Monday, 1 December 2008

28.11.2008 Friday – Down at the doctors

Worse night so far last night. I wrap up warm because although the sun is shining in a blue sky, the computer tells me it is minus 3 outside.
Clutching every document that I think I might need, I walk the few hundred yards to the nearest medecin generaliste practice. I give the receptionist the form that I was sent by CPAM to use to register with a doctor. She gives me my form back and looks concerned. Can you come back at 11am? she asks in French. I say that I can and I set off on the long trek home.
At 11am I am back at the medical centre. Some details are required, Name, address, telephone number, date of birth. That’s all she says, returning to her interrupted telephone call.
What am I supposed to do now? I wonder. Her call finishes and she waves me to a seat to wait.
About 5 minutes later a young man who looks about 23 years old, comes down the corridor behind his previous patient, says my surname. I get up and he shakes my hand. I follow him back to his room.
He ask me for my symptoms and I do the best I can. Who would have thought that to cough would be tousser, but I looked it up before going to the doctor.
Then I have to lie on his examination table and he takes my blood pressure, temperature, peers down my throat, into my ears, then he gets his stethoscope out.
I reassemble my layers of clothing and he prints out a prescription with 8 items listed on it, complete with instructions. He then goes through them all with me so I am sure to take the right number at the right time.
He finishes. What about my gluey eyes? I ask. He had forgotten about them, but writes another line on the prescription.
I give him my carte vitale and I hand over the 22 euros for the consultation.
Then its off to the chemists.
I choose the nearest one, which is just inside the medieval quarter. There is a queue and about 4 people serving. My turn and I hand over my prescription. Some of these are not reimbursable – she says. “C’est la vie” I say and she smiles. She has obviously not heard that one before.
My carte vitale is in her card reader while she scans in the barcodes of the various products. Time to pay another 25 euros or so. How will I pay.
I show her my top up assurance bank card, which is what I am sure I am supposed to use. She has not seen one of these before and disappears. Reappearing she asks if I have the paperwork to go with it? No I say. They cannot use this card. I hand over my carte bancaire. She is sorry as their machine for reading cards is broken. Do I have cash, or perhaps a cheque?
I give her my cheque book, and she processes on which I duly sign, date, and list the name of the town in which I am writing the cheque, as required.
Job done. My drugs are handed over. Goodbye she says. I remind her that she still has my carte vitale in her machine. Almost 2 – 1 to me I think.
I will have to go to my bank to find out what to do with my top up assurance bank card, but not today.
I buy bread and head home.
How does my experience today differ from the English health service.
I would have had to come back the following week to see the doctor having made an appointment whilst at the doctor’s reception. Or I could ring very early in the morning to see if I could get an appointment to come and wait until a doctor could see me at some time during the day.
In the UK I would not pay the doctor for a consultation. I would have been lucky to get a dose of antibiotics. If I could persuade the doctor to write a prescription it would cost me about £8 per item on the prescription.

Back home I number the boxes of medications to correspond with the numbering on the doctor’s prescription, which the chemist gave me a stamped copy of.

I have a throat gargle, eye drops, ibuprofen, nasal spray, I have to put 25 drops of an essential oil / salt solution into a big glass of water and drink it. Yuck! The cough medicine is nice, there is a 1 gram paracetamol effervescent tablet to add to water and drink. By now I am shivering, probably due to drinking all the water. Now the antibiotics.
Just the eye drops to do. I don’t notice that I have not done the nasal spray until I re-read the instruction in the evening.
All except the antibiotics have to be taken 3 or 4 times a day over the next several days. I must be ill!
Bed for the next few days then.


  1. Oh, I hop the drugs kick in soon and you start to feel better.

  2. Thanks Michelle. As I post my blog a few days behind the real date, I have completed 2 days in bed and am back on my feet again. Must go out to buy supplies soon though. So there will be no posts for a few days as nothing has happened.
    I may be able to help you with the language course that you mentioned in your blog. I will need an email address to discuss though. So email me via my blog if still required.


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