-Florida in February

Leaving tomorrow for 9 days in Florida and St Thomas, thanks to tickets sent by son Greg and sister Marian. So looking forward to seeing sun and feeling warm. Will be adding to this post as I go thanks to WordPress’ iPad and iPhone apps. So keep checking!

Greg and Sofi's house

Arrived safe and sound after a very strange flight. The plane wasn’t half full so I had lots of room, but about two thirds into the flight, the Captain announced that we were being rerouted due to a military operation. WHAT? Added 45 minutes to the flight. Customs was interesting, slow and disorganized, but I got through with a smile.

Lovely to see Greg, Sofia and sweet Carmen. They all think it’s pleasant, I think it’s hot. They have a lovely house on a canal, and I feel quite tropical. Out to Target!!!! today and maybe Chico’s. I am in heaven.

So, I can’t upload pictures on my iPad, but Chico’s and Target were fab. Spent way too

View from Greg and Sofi's back deck

much. Exhausted tonight, sitting in a puddle from the humidity and what I call heat. Going outside, Mosquitos or no Mosquitos. Got. To. Get. Some. Air.

Now that I’m home and have access to my computer, I can finish this entry!

My sweet daughter-in-law is convinced that air conditioning makes her sick. So, while I was there, no air. No cold air, no circulating air, no open windows if it was windy – no air. Hard on this hot-flashing Gramma. But, luckily, I was on the 3rd floor all by myself, and I can tell you that every window was wide open. So I was able to sleep. Good thing Greg likes the heat!

Went to St Thomas in the USVI on Monday to visit my sister, Marian who does believe in air conditioning. However, it was

View from the deck at Chez Mimi

breezy enough that all we had to do was open the windows and the sliding glass door to the deck. The weather was cooler in general, and we lazed around reading and doing computer stuff. She just got internet access which was lucky for me as I would have gone through withdrawal without it! Actually, you can walk up to the office where they have internet access for whoever needs it, but it is so much nicer to stay in PJ’s while you answer email!

We took several drives around the island and saw some spectacular scenery. Took some wrong turns and wound up in some interesting places, but it was all an adventure. I will say that the roads are, by and large, in atrocious shape. I felt beaten up each time we returned home! Here are some pics – Magen’s Bay was my favorite.

Left Mimi’s on Wednesday night to go back to Ft Lauderdale, and then took an early flight on thursday back to Paris. Being in the sun and the warm was great, but it’s good to be home!

Magen's Bay

Look really close and you will see a large iguana!

-Medicine in France – Another World

Getting medical treatment in France is not hard. Unless you count the language a barrier. Then you’re either in need of a translator (thank heavens for Jaime and Steph) or you search out and find pretty easily, an English speaking Dr. The American Embassy has a whole list, so it’s not too hard.

Typical Doctor's Office sign

However, you will pay lots more. My first visit was to one of those on the Embassy list and the visit cost 70 euros. Next visit was to a local French GP who did a great job for 23 euros. At first Jaime had to come with me, but now Dr. Millot and I can pretty much communicate between English, French and sign language, we get it done. Or at least I think we do.

When spoken to in fairly rapid French, I have a nervous tendency to nod and smile, thus indicating I understand. When I absolutely do not. I am trying not to do this. After totally missing some fairly important information, and having to ask my daughter to call back and get clarification, Jaime gently reminded me that nodding at the Dr made her believe all was well. This was a bad thing. I promised not to do it any more. I do this with the children’s teachers, too, when I pick them up from school. I haven’t missed any critical information yet, but if I continue down this ill chosen path, it is only a matter of time.

So, first, the exam room is in the same room as the Drs. desk. It feels really weird and somehow unsanitary, but there it is. No changing room, no drapes or gowns that tie in the front. I’m getting used to it, but it feels, well, just weird!

Next, prescriptions are given to you in duplicate. I have no idea why. The pharmacy does not keep a copy, which I think is strange, but it will print out what meds they sold you on the back of the original. If you don’t have a Carte Vitale (the French Everything is Practically Free Card), you pay full price. If you do have a CV, you need to ask for a special form which they will print out for you. To that form you must attach the bar coded stickers from each box of your prescriptions if you want to get reimbursed. Never throw out a box. Annoying as hell. But doesn’t apply to me as I do not have a CV. At least not yet. I may be getting one soon. And that is GOOD news!

Lab work and x-rays: when was the last time you actually held your own x-rays? Well here, if you have x-rays taken, you are the keeper of the actual films. It feels illegal. Your films will be read on the spot by a radiologist who will explain them to you. Again, in French, most likely. You will then take your films to your Dr who will look at them and give them back to you to keep. Do you know how big those suckers are?? I keep mine behind the bookcase – the only spot with enough height to support them.

You will be given 2 copies of any bloodwork you have done. One you will give to the Dr and one you can keep. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen my official bloodwork in the USA.

All in all, it’s a fairly impressive system. I do find myself pining for my Portland Internist and some good old American medicines like NyQuil and antibiotics with names I know and love, but I tell myself I am adjusting.

They do have one VERY cool thing – it’s called SOS Medecins – Doctors who will come to your house if you call them. Great for evenings and weekends. And not expensive!!

Secretly though? I think American drugs are better. Stronger, faster, and real-er. When you ask for advice on, say cough medicine, the French pharmacist is likely to try and slip you something homeopathic when clearly you need the real deal. No American pharmacist would think of doing such a thing!