During this pandemic it is perhaps best to avoid any public medical facilities, unless absolutely necessary. That was my plan - but due to yet another alcohol related incident, I can now write about what it is like to have a medical problem during this Covid-19 situation!
When I say ‘alcohol-related’, in fact not a drop had passed my lips, I was just preparing for having the neighbours over for an apero. I went down to the cellar to bring up some bottles and as I was walking back up I slightly mis-judged the step and my foot slipped a little, twisting my big toe and causing a fair amount of pain. I sat with my foot in the pool for a while and then when the neighbours turned up applied ice (externally) and alcohol (internally) and for most of the evening it felt better.
The next morning it was swollen and painful to walk on, so there was no option but to go and see the Doctor. Normally you just turn up and wait for hours but at the moment she is operating an appointment system only so I rang - and got a recorded message saying that the surgery was closed all day on the 15th. As this was, in fact, the 20th, there didn’t seem much option but to just go there and hope for the best. I prepared well, taking with me a mask, a book, and a big bottle of water. The book was a great idea but what hadn’t crossed my mind was that if I wanted to drink the water I would have to remove the mask! This didn’t seem to bother the other people in the waiting room who were constantly removing their masks to chat, drink or wipe their sweaty faces!
Eventually I got to see the Doctor, who took one look and said ‘Ooh La La’ - although I think that was more to do with the state of my pedicure. She said that even if it was broken there wasn’t much they could do by way of treatment, then she showed me a picture of some very flat and bulky orthopaedic shoes, and we both laughed, and I hobbled out with a prescription for an X-Ray.
Getting anything done in France in August is a trial. The first place I called offered me an appointment for a week on Friday, but the 4th one said I could go the next morning at 11am. They warned me it would be busy as it is holiday season and tourists seem to spend more time falling over and breaking limbs than lying on beaches. I turned up imagining I would find a tv ‘sit-com’ style scenario of a waiting room full of people in wheelchairs and full body casts, but in fact, there were just 2 people waiting. The chairs were taped off so you couldn’t sit too close to anybody, and my partner was ordered to wait outside - which he did with unseemly haste! As with any medical appointment you are asked to hand over your Carte Vitale - and as usual mine was not ‘up to date’ - apparently you are supposed to regularly insert your card into a machine in the pharmacy so that it remains updated, but as I am British and we tend to treat even a missing limb as ‘just a flesh wound’, I hadn’t used it for a while.
After just 10 minutes I was called into the X-Ray room and had my foot painfully man-handled while they took pictures of various angles, then I was sent back to the waiting room. The technician made a big show of spraying down the table and chair that I had used, so I made a big show of applying gel to my hands and wiping the door handle on my way out.
10 minutes later I was called to the counter, charged 6€ (the difference between the actual cost and what is included under the state health system) and given the results. Luckily it turned out not to be broken - which fact made no difference to the amount of pain I was feeling - so no treatment apart from just to rest it as much as possible, and keep applying ice. So, the point of this story is just to say don’t worry if you need medical attention at the moment - everything is very well regulated and I felt perfectly ‘safe’.