By Avril Charlton
An apple a day … keeps the doctor away, or so goes the theory.
Sometimes, as stubborn as we are, a visit to the doctors is necessary.
In the UK, a visit to your local GP is often begun by them asking, “Well, what do you think is wrong with you?” It’s a question that used to fill me with trepidation; after all, if I knew that there would surely be no need for anyone to pass a medical exam!
Here in France it’s a very serious matter and the health service has to be one of the best anywhere. Your social security card or ‘carte vitale’ entitles you to a general reimbursement of 70% of your medical bills. For the other 30% you will need a top-up, or ‘complementaire’. Once at the doctors you will have your blood pressure taken, your heart and lungs checked and regular blood tests administered. At the slightest irregularity, you are sent to the Specialist of your choice. He or she will then determine in great detail what the problem is. You may have thought that you were having the odd giddy spell. Perhaps at your age that’s natural – however a visit to the Specialist has now revealed the onset of diabetes. Hurray you cry I’ve been diagnosed. Later you cry again, but this time for the strict regime that you must now follow. In a country that has coined the term ‘Gastronome’, you are now banished from tasting the heady delights of a good béarnaise sauce, pâté de campagne and the delightful baba rhums. Not to mention curtailing the amount of the delicious fresh baked baguette consumed!
My 94 year old grandmother came to visit us several years ago. Unfortunately she contracted MRSA in the UK prior to her visit and on arrival here was already in pain. One week later, having been seen by 2 doctors and a specialist she was ensconced in the local hospital. Now fully recovered, she fully admits that had this happened in the UK at her age she would probably not have made it.
Now, having been diagnosed and given your prescription, you are on your way to the large green cross in the centre of town, in order to fill it…
When depositing your prescription or ‘ordanance’ with the pharmacy once thing you should know is to bring a large bag. Any prescription it seems includes a colourful array of all nature of pills, bandages and creams and you will need a receptacle in which to carry all these items. It’s likely also to be a long wait as there is no hustle and bustle here, everyone is given individual attention and as frustrating as that can sometimes be, you should be grateful as when it comes to your turn as I’m reliably informed that there are loyalty gifts for the known regular clientele! It’s a sobering thought isn’t it, that the more need you have of your medical practitioner and subsequent pharmacy visit, the more rewarded you are!
Remember then in France, when paying a visit to M. or Mme le docteur; always be sure that you bring a large bag, a good supply of fortitude, and a shoulder to cry on….
Avril Charlton has followed a career in Event & Conference Management that’s taken her from London to the Middle East, Bermuda, Ireland and back. Now living in the Poitou-Charente region of France with her husband, she is French speaking and works as an estate agent in the region.