I neglected to share about Josh’s visit to his doctor. I suggested that he go in for a check up, just to make sure he was healthy and to meet his doctor. I found a nice male doctor named Jacques (who I assume looks like the Most Interesting Man in the World) and he went during work one day.
Dr. Jacques asked Josh why he was there and Josh, not accustomed to going to doctors anyway, said, “A check up I guess.” To which Dr. Jacques replied, “OK- to check what?” Apparently the Swiss are a little less inclined to just go to the doctor for a well visit. At one point, the doctor asked if Josh had concerns. He answered that he takes Prilosec once a day and that there is a warning on the box about continuing treatment for more than two weeks at a time. Dr. Jacques did not recognize the brand name so Josh had to text me to get the proper name of the drug. As soon as Josh read the name aloud, the doctor said, “Oh that? Yeah, a lot of people take that twice a day. No problem.” Josh also reported that the doctor actually used a book to explain something. The leatherbound books were not just for show or smell- they were for actual use! Unbelievable.
I recently discovered the writings of David Sedaris, who as a part time French resident, gets my situation unlike anyone else. I tend to read his books at night before bed and have found it genuinely difficult to not laugh out loud and disturb my sleeping husband and son. He writes about French doctors in the first chapter of Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls:
“The last time I went, I had a red thunderbolt bisecting my left eyeball. The doctor looked at it for a moment and then took a seat behind his desk. ‘I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you,’ he said. ‘A thing like that, it should be gone in a day or two.’
‘Well, where did it come from?’ I asked. ‘How did I get it?’
‘How do we get most things?’ he answered.
‘We buy them?'”
Perhaps it is only an American thing to go to your doctor when nothing is wrong, when you don’t have an emergency or a scheduled procedure. They do ask that you bring your children in every six months or so. But with problems, they tend to take more of a “wait and see” approach. I think I (and others) could really learn from that. It would probably save a lot of money and time and maybe cut down on those terrible waiting times in doctors offices. Even as I write this though, I am thinking, “But what about those stories you hear where the guy went to the doctor and that headache was actually the precursor to a major stroke and his hypochondria saved his life. Shouldn’t we assume we’re going to die to make sure that we don’t?”
The French are very patient. Their meals are long, no one sighs or protests when lines are long and their children are content to sit in a waiting room quietly. The only exception I have found is when waiting in traffic that no one can help. Then, they think honking will move the large number of cars in front of them. But, I am learning to be patient like them. My brother came to visit this week and was shocked to learn there was no food delivery (except for Dominos). You have to go to the restaurant and either eat there or take the food home. The idea of someone rushing your food to your house is not welcome to these people. And the most surprising thing was how I reacted. Despite having lived in two of the most delivery-happy cities in America, I have gotten used to the “no delivery/lunch only served between 12 and 2/restaurants that just close for the entire month of August” situation here. Progress has been made and I wasn’t even trying! Now I think that delivery and speedy meals at any time of the day are weird concepts. Don’t get me wrong, I will enjoy them again in the future but for now, the people who expect men to drop what they are doing to speed some chinese food to my house seem a little crazy to me.
To sum up, I return to my friend, Mr. Sedaris, “For my fifty dollars, I want to leave the doctor’s office in tears, but instead I walk out feeling like a hypochondriac, which is one of the few things I’m actually not.” Thank you, France and Switzerland for once again exposing a few crazy tendencies in me and my culture. I sincerely appreciate it.