Seeking Medical Help in Paris – Où sont tous les docteurs?

Guest blogger Jenna Blewis (US) tells us about her experience navigating Paris with an injured knee.

I have a horrible habit of over-packing for vacation, so I was not thrilled to find that there was not a single elevator in my Parisian apartment building. Rather, three large spiral staircases stood between my apartment and me. Needless to say, this did not go over well, and I injured my left knee.

At first, the pain was mild and barely noticeable, so I wrote it off as a normal byproduct of traveling. However, with each museum tour and stroll down Rue de Rivoli the pain got progressively worse. I should also mention that I am incredibly lazy when it comes to my physical health (e.g., I tried to tackle Mardi Gras with a sprained foot- Mardi Gras won). Thus, it takes a lot to motivate me enough to actually do something about a health problem. After almost two weeks of ignoring the growing pain in my knee, I had finally reached my breaking point. I could no longer stand to limp all the way to class, and I am pretty sure it is not very à la mode to hop down flights of stairs in the metro.

I approached one of the program directors and asked if she knew of any doctors near my arrondissement (fyi, the 4th arrondissement is the best). She referred me to the general program handbook, which contained a few numbers of French doctors, but there were no descriptions, patient reviews, or office hours listed under any of the numbers.

Moreover, I like to think that I’m nearly fluent in French, but it’s very hard to formulate thoughts in another language under stress.  Picking up on my unease, the program director offered to call the doctors for me. Still, not one doctor answered.

Discouraged, but still in pain, I began investigating online. Though I was able to find a few names and numbers of doctors in the area, I just didn’t feel right about it. After all, how would I really know which doctor was better than the next?

So, I did the next most logical thing– I called my mom. She described my symptoms to her friends in health professions and concluded that I had pulled a few muscles in my knee that generally take six weeks to heal. Upon hearing my highly-unofficial-but-good-enough prognosis, I resolved to rest my knee as much as possible and wait it out. I’m not quite sure what a doctor would have been able to do for me, but a visit to a doctor’s office certainly would have saved me a lot of stress, and I doubt my knee would have gotten as bad as it had.

Bottom line- don’t ever be lazy about your health, but especially if you don’t have any real barriers preventing you from getting help.

by Jenna Blewis

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