While I’ve had a few challenges settling in here, I had my worst experience so far last week.  I learned the week prior that all employees are subject to an government employment health exam.  This is similar to the brief exam that I received in the US, but in some ways, much worse.  Since I’m clearly not going to post photos of my exam, I’ve included some random pictures of life in France.

The first issue is that I work for an American company in France, yet the doctor was incredibly rude about the fact that I don’t speak ENOUGH French.  “I don’t understand.  How can you work in France and not speak French?  I would have to speak English to work in England.”  Well, yes, and I actually agree with the sentiment, which is why I’m working very hard to learn French . . . but, in short, I can work in France when I speak English because this company is owned by Americans.  I didn’t say this, but told him instead that I agree I need to learn French, I can read and understand quite a bit of French and I’m working on becoming fluent.

Despite that, it continued throughout my entire exam.  “You think it is ok to live in France and not speak French?  How can you think that’s ok?”  Um, I don’t.  Again, working on learning French.  In fact, I completed the entire first portion of this exam with your nurse IN FRENCH.  I completed my eye exam IN FRENCH.  And not just understood the questions, but answered in French and read off the numbers and letters in French.  Obviously, I’m not one of those ex-pats who plans to live here for 10 years without ever learning the language.  They do exist here and they’re primarily British (from what I’ve seen), but I have no intention of being one of them.

Security is no joke in France now, but they might want to recruit this doctor into their anti-immigration forces.

Despite the fact that I answered in French to the best of my ability, he continued to complain about the difficulty of having to examine someone who “doesn’t speak ANY French.”  *eye roll*  I’ve heard about really rude French people from other Anglos (British, Australian and American), but they were usually Anglos who really hadn’t made an effort to learn any French and expected all French people to know English.  I was pretty shocked to still come across an attitude like the doctor’s when I’m clearly making an effort to learn the language and use it as much as possible.

Since there was nothing pleasant about this exam, I’ll share something that IS pleasant – a different type of chèvre salad where the cheese is whipped.

The second part that was really shocking, from an American viewpoint, is that the doctor has you take of your shirt or dress while they sit there.  They don’t leave the room nor give you any sort of sheet or paper to cover yourself with.  They also don’t leave you undressed the minimum amount of time possible.  Nope, it’s undress and lay on that table.  Keep laying there while I take some notes . . . in winter . . . in a cold room.  Then, complain that the weird deal they hook to a finger and toe to measure your blood flow (artery health) cannot get a reading because your foot is too cold.  “Do you have often have a problem with your feet being cold?” he asks, frowning like this could be a sign of a major health problem.  At that point, I’d had enough and he did get a snippy answer in English, “Not generally, but when I decide to lay around half-naked on a freezing cold table with no sock for an extended period of time, yes, for some STRANGE reason my feet get REALLY cold.”  I’m not sure sarcasm translates well.  He did conclude that my big toe was not yet at risk of frost bite, like the others, so he was able to get his measurement on that toe.

At the end of the exam, it was rather unclear to me why you need to be half-naked at all.  He listened to my heart and lungs, both of which were easily accessible without me actually needing my clothes off.  Instead, it is apparently normal in France to lay around half naked while they take your blood pressure, pulse, measure your arterial flow and a handful of other things that could be done fully clothed just so they can listen to your heart and lungs, which apparently requires no top.

And no, I didn’t just get a really sketchy doctor – I have been told this is perfectly normal in France.  Doctors also customarily do not leave the room while you undress and nurses usually are not present during the exam, for your “privacy,” if I understood correctly.

Nothing like having to get half-naked for a guy who spends most of the time insulting you or implying that he’s both surprised that you are quite healthy and has to tack on, “well, yes, you’re healthy FOR NOW.”  Really?  Your nurse guessed my age at 4-6 years younger than I am and all of your numbers show I’m solidly in good health for my age – in fact, I’d still be in the healthy range if I were nearly 10 years younger.

It’s up for debate whether I’m more appalled by this medical exam or the fact that I’ve had to kill FOUR of these in my house.  FOUR centipedes!

I’m happy that my personal doctor is going to be a woman who speaks English well and doesn’t have a serious issue with Anglos who live in France!  As a side note, “B” started texting again out of the blue and has decided that we should still date and he would come visit me this weekend.  Of course, that was before he learned that I was going to a festival with Alexis on Saturday.  That didn’t seem to go over well since I wouldn’t cancel it for his visit – frankly, I enjoy Alexis’ company more and I think it is rude to cancel on a friend.

Fortunately, Thursday’s blog is more upbeat since I spent my weekend visiting Cognac with Alexis!  And this time I knew to book a cognac tour and tasting in advance!