December 7, 2010



I’ve been grounded for ten days, doctor’s orders. Instead of going to Las Vegas on Thursday for a work conference, I will be staying home, sipping tea. It all began over two weeks ago, when the plague that had struck down SB and many of our friends, finally reached me. I started to feel achy and feverish the night before our flight to Amsterdam. The timing could not have been worse. I dragged my sorry self through the flight, to our hotel and then spent a miserable eight hours waiting for check-in. We hid out at the Rijks Museum, SB studying the famous dutch paintings, me shuffling from one bench to the next, blearily staring at a Vermeer for what felt like hours. The next four days in Amsterdam were a delirious blur of pain, as the disease proceeded to strip out my voice and leave me a coughing mess, barely able to get out of bed. On day five, we trained it to Paris, where I crawled back into bed, waking the next morning so miserable that it was time to go to a doctor.

In the states I would have walked into a hospital or clinic, looking for the urgent care desk, but how is it done in France? Luckily, SB’s Parisian cousin came to the rescue. In France, we learned, you only go to the hospital for real emergencies. Instead she found me an English speaking doctor, two blocks from our flat, who could see me that day. This doctor shared a practice, called the Cabinet of Medicine, with one or two others, in a second floor apartment, converted into office space. There was a receptionist and a waiting room but the doctor came and got me from the waiting room and took me to her office/exam room. There she gathered my history, checked me over and explained the prescriptions. There was no nurse, no waiting in the exam room, no hurried staring at a computer screen. At the end of the exam the doctor took my payment right at her desk. She then escorted us to the door and wished us well.

Thanks to the drugs I finally slept and began to find my voice. With four days left, we tried to snatch the highlights of Paris before we flew home. Within days of getting home, I started to feel miserable again. The drugs had run out but the ear infection had not. I’m lucky to have health insurance and access to my choice of doctors. Still going to the doctor here provided a nice counter-point to my Paris experience. The biggest difference, other than cost, was the role of the nurse. It was the nurse who finally greeted me, she was the one who collected my history and she shared it with the doctor. This allowed the doctor to rush in and rush out, spending the least amount of time with me as possible. I wasn’t even sure when the visit was over and had to find my own way to the door.

I’m now on a new, higher strength course of drugs and advised not to fly, for concerns about further aggravating the ear infection. Still I feel sick and I’m hoping I feel better in time for Christmas.

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