Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Calling Dr. House

Where was House when I needed him? Last week I really had an ARGGHHHH moment with the French health care system. There are times when I praise it, like when I see that I am reimbursed 100% for ANY medical care now that I'm more than 6 months along. And even if I didn't have French coverage, a run-of-the-mill check-up is 22 euros. Just a bit more than the average co-payment (which you aren't reimbursed for) in the US.

But there are some bugs in the system. I've been seeing these transparent green spots in front of my eyes from time-to-time. Sort of an inky halo around things. I told my OB/GYN this who said it wasn't related to the pregnancy but to try and get an appointment with the eye doctor all the same. As soon as she said this I knew it wasn't going to be easy. The ophthalmologists in the north of France are an endangered species. It's well known that the majority of them have set up practice in the sunny south of France. So if you live in the cool and often gray north, they will give you an appointment for, oh, next year.

And as I expected, when I called my "opthalmo" the cut and dry secretary said, one year. This despite my hurried explanation that I was pregnant, that it was important, etc. So then I called back the GYN office to get some advice. And got treated to a "Madame, you know this is the maternity department, it's not our fault there aren't enough opthalmos yada yada." Translation: why are you bugging us when it's clearly not our problem? I insisted a bit, saying, but my doctor said I should be seen quickly and I don't want to let this get out of hand. This led the secretary to give me the name of an opthalmo her daughter had seen who gave her a quick appointment. But I would need to call my GP first to get a prescription to see said opthalmo.

My GP, who is sometimes cut and dry herself, turned out to be quite helpful. She's 40ish with 4 kids and wears size 6 trendy city clothes. I always thought she was a bit too quick with her patients and maybe a tad superficial. But when I told her the story about waiting one year for an appointment, she sprang to action. She took her phone and called my original opthalmo and asked for an appointment. This same secretary who'd told me a year, told my doc next month. But super doctor persisted, saying, she's 7 and 1/2 months pregnant. Magically, they gave me an appointment for the next day!

Well, end of story, after waiting with all the other privileged people who had an appointment, my opthalmo thinks it's just eye spasms. Apparently nothing serious. But I'm gonna tell all the French people I know to make an appointment today, just in case there's the slightest possibility they'll need glasses soon. You can never do it too early.

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