Fortune Telling

Setting up a rendez-vous with a gynecologist isn’t exactly on my list of “10 Things to Look Forward To”. Even so, because I’m all adult and mature-like, I patiently go through the Pages Jaunes in vain search for a clinic.

I do have one criteria to meet: my gynecologist must be female. Last year’s trauma still haunts me: the gynecologist, a big, gruff, non-English speaking middle-aged man, showing me into the examination room, ordering me to strip. Which I do, and, to my horror, realise that the examination chair is facing a window, and from the window I can see a row of houses with thin, flimsy curtains. Aix-en-Provence, after all, isn’t that big a town. “Your feet into the stirrups, madame,” barks the unfriendly gynecologist. Which I follow, cringing. I mean, it only takes a pervert and a pair of binoculars…

So this year I carefully pick out a doctor’s name (Françoise as opposed to François, or Marie-Pierre as opposed to plain Pierre– these things I tend to overlook), and set up an appointment.

Getting a medical appointment in France requires patience and time. Lots of both. Appointments can be set a month or even two later, and curiously everyone accepts this fact. That’s why I was elated when the snotty secretary set me up for an appointment for the next week.

Of course, the moment I step into the office, I realise that my life is a series of terrible luck. In my greed to book an earlier appointment I had failed to anticipate the arrival of my period. Usually I’m right on the dot, and this day, apparently, was the dot itself.

Embarrassed, I inform the doctor about it. She cheerfully brushes it off with a “Pas grave, ça arrive de temps en temps”, laughing heartily at her wit, while I haphazardly pull on my clothing.

“So, can I just, you know, move the appointment sometime next week?” I venture, taking a seat while she writes off my usual pill prescription.

“Bien sur!” she booms. Then she adds: “But it’s no hurry. I see, from where I am, that everything with you is fine.”

Um, I’m not a doctor or anything, but I do know that doctors need to actually examine a patient before coming up with a statement like that. From where I am everything with you is fine??? It kind of scares me that she can come up with that theory by giving me a once-over when she should have been poking at my nether regions.

Then she hands me my pills prescription, along with a prescription for something to take for my cholesterol. I look at it blankly. To my knowledge, before giving out cholesterol prescriptions one has to go through some sort of examination. Blood tests, eye-poking, something, at a minimum. My gynecologist, though, “thinks” that I need to take something for my cholesterol. So there.

“That will be 45€”, she says.

I hand over the money, gritting my teeth, thinking that she could have very well saved us both the time and effort by pointing a gun at my temple from the very moment I entered her office and demanding I empty the contents of my wallet.

If she had had a diploma displayed somewhere in her office, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash if it stated she had a degree in Fortune Telling rather than Gynecology.

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