As we were walking to the apartment after our trip to the Pompidou Centre yesterday, my back started hurting – not totally unusual, but definitely unexpected. And it kept getting worse through the evening, but it wasn’t really bad.
Until 4am, when I awoke in serious pain. Diane helped me get to the bathroom and take a couple of Aleve, and that let me go back to sleep. I don’t think she got back to sleep, though.
We had plans for today – we were going to go with Pete and Debbie and take one of the sightseeing boats on the Seine. And perhaps we’d squeeze in one more museum.
But when we got up around 7, I wasn’t feeling great and the weather wasn’t appealing, so we stayed around the apartment (passing up second breakfast!) and chatted. We walked to Penny Lane, a Mediterranean sandwich restaurant a block away; it was delicious, and I can’t believe they can pay their bills only being open for lunch five days a week! I noticed a lot of Israeli cookbooks (many in English) and asked the owner about them; he was born to Israeli emigrants to France. An interesting place and well worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood.
I suggested we walk to Galeries Lafayette to look around, but had to turn back after only a few steps – Diane, Pete, and Debbie went and enjoyed the views; I sat and iced my back, which helped a little.
By the time they got back, I was hurting again; I’d had my second dose of Aleve but it hadn’t kicked in. I asked our host if they could recommend a doctor and they said I should call SOS Médecins on 3624. When I called, Orange told me that my account had insufficient credit! I finally figured out that 3624 is a pay-per-minute number, so I couldn’t call it from either my French or American phone. I asked my host for more help and eventually got a regular number to call, 01 47 07 77 77.
You know how frustrating it is when you call a business and get told “our menu has changed” and “your call is important”? It’s worse when you’re in pain and the messages are in a language you don’t understand. My host told me to just stay on the line and eventually the call would be answered by a human being who might even speak English – and it happened!
Their first question was where to send the doctor. It was not easy to communicate the street name (Rue du l’Échiquier) – my pronunciation was so bad that it made it hard for the agent to understand the name when I spelled it using NATO phonetics! But eventually, information was exchanged and they said the doctor would arrive between 8-10pm.
And he did, and he spoke English well enough to understand me (it didn’t help that my voice is almost gone). He gave me a serious painkiller and several prescriptions to take for the next few days.
Which I had to have filled, which meant a trip to the 24-hour pharmacy at Place de la République. I was feeling much better and thought about walking the 15 minutes; then I came to my senses and we went there by Uber.
We had to wait in line for a few minutes; then one of the three pharmacists on duty called us over and started working on our prescriptions. If we’d been at a CVS at home, we’d’ve been told to go away for half-an-hour and then get into the pickup line and see if they got the insurance right; here, I never had to leave the counter, I had the prescriptions in 10 minutes, and the total cash price (without insurance) was about EUR 23, including an 8 Euro fee for night service. There are days I wonder about the American health care system.
We came back to the apartment by Metro and I was able to help finish packing (much better than earlier in the day!).