The Best Health Care In The World (Though, Yes, Delivered In Another Language)
“One week into my recent trip to France and, wham!” writes France Correspondent Jann Seal. “I was on my back with a fever and other disagreeable happenings.
“I dragged myself down to the local pharmacist. In France, they’re easy to find. Just look for the green cross on a sign above the door. I found one on a building in the center of town that signaled someone who at least understood sickness was on duty.
“The lady pharmacist seemed to read my expression as I fell through the door. She attempted to diagnose me more specifically by asking questions in French (of course). I was no use. My ability to produce any French in response was lost in my fever.
“She placed a cool hand over my forehead gave me a worried look.
“‘Grippe,’ she said.
“She gave quick commands to her associate. Instantly, boxes of tablets, syrups, and potions were on the counter for me to examine.
“‘Do you think I need to go to a hospital?’ I asked, more loudly than I intended, hoping, I guess, that the volume would help her understand my English. The Ugly American had reared her head, and I didn’t have the strength to send her away.
“But the lovely pharmacist simply smiled and brushed the damp hair off my face.
“‘Non, pas nécessaire,’ she assured me, and, for the first time that day, I began to feel better.
“It isn’t fun getting sick in another language. Perhaps the worst part is the time that is stolen from your travels. I had no choice but to spend the next few days lying in bed while the whole of the Languedoc-Roussillon départment lay outside my window waiting to be discovered. I’d stare at the river rambling past my window, at the vines on the hills beyond, and at the bottles of green stuff from the white bag that my Florence Nightingale pharmacist had provided for me were, lined up on the bedside table.
“I swallowed all the medicines, but, alas, had to forgo the wine I had collected from my pre-grippe trips to nearby vineyards. Those bottles stood like abandoned soldiers on the wooden dining table. And that’s where they were left when we finally packed our bags to head back to the airport and home. The next visitor will enjoy them.
“I think about the pharmacist in Gabian whenever I open my medicine cabinet. There I see, staring back at me, the remainders of her cures–a few tablets and some green syrup. I’ve stored them away for next flu season, because they worked miracles.
“Out of pocket, my bags of drugs cost the equivalent of US$25. In my memory, the Green Cross, the French lady pharmacist, and the bags of drugs? Priceless.”