You may have noticed a slow-down of blog posts recently, and that’s because I’ve been ill. I’ve had all the symptoms of whooping cough, which started at the end of July, and I’m still recovering. Pictured are just some of the drugs they prescribed. I finished some others and I gave away the Ventolin. If you find yourself sick in France, my story might help you.
There’s a running joke around these parts that it’s impossible to come back from a French doctor for as much as a cut finger without at least three prescriptions. Just yesterday, The Connexion published a story about a couple of French doctors speaking up at the over-prescribing of drugs happening in France, saying that “France spends more than €35bn on medicine each year, more than €500 for each man, woman and child.”
I think I may have reached my annual limit, and here’s why. After many visits to doctors, two chest x-rays and three blood tests, I was told I did not have whooping cough, yet four doctors agreed it sounded just like it and kept plying me with drugs for other coughs. The third round of blood tests came back negative, and I now have a variety of asthma drugs that I’ll never use — paid for by the French taxpayer (including myself of course). The doctors were stumped, so when I went back with a pulled chest muscle from the violent coughing (hey, I just wanted something to relieve the pain) the doc insisted on sending me to a lung specialist. My Carte Vitale (French health care card) covers part of the cost of that visit, but not all of it.
“What are you doing here?” the lung specialist asked me. “You should be at an ear, nose and throat specialist.” Do I look like a doctor? Did I know that a “pneumologue” was a lung doctor prior to my doctor telling me? Nope, not me. I just wanted decent painkillers from my doctor, mate. He sent me for more blood tests. None of the other doctors I had seen had noticed that the very first blood test for whooping cough said a further test for the illness should be done if coughing continues, as a negative is sometimes wrong. I’ve now had the blood test and am awaiting results.
If the test comes back positive (and I’m pretty sure it will), most of those drugs pictured have been worse than pointless: whooping cough doesn’t really respond to much, with the cough syrup and asthma drugs inducing more coughing, and the corticosteroids causing a bout of acne that the tube of gel at the front is now helping to fix. So, the drugs just made me sicker.
Without the Carte Vitale, I would have spent hundreds on doctor visits and the same again on drugs. But then, maybe without the Carte Vitale, I probably wouldn’t have bothered going to the doctor in the first place, and at least I wouldn’t be applying zit cream every morning and night.
So, with the coughing finally lessening this week, I hope to spend less time sleeping and more time getting back to doing what I love – writing and exploring France. Stay tuned (and get re-vaccinated!).