samedi, mars 19, 2005

I'll have three types of medication, go easy on the sore thumb jokes, please

For nearly two weeks now I've had a sore thumb. A sore thumb is annoying, but not, at least at first, apparently life-threatening. When I was in London last week I showed my mother, who expressed appropriately maternal concern and made me promise to go to the doctor the minute I got back to Maisons Laffitte. I murmured assent in the practiced tones of the experienced Daughter of A Jewish Mother and did nothing when I got home.

A week later the thumb was still sore. If anything, getting worse. Really quite painful indeed, and the thing about thumbs, about hands in general, is that you use them a lot. I discovered that almost everything I do involves using my thumb. It got to the point that even going to bed was painful, because it involved using my thumb in some way. My thumb and its soreness were waking me up out of the alcoholic stupor it was necessary for me to fall into in order to get me to sleep in the first place. I actually found myself wondering if amputating my thumb would at least lessen the pain.

I finally was forced to acknowledge that a visit to the doctor was in order.

Why should a visit to a french doctor be such an alarming prospect? Along with cliches regarding the unimpeachable quality of its bread and cheese (all true, as far as I can tell), one of the oft-repeated things about France is that its health service is the best in the world, according to the WHO. Why should a visit to the best doctor in the world be such an alarming prospect?

The thing is that the French healthcare system may be the best in the world, but it is also the most over-medicalised. The joke is that you never get prescribed fewer than three things when you go to the doctor here. Illnesses - like colds or flu - which routinely get you ejected from an English GP's surgery with a cry of 'hot water and lemon and paracetemol and lots of rest!' will in France get you prescribed two different kinds of antibiotic, oral and anal suppository. So I guess I was thinking that since I don't want to be prescribed a phd's worth of medication, there wasn't much point in going in the first place.

This would have been true had I had the flu, I suppose. My septic thumb just wasn't going to be appeased by hot water and lemon. Like a child, it was just going to get angrier and angrier until I took notice of it. By which time it was too late. What had been an infection was now an abcess, causing me pain the like of which I really haven't experienced in quite a while. Details you don't need, or want. Let's just say it isn't pretty.

My husband called out the emergency doctor. He wasn't, how shall we say, particularly sympathetic. 'Of course it hurts. And it will hurt a lot more before it starts to get better. If you had gone to see the doctor when it started it would have been much easier to treat.' Then he asked, 'Where are you from originally?'. When I told him I was English his eyebrow lifted, just a little. I couldn't really think of anything to say.

1 Comments:

Blogger Strdncr5 said...

Overmedication isn't just a French problem -- we here in the States are finding ourselves drowning in prescriptions as well. I also believe that avoiding the doctor is also a common problem for many of us.

I hope your thumb feels better soon. Your blog is interesting and the courage you showed by moving to another country is to be admired. In my case, I followed my military husband to Japan for three years, so I know first-hand how frightening such a move can be.

I wish you all the best!

9:26 PM  

Enregistrer un commentaire

<< Home