For the past few weeks, I've been sick. Really sick. I think it was an all-too-common case of traveler's intestinal distress. After several days of misery, it was time to seek out some medical advice.
I called my international insurance company and they didn't have any specialists within 100 miles of Aix-en-Provence. This meant that I was on my own for finding a doctor, but they reassured me that I'd be reimbursed just the same.
We went to the local hospital in Aix, but I couldn't bear waiting for hours in the emergency room to see a doctor. Instead, we got the names of a few private physicians who'd be able to see me on another day.
|Avenue Victor Hugo, a.k.a. "doctor's alley" in Aix-en-Provence.|
So how the heck do you have a medical consultation when you can't communicate with your doctor? More importantly, how can this doctor not speak English when the gas station attendants and the cashiers at Quick Burger can speak it fluently?
I decided to type up a basic description of my personal information (name, DOB, address) and my symptoms. Perhaps the doc would feel more comfortable reading English than speaking it? Jim also had the brilliant idea of using Google Translate to get a rough French translation. Lastly, if we got really stuck, we had the backup plan of calling my dear mom in the middle of the night to act as a translator!
On the day of the appointment, we somehow managed to communicate through a combination of Franglish, gesturing, and guessing. It's truly amazing how much you can pick up just from the context of a situation. The doctor was very patient and spoke very slowly and simply to us. I had brought along a French-English dictionary, but it was pretty much useless when it came to medical terminology.
We left the office with a sense of relief. Thankfully, communicating with the doctor wasn't nearly as difficult as we had anticipated. Also, the total cost of my visit was only 36 Euros ($45 USD) -- remember, that's the cash price without any insurance!
Now, it's been about a week since my doctor's appointment and I'm happy to say that I'm feeling much better. I have no idea what got me (perhaps I should have properly washed our produce?), but I'm sticking to a plain and simple diet for a few more weeks, just to be safe. We have just under a month to go here in France, and there's still plenty of stories to tell about our lovely house guests...