Monday, 10 March 2008

French Doctors

Today I had my first, very limited, experience with French doctors, actually I should really say with French doctor's surgeries, as I never got to see the doctor in the end. I'm heading over to Egypt in a few months time and I want to get all the necessary vaccinations before I head over there and as I now have a list of English speaking doctors (health is one thing I don't want to make a mistake with because someone misunderstands my pitiful French) I thought I would give it a go. I should have realised something was up when I rang them to make an appointment and discovered that apparently you don't do that in France, you just turn up and hope for the best. On my list it says you could pay an extra 5 euros to make an appointment, which I was more than happy to do, but the person on the phone wouldn't let me.

I head off to the surgery hoping that it's not too full and find that the actual surgery was in the middle of an apartment complex and you have to be buzzed in, then when you find the surgery you also have to be buzzed in through the front door. You walk through this door and there is just a room filled with people on plastic seats, no receptionist or anything. I have a look around and see that there are already 8 people in front of me and also that this surgery doesn't accept bankcards, and there is no way I have enough cash on me for 3 vaccinations. Once I'd taken all this in and decided not to waste my entire afternoon sitting in one of the more depressing waiting rooms I have ever seen I discover I can't open the door to get back out. So I have to wait until I hear the doctor emerging with his last patient and then race past everyone to try and catch the door before it closes.

I don't understand why people don't make doctor's appointments, where is the possible advantage in just turning up and hoping for the best? I thought we had to wait for ages in Australia, but really if you make an appointment for 12 you know that you should be in by 12:30. Here it is like turning up at 12 for an appointment at 2, except that you don't know that your appointment is at 2, and really it could be any time between 2 and 4 before you see the doctor. And what's the deal with the no bank card thing, I know they use cheques a lot more over here, but really why are people not embracing the bank card, isn't it so much more convenient than a piece of paper you scribble something down on which you then have to take to the bank in one of the very few hours they are open?

After that little escapade I now realise why there are so many pharmacies around the place, it's not that the French are terrible hypochondriacs, as I previously thought, but rather they will do anything to avoid visiting the doctor. I wonder if the pharmacist can do vaccinations?

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