My new doctor

I don’t know. Maybe it’s these cold, dark, wintry days that are getting to me, making me wonder why I left my little people’s republic of Northern California (these deportation orders! My friends would be hiding their cleaning ladies in the basement, if California had basements…) to move to a place that can be by turns ossified in its bureaucracy or ossified in its self-serving excuse du jour (take that, artisan français). Surely there was a third option, maybe Amsterdam or Barcelona. Then something happens. Maybe the sun comes out. It may not shine exactly but it will give us a nice rosy glow, so flattering to my crepey skin. Or maybe I finally, possibly, have found my doctor.

Medical care here is generally excellent. I, however, am the patient from hell. I don’t get my blood work, don’t take my medicine. I’m constantly losing the same 5 pounds. It’s all so boring. I once had a boyfriend who skipped a blood test, the one that would have detected his colon cancer in time to save his life. You’d think I’d have learned, but no. Back in the States, every so often I’d have a Douglas LaPlante Memorial Colonoscopy. Now I’m over it. 

I found this smart but easygoing doctor who has seen my type before and has learned to roll with it. I like her but I don’t know, doctors, medicine, so dull.

And Then. I’ll spare you the tacky details but suddenly I needed an ENT guy right away. I didn’t dare call my doctor. She’d ask about that blood test she ordered two months ago. So I made M. Wonderful find a doctor in the neighborhood who speaks English and could see me at once. I don’t know how he puts up with me. But off I went, to the usual Paris doctor’s office in a stunning antique-filled converted apartment. Even the examining table was an antique.  No clerks, no front desk. I was greeted by the doctor, this tiny, skinny woman in black leather everything, I think, apart from a mohair sweater and the ropes of pearls that keep her anchored to the ground. No white coat. Her Pomeranian sleeps next to her desk.

She found the problem and fixed it, just like that. Then, right after she answered her own phone and complained to me about the patient who called — not in detail, just a general, casual, “I hate the French,” — she let me know that she advertises one specialty but has five and if I wanted, she could be my regular doctor. Well, I was hooked. The Pomeranian, the diamonds and cubic zirconia peeking through the mohair and pearls, this is my kind of doctor. And where but France, maybe where but Paris, could I find someone as eccentric as she is competent? And a French francophobe, to boot, maybe worse than me. I’m going to love this. I may even follow her advice.

12 thoughts on “My new doctor

    1. I think of all the office staff in the US offices. Their admin costs must be astronomical. Pile onto that all the assistants that are there to save the doctor time. So she spends less time with the patient but more time communicating with staff. Does it really save money? Compared to the corporate craziness of US medicine, the minor interruption of a doctor taking a call to schedule an appointment is nothing. I know that no matter what else happens, I will get all the time I need.

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  1. Meanwhile in Cantal all the four aged doctors retired to be replaced by one single Romanian woman (imagine that if you are an old man who has lived his life through in the same place and imagine that if you are the aforementioned Romanian woman – have you seen ‘le medicine de campagne’? – really you should. And then stick to Mme Criptique Zirconia!


    1. I have actually been warned about my local country hospital. It’s pretty out there in the countryside, but if anything goes wrong, I either want to be in Paris or in the south of France. I understand the medical care in the cities down south is quite good. At some point I’ll check out La Rochelle, too.

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      1. Shame Grenoble is the other side of the country because the care here is renowned as excellent … and oddly in Riom es Montagnes when I’m home in Cantal athe hôpital is very good indeed as witness my falling downstairs on my head incident!!!

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        1. Yes, they are fierce here about quality of care. My local hospital is an anomaly, fortunately not the norm. I remember the first year that I ran across the Le Point reviews of hospitals and clinics. I was amazed. There is nothing like that in the States.

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  2. That’s funny Helen.

    I haven’t used a doctor in France yet, but I had to have urgent dental treatment and I picked a random dentist in Quillan who was a complete star and charged me way less than any supposed UK NHS dentist!!

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    1. My French dentist is called Dr Beaurepair and is the gentlest human I have ever encountered. He is a member of a league of humanitarian dentists and every year goes to a part of the world lacking dentistry and gives free treatment to those that need it. I absolutely love him and the fact that he is ludicrously cheap ices the bun beautifully!

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