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Absence and the French Medical System

July 11, 2010

Faithful readers, I do apologize. Au début I promised a daily blog. Well, sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs; in my case, biting off more than I can chew left this blog devoid of postings and my body devoid of water.

Some steak tartar is served with raw egg. Image by Rainer Zenz via Wikipedia Commons.

By this I mean that the intense heat of Paris and the total lack of air conditioning left me in a condition too exhausted to post after a long day of research and note-taking. This computer heats up like you wouldn’t believe! But, to add insult to my own injury, last week I decided to try, for the first time, a plate of steak tartar.

Served with capers and onions, my tartar was quite delicious but too rich to finish. I didn’t write home to the maternal presences in my family about this, as they are totally against the consuming raw meat concept of steak tartar (which is supposed to be totally fine for one’s stomach because of the way its prepared and the acids which supposedly kill harfmul bacteria).

Either way, my stomach did not agree with Monsieur le Tartar, and I was, ahem, less comfortable than I should have been the next day.

Luckily for me, France has one of the most egalitarian and helpful medical systems in the world. From them America could take a huge hint and think about the importance of a healthy society.

More on my road to health after the jump!

Les médicaments

When you’re sick in France, the first thing you do is visit the pharmacy, privately owned businesses with a big green (often flashing) cross sign outside. Unlike pharmacies in the states, which sell practically everything, only products relating directly to the human body are available dans les pharmacies. So, you can by hairbrushes, toothbrushes, soap and fancy creams, but no cigarettes, candy, magazines, or that kind of thing.

Anyway, you approach the lab-coat wearing pharmacy techs, all of whom pass extensive medical exams that gives them ability to diagnose simple illnesses, much like the underused consultation windows at your local Rite-Aid. They will ask, totally unembarrassed, whatever your disgusting symptoms may be and then give a detailed explanation of what they think you have and what they will prescribe to you to take care of it.

After my consultation in a pharmacy near rue du Bac (I had made it that far without any help from my apartment way across the river), the lovely gentlemen quietly explained that he didn’t think my culinary exploits had caused my runniness, because I had no nausea. Whatever, the point is the he proceeded to prescribe a stomach-centered antibiotic, a probiotic to help me rebuild the useful bacteria, an immediate Immodium-type of relief, and a huge box full of a generic French alka-seltzer.

The cost? Please put your nooses away: 16€.

That’s right, just over $20.

Trying to figure out how much I saved by getting a stomach bug in France instead of the U.S., I would have had to visit two doctors ($50 in co-pays) and then had the prescriptions filled in my Rite Aid, which will have cost anywhere from $50 – $75 for the cost of medication (and possibly more). In other words, for what would have cost me $100 in the States (and that doesn’t include the cost of health insurance in general), I paid $20. And it took 10 minutes, and not two full days of visiting stupid NYC doctors.

A big merci! à la France!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. anna permalink
    July 11, 2010 18:36

    Feel better real soon, Joseph! love, a.

  2. chab permalink
    December 18, 2010 17:02

    Alas, Sarkozy is destroying the health system and social protection of French citizens to give it to his friends vultures of finance.
    Thanks for your very beautiful pictures !

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