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Wednesday afternoon I made the decision to go to the Emergency Room (les ugences) of Hôtel Dieu Hospital. I’d been having horrible pain in my left hip, starting after an appointment with my osteopath. It was weird, because it felt that he had released something, so why was it so painful? I’ve been seeing him for about a year and know from experience he’s really good – this is the first time something like this has happened. This being France, when I phoned my rheumatologist, they told me that he was on vacation for the entire week – it’s school vacation (les vacances scolaires) so of course you take the week off. I figured that an ER would be the best way to go. A one-stop job so to speak – examination, tests, diagnosis – all in the same place. Plus, I had examined the hospital website and was really impressed. It’s right opposite Notre Dame Cathedral, so I figured they were used to impressing the VIPs who frequent the place.
I arrived at Hôtel Dieu Hospital ER at 3 p.m. By 5:30 I was still suffering in the waiting room, plus I noticed they were calling on people who had arrived before I did. The guy at reception was cold and impersonal, and when I asked when I would be seen, he refused to give me any information. Also, when I had seen the nurse briefly just after I arrived, she was also cold and basically implied why didn’t I just take painkillers. But ok, she would allow me to see a doctor. However, after two and a half hours, the waiting room seat was making the pain in my hip worse and worse. Therefore, calling upon my newborn French rebellious spirit, at 5:30 I decided simply to leave. When I told the guy at reception I was leaving, I thought maybe he would check to see if i was going to be called soon and so have a reason to stay. But – no. He couldn’t have cared less. So, out I walked.
But since I knew I had to do something, I decided to try another hospital – L’hôpital Bichat. This is actually the hospital closest to where I live. It’s on the outskirts of Paris in a poor neighborhood. But I figured it couldn’t be worse than Hôtel Dieu.
It wasn’t. As a matter of fact, about 10 minutes after I arrived at 6 p.m., a caring and sympathetic nurse put me in a private consultation room to wait for the doctor. She also assured me that they would do the necessary tests to find out what was going on. Then, of course, I waited, almost as long as at Hôtel Dieu. But the experience was totally different. Since I was in an examination room, I could lie down on the examination table and read the magazines I had brought with me. There was a sink and plastic cups so I had several glasses of water. And finally the doctor arrived. I think he was about 25 years old. Really friendly. Spoke perfect English because he’s studied in England. I know this because we actually had a conversation about why I was in France, French magazines, and common contacts at the university where I teach English communication skills.
They took an x-ray that showed there was nothing wrong with my bones or ligaments. The doctor pieced together what had happened: after the osteopath released the muscles near my left hip, they were really fragile, and due to overuse on my part, the muscles became stretched and inflamed. So, he prescribed a medicine to stop muscle contraction and told me to take it easy and not walk too much. That’s it! Well, actually there’s one more thing — the doctor was also interested in yoga (which I had mentioned because I can’t do certain postures) and asked me to demonstrate one posture I that I could do on one side but not the other — which I did on the examination room floor.
I think sometimes we have to experience things directly and learn our lessons (this is what was telling myself at 10:45 pm when I got home).
Jeanne Feldman, an intercultural specialist, was the first to reveal the “shopping etiquette” needed to get the best service in Parisian stores! She now leads unique shopping tours that explore neighborhoods usually “invisible” to tourists. She also develops and leads business communication workshops for both French and English speaking managers who need to communicate internationally by clarifying and then delivering their true message.
Jeanne’s website: www.jeanne-feldman.com
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