Vive La France!

When we lived in Switzerland and just across the border in France in the late 1990s and early 2000s, one of the biggest problems was finding healthcare.  Now I realize that I worked at the World Health Organization, but the docs there were researchers, primarily, meeting goers-to-ers.  They weren’t your every day heal-the-sick kind of doctors.

In addition to not knowing the ropes of a foreign system, there was the language barrier.  I mean, frankly, it is difficult to describe illnesses in English — I always feared that I would go in with a sore throat and end up without an important body part.  I didn’t realize that that could happen right here in the good old U.S. of A.  In fact, that just happened recently when a man went in for a routine procedure and, ummm, had a life changing event.  Allegedly.

So in 2002, we moved home to the U.S. where I could communicate and get medical treatment for $197,238.73 per word.

Today, though, I’m rethinking that decision.  Maybe we acted in haste.  Maybe we should have thought twice or three times.  Maybe we should go back.

No, I’m not sick.  In fact, with my English-speaking doctors I’m doing quite well.

But there is one thing that I could get in France that I cannot get here:  wine.

French hospital to open wine bar to cheer up terminally ill

PARIS – A hospital in the French city of Clermont-Ferrand is to open a wine bar where terminally ill patients will be able to enjoy a “medically-supervised” glass or two with their families.

Vive la France, where the terminally ill can get “medically supervised” alcoholic beverages.  I hear the wine is to die for.


If I DO go back to die with wine in my hand/throat/tummy, somebody else needs to pick it out.  I have an amazing skill crafted while living inside of or within spitting distance of France.

I can go into any store in France and leave with a bottle of awful wine.  It’s a talent.  A gift.  Not many folks can claim it.


Filed under Adult Traumas, Crohn's Disease, Hey Doc?, Huh?, Humor, Mental Health, Taking Care of Each Other

95 responses to “Vive La France!

  1. Oh, and on days like today where the hubs is out of town and I’ve been driven to self-medicate…..a Big Mac and soda did the trick. 🙂


  2. oohhhh, mj brownies, yessssss.
    Okay, I also always pick out shitty wine, every single time. I can’t pick out good cheese, either. it’s either too stinky or too blah. And the last two nice dinners I attended, I picked out the worst entrée. WTF?

    I’m super jealous you got a chance to live overseas! I can’t even imagine what a great experience that was. I’m sure there were hassles and odd stuff to deal with, too, but…..still….cool.


  3. I would rather go someplace where they serve mj brownies since I don’t like wine.


  4. Healthcare: Whine in America, wine in France. Sounds the same, but quite a difference.


  5. Wine for me … twist my arm … wine for me! Meanwhile, how can doctors make that mistake. Come on now … I would have hoped not even in Alabama … but a mistaken schwantzectomy instead of a circumcision?


  6. Julie

    I would be willing to bet I could pick a lousy bottle of wine.
    That video? LOL!! (and I never lol anything) “Maybe he didn’t have one when he came in” bahahahaha!
    I agree on the gazillon questions. I can’t remember the last time I went to the dr. It is their job to find something wrong with you ya know. But I am ok with the repetitive questions, like the stricter security for flying. I am getting on that plane and I would be happy to know that everything has been done to assure some jerk isn’t gonna start it on fire with his bic lighter.

    I can’t imagine living anywhere but here. Some little part of my brain is sure that all those other places are made up. Even places in the US. Rhode Island? that’s not even a real place. HA. The world doesn’t exist behind me! 😉


    • I don’t know if you could pick a bad bottle of wine in France, though. That takes special talent!

      Living overseas really was terrific. I will be forever grateful that i got the opportunity — in spite of the zillions of hassles. The views from our house in Switzerland, alone, was pure magic. And I would never have gone to many of the places I got to travel to.

      As a New Englander (from CT) I am not quite sure that Rhode Island exists either. But it sounds pretty nice — I mean ocean front is always lovely, isn’t it?


      • Julie

        I couldn’t agree more, until Mother Nature gets angry, course when that happens it doesn’t matter too much where you are, you’re gonna get it.

        I think it wonderful that you had that opportunity. I don’t think I could do it, I would be scaird to death. I’d have to trick myself into believing I was just going on a vacation. which would still probably give me enough anxiety to kill a large mammal.


  7. Ahhh…I miss being able to buy a paté, baguette to spread it on and one wonderful, inexpensive bottle of wine for lunch that lasted a few days. Talk about an affordable lunch.


  8. Let me know what country I would have to die in to get a couple of shots of good Scotch.


  9. Would it be wrong if my fellow medical assistants and I sip wine from our coffee mugs on our lunch break? I mean, as long as I remember to ask the patient if he wants his penis cut off, it shouldn’t be a big deal, right?


  10. Vive la revolution? I love France. Look dude, I watched that penis cutting video. I’m sure it’s total malarkey, but it made me very queasy and forced me to drink beer. You’ve driven me to the drink.


  11. I also think veterinary ERs should have bars to comfort the humans there with sick pets.


  12. If I know I am dying, I am going for something a little stronger than wine… maybe something with a piece of pineapple and a little umbrella in it…


  13. Paul

    i was going though a small operation recently and had occassion to be happy about the “hundreds of times asked” policy. I was having a stent put in my left kidney (radiation damage from cancer treatment) and the right had already been done – they do them one at a time. I was lying on a gurney ouside the operating room and had already talked to everyone from the janitor(he was passing by) to the anesthesiologist. Oodles of quesions and each one checking my identity (except the janitor). The surgeon came along, checked who i was and, brandishing an X-ray, said “So, we’re puting a stent in the right kidney today.” Me: “Umm, no. The right side is already done, we’re doing the left side.” Frown from him as he holds up the X-ray and scrutinizes it. Scratches head. Then a big smile appears and he flips the X-ray over and says “Ah. No problem. Radiology mislabelled the X-ray with ‘Anterior’ on the back and ‘Posterior’ on the front. Sorry about that.” Said in a light tone as if this wasn’t a problem and would never have interfered anyway – which it so would have. Now I feel really warm and fuzzy. Anyway, they got the proper kidney..

    The moral of the story is: time for a glass of wine.


    • Well that was a close call, wasn’t it. These questions DO make a difference!

      Sorry you have (and have had) such a rough road, Paul. Chronic health issues suck. So do have a glass of wine!


  14. Ruth

    You’re too hard on yourself, Elyse. Your wine was fine. (I’ve never met a bottle of wine I didn’t like or drink.) As for the medically supervised wine tasting, you realize the doctor also gets to imbibe, right?


    • My wine was fine , that’s true. But only because I bought SWISS — I even smuggled it across the border into France when we moved.

      There is no such thing as a bad Swiss wine.

      My doctors are welcome to join me!


  15. Truth is always stranger. Wow. Glad I never had a penis to begin with…hazardous.


  16. I will go with you! We can drink ourselves under the beds in our adjoining rooms.

    Okay, so was this a joke? Did they really cut it off?


    • Party in Ward Six!

      It’s not clear from the reports I read what really happened, and since a law suit was filed immediately the details aren’t out there. At the moment, this is an allegation by a man against a hospital. It could be true, or it could be a scam. Or even something in between. Or perhaps the dude measured incorrectly to begin with ;).


  17. lifespaller

    Also available in Australia at some hospitals. I regretted not ordering it at my last minor surgery.

    Selecting a bottle of bad French wine is easy, so don’t feel bad. Having grown up in the middle of four Australian wine growing areas (with much tasting practice), I never figured out European wine during my residence there. I think they heard my rubbish French language and hid the good stuff.


    • We Americans are such Puritans … I was actually allowed wine (just a bit) after my melanoma surgery (my latest) which was wonderfully civilized.

      I’m not the only one with that talent? That makes me feel sooooo much better. And I didn’t even go for the cheap stuff. I spent a lot of money on cooking wine!

      But when I’m dying, I want them to pull out those tubes and start pouring!


      • lifespaller

        You guys keep the rest of us boozers in check. As an architect, if I ever design palliative care I’m putting a beer garden in each facility and a bar fridge in each room. Also excellent acoustical separation between rooms for last minute parties.


  18. Eva

    Now I want red wine.


  19. I’m with the french on this one. There are few places you could use a stiff drink more than a hospital.


  20. When I got older, I realized that “Dr.” is a very loose term. My sister is a professor in a small college. She’s a “Dr.” of rhetoric. My brother said if you don’t have a waiting room full of patients, you’re probably not a doctor.

    I didn’t click on that video. Thanks for the offer but some things can’t be un-seen.

    A good bottle of Pinot noir can cure what’s ailing you. It’s a FACT.


  21. Of course in the right state, you could medicate with marijuana….Just saying…


  22. I always forget you worked for WHO. I have to tell you, my husband works for WHO and our health insurance SUCKS ASS. You would think that the WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION would have decent health insurance, right? Non. Sucks. So I self medicate. With wine 😉


    • I didn’t know he was with WHO! I loved working there actually — saving the world was great for my self-esteem. And it enabled me to become a medical writer, which is a great way to make peanuts.

      As for their insurance, we were covered under my husband’s job — I was a contract hire.

      And if you self medicate with wine, you are obviously French. Or European.


      • I think he liked saving the world on the peace keeping side better, you know, he’s a guy. Stupid insurance. The worst part is that the Danes have a decent socialized health care system that we are NOT entitled to. Granted, we don’t pay Danish taxes so I get it, but still!


  23. Very good idea. I used to go to Paris on business once in a while, and the company cafeteria I visited always had the option of wine with lunch. I thought that made working in Paris a very attractive option.


  24. I just had a surgery this week and literally, about 10 times, they checked the name on my hospital wristband, they checked that the procedure written down was what I was supposed to be having, and I was who my name band said I was. I suppose to avoid – ahem – accidental castration.

    Give me wine any day. After hearing that story, I think I’m ready for a glass. The French are so civilized.


  25. Wine and pain killers best kind of combination. That poor man I hope they can fix him.


  26. Twindaddy

    I’m not much of a wine drinker, but better that than castration.


  27. A glass or two a day is heart healthy, and good for moral. I don’t see the problem at all.


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