the doctor (each doctor had one) and shortly thereafter I was invited into his office through an adjoining door. I launched into my "I don't speak French very well, but here we go" speech and he kindly listened to my needs and requests. After a fairly typical exam and brief questioning, turns out he wasn't ready to give me a prescription for my headache. I think I am okay with that. But 3 weeks feels like a long time! He said to wait a little longer and come back if I had to. Okay.

He did grant my request for a blood-work order for most of what I requested. He was quite confident that I didn't need everything that I requested (and have had in the past) tested. Alrighty, then. I had wanted to get all of the specific blood level updates to compare with my levels from before we left the States ... but we'll start here. Now I just have to take the request to a mysterious office/place/unmarked-building that is located "across from the florist on one of the little streets ... and it does not have a red door but might have a green door ... and is open from 8:30-9am most days, except Fridays and Sundays for sure." Heaven knows how this will all go ... but it always seems to, one way or another.

And incidentally, the doctor's visit? It cost me 23 euros. That's about 26 dollars these days. While we were sitting in his office, the doctor himself wrote down my name, address and birthdate and then wrote out a receipt. No credit cards, just cash, and he put the money in the till he kept in his desk.

Somethings are so complicated here ... and others so very simple.


  1. Oh goodness, life isn't easy over there! You are right simple in some ways, and complicated in others! The internet is pretty amazing, it's too bad you can't facetime for Skype with doctors that know you or communicate well with you! The US does an incredible job of providing interpreters to everyone they can, we have this love computer names MARTTI that travels with us, and we push a button and talk to a live person, pick a language and communicate really well with our patients! I hope you headaches get better, I'm sure you are doing everything you can to get rid of them. Diet, hydration, stress, exercise, vitamins... Sending you my love and hugs!!

    1. Lissa, that machine sounds amazing! Oh how I wish they had them here!

  2. Hope your headache goes away quickly!

    It's not birth control related? When I change my patch, if I am a moment longer than exactly a week, I get a headache :o

    PS in south africa, our doctors charge about R350 (26 Euro, or so tells me)