Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thankful Thursday 6/16/16: Doctor, pharmacist and health system in France

Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that I began 1/10/13—read why here
I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!

Last Friday night I came down with some sort of flu. No puking, but I was exhausted and my whole body was sore and hurt to move. I also had a super sore throat and my head hurt. In short, I knew I was ill with something.

I stayed in bed on Saturday and Sunday. By Monday the flu-like symptoms (sore body, fever) were gone, but a full-blown cold had taken its place, and continued in full force on Tuesday.

Tuesday just before midnight, boom, I feel my left ear plug up. No! I try plugging my nose and blowing. I try opening and closing my jaw, yawning wide. I heat up a steaming pot of water and pour it on a washcloth, which I hold over my ear.

Well, nothing can undo what's been done, and it progresses into a very painful ear, as ear infections are, keeping me up past 4 a.m. (to my horror) until I suppose I must have only fallen asleep out of pure exhaustion, as the pain had not yet subsided.

After a quick Google of nearby places, in the morning I go to a doctor's office just minutes from where I live. You don't need an appointment ahead of time (actually at this place I don't think you can even do that), and there was just one person ahead of me in the waiting room. (It's just the doctor who works there, so you simply remember the order of arrival in the waiting room.)

When it was my turn, I went back into the doctor's office. Keep in mind I've filled out no forms and there's been no mention of insurance/payment. I sit in front of him at his desk and he asks what brings me in, but before we go into detail about the ear he asks a bit about me. Where am I from, what brings me to France, how long have I been here, what do I do, etc.

After some friendly small talk, then he asks me for details about my ear. He has me go over and sit on the examination table so he can peek in with that ear scope. Yes, ear infection.

We head back over to the desk and he scribbles out my prescription on a special pad of paper, explaining what each thing is and how often I should take it. After all of that, then I pay the 23 euro fee for the doctor's visit. If I were a French citizen, that fee would then be reimbursed a week later by the national health insurance. Yes, they would pay nothing!

Then I took the prescription paper with me to the nearest pharmacy, which was conveniently right next door. The pharmacist gathered up everything and kindly explained it all very clearly, knowing that I was a foreigner. It's not necessarily common that you'll have someone as friendly as I did each time, so I was completely pleased with the whole experience.

She gave me a receipt so I can claim it through my travel insurance, the total cost coming to under 15 euros for five items: a box of Solupred (to relieve the pressure, loosening up the blockage), two boxes of amoxicillin (6 days of antibiotics) and two boxes of paracétamol (Tylenol). (Side note: Still not sure why he recommended two boxes of that. There are 8 tablets/box and I have yet to take any...)

I grabbed a few things at the supermarket on the way home, this being the first time I'd left the house since Friday, and then crashed in bed. (I didn't work at all yesterday.)

It sucks to be sick anywhere, but going to the doctor on your own in a foreign country with a different system can be a bit uncomfortable. (My only previous time had been in Rodez, when Damien went with me.) Luckily for me, yesterday it was fantastic! I'm so grateful for my friendly doctor and the woman working at the pharmacy, plus the hassle-free, high-quality, low-cost health care available to me (and everyone) in this country.

France really seems to care about the health of its citizens. They're also big on providing quality care for all—no matter your financial situation, or any other factors.
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  1. Glad you found treatment! Hope you're feeling better