A Dose of Reality
One thing I have gained from almost 40 years of teaching is an immunity to almost every “bug” the kids bring to school. Consequently, I (almost) never get sick. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was ill with a cold or the flu or anything of that nature. As luck would have it, the end of the school year and the accompanying exhaustion plus a long flight to France in close proximity to so many people has brought on a few common cold symptoms I haven’t experienced for a very long time. After a few days of trying to fight them off with sleep and ibuprofen, the usual progression of sore throat, headaches, and runny nose have prevailed. So I knew it was time to visit the French pharmacie.
You may remember that last year in a previous post I wrote about healthcare in France. When you get sick, the first place to visit is the pharmacy where a licensed pharmacist with many years of training will advise you on what medications you should take for your malady. Many times this is all you ever need. This is nothing like the service or knowledge that is available in a U.S. pharmacy. I experienced this during last summer’s trip to France when I regretfully fell and sliced the palm of my hand open. It was a Saturday and we knew that doctors and clinics would be closed. So we went into the nearest pharmacy, showed the pharmacist my cut, and were provided with all the necessary items such as bandaids and antiseptics plus instructions for treatment all for a fraction of the cost in the U.S. Normally, you won’t proceed to see a doctor until you have exercised this option and your situation hasn’t improved. Even then, the cost of seeing a doctor is still far below American prices.
In preparation for today’s visit to the pharmacy, we looked up all the French phrases we would need to explain my discomfort. Then we stopped in to a convenient local pharmacy. They are located on just about every corner and very easy to identify with their flashing green crosses. After describing my symptoms to the pharmacist the best that I could, she brought forth three medications — one each for headache, sore throat, and congestion. For about 15€ ($17) I was all set. Once I got home, I had to read all the precautions in French (where all my studying this past year paid off) and figure out how to take each of them. The pain medication, a form of aspirin, was actually a large effervescent tablet to be dissolved in water somewhat like Alka Seltzer. It was surprisingly pleasant to drink and thankfully took effect in about 30 minutes. The nasal spray for congestion had a similarly rapid result. Hopefully, with a few more days of rest, I will be able to enjoy the rest of our summer in France.
One of our goals this summer, was to experience living rather than vacationing in France. Though my illness has definitely been unpleasant, the flip side is that it has forced us to spend at least a week just living a normal daily life without spectacular events to distract us from reality.