10 January 2006

Dirty Rotten Secret: People Get Sick In Paradise

So who wants to go to work( even when going to work involves sitting on the beach) when you can stay home from school sick? And you don't need a written note the next day. I must admit, while the attack of Montezuma's Revenge ( He was from Mexico, right? What's he doing here? Will somebody please give the man a GPS for Easter?) was altogether unpleasant, the issue of dealing with it was oh-so-civilized. One visits Dr. Bernard Husson, whose office is one flight up in the building next to the Cantina on the waterfront. ( Let's face it, all commercial buildings are on the waterfront, or within a block thereof.) And no matter how sick you are, you walk up the flight of steps. No elevators on this island. Perhaps that is because there is no building more than two stories high? Are they on to something here?
Back to my story. One does not make an appointment with Docteur Husson ("Medecine Generale," reads his card.) One goes and sits in the waiting room, which is about about 3 meters square (ten feet for MY readers) and waits. Not bad. Bring your own magazine. His are in French. Lots of pictures of Villepin and his wife (mistress? The French are not big on marriage.)
The good Docteur starts at 7:30 AM. Get in there at 7:20, and you'll be out by 8:00. His office is two-thirds the size of his waiting room, and his examining room is just a bit longer than his examining table . No receptionist, nurse, or other assistant. This is mano a mano. He is trim, pleasant, suitably attired for a professional (i.e, jeans, no shorts) and as far as I can see, thorough and knowledgeable. (Of course, being who I am, I checked every word he spoke with Adam Stracher at Cornell- New York Hospital.) His english is very good ( we had some confusion over electrolytes and electrocardiagrams, but hey, let us not bicker over trivialities.) The examination is deliberate and comprehensive, as is the discussion at his desk afterwards.

Okay, here is the most impressive part: Docteur Husson has office hours Monday and Friday from 0730 to 1230, and then 1430 to 1700. Even on Wednesday, he is there from 0730
to 1300. No way the Drs. union in NYC would let him get away with that. Of course, there are no golf courses on the island, and that may explain his willingness to treat patients on
Wednesday. Price is 40 euros per visit. In cash, into the top drawer. How many of you recall paying le docteur in cash?

Now get this: On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, le docteur does "visites a domocile." Egad, en anglais, that's house calls! Whoa. We are really going back in time. And the prescription for my gastric distress was --a powder. I thought they did that only in cinematic nineteenth century period pieces. Bottom line, I am much better today, and may even attack the hill tomorrow morning.

The cause of my one-day bug? Not sure. I am inclined to agree with my house manager who blames all bad things on "the tourists." I am proud when she says this because it suggests she no longer puts me in that category--at least not to my face.

I was well enough to go to the beach today, but we got a drenching squall every 30 minutes or so. The intervening brilliant sunshine is just a sucker's lure. We pay it no mind.

My view of rain storms changed dramatically when we were here in a June dry spell, and I had to run expensive city water into the cistern. The island has only one source of drinking water--other than the shiploads of imported 1.5 litre plastic bottles which are competitively priced with gasoline-- a desalinization plant, powered by the electric plant which is, in turn, fueled by the garbage incinerator. I cannot figure out how they do that without smell, sight of smoke, or any noticeable environmental effect. Using expensive "city water" was acceptable when I was a June tourist, but now that I am a local, I love that rain!

November and December were very wet months here. As a result, greenery is now super-abundant. Makes the island very pretty, but roadside bushes and grasses have narrowed the mule tracks that have been covered with concrete and serve as island roads. It is all the fault of Ralph Nader. Surely you remember him: he gave us seat belts and George Bush. The Nader giveth and The Nader taketh away. Until about five years ago, all the islanders drove these little soft-top Suzukis. Everyone wants a soft-top. Naturellement. But the ever-more liability conscious Japanese car manufacturers no longer make them because they tip over and kill people. So, following les Americaines, they have made their cars safer by making them heavier, longer and wider. Now the roads are full of Jeeps, Toyotas, and there are even two Hummers on the island. Many drivers of older cars lost their left side view mirrors a long time ago, and have long since given up replacing them. Even daredevils NEVER drive with their elbows on the window sill.

Driving on this island is not for the timid. Even Pinks adopts standard island protocols when passing another car going in the opposite direction: 1) no wincing, 2) no horn blowing, and 3)most important, NO SLOWING DOWN. I'm sure it would help if we smoked: squinting from the smoke curling up into one's eyes from the lip-held Galoise when passing within inches of an opposing vehicle at a combined approach speed of 70 miles an hour stiffens the backbone--or so it seems. The whole driving thing has an effect on our marriage. On the rare occasions when I sit in the passenger's seat, I am always certain Pinks has over-estimated the clearance from the stone wall on the right, and I react--never silently. Can't figure out why that pisses her off so.

Oh, yes, several critical readers have noted the lack of photos in this blog. This is directly related to the author's lack of facility in managing the software necessary to insert them herein. The author promises to work on this. Pray for rain.
A bientot.

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