The patient patient

When we were investigating making a permanent move to France we read a lot about the experiences of others and two themes emerged. Everyone seemed to agree that the French love their paperwork. We’d had an inkling of that when we saw that to apply for our initial 1-year visa we would need to supply at least a dozen different documents (that list is here) to prove that we would be able to financially support ourselves during the validity of the visa. That process, with the paperwork, was repeated here as well each time we went in to renew our visa/residence card. It still makes me laugh to remember apologizing to our bank counselor for not speaking very good French when we opened our bank account. She looked at the pile of documents we had brought in for that application process and said with a grin while pointing to the stack, “Au contraire, you speak very good French!” We had our own experience recently at the hospital regarding that second theme: patience.

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Prescription drug prices

Fortunately neither Bill nor I have to take any prescription drugs. Oh sure, there have been the rare times when we’ve needed a doctor’s signature for a painkiller or an antibiotic but nothing long term. During pollen season, however, I do take an over-the-counter antihistamine that was available in the US in a bottle of 365 tablets while here it comes in boxes of 7. That does mean a frequent visit to the pharmacy but we’re always out walking anyway so another stop is no problem. On our most recent outing we discovered that the shelf where these generic boxes were typically stocked by the hundreds was almost empty because the manufacturer was switching from pills to a liquid format in banana flavor that would be double the price we were paying. Time to investigate getting a prescription from our family doctor that would at least have the advantage of being partially reimbursable by the national health system.

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Double shot

No, not a double shot of whiskey, cappuccino, an amusement park ride in NJ, or even “of my baby’s love”. How about the Covid-19 vaccine, or at least part one. People especially prone to disease or otherwise fragile were the first to be inoculated and now it’s being rolled out to the rest of us as fast as it becomes available. Dentists, medical students, lab technicians and even veterinarians have been recruited to use their skills in getting everyone covered. Our booster shot is scheduled for a month from now and then what? Given that we have a year’s worth of travel to catch up on, that’s pretty simple to answer; except, as we hear so often from our French friends, it’s complicated.

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Everything old is new again

14th century bridge leading to Carcassonne

Songwriters Carole Bayer and Peter Allen released “Everything Old Is New Again” in 1974 that went on to be the showstopper when Hugh Jackman performed it 30 years later on Broadway as The Boy From Oz. According to the lyrics, “Don’t throw the past away, you might need it some rainy day.” That rainy day seems to have arrived in the form of Covid-19 in Carcassonne that is fighting the pandemic just like most of the rest of the world. And like everywhere else, this isn’t the first health crisis the area has faced; in fact, they’ve been occurring in Europe since at least the 2nd century with a similar response from the population. Social distancing and confinement to your home have been around for a long time. Continue reading “Everything old is new again”

Flu shot

Time for the flu shot

Whatever happened to administering medications on a sugar cube? Even Mary Poppins knew that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. Although I’m not a fan of needles, I’m even less enamored with getting sick so you do what you have to do. We each received an “anti-grippale” (la grippe is French for “flu”) vaccination letter from the national health service authorizing us to go to the pharmacy of our choice and to pick up the medication at no charge. We then had the option of taking the ready-filled syringe to our family doctor whose service would also be covered at 100% or to make an appointment with the pharmacist to have the injection done there. That’s what we did last year and her fee was 6 euros. Continue reading “Flu shot”

Charlotte at the dentist

From Dr. Masquefa’s website

No, we did not just adopt a person or a dog and then have her teeth examined but we did learn a new word. As with most non-essential medical appointments during lockdown this spring, our annual visit to the dentist got postponed and it was only recently that we rescheduled it. Since we prefer to make our appointments in person, we walked the short distance down to his office where we found a notice on the door stating that only those patients who had already scheduled their rendez-vous by telephone could enter. Oh boy, that meant we’d have another lesson in communication without being able to see the other person’s face. In reality, since everyone is wearing a mask these days, that’s not unusual, but even body language at least gives you a clue that you are being understood. So we went home, made the call easily enough, and secured a time for 2 weeks later when we discovered that it wasn’t just the appointment process that had changed. Continue reading “Charlotte at the dentist”

A not-so emergency room visit

The bench with one less splinter

One of the reasons we created this blog was to make sure that Americans who were planning a permanent move to France could find details that didn’t appear to be readily available five years ago when we started the investigative process. There seemed to have been ample information for our English-speaking cousins, the British, but some of that didn’t apply because they were part of the European Union so it resembled in some ways moving from one US state to another. Because of Brexit, the dealings with the government that have always been a requirement for us including visas, residence cards, applying for national health insurance, and getting a French driver’s license are now equally important to Her Majesty’s subjects. Today’s health topic, that unexpectedly follows the medical discussion from our most recent blog post could be of use to anyone wondering about our experience with urgent medical care. Continue reading “A not-so emergency room visit”