ANGERS: Infection des Sinus: Adventures in French health care

Going to the doctor has never been my favorite thing, but then again I can’t think of anyone who perks up at the thought of sitting in Lysol-ed chairs and getting their blood pressure taken.

However, it wasn’t until I found myself sitting in a house as old as Angers, trying to explain to an old French man for the fourth time that I can’t hear out of one of my ears that I found myself with a new appreciation for American medicine.

Due to recent frequent trips to caves and an underground mushroom growing facility, I have been exposed to high amounts of mold spores and allergy inducing fungi, which is why about a week ago I self-diagnosed myself with a sinus infection. 

It seemed pretty awesome to me for the longest time that I could just walk into any of the several pharmacies on most street corners and get heavy medications that otherwise require prescriptions in America. 

Have a cold? Just tell the French pharmacy that you have the flu and you’ll be waking up feeling brand new the next day! (The many perks of universal health care).

Unfortunately, because the medicines I got from the pharmacy hadn’t been working, I decided it was probably time for me to seek professional consultation. 

When I finally found the doctor’s office, I had to get the woman working at the pharmacy, who thankfully speaks a fair amount of English, to open the door for me and lead me through a back hall to a dilapidated room with two wooden chairs. This was the waiting room. It felt more like a drug deal.

When finally it was my turn, and I walked into the doctor’s office, which looked like a crooked politician’s office with a small cot and a bookshelf. 

I know I’ve said before that it makes it easier in conversation to respond with “oui” when I have no clue what these French people are saying, but in this case I knew I had to step up my game since my general well being was at stake.

So I did what any American would do and I pulled out my smart phone and opened up my handy translator App. 

I awkwardly typed in each of my symptoms while the doctor sat there twiddling his thumbs waiting.

My ears are clogged. Mes oreilles sont bouchées.

My head has lots of pressure. Ma tete a beaucoup de pression.

My throat is swollen. Ma gorge est swollen.

After nodding, a lot of rambling in French and one more extra long awkward pause I asked him, “Infection des sinus?”

He responded with an enthusiastic “oui, oui oui,” and I gave him my euros and was out the door with my prescription before I new it.

I hope I get better…