Sunday, January 11, 2015

Being sick is never fun, but it can be an adventure....

I have chosen to live without a TV for more than 10 years now, and love the life I've created outside of the box. The freedom to pursue new hobbies, be with friends, have adventures, and to simply just be (like just sitting on the porch, listening to the birds, relishing a sunset, and watching the world go by) is so refreshing. Most people don't understand this choice, and often try to fix this "problem" for me by offering me alternative ways to watch TV shows, or some have even offered me a TV. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good movie now and then, but I really don't know when I would have the time to regularly watch TV. However, the one time I miss having a TV is when I'm sick.  It's miserable to be stuck at home alone, with no TV distraction, too tired to read or bake or play the piano or do anything really but just lay around.....

Well, now I find myself in a foreign country where I barely speak the language, living in a tiny room with no TV, and I'm sick. Not like flu sick, but just incessant sniffles and coughing that won't go away, and utterly exhausted.  I slept two days away last week, and then when I made an appearance in the office a colleague insisted that I go to the doctor because I looked like death, and so she promptly called her doctor.  I was a bit hesitant, but the appointment was made, and she assured me that the doctor spoke English.

So, on Friday afternoon I set out to the doctor, following the little hand-drawn  map that I had, and found the right place with no trouble.  I walked through the door and into a waiting room where 4 or 5 people were waiting, but there was no reception desk. On the far side of the room was another door, so I walked through it, assuming the reception desk would be there, but no.  Instead, I found myself in a small corridor with four doors, none of which were marked or labeled. I hesitated, and momentarily thought of "Alice in Wonderland", and considered choosing a door, but the thought of what I might encounter behind the door kept me from opening any of them; and so I turned around and went back out to the waiting room, where everyone was staring at me. I sat down and waited, trusting that I would eventually get to see the doctor, somehow.

As I waited, a man would occasionally come to the door, say something really fast in French (he wasn't just calling someone's name), and then someone would stand up and follow him through the door. People continued to cycle in and out like this, and even new people who came in would go out with him. Eventually it was just me and one other woman waiting, and he again came out and said something, and then waited. I took the opportunity to use my French to tell him I didn't understand, and to ask if he could speak more slowly. He asked me if I had an appointment, and when I confirmed that I did, he told me to wait, and then he left. 

Eventually I was the only person in the waiting room, and I thought, "Well, maybe they've forgotten me, but when they leave to go home, they'll find me sitting here....."  but I didn't have to wait that long. About 35 minutes after my appointment time, a different man came out and called my name (which is sometimes hard to recognize with the French accent). I followed him into the corridor and through one of the nondescript doors into an all-in-one office and exam room (thank goodness I didn't open that door earlier). He was the doctor, though he was not wearing scrubs, and he sat at a desk where he did all of my intake paperwork in a combination of English and French. He then walked me over to the exam table and took my vitals. (Thankfully, I got to remain fully clothed, as I had heard horror stories of being required to disrobe, and not being offered a gown to cover up). 

As it turns out, I have both a sinus infection and an ear infection - yes, an ear infection.  I seem to have inherited bad ears, and while most people normally outgrow ear infections, I have not. The doctor was very kind, and we both practiced our language skills and vocabulary, and when necessary we resorted to using Google Translate!

I left with five different prescriptions. I have come to understand that the French love their antibiotics and issue them for nearly everything. Being allergic to the standard antibiotic, I usually just don't take them, and instead prefer homeopathic treatments.  I stopped by the pharmacy and filled three of the prescriptions, and then the following day I walked 45 minutes to the nearest Bio/Natural Foods store (like a Sprouts or Vitamin Cottage) where I found some tinctures and teas and beautiful veggies!

I think I am on the road to recovery, finally, but just in case, I did a little research into home remedies..... if I don't feel better soon, evidently I can tie onions to my ears and shove horseradish up my nose and that will cure me!!

This little adventure taught me a few things:  let people help you, ask questions, know that you'll make a fool of yourself and that's ok, have fun on this adventure called life and make friends along the way - you only get to do it once and it makes for great stories!


  1. You should definitely try the onions and horseradish :)

  2. I love what you learned from all if this! I need to learn all of that, too. :-) Hope you are better soon !!