|The Clinique Jouvenet in Paris. If you want to know more about it — in English — click here|
As you know, I am in rehab after my knee replacement operation June 3. What you probably don’t know, and I most certainly did not, is what it’s like to be literally inside the French medical system.
When I tell American friends about the experience they are shocked and amazed. My daughter suggested I tell you about it because she is fascinated by the stories I recount.
Clearly I’ve been lucky not to have needed to be intimately involved in the system. I was vaguely aware of and appreciated the benefits provided to me by French social security and my mutuelle, my private health insurance, which supplements the more banal aspects of medical care — flu shots, physicals, random doctors’ appointments, prescription drugs and all the little coughs and bumps that occur during our lives.
But then along came the decision to finally get serious and stop the pain and consequent physical inertia that had accumulated over the years after a car accident when I was in college. “Why,” a friend asked, “would you continue like this when you have so many things you want to do, places to see, and a new granddaughter? It’s stupid [yes, he actually used that word] to ruin the quality of your life.”
So, I made the appointment with a highly recommended surgeon in a private clinic in Paris. A week later I met the anaesthesiologist. Dates were arranged and I was given my pre-entry information and assignment packet which included prescriptions for:
|Les cannes anglaises — no one could explain to me why they’re called “English canes” in French.|
1.) All sorts of very precise x-rays — totally normal.
2.) A certificate from my dentist stipulating that my teeth and gums were healthy with no indication of any type of infection.
3.) A prescription to buy les cannes anglaises, the ones that support your arms at the elbows.
|Epilation to be performed with a cream product, Klorane was recommended, but there was an aside telling us that we could choose another brand if we so desired. I stuck with the program.|
4.) A recommendation for a depilatory cream so that my leg (I did both obviously) would be completely smooth and hairless. The document requiring this noted that a razor was not to be used because one nick and the operation would be cancelled.
|Patients bring their own towels to the clinic. Go figure?|
Patients are reminded to pack their own towels and washcloths. For those of us, moi for example, surprised by this detail it was definitely a good thing that it was officially stipulated.
The day before I was to enter the clinic I had my highlights touched-up and a pedicure with a bright, cheery cherry red nail polish. This just goes to show you about my priorities. . .
The afternoon I entered the clinic, the nurse told me that before getting ready for bed I was to wash myself — head-to-toe with iso-Betadine which I would find waiting for me in the shower. Head-to-toe included a Betadine shampoo (!) She then looked at my beautiful crimson toes and handed me a bottle of nail polish remover. “You’re not allowed to wear nail polish,” she told me. (Why didn’t they put that on my not to-do list I wondered morosely?)
|A new product discovery: an orange-red liquid antiseptic “soap” created to kill bacteria and viruses, leaving everything it touches the same color as the liquid that squirts out of its spout.|
Next morning before the operation, the same routine: Betadine head-to-toe, including my hair. All I could think of was what about my beautiful (and expensive) highlights? Will they be orangy-red like every inch of my body?
The answer to my major concern, other than the operation itself of course, was “no.” The Betadine washes out with a vigorous shampoo, but leaves hair straw-like and thus requiring lots of deep conditioning. Since I didn’t have that much to do with my time I applied myself to the task.
The first day after the operation a nurse came in to make me stand up. I did. The rest of this chapter of my story is too boring. I left the clinic on June 13 to enter rehab. The reason for the long stay was because we were waiting for a vacancy in rehab.
Let me disabuse you of one idea you may hold, the food in the clinic was repulsive. I forced myself to eat something, plus the de rigour bread served at every meal so that I was not ingesting medications on an empty stomach.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you the best part of the post op story.