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.
“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?