Thursday, March 4, 2010

You cough, you die!

I do have to say, there is one thing that never ceases to amuse me.  I can go downstairs, right now, and I can pull out somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 different medications with varying drugs used.  There are syrups for a dry cough as well as a separate syrup for a wet cough.  If it's caused by something in your throat, I can find that too.  Should it be a chest cough; don't worry, there's something for you there too.  There's paracetamol, nurofen, efferalgon, dafalgon, advil, and helicidine just to name a few. 

I should preface this with the fact that I am coming from a different perspective.  I was always taught that it is both stupid and dangerous to take drugs unless you seriously needed them.  As a result, I became terrified that if I took drugs too much, I would someday have something that couldn't be relieved, regardless of the drugs.  So, instead of taking pills when I had a headache, I would take a nap.  If I had a fever, I would take a lukewarm showers.  

Should it mean anything, I grew up in a medical family.  10 of my mother's 11 brothers and sisters were either doctors, nurses, or lab technicians.  My mother was an x-ray technician.  My dad is a registered nurse and still works in the emergency room.  I could always ask them if I was unsure about something, or if I needed to go see a specialist.  However, it was always the rule: "Unless it's an emergency, wait a week on what you have. If it's still there, it's something to worry about.  We'll see a doctor then."

However, I feel I was an exceptionally immune child.  I never had strep throat until I was older, the same for a sinus infection.  I had chicken pox when all my brothers and sisters did, but I never had measels, or really got worse than a cold or a fever.  I remember there were certain classmates who would just disappear for a few days and come back after some sort of illness.  Another friend I had in high school was showing me all the different medications she was on.  I couldn't believe it.  She wasn't even 20 and she was on probably 6 inhalers and/or medications.  So I thought that maybe it was just my family.  Maybe there was something off.  Maybe. 

I really never though much about it until I came over to my partner's apartment one day.  I said I had a headache, and I needed some tylenol.  He pointed me in the direction of one of the bathroom drawers.  So I walked up and pulled it open.  A tidal wave of drugs, pills, and syrups came out at me.  I just had to laugh for a minute, and my thought went back to my friend.  I still wondered if there was something I just wasn't getting.  So I grabbed what I hoped was a headache remedy and went back to make sure it was indeed what I needed. It wasn't.

There were other times, like when his mother came to visit, and she would bring a fairly large bag of different French medications.  We seriously had an entire drawer and a shoebox packed to the gills with medications.  I had 4 of things in this drawer: a bottle of pepto-bismol, a box of nyquil sinus, a bottle of pseudoephedrine my father got for me from the pharmacy at work, and a bottle of Alieve.  But every time he came back from France, or someone came to visit, we had a whole new stock of medications we hadn't come close to using up.

Moving on to France though,  it turns out everyone is like this.  If you have a headache, you take a pill.  If you have an ache, drug up.  A cough?  There's a syrup for that.  People have no issue with just running to a doctor and getting it taken care of.  Since I have been here, I think every member of my family here has been to the doctor at least once. 

Now, obviously the difference lies in the systems, partially.  In the US, you can expect to pay a minimum of $50 to as much as $200 to see a doctor.  In France, it's usually less than 30 euros, and is usually reimbursed.  There are also pharmacies everywhere.  My partner comes from a town of less than 10,000 people and I know of at least 5 pharmacies there.  (You can always tell because there's a green cross out front.)  You also can't just buy medications.  You have to ask for them.  You speak about what your problem is and the pharmacien will determine what's needed for your special case.  And this is for anything, seriously, anything.  Imagine having to speak to a pharmacist every time you want to buy a bottle of ibuprofen or tylenol?  It's bad enough that in Ohio you have to ask for pseudoephedrine at the counter.  Annoying.

Another thing that amuses me is this medication called Actifed Jour &Nuit.  (translated as Actifed Day and Night.)  Yeah, you're thinking Nyquil or Dayquil and so was I.  Well, not exactly.  You don't just take one when your feeling ill, you have to take a whole series.  There's a pill for when you wake up, another when you eat, another in the late evening, and another before you go to bed.  French people are also very serious about taking those pills.  I was asked every morning, afternoon, and night if I had taken my pill.  Even if I hadn't, I just said yes. 

I found another site that explained a bit more about things.  So here's that link:

Things are going well here.  I had a great birthday, and well, let's just say the hangover was worth it.

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