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The closest I come to understanding the medical system abroad is when 'someone very close to me who will remain anonymous lest her friends read this...like they'd ever want to' spent a semester abroad in France. She made a trip to the ER in the middle of the night just 10 days after her arrival to France (very bloody diarrhea)...which involved a move in
an ambulance to another hospital outside of town, a 5 day stay, a lab analysis of the bottle of Pepto Bismol (yes, I sent her there with a huge bag full of every medication possible...I'm surprised they didn't stop her at customs and do a strip search) that I insisted she take with her to the hospital (they'd never seen Pepto before). NO one at the hospital spoke more than a few words of English and she didn't speak much French at all yet (she attended an English speaking college, and part of her education was learning more conversational French there). In the few minutes a day we got to talk to her (cell phone had almost no battery left and she didn't take the charger to the ER) we received the following information (and yes, I would have flown out the first day if I'd had any clue this was going to be 5 days):
- Day 1: NO one here speaks English!...No, we all applied for our France health care cards, but we hadn't received them yet...I'm perfectly fine now...I think they'll send me home today.
- Day 2: They took my Pepto Bismol and my phone is about to die...No, I don't know what hospital I'm at, but I'll try to ask them if that's it...No, there's NO one here who speaks English that you can talk to...anyway, I think they'll send me home today.
- Day 3: OMG get me out of here! The TV costs cash money and I only had 5 Euros in my pocket when I went to the ER...I've been staring at the wall for 3 days! People stop by all day long to try out their 'English' on me; I keep thinking 'FINALLY! Someone who speaks English! But after they point and say 'American!' or 'How are you?' really slowly I learn that's all the words they know!...Yes, about as many words as I am fluent in French!...I think one of them said something about a 'test'...No, who knows if it was a Doctor or the janitor, they all wear the same thing!...I think maybe they'll send me home after the test today.
- Day 4: GET ME OUT OF HERE!!! They brought me some meat for dinner last night and I turned it over and it had TASTEBUDS ON IT...IT WAS A LITTLE TINY TONGUE!!! I'm starving!!! They stuck a camera up my bum today and the Doc spent 30 min. trying to communicate with me with no English...I don't know, I think I heard the word 'inflammation' and 'polyp'. Two of my friends from college took the train out to see me and they couldn't find out what was going on either...and they speak FRENCH!...No, no one from the college program has called or come to see me...I don't know why they're keeping me so long...I pray they send me home today!
- Day 5: I'm home. I was scared, but luckily I had just enough money to buy the train ticket back to the city. The Doctor told me I have to 'come back' for a 'Colonoscopy' I think to take out the polyp...Yes, I got a copy of the report, but I'M NEVER GOING BACK!!!!
After two different trips to two different Dentists there, with no tooth symptom relief, we all decided she needed to come home after one semester (she was supposed to be there all year). Back in the US, after lots of help from our insurance co., getting the foreign medical bills paid and then the hospital report translated, she had the colonoscopy and the polyps removed, and then had to have the tooth pulled out...she likes to show people the spot where her molar is missing and calls it her 'souvenir from her trip to France'. No, I'm not saying the medical system abroad is bad (I've been told France has a great health-care system), but from a teenagers view it was LOL! And yes, she should have been able to speak more French as it's not their problem to know English. Thank Gawd she's a very independent girl and could handle herself alone!