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Monday, 3 July 2006

I have Lyme Disease

probably. By the time the blood test comes back, I'll have taken all the antibiotics. But this explains why I was feeling crappy all weekend.

I will detail my experiences in case anyone wonders what happens when you go to the hospital in France.

In america, there are sprawling medical complexes located around hospitals. These are doctors offices (sometimes called "private practices") where you can go to get specific problems treated. France is much more centralized, as far as I can tell. There are many specialist offices located within hospitals and even (relatively) minor outpatient surgery is done in the hospital.

So I went today to the hospital, walked in the front door and went to the accueil, explained that I was a clueless foreigner and asked where I should go. She directed me to the dermatology department, so I went there and got in the queue for people without appointments. They do patient intakes at 8 AM and 1 PM and they take a set number of patients at each time. First I talked with somebody who verified that I was in the right place. She penciled in a couple of forms. The next person I spoke with entered that data into the computer. She gave me a bunch of barcode stickers with my name on them and told me to keep them. Then she sent me to the waiting room for walk-ins.

It was a long, long wait. It smelled of hospital and it was hot. They broke out a small fan to blow at us. A toddler kept kicking my chair, but he was cute and singing as he did it, so I didn't mind. It was like baby performance art.

Finally, somebody called my name. She asked many questions, did doctorly things and wrote prescriptions. Then a nurse walked me over to the blood department. I waited again and then two women joked amongst themselves, took some blood, and collected some data from me about where I was hiking and when I got bit. I suspect this data will be used for disease tracking purposes. Then they gave me another form and told me to go pay.

The payment system normally goes on a take-a-number system, but there was a sign on the machine saying they were done with numbers for the day. So after they called the last number, those of us remaining queued up to pay.

I have no idea how they will alert me to my test results. I intend to ask Solène when she gets back. I also don't know how long I can expect have this annoying rash on my leg. I figure, though, even if it's not lyme, oral antibiotics will kill it. I feel zen now so comment away. Well, zen and kinda like I'm a bit, you know, sick. 100mg of doxycycline twice a day. When I feel energetic, I'll look up how closely this meshes with what would be prescribed in the US. Here, they usually give something else, but I have a possible penicillin allergy. The doctor that I saw in Den Haag said "This is not lyme disease," but there's no reason to believe I couldn't have gotten an infection AND a lyme rash later.

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