A Busy Start To Fall


Somehow, the last week has just sped by.

We are letting a couple of friends stay in Mom’s old apartment, and one of them is going through some health issues. He is a general contractor by trade, but can’t really work at the moment because he needs a total hip replacement and until that is done, he’s in a lot of pain and really needs to stay in a place without a lot of stairs.

It works for us, because we found looking at Mom’s empty apartment incredibly sad, and I know she would like the idea of someone getting use out of it. Eventually, our friends will help us to fix up the apartment on the first floor so that that is livable as well. That’s not something we could afford to do on our own, so it’s a good deal for us all.

One of the problems that our friend, R, has, is that although he does speak enough French for conversation and work, medical and administrative French is a different kettle of fish. So we’ve also taken him under our wing to help with getting him situated with those things.

Thus, my week was taken up with medical visits. It’s interesting to see how the system works, especially when you are not the patient!

As with the U.S. And the UK, if you were self-employed and can’t work, you are pretty much screwed for collecting unemployment unless you had a special, private, disability insurance. Unfortunately, because the economic crisis in 2009 hit the construction industry hard, R had to declare bankruptcy in 2010 and, of course, cancelled his private insurance at the same time.

But, unlike in the U.S., this doesn’t mean no health care. In fact, all of his medical bills are being covered 100% by Social Security. He does not have to worry about dying in pain in the street or becoming homeless. Also, he is eligible for a small (and it is small) aid from the State that pays for food, and, if he wasn’t staying with us rent-free, he would also be able to get assistance to pay his rent. And, since there is always risk that results of a major operation won’t be what one hoped for, we were able to file forms for disability, which will take four to six months to be reviewed. Dawg willing, he will be fully recovered by then and won’t need more aid, but better to foresee all eventualities.

Not having to worry about things like that makes a difficult situation far more bearable. Sure, he has to go through the surgery and recovery, but at least he does it knowing that there will be no bills to pay afterward, and that once he is better, he can go back to working and creating a better life for himself, rather than spending the rest of his days burdened by a debt he will never be able to pay.

He has a surgery date for the beginning of December, to give him time to get various things taken care of, like all dental work. Hip replacements are VERY sensitive to bacterial infection, and active gum disease is a no-no. Poor R is terrified of dentists and hasn’t been to see one for ten years. This is very, very bad,and I think his upcoming dental care scares him way more than the hip surgery. Again, that will be covered by Social Security, so the only worry is pain, not bills.

Once the surgery is over, he’ll be able to come back to the apartment and, if he needs health aides, home health care workers will come to him, also covered by Social Security.

So, while nothing is ever perfect, this is certainly a far more humane system, and everyone, rich or poor, is entitled to health care when they need it. What a concept.

Ciao for now.


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4 thoughts on “A Busy Start To Fall

  1. I sure know what it is to be afraid of the dentist, having had kid-basics done in the 50s & 60s, a grandmother who didn’t see a dentist for about 40 years, and a heavy-handed experience or two more recently… Have YOU had dental work done in France? or recently? So maybe you could encourage R?? Is there counseling available in the medical system, so that someone in the bureaucracy knows how important real pain management will be for him, and so that he gets assigned (?) to a really “sympathique” doctor??? We keep up with dental work, even uninsured in the US, because it is SO important to overall health, AND we’re lucky enough to be able to afford to do so out of pocket. I can say that pain management has greatly improved even in the last decade here in the States, but I have no idea where on that “modernization” scale the French system may be… for example, my dentist, though older, is VERY up on all the latest technique and technology. These days, they pre-numb (like with a cotton swab) where the “novocaine” shot is going to go, so you barely feel the needle, just slight pressure as it goes in. My guy checks all along, to make sure everything is OK, and he even boosted with additional shots on our last tango, when we were doing the grind-down for 3 crowns at once (!!!!!). Best of luck to him, and he’s so lucky to have your support!

  2. We have had lots of work done. Well, to be fair, JM has. I don’t usually need much, but poor JM just has soft teeth. He’s had several root canals, cavities, cracked teeth, the lot.

    Luckily, we’ve found a terrific dentist in Limoux who has also become a friend. He does root canals with a chemical process that gently kills the root over a several week period. JM swears it doesn’t hurt at all.

    We’ll see what he says about it all tomorrow, but my guess is that there will be antibiotics involved.

  3. A French (local) person once told me that all villages have healers. These people don’t advertise but putting the word out will usually find one. Apparently they don’t charge but ask you to pay what you can afford and you think is appropriate. It might help with the pain. I have never tried this myself!

  4. I must say I’ve never heard this before. Everyone I know uses a doctor and the pharmacy! But I do have people I can ask. It does sound a bit folklorey to me, but it could be true.

    Right now, he’s on antibiotics and tramadol, so not doing too badly. The dentist found three abcesses on the x-ray that have to be treated before he can do anything else. He promised that he will NOT hurt R when he goes back next week. Our dentist is very kind and reassuring, so I think the visit went well.


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