la remedie

August 3, 2005

Thanks to a brief meningitis scare on our behalf, one brave soul amongst us experienced the French treatment for severe back pain and nausea. Here in Paris, it seems, la remedie is found in a 6-inch needle plunged firmly into the rear.
As her back pain had worsened, this student ended up spending over a day stuck in her hotel bed, unable to keep anything down. By midnight, we realized that her pounding head and sensitivity to light could also be indicators of meningitis, with its rapid onset and grave potentials. Rather than take that risk, we opted to go ahead and take her to the hospital.
Next came the task of figuring out just how that was done here. After a few redirected phone calls, I found a nurse who, thankfully, had clear enough diction for me to be able to understand her advice. [Had I had time to worry, I would have been concerned that my French experience has never provided me with a terribly solid base in medical terminology]. What I learned was that a trip to the Urgences would put us under 5,000 euros—approximately 8,600 dollars. As I gasped, she offered option #2: apparently, house calls are rather standard, so for a mere 100 euros, the doctor would come to us, to see if she did in fact need further treatment. The second option we accepted without great hesitation.
About 45 minutes later our medicin arrived. With a flurry of brusque questions and commands, he poked and pried while I tried to keep track of his queries and, hopefully, to relay translations while I could still remember his last order [and before he had time to throw out another].
It all seemed relatively standard until he told me to warn her about a picure. I questioned him to be sure, gulped, and told her that he was going to give her a shot—after, that is, he had me utterly perplexed for a moment by a request for perfume. The wise Professor Dean divined that this must be for the alcohol content’s sterilization. We happily obliged.
Perhaps before continuing (for the sake of any disturbed readers), I should explain that he had already told me that there was no suspicion whatsoever of meningitis. We did not, then, have to fear some bizarre form of injected medications; it turns out she simply had a virus that had affected her more heavily due to the back injury she had sustained earlier in the year.
Six inches of picure and sixty seconds, plus a few basic pain prescriptions later, we were well on our way to full recovery . . . and all significantly more experienced in and wizened to the ways of the world—or at least to the ways of this particular [and peculiar?] Parisian physician.


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