Friday, February 15, 2013

Down and Sick in Paris

The Stethoscope
Photo credit: Alex E Proimos
The title is a reference to Down and Out in Paris by George Orwell.

I've not posted much because I've been sick for the past couple of days. Unsurprisingly, being sick in Paris is not exactly an exotic vacation, but a visit to the doctor is quite an eye-opener. I've pointed out repeatedly that France is considered to have the best health care in the world and does so at a fraction of the cost the US spends. One difference one notices is that France focuses on health outcomes, not on number of patients seen or controlling costs. For my doctor's visit, not only did she figure out what was wrong and treat me, she also is sending me to referrals for arthritis screening (she said I'm probably too young to have it) and to have my hearing checked.

She also didn't try to rush me out of her room to see the next patient: she took her time, something in marked contrast to what I've experienced in the US. Oh, and it cost me a whopping €23 for an emergency same-day appointment — but I'll be reimbursed for that.

Update: Per clarification from my wife: this was not an emergency "same-day" appointment. Apparently it's perfectly normal for doctors to have walk-in hours. If I wanted an appointment, I would have had to wait a day! As someone who's "enjoyed" the US version of health care for many years, it's a pleasant surprise. This is even better than the excellent care than I received in the UK.

Rather than try to make a lengthy, thoughtful post on this topic, here's a repost an old blog entry of mine from 2007, shortly after I moved to Nottingham, UK and was again lying at home, sick.



Bored. Bored, bored, bored.

Lying in bed in my flat, getting annoyed that the flu has gotten progressively worse.

Bored.

I got out long enough to get more drugs and a couple of new books to read and barely made it back home.

Bored.

So when I'm shut in like this, I get stir crazy. Fortunately, the standard model human comes with a built-in "Little Voice" to keep you company. This is the Little Voice which says things like "it's beer goggles, dude, you'll hate yourself in the morning," and then laughs uproariously the next day, chanting "I told you so" over and over.

Other times it will say helpful things like "if you ask her for her phone number she'll probably stab you in the left eye with a stapler and laugh while the vitreous fluid dribbles down your cheek."

That's usually followed by an awkward pause in the conversation while I try to figure if you can really stab someone with a stapler.

So today, Little Voice decided to try and help me be less bored by offering suggestions on what I could do to distract myself. Did it suggest that I do more packing for London? No. Did it suggest that I answer some email I'd been neglecting? No. It said "cut your hair".

Now it's just fucking with me.

Obviously I can't go anywhere to get my hair cut because I'm reasonably certain stylists charge extra if you vomit on them while they're trimming your bangs. No, Little Voice was honestly meaning I should cut my own hair. Of course, this is about as stupid an idea as you can get, but Little Voice said "just put your electric clippers on their max setting and rub them all over your head. It'll be fine!"

Somehow, a few minutes later, I found myself with clippers in hand. Being this bored and stir crazy leads one to do really, really stupid things.

I took the first swipe out of my hair -- no turning back now -- when the obvious problem hit me: I only own one mirror. I have no way of knowing what the back of my head is going to look like. A short while later I found myself holding my toaster behind my head for a second mirror and trying to figure out how the hell I cut my ear with safety clippers.

It took a ridiculously long time and I'm still trimming ends that I missed. I hate you, Little Voice.
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