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A Doctor Says What?



I'm going to start this post off with saying that I am so going to regret putting in some of these words that I'm going to find in the search keyword section of my blog stats tomorrow. Before launching into the madness, here's a little back story, especially for those of you who are just hoping aboard Ship Coquine. Ahoy.

As previously mentioned, I went to my ill nana doctor in New York and in Paris early this spring. We all know that the difference between healthcare in France and in America is night and day. I try to avoid falling into the temptation of boasting that one country does something better than the other, because both countries operate as two completely different machines. Unfortunately, having the transcontinental appointments almost back to back, the glaring difference could not be ignored.

In Paris, I made the appointment the day of, arrived at the doctor's apartment/office where he saw me within fifteen minutes. The appointment cost 35 euros which was reimbursed, and my medication cost all of three euros. All in all, a lovely, inexpensive experience, even if we did have an uncomfortable misunderstanding where I thought the doctor was asking me if I was a homosexual when he asked questions about rapport sexuel

In Manhattan, because I had some operations done where there were talks about a possible hysterectomy, I wanted a follow-up to the appointment in France, and to have my files transferred overseas. Séb and I waited almost two hours in the waiting room, and because I hadn't been to the office in almost three years (shame on me!), my files were in the archives in an office somewhere below 14th Street, and I had to refill out all of my paper work. The appointment itself was fairly innocuous, my doctor who I swear looks just like M.I.A was friendly enough, well for her at least and I was out of there within thirty minutes. This appointment, because it's a private practice cost 235 dollars...not to be reimbursed. Ouch.

It had been about a month since the test results came in and I was starting to get nervous. To ensure that I was contacted, I made painstaking efforts to give them as much information as possible. On top of my address and cell phone number, I gave them Séb's, his address, my mom's address, cell phone and land line, and need be, my Facebook fan page. A month had passed, no news. The only news that I was receiving was more bills. On top of paying the 235, I received two bills from "the lab" that totaled 725 dollars. Holy moly. I can't afford to be an American anymore.

Against the insistence of my mom and Séb, I didn't call to follow up because I was terrified by what I was going to hear. It's like that Seinfeld episode where Costanza stands by his conviction that something always goes wrong when he goes to the doctor. He claims that he's fine all year long, he goes to doctor and bam! suddenly you're dying. That's me. Sometimes I'd rather not know and started going by my grandmother's belief that no news is good news. I mean if there was something really wrong, they'd go out of their way to contact me, right? ...right?

Last week the letter finally arrived at my mom's house, and wanting to open and read it myself, I had her send it to France. What was a couple of more days at this point? It arrived at Séb's house on my magical Day 365, and he handed it to me as I was sipping on a glass of bubbly.

This is what a 960 dollar doctors appointment in the United States gets you: 

May 17th, 2012

Ella Coquine
Address in Paris 

Town on Long Island, NJ

Dear Ella, 


I am pleased to inform you that the results of your recent PAP smear, HPV test, and STD testing for HIV, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
If you have any questions, please contact us.

Sincerely,

Your Doctor, who clearly did not proofread this.

Only me, I swear...

First of all, combining Paris, Long Island and New Jersey all in one address? That's just wrong. I'm sure somewhere in Paris, a Parisian lost their wings. Good thing the address on the actual envelope was accurate, otherwise who knows where it would have ended up. And second, do I have any questions? Yes! What the brouhaha are the results!?!? Although it is implied with the "I'm pleased to inform you" bit that my tests came out negative, but a results letter isn't exactly a forum to be cavalier. Good grief!

I called the doctor who apologized profusely for the erroneous letter, confirmed that I was healthy and that no further operations would be necessary, and managed to squeeze in one more lecture on how I have to stay on top of this, especially as I enter my 30s. Lesson learned. I'm so grateful that I have my health, you have no idea, and I will never wait three years to go to the lady part's doctor ever again. How stupid was I? 

Between this, paying my American taxes, paying off and cutting up my last credit card, I feel like I'm slowly closing up open ends in the States and it's nothing but liberating. Keeping one toe in America is so 2011 and I'm ready to plant both feet in French soil - for good.

Now for the scary part....since a hysterectomy is no longer necessary, this means that having children may be an option for me one day. 

I need a cocktail.  

Stat.

What was going on a year ago today? This!

27 comments:

  1. Jesus! I would've died a little bit had I received that letter. Like what does that even mean? Anyway, very happy to hear that your health is all in order and you're feeling more and more at home in your adopted city!

    By the way, isn't it crazy how expensive doctors are here?!?! When I was in between jobs and was freelancing, before my current gig, I didn't go to the doctor for almost a year because I couldn't afford it. Then when I did find a permanent job that offered health insurance, some doctors didn't take insurance. Crazy. The health care system in the US is a scam, seriously.

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    1. Seriously! I reread it several times. At first I thought that I was just reading it too fast! But no, they forgot to include the crux on the letter! LOL!

      Doctors are way too expensive in the States!!! You're right, it is a scam!!! I've never heard of doctor's NOT taking insurance. That's insane! You can't win unless you're rich, eh?

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  2. AnonymousMay 21, 2012

    And to think that some people in the US say we have the best health care in the world! Those people are usually politicians who do have the best health care in the world. Too bad we the people don't have it as good. You'd think they'd take better care of us. We pay their salaries. Guess everything is on the table in regards to lowering the debt ceiling except their wages, benefits, and pensions!
    Your future definitely seems to be in France. How fortunate you are!

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    1. I've heard that as well! The best in the world for who? I admit when I had my fancy shmancy fashion job, my insurance plan was pretty phenomenal. I couldn't believe how much was covered, so I can only imagine the perks that actual "important" people receive!

      I do feel very fortunate to have my future in France. They may do things a little differently but at least I'm not going to have to sign my life away and clean out my bank account for a little health care. Geez.

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  3. I love the Wayne's World reference in the title! You're hysterical!!

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    1. Ahahaha wasn't sure anyone was going to pick up on that! Thanks Rachel! You're awesome!

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  4. Ouch, that's even more pricey than I would have thought! I'm glad you did it though and the results are good. Your mum, the doctor and Seb are right though - keep on top of that bad boy from now on! x

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    1. Pretty cray, right? It's so expensive there! You need a great plan just to survive! My dad had a terrible health care plan when he was dying of cancer. It was heart breaking to see.

      Yes, I will be on top of this from now on! I got a get out of jail free card on this one. Not sure I'll be so lucky a second time!

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  5. AnonymousMay 21, 2012

    Hey Ella - I have yet to go to 'that' doctor in France. Yes, I just.. no, don't want to.

    But, I've gone to a lot of other doctors, and the experience is awesome. Youthful, kind doctors, cheap and reimburses, cheap medication (and hot male Pharmacists) .. it just cannot compare to the US.

    Darn that's pricey! I will lose my American insurance in a year.. huummm. I was reading the other day the the US is the only country (other than N. Korea) that taxes your income made outside of the US .. wtf ..! I start loving France more and more...

    Glad to hear your healthy! And, I've never heard of such a bad error in a doctor's note. 1 sentence. Really?!

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    1. I worked in a tax office in Paris specializing in Americans living in France and our clients were raped by the US because they were being taxed on their income abroad. Pretty fucked, right? A lot of expats end up denouncing American citizenship for this very reason.

      Yeah, it was a bad mistake in regard to the letter, especially since I had been waiting for it for weeks!! I'm just happy that results are negative! I'm so, so, so grateful. I was scared.

      Hot male pharmacists? Hmmm, that's how it goes down in G-Town? I always have crotchety old lady Pharmacists in Paris!

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  6. AnonymousMay 21, 2012

    That is too much! That letter!!! What the frick!

    Thanks for the laugh, even if it is at your expense! ; )

    I'm glad everything is okay.

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    1. Thank you! As always, I'm happy to entertain. : )

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  7. cou cou! glad you got healthy news from the docs. i'm here drinking a bottle of red alone as sir L is STILL in America...and thought of you (don't know why?!) anyways, i hate that the american docs are expensive but i love that you referenced one of my family's fave seinfeld episodes. chin-chinning to your health tonight! x

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    1. So you were alone. Buzzed on a bottle of red. And thought of me. You just drunk commented me. : P he he he.

      I LOVE that episode! I'm not a big Seinfeld viewer but there are several episodes that stand out, that I think of from time to time. This is one of them. I always feel like something goes wrong when you go to the doctor! Luckily it wasn't the case this time around. Phew.

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  8. AnonymousMay 22, 2012

    Great news - you must be ecstatic! The US health system sounds scary - and yet the electors won't seem to allow it to change. All best wishes. GM

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    1. Thank you GM! I really am ecstatic! When I was younger and something stupid would stress me out, my mother would always remind me that I had my health and to not sweat the small stuff. As I get older, I understand that more and more.

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  9. Good doctor/lack of proofreader story! I wonder how many patients receive similar boilerplated-letters from that office? *shudders*.

    I have a million French health care stories that I dine out on (ask me about having a baby in France and all the mythology that surrounds that business) but my favorite is the "report" that was issued after I broke my ankle and had ankle-reconstruction surgery here (at the Hopital Pompidou---one of the "best" public hospitals in Paris). All throughout the report, it refers to my right ankle. It's a good, comprehensive summary of the fractures, the hardware put in and the recommended followup. The only small problem is that I broke my LEFT ankle, not my right.

    Try getting the secretary at the hospital to fix that one. Impossible. I just hope they never have to refer to it should I have the misfortune to end up back in their care.

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    1. There is currently more than 50m people in the US deprived from health insurance. About 45,000 people die each year because they couldn't afford go to to the doctor (Harvard study). And you talk about your ankle? You can't be serious.

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    2. @Paris Chronicles - I'd love to read about what it's like to have a child in France! If you ever blog about it, please let me know! I can ONLY imagine. I was actually impressed with the service that I received in France vs. America, but I have a lifetime of experiences here that await me, so I'm prepared to be disappointed.


      @Gabe - Sois sympa! stp! Merci.

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  10. As a longtime passenger of "Ship Coquine", I'm happy to hear that everything below decks is ship shape and ready to go! And not to go all maternal on you, but having children is the most meaningful thing that a woman can do during her life. I'm not saying that it's for everyone, but I've never heard any of my friends express regret about their choice to have children. On the other hand, I have heard other friends, who decided against having children for whatever reason, say that they really regret their choice. Just be sure to pick the right man to be your children's father!

    US health care - it's a mess! When I questioned some friends in the healthcare field why a visit to a doctor in America costs so much more than in Switzerland (where everything is expensive), they said that the major reason is the high cost of malpractice insurance. One of the doctors even stopped doing certain types of surgery because the cost of insurance made it price prohibitive. It will be really discouraging if the Supreme Court rules against Obamacare.

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    1. "Below decks"!!!! Ahahahahahaha. BRILLIANT! You're amazing, MK.

      For most of my 20's, I thought that I was unable to have children and with the complications that I experienced, I was convinced that a hysterectomy was in my future. Now that that is no longer the case, I feel like a different person. Having children may just be an option one day? It's crazy.

      Malpractice insurance? Really? How interesting. I just figured the high cost was solely derived from greed, but getting somewhat of an explanation makes me feel a little better.

      It should be interesting to see what becomes of Health Care in the States. Wasn't an improvement the whole selling point of Obama's campaign? #justsayin

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  11. Great news!! Maybe you don't want to have children but no one should have to go through the physical and emotion pain of having their female parts removed! I'm so happy for you! I'm sure you must be relieved.

    Just discovered this blog and I'm HOOKED! I'm glad that you are continuing your gift of telling a great story! Here's to another year of your adventures!

    Alison

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    1. Hi Alison,

      The emotional pain and decrease in estrogen was freaking me out, but I was prepared to take on whatever I needed to do. If I learned anything this year, it's rolling with whatever comes your way, no matter how difficult.

      Thank you so much for your comment and I'm glad that you're enjoying the blog! :)

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  12. LOL! Great news!!! I don't know how it feels since I'm not a woman, but I can understand. Hope you'll be fine. :)

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  13. Oh I love the thought of little Ellas... they would come out with little champagne glasses! x

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  14. Just read BRINGING UP BEBE and you won't have to worry 'bout a thing...all laid out in blue print format how you do it. Step-by-step.
    I'd have one now if I could since I read the book.
    Bravo on med report!!

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