Tuesday, 28 December 2021

I get back at nine am ...

 ... and head for the loo, followed by both dogs, who stand waiting mournfully for me outside the door.

They have been fed, but they are reporting back they are not too happy with the quantities provided by the sous-chef and that additional rations are in order.

I'm feeling like them, having departed early for the local laboratory "à jeun" (on an empty stomach).

It takes twenty minutes to sort out the paperwork for the three prescriptions provided by the cardiologist - two sets of blood tests and a PCR test for COVID. 

The time required is not helped by the fact that my chosen "identity paper" is my passport, which is in my maiden name.  Whereas the three prescriptions are in my married name.  So we opt for my "carte de sejour" - my residency permit - which usefully has both my maiden and my married names.  This, duly, is photocopied and attached to the paperwork.

All seems well, until I get to see the assiduous young doctor (nurse?) who somewhat sternly informs me that I need a comma between my first and second Christian names, otherwise I have a double-barrelled first name.  Well that's a first in the fourteen years I've been here.  Things deteriorate further when he asks me my birthday (as a security check) and notices that the date on my residency permit says the fourth and not the fourteen, as I said.  So, I find my passport again, which confirms the fourteenth.  This requires him to disappear back to reception in order for the passport to be photocopied as well.

By now, I am beginning to feel faint with hunger.

And there are fourteen sticky barcode labels up the sleeve of his white coat as he proceeds to take seven phials of blood from my left arm, reminding me of Tony Hancock in the Blood Donor:  "A pint! That's very nearly an armful!". 

The receptionist returns with yet more papers - apparently the permit / passport double photocopying requires a different set of code numbers.  Paper is now spread all over the consulting room.  And in the confusion, the young man tells me I can go.  Reluctantly, I remind him I need a PCR test - my first.  Without it they will not let me into the hospital on Thursday for my pacemaker op.

He enthusiastically shoves the long Q-tip up my left nostril and twists it around saying "just five seconds".  Hopefully I won't need to have that happen too often! 

And hopefully all the paperwork will mean I can check the results online this evening.  The French are nothing if not efficient and thorough when it comes to medical stuff.

In the meantime, the dogs and I have breakfast - their second, my first.


Friday, 24 December 2021

A Happy, Healthy Christmas to One and All

 Thank you to those of you who read this blog.  

May this year end in happiness and good health for all and may 2022 be all that you hope.

Friday, 17 December 2021

The GP Asks Me if I Hunt

Well, that's a question that comes out of left field and certainly not one that our GP back in leafy Surrey fourteen or more years ago would have thought to ask.

We're talking pacemakers. Inserted just below the collar bone, right where the stock of a shotgun nestles. Apparently, depending on which side the hunter holds his firearm, the surgeon will choose the other side to operate.

That's a piece of information I would have hoped never to need to know!

Specifically, we are talking MY soon-to-be pacemaker.  To be fitted, assuming I test negative for COVID, on December 30th.  A late Christmas present, just in time for New Year celebrations.

Who would have thought that mild heart palpitations which started in October and might have been dismissed as nothing more than slight pandemic anxiety, should lead to this.

When the French health service swings into action, it doesn't hang about.

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Not a Mask among Them!

We were in Bordeaux on Thursday, for an appointment at the eye clinic.

Blue eyes and strong South West France sun don't go well together and so cataracts have slowly been forming over the years.  Still some way to go before an op, but these days the very young ophthalmologist has decided he wants me to have a regular check-up.

The clinic is new, cutting edge and full of young things in white coats doing lots of tests that involve drops in the eyes and flashing lights.  All of this takes time and when we finally emerged it was gone twelve - lunchtime.  

We don't get out much these days and being in Bordeaux, it seemed a good excuse to find a local eatery. Not only is the clinic new, but the whole area is being redeveloped, including what looks like a tram bridge being built across the Garonne, so we relied on Google and Tripadvisor to find us somewhere.  The place was well-reviewed.

With the new Omicron variant on the loose France has tightened up its regulations - masks to be worn in all public places.  So suitably masked, with our health certificates on the screens of our phones ready to be zapped, we pushed open the restaurant door.  The place was heaving with masculinity.  Jam-packed full of large, sweaty workers from the surrounding building sites. All cheek by jowl and not a mask among them.  Even Le Patron was maskless.  Mind you, I defy anyone to tell that lot that Macron requires masks to be worn when out.

Normally, in the interests of social distancing, we would have fled.  But we were hungry and slightly light-headed from a morning of being managed by the French health service in all its glory.  So we entered into the spirit of the moment, trusted our booster jabs to protect us and relished our ample "menu de jour": buffet starter, choice of two main courses, cheese, dessert, coffee and a bottle of red wine left open on the table to help yourself.  Fourteen euros each.

It almost felt like the good old days. How our world has grown small, when a simple lunch in a worker's café in Bordeaux can make us, for a while, feel like we are on holiday!