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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Story Time: Visiting a French Doctor

I was prepped.  I watched Michael Moore's movie, especially the clip regarding doctors in France.. and I was ready to try it.  It's one of those things I don't like in any country, but I knew that I had to experience it... and besides it wouldn't break my bank.

A Little Background
Since I was a kiddo I always had problems with my knees, they are movey-aroundy (not a very good descriptor, best I could come up with) and they hurt when I walk or run long distances.  When the weather changes they hurt worse.  We also assumed it was 'Childhood arthiritis' and the last time we got them checked the radiologist who did the x-rays was looking for the wrong thing.. so it always went undiagnosed.  I have insurance in America, but I chose to not go mostly because in the past they always gave the wrong diagnosis- and it was expensive to see a specialist.


Two weeks ago I was biking, as usual, when the bike slipped on some dirt/rocks near the Université Lyon II and I went sliding under my bike.  The pain was absolutely excruciating.  It swelled up the first day, then I could barely bend it for a week.

Two weeks later, Bri convinced me to see a doctor.. and then I found out so much...

Finding a Doctor in France
The system is different than I was used to.  In America I call up Kaiser, they set me up an appointment and that's that.  Here you have to select your doctor, who is always a private practitioner.  I used this website:  Nomao MedecinsWhen you are looking, you need to look for 'Medecin Generale' because it means an all around doctor.  If you need services at the house, it's, 'SOS Medecins'.  My particular doctor was 'Docteur Watteau' in the 2ème.

How it Works
Basically you call the doctor, ask for an appointment (usually within the next day) and that's it! Here's my story...

Me and the French Doctor
I wandered towards the building, my nervousness becoming worse.  I was worried I couldn't speak, or maybe he'd think I was a lazy American using the French System.  Luckily, on the way, a drunk man was playing flute so it kind of set the mood of heading into Disneyland.

The office was set in an apartment building, which means he converted an old apartment into his working office.  I wandered up the 5 flights of stairs... and went in through the door.  It was a small office, and a small waiting room..

I sat in the waiting room and began snooping around a little bit.. when I caught a glimpse of something that really threw me off my horse.
I blew it up so you can see.. do you see??? DO YOU??

€22.00 for a visit with the doctor, and only €32 for a visit at the home.  I almost peed myself in the office because I recalled my mother not calling emergency services for her back one time because it was too expensive.  This guy would come visit for €32.  Not bad.

And one thing is clear, you don't need health insurance to get that rate.

The Actual Visit
So the time came for me to go back.  The door swung open and this very serious looking doctor stood there.  A medical student in her 5th year was there to help, and she was warm.  It began by them asking me questions about what happened.  Scared the crap out of me because this doctor was very intimidating- not fake niceness, all business.

I was asked to go sit on the table-y thing, and they both came over and begin poking and prodding my thighs, kneecaps, lower shins, testing my movement.. after about 3 minutes the doctor looked at me and explained.  At first I thought he was full of it, because what I understood was...
"You have fat thighs, and so your knees are bad.  You need to get more muscle in your fat thighs."
And I was like, in my head of course, I don't need a pretentious French doctor to charge me 22 bucks for telling me my thighs are big.

In the end he wrote up two notes, one for the ability to get physical therapy, the other for some creams and pills.  He also told me the name of the problem, in French, and I had no idea what he said.

Post Visit
I was pissed when I went home.  I thought, God.  He could of at least pretended to be nice and tell me... and then as I typed the name of the condition into the translator, and began to read.. suddenly my mind changed.

Within 10 minutes, Doctor Watteau explained a problem that I've had since a kid, and it made sense.

He didn't say my thighs were fat he said because of a condition called, "Patellofemoral Syndrome" my back of leg muscles were stronger, and my front thigh muscles were weakened because of over-working to keep the kneecaps up.

Every symptom I have, was exactly this syndrome.

I have been able to figure out ways to strengthen these muscles so my knees and shins don't hurt as bad, and realized, even though French Doctors are.. well.. scary as Hell.. they are incredibly intelligent and don't rely on pharmeceutical drugs to fix things.  In America, doctors get benefits from drug companies to sell drugs.. I honestly can say I don't think any doctor in the US would tell me to basically strengthen my legs to fix it.  They'd prescribe an array of un-needed drugs so they meet a sales quota.

Going to the doctor in France is 10x better than in the United States, and 10x less a scam.  I don't see why the U.S. can't have the same.. affordable and quality healthcare.  If you have a maladie, just go, try it once.

p.s. there are no death panels, and also, I didn't have to wait forever to see the doc.  It was the next day, 5 minute waiting time.


1 comment:

  1. I love French doctors, as you said they're straight to the point and not too expensive, although they do like to throw antibiotics at me. In England, even though it's 100% free (except medication) the waiting times are horrific and you'd end up getting better yourself or dying before you got treatment. Maybe that's a bit dramatic but almost true!
    I hope your knees get better soon :)


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