One morning I open my mail to find an invitation for a complete medical examination by the French health insurance. This did not come as a complete surprise since France has a strong socialist tradition which sticks to its system, although not always when you need it to.
Don't get me started on how I struggled to receive my Carte Vital, a green card that contains all of my health insurance information. In France, everyone is entitled to health insurance to cover the cost of medical care. I therefore took them up on this kind invitation, registered online and was given a meeting in two weeks time.
Having skipped breakfast today, I arrived at noon - starving - to start my medical gymkhana.
I diligently filled in three questionaires and then waited... and waited. Half an hour later I was taken off for blood tests and a urintest. For the first time in my life I submitted to an electrocardiogramme and an audiotest. I was told that my heart rate was very low and that I was far from needing a hearing aid. The dentist was pleased with my teeth. Thank you Mum & Dad for all those braces so many years ago. The vision test on the other hand was a disaster. I do own a pair of glasses which I never wear and therefore did not even think of taking along to the check-up. The very humourous but strict ophthalmologist said he would not sit in a car with me if I drove! Ooooops! Is it really that bad?
My two hour visit was wrapped up by an interview with a very young lady doctor who - with a strong Balkan accent - informed me that all my values were normal (Wow, that was fast! In Switzerland I usually wait a week before I get lab results) and that I was perfectly healthy.
All in all, I must admit that this medical was rather impressive. French are scientifics at heart and this morning's check-up was pretty comprehensive and methodical. The French are not great at bureaucracy but they sure know how to work the system. I just wish all this efficiency would proove itself worthy under stressful emergency situations instead of during a simple, relaxed, preventive routine examination.
When ONLY two hours later - heading home with my results feeling chuffed - I heard a man in the lift complaining it had taken four hours for the whole spiel, all of a sudden, I just considered myself plain lucky!