If we ever go mysteriously missing in France, look for us under large piles of paper. 

Luuk, sorting out the government reimbursements for all my doctor’s visits, etc. pregnancy related and not…

Not for the first time, the topic of conversation at yesterday’s playgroup was the challenge of getting a titre de séjour. This is a card, I assume because i haven’t actually got one yet, that says you’re entitled to stay in France. I have a reciept to say that I have applied for one, which does the job now that my visa has expired (3 months ago…)

In the absence of the titre de sejour I was unable to apply for a carte vitale, and without that number I was unable to get free health coverage under Luuk’s carte vitale (of more use than mine because he’s an EU citizen). Without a carte vitale you have to pay upfront for medial costs. You then apply for reimbursement once your carte vitale arrives.

Lucky for us we had enough savings to pay the hospital bill when I had Elena.

Lucky for us the reciept I recieved on applying for a titre de sejour was enough for me to apply for a carte vitale and get attached to Luuk’s.

And so now we can apply for the reimbursements.

This is meant to be one of the best medical systems in the world. I suspect the rave review came from a card-carrying citizen.

There are perks though…

– I have learned – finally! – to spell the word ‘bureaucracy’. Amazing.

– We are about to get a whole lot of cheques in the mail. Always nice.

– The medical system is actually quite good.

I managed to find a GP who speaks a bit of english – but not so much that I can be lazy and just speak english. She lives and practices in an apartment block not 500m from our apartment. Every time I call to make an appointment (and today I did it entirely in french – hurrah!) she books me in for the same day or the next day. All good things, right?

And best of all, she’ll prescribe drugs AND homeopathic stuff. Doctors in NZ never prescribe something homeopathic. This never bothered me when I lived in NZ because I wasn’t a True Believer, and the placebo effect only works if you are… in theory.

But I’ve been won over. My skin got really bad towards the end of my pregnancy, and I wasn’t sleeping much, and I got a bit desperate. The doctor asked if I was happy with what I was taking and I said I’d like to try something else. So she put me on these…

They’re anti histamines, basically. My expectations weren’t high but I thought, it’s homeopathic, worst case scenario it does nothing. Worth a try.

I take five of each, twice a day, which sounds like a lot, but isn’t really.

I stick them under my tongue – all fifteen at once – and they’re kind of sweet, so that’s nice.

Unwilling to jump to conclusions, I put my improving skin down to no longer being pregnant. But then I stopped taking the homeopathic stuff for a few days – I ran out and it took that long for me to find the confidence to phone the doctor and communicate in french.

My skin got crazy again and it took a few days to get better once I was back on the homeopathic stuff – but it got better again!

I’m sold. (Which means I now get the full benefit of any placebo effect, right?)

Unfortunately I’m not cured. I ran out of my drug-antihistamine three days ago and my eyes are itching like crazy this afternoon. The sneezes are coming and going. I find downing a whole big glass of water in one breath quite effective.

I have an appointment with the doctor and will stock up on drugs tomorrow, and we’ll also get Elena’s first lot of vaccines. Fortunately my drug-antihistamines kick in quick or we could be in for a few miserable days in the Paulussen household.

3 thoughts to “papers and placebos

  • Miriam

    Hi – glad you can now spell bureaucracy but you still need to work on receipt …..
    Also it’s unethical for DRs in NZ to prescribe therapies that have no scientific basis – eg homeopathy but I guess a placebo effect is worthwhile!

    • amy

      It has to be prescribed for it to paid for by the government though, so no complaints! Plus, they can’t scientifically prove something without a whole lot of scientific studies, peer reviewed and all that, right? Which costs money. Which is usually paid for by drug companies? Or am I totally off base here? I’ve fought off numerous bladder infections with cranberry pills and there’s only anecdotal evidence to support that treatment – or so my NZ doc told me. But women all over the world swear by it. If it works and won’t hurt you…

  • Miriam

    Personally I prefer real drugs – something with a kick!
    Scientific studies are paid for by all kinds of funders but I would be less likely to believe a study on homeopathic remedies done by a company that sells them …

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