Monday, August 1, 2011, 04:54 PM
Posted by Administrator
When we were in Paris, five years ago, a young Frenchman tried to pick up my wife a few dozen yards from the entrance to the Louve. A few days ago, the obverse of the same situation occurred in virtually the same place. Here is what happened: after we spent a few hours looking at gigantic wall-to-ceiling paintings and re-visiting the bust of two angelic boys with whom I had taken a picture in our previous visit (I had aged...they, being made of marble, had not) and visiting the reconstruction of Napoleon's apartment, we exited through the triangular glass dome.

Within a few feet of our exiting and within a few yards of the spot that Frenchman put the moves on her, my wife was stung by a bee in the left arm. Within an hour, the arm was beginning to swell.

By the next day, as we neared Verdun on our way to Strasbourg and the German border, her arm was hot near the site of the sting. We thought infection. We got off the highway and began to look for a pharmacy? a doctor? Finally, we followed the signs to a hospital.

The hospital was old and needed paint. The receptionist sent us around the side to the Urgency entrance. The next receptionist spoke her best English (okay, not great, but much better than my French); looked at my Wife's passport; looked at a list of nationalities; did not find "American" or "USA" and had us take a seat.

A few minutes later, a nurse brought my Wife to the back. Half hour later, she came for me.

They gave her four steroid pills (it was inflammation, not infection) and an anti-itch pill and a prescription for more (after an hour of observation, the arm was still inflamed). I asked if we were free to go. "Yes", the nurse said. I asked where we should pay.
The nurse seemed confused. It became clear that we didn't have to pay. This was France. Health care was free...or paid for by their taxes...and they had no people at the hospital whose job it was to take money...or credit cards.

Maybe we'll get a bill in the mail.

I doubt it.

Note: We tried to find a pharmacy to get the prescription filled. It was Saturday. Supposedly, every pharmacy had a sign out front that directed people to the ONE that was actually open. No luck Sunday, either. Monday? We were in Switzerland and it was a national, nothing was open there.

2nd Note: After the bee incident but before the hospital in Verdun, my wife was chased down and kissed on the cheek by a souvenier dealer with a shop in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. According to my wife, he said that he loved her as soon as she walked into the store. Then, he gave her free key chains. Then, more free key chains. "Are you sure you are leaving," he said "because I love you." My wife says:
"Paris IS where you go to find love."
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