You Want to Stick Your What Where?

photo by telly telly

A year into my last job, I negotiated a 4-day work week. My colleagues began to call my day off “Granny Fridays.” See, instead of relaxing 3-day weekends, I tended to use my free Fridays for doctor’s appointments. All sorts. Way too often. (I really know how to live it up.)

Now I used to be healthy. Thank god, as I was still in the US. I had no health coverage when I first moved to New York claiming to be a dancer (I quickly learned that I was not actually a good dancer). Lucky for me I didn’t suffer any injuries along the way.

I’m not sure how my body knew to wait until I found my way to “socialized” medicine’s shores, but I pretty much started falling apart once in France. (Or is that, once I turned 30?)

Why do I have this bulging vein in my left leg? Ouch, my lower back is killing me. What is that random growth on my eyelid? Why is my skin peeling there?

It’s charming how doctors practice most often out of home offices, but this homey environment doesn’t always translate into friendly care. (And while I prefer an apartment to a sterile institutional building, sometimes the lack of onsite equipment can be inconvenient. Like my friend telling me she had to carry her pee to an analysis facility down the street. I kind of don’t want to carry my pee further than just down the hall.)

Finding a good gynecologist has been the most difficult. Not that I ever liked going to the gynecologist (jeez, no!), but of all doctors, I always thought this one was the easiest to talk to. I mean, it’s pretty intimate down there. There should be no beating around the bush (sorry for the pun).

The few gynos I’ve tried here have been, in a word, cold. Cold is fine as long as they’re helpful, I guess, but so far, they have not been. One reason might be because they consider me a freak-of-nature.

No, I am actually normal in that regard. But I’m a married 31-year old woman who doesn’t want kids – this doesn’t seem to compute. Not only can’t they wrap their minds around it, they actually argue with me about it. Apparently, I don’t know what I want. When they realize that I might be serious, I instantly become a suspicious person. ‘Not a real woman,’ they scribble in their notes. (This is the one private matter the normally discreet French seem to think is public. Since motherhood is an assumed goal, I get lectures from everyone when they find out it’s not in my plans.)

So anyway, I’ve been on a search for a gynecologist who won’t hold my lifestyle choices against me. My friend Amber said she had finally found a great one in the 17th. I am willing to travel to the opposite end of Paris now on the strength of a good recommendation.

I called the doctor’s office and spoke with a friendly receptionist – great start. When I gave her my phone number, she laughed. “Wow, you don’t have simple numbers there.” I concurred. (My phone number is like the most complicated combination of numbers an Anglophone who stumbles over French numbers could fear. The last 4 digits alone, for example, are 79 83. That literally translates as “sixty ten nine” (79) and “four twenty three” (83) when you say it in French. Yeah, could you come up with a better system, please?)

The receptionist complimented my French anyway.

It was only when she asked, “and so do you need the acupuncture for something specific or are you coming for a general medicine appointment” that the conversation took a wrong turn.

“Sorry? I thought Dr X was a gynecologist?” I said.

Awkward pause.

“No, madame, she’s not a gynecologist. She’s an acupuncturist.”

Ok, cool. REALLY glad we cleared that up before I showed up for the appointment which we had just agreed would be later that afternoon. (Me: “Where were you thinking of putting those needles?” Doctor: “Why have you taken off your underpants?”)

The receptionist was so nice though that I said, ‘well, I have been looking for an acupuncturist, too.’ (To address which malady, though, I’m not sure – I have so many to choose from!) ‘But I’ll get back to you on that.’

Now, onto find a non-needle wielding gynecologist. Who knew that would be so hard?

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21 Responses to “You Want to Stick Your What Where?”


  1. 1 Lindsey February 25, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    hahah too funny!! If you’re still looking for a gyno, I went to a new one near rue Saint Maur (11th) and she was super nice and friendly. Let me know!

    Glad you didn’t get unnecessarily poked :)

  2. 3 pariskarin February 25, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Hee hee hee hee hee!

    “There should be no beating around the bush (sorry for the pun). *SNORT* :D

    Oh girl, I really laughed at this post. What a classic expat-tries-to-go-to-the-doctor kind of tale. :)

    Good luck finding a gyno (can’t help you with that one, yet, but if you find one, you’ll have to let me know!), and yes, things really do start falling apart at 30 and then by the time you are 40 the merde really hits the ventilateur, IMHO and experience.

    Kudos to you for sticking to your guns about forgoing motherhood, too!! Womanhood ought not be defined by progeny. :)

    • 4 parisimperfect February 25, 2010 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks, Karin. You know, this blog is really great. Because now every time something embarrassing happens, I’m actually quite pleased. I say, well, at least this will be entertaining. Thanks for the kudos, too! “I am woman, hear me roar” :)

  3. 5 PigletinFrance February 25, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    I’ve been on a search for a gynecologist who won’t hold my lifestyle choices against me. My friend Amber said she had finally found a great one…

    mmmm…. I wonder if your friend has been there yet or whether it was a recommendation from someone as well? She’ll certainly have a shock thats for sure! It maybe someone somewhere is having a laugh at all these foreigners calling for a “womens” check up! :))

    I’m approaching 30 rapidly and everything is falling apart! I absolutely adored your post and has really made me laugh! Thanks for brightening up a pretty shitty day!

    • 6 parisimperfect February 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm

      Yeah, my friend was a bit embarrassed, too. Turns out she just pulled out the contact info from the wrong file. Oops!

      I think everything started falling apart around 28, 29 for me, so yeah, look out! I’m sorry you’re having a crappy day but glad I could brighten it up a bit!

  4. 7 jodie February 25, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I personally love my GYN, after years of looking around Paris..
    But I must say I have an Acupuncturist, who is AMAZING, I mean really, I have sent so many friend to here, and they keep going back!!,

  5. 9 bethanygarton February 25, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I’m a college student studying in Orleans right now and I love your blog, keep it up! I have always felt like parenthood should be a conscious decision, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to have kids. It’s nice to hear the thoughts of women who have made this decision, because that might be me in a couple of years. When my host mother asked me how many kids I wanted to have and I replied that I wasn’t sure I wanted any, she and my host brothers couldn’t believe it!

    • 10 parisimperfect February 25, 2010 at 5:55 pm

      Hi there! I’m always happy to meet other women who have made the decision not to have children, too – believe me, there aren’t that many in France! I don’t judge other people for how they live their lives so it burns me up that I’m judged on mine. (And if I’m not sure, isn’t it a GOOD thing that I’m not having kids yet? It’s the most important decision you can make! As you say, it should be a conscious one).

      I’m a damn good eccentric aunt. ‘Tata Sion in Paris.’ Doesn’t that just fit? :)

  6. 11 Haley February 28, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Love this post! Says a lot about France and the unique ways of its medical profession … I recently went to a podologue, which really doesn’t translate to anything in the states, and well, that was quite the experience ..

    xxo H

  7. 13 frogsandmen February 28, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    just stumbled across your blog…..gosh it’s great.

    sounds like a story Republicans would leap on stateside. you see what’s wrong with socialized medicine? you can’t even get a gynecologist! that acupuncturist was probably trying to make you a communist (she was probably chinese after all). or worse, give you an abortion!

    oh goodness. great blog. i’ll return
    a bientot
    the Paris Food Blague

    • 14 parisimperfect February 28, 2010 at 11:50 pm

      Hey! Glad you found me. Your hypothetical Republican response sounds pretty likely – full of distortion and missing the point entirely :) Thank god I’ve found my way to socialized medicine (even if finding the right gynecologist is proving a bit sticky). Since posting, of course, I have recommendations for *several*, so no worries people. I now have names of gynos who will not be wielding needles.

      Thanks for dropping by. I’ve just checked out your blog and I love it! We’re a Franco-American couple somewhere between camembert and peanut butter, too! (Well, actually I can’t get my husband to touch peanut butter and I’m not so big into camembert, so I guess we’re not in between, but firmly apart on many counts).

      Anyway, long way to say, thanks for dropping by! I’ll be dropping by yours, too. A bientot!

  8. 15 Partager Paris March 4, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Hello,
    so nice to have your blog recommended to me..I live in Paris, and really appreciate your humor. It is a daily event here is the city of Lights…
    But I also wanted to recommend an understanding gyno for you if you want…she is in the 7th. Let me know if you are still “in need”
    I look forward to your posts.

    • 16 parisimperfect March 4, 2010 at 6:11 pm

      HI there. Glad you found the blog! You know what? I think I might start a clearinghouse of recommendations. I have had so many people recommend their gynos now :) But please send yours along, too (my email is in the contact section – or I guess post it as a public service if you want :) ). That would be lovely! It’s important to share information! Thanks so much!

  9. 17 jennifer April 25, 2010 at 3:43 am

    Loved this post and I love your blog.. As a 37 year old women who has no intention of having children, I now feel blessed that it was my 65 year old male gyno (now retired) who helped me see that this really was the choice I wanted.. My younger female gyno thinks I am crazy.. Oh well..

    • 18 parisimperfect April 25, 2010 at 3:33 pm

      Hi Jennifer. Thank you so much! And kudos to you for choosing the life that you want. There can be a lot of societal pressure to have children, but it is every person’s choice. Hmm, I’ve always thought I would feel uncomfortable with a male gyno, but if he would respect my decisions like yours does, then that would be wonderful. It’s true that all of the female gynos in France are the ones who have given me grief! Thanks so much for reading the blog!


  1. 1 The Happiness Police « paris (im)perfect Trackback on February 25, 2010 at 5:58 pm
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  3. 3 A Taste of Garlic Trackback on January 13, 2011 at 5:01 am

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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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