Friday, April 27, 2012

Doctor Doctor, Give Me the News!

Watch out, it's a long one ; )    ...............

Yes, most of our posts usually cover the cheerier highlights that happen around here, but not so much the nitty gritty parts of life that we all have to experience no matter where we live. This post is about such a case, getting sick, and figuring out what to do about it. I won't get too graphic or anything, but the past week I've been holed up popping anitbiotics to battle a nasty infection des reins ... or more so, the aftermath of what happens if a bladder infection gets outa hand.

The problem is, symptoms started popping up as we were on a three day bus tour with Adam's students, and I didn't think much of it but when we get home,  I started getting suspicious and began downing extraordinary amounts of juice and water. I could kick this in no time; we had guests coming in two days. I think I had tricked myself into thinking I was getting better, but RIGHT after our guests' visit, I started feeling a bit nauseous and so so achy. Ad encouraged me to go to the Pharmacy to ask for something, and that alone was a frightening thought to me...ah, to do this all in French! I assumed, too, they wouldn't be readily dishing out pills for any sort of bladder thing without a prescription, but to my surprise, they had a bottle within arm's reach of the register. Ah, I was saved, and I left with Adam feeling silly for being so nervous about the transaction. I figured things were a-okay, but by the time Adam came home from work, I was running a fever. I felt horrible. The decision was made to call a doctor. This, too, was even scarier in my mind, for I had no idea where to find someone besides a random search online. And would these people even speak English? I needed a prescription, and this transaction HAD to be crystal clear. And how does all the insurance stuff work over here, especially when I don't have French insurance?....Oh, I had horrible flashbacks of every time you go to a new doctor and you spend an hour just filling out forms. This all made me feel worse. Thank God for Adam, though. He stepped up, my pouting aside, and dialed a doctor with an office in the neighborhood to make an appointment for me the next morning.

My cousin, Martha, who was also visiting Paris with her friends at the time, stopped in to see how I was doing. By this time it was almost 10pm and I was feeling like crap. We toyed with the idea of just going to a hosptial, but with things this late in the game, I couldn't deal with sitting in an ER for hours waiting my turn. We waited until morning.

By morning the fever had broken, and I had just enough umph to practice up on some phrases that I'd be saying to the doctor. Adam was there by my side for the whole thing...God love him! We walked literally a block, then entered through a maze of ancient doors into a hidden Parisian courtyard where we found the doc's office. It was situated in a sort of apartment building, and everything from the salle d'attente (waiting room) playing it's classical music, looking out to a courtyard full of foliage and bicycles, to the actual exam room, all had a very homey feel to it. I liked this so much more than any doctor's office I've ever been too. It really did help take the nerves off.....and it didn't SMELL like doctor's office. I hate that smell.

The Doc popped her head out and motioned us into her office where we sat, and I told her the best I could what was wrong. She then brought me into the exam room where she poked around and we chatted a bit, but then shortly after had me come back to the office where Adam was waiting. She immediately wrote a prescription and instructed me to go get my blood and urine sampled, too, so she could see if I needed a second dose. Everything to this point was in French, but as the instructions got more complicated, the conversation turned to English. And she knew it very well, but it was nice that she was so patient with our French and simply let us try to speak. She then charged us near to nothing for the visit, and we went on our way to the pharmacy...which, by the way, is on the corner near our apartment. From door to door, with drugs in hand, the whole process took only 30 minutes! I was astounded. And it was at this point we sighed, 'thank God for socialized medicine around here'. ha. Oh, and the testing lab, that is literally right next door to our apartment. We never knew what the hell went on inside we do, and it couldn't have been more convenient!

So yes, the doctor's visit wasn't as scary as I'd thought, and thankfully, Adam was there with me the whole time for support. I was glad she gave me some drugs to quell the fevers that come with this territory, but the rest of the weekend was a battle with me dealing with serious back pain, thirst, incontrollable shivers before bed, then the shift to overheating. It's actually quite fascinating to know what your body is capable of without your consent just to keep you well.

I'm just about back to normal now, minus a huge head cold I got slammed with in the making, but man, I'm so ready to break outa my PJs and finally feel 100% again.  Hopefully my body loves me in someway, though, for it's almost going on week two without caffeine or alcohol. Sorry world, I'm kinda decaf tea-ed out! Time to get back to the french lifestyle of coffee and wine : )

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Announcing the Sequel

As this weekend of catch-up and playing nurse (to be explained soon) comes to a close, I thought it would be a fine time to announce that Bridgette and I will be staying in Paris for an additional school year.


The university has asked that I remain for another two semesters to teach the same classes to the next group of study-abroaders, which I'll be happy to do. This will also allow Bridgette ample time to explore seriously some work opportunities. We'll continue to plan as much of the wedding as possible from abroad, and I'm sure we'll run into a long series of headaches due to that. But I think we can roll with the punches.

So to all those out there that were considering visiting during the sequel to our adventure over here, you have until approximately the end of May 2013. =)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Trinhs Leave

VP and Martha finished their two-week journey through Switzerland and Italy, stopping by Paris again for a couple of days before flying back over the ocean. We wish them the best on their adventures ahead (say hello to Washington!).

Two happy campeurs!

Tourist attraction #24: check.

Rent a boat?

Heading to work.


Friday, April 20, 2012

End of Course

The students at the SAPV begin the spring semester earlier than most, nearly right after New Year's. Then we cram in a few extra structures classes so we can wrap up the course during the first week or two of April. This means that the students are currently gallivanting around Europe right now, experiencing new countries, sketching buildings and streetscapes, and, simply put, having the time of their lives.

Psh. Been there. Done that.
(Oops, I think my I-live-in-Paris-pretentiously side just came out.)

I have completed another semester in the blink of an eye, with what barely feels like a chance to reflect on how the course was going. Judging by the performance on the finals, I'm happy. Thinking about what I would have liked to have accomplished... let's just say, another year would provide needed room for improvement. And now that I've been through the ropes, I have plenty of lecture material and assignments prepared, so a second year would allow me to focus on smoothing out the wrinkles, adding a few bells and whistles, and thinking up a third idiomatic expression to go here.

And so, as the students were preparing for their trips and saying their bon voyages, they kept asking me, "so, um... like, what are you doing during the break?" To which I would respond, "grading." And to which I would respond today "having fun with InDesign and Photoshop" because grading final exams is finally over, and I now have the joyful task of assembling an end-of-year slideshow and yearbook.

Bridgette ponders the depth of meaning of something.
Oh, and Bridgette and I spent a day out in Fontainebleau not too long ago, hiking and picnicking. I'll save the details on that for another post...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stade Charlety

I was hoping to take the students to visit the TGV station at Charles de Gaulle, but to keep that story short, I'll simply suggest that the recent horrors in Toulouse resulted in tighter-than-usual security and an eventual refusal.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Yes, Adam posted some pics of some delish picnic eats, but little did he mention, this was from our Versailles Gardens day with our first guests of the year, VP and Martha Trinh. It's VP and Martha's first time in Europe, and they decided to drop in for a few days before Eurorail'n it through Switzerland and Italy. We had an awesome 3-day visit with a whirlwind tour of Paris including a stop at the big sights, many pics, and of course, an introduction to Paris' outdoor gear shops. VP was in search of a new daypack. I think the sight of our Au Vieux Campeur stores blew their minds as one can find dozens of shops sprinkled all throughout the 5eme. Being that this company has so much stock and that real estate space is precious, they have rented out a multitude of storefronts within a few blocks radius, each with their own theme; backpacks, maps, climbing gear, scuba gear, snowboards, you name it, there's a shop for it. It's an outdoors lover's dream.

In general, though, everything seemed to fall right into place with VP&M's visit...perfect weather, Eiffel Tower twinkling right as we arrived, gardens in full bloom....and it just so happened that the day we visited Versailles was the first day that the gardens were playing music throughout. Ah but alas...the hordes of tourists! And apparently now that it was 'high season', the gardens were no longer free. We had a couple walking back from the palace warning us to turn back, the line would take hours. blah. We weren't in the mood for this, so Adam and I dug into the coffers of our student-day memories to figure out how we used to get into the garden sans charge. We walked along the side of the garden walls and found a side gate with a worker unlocking it; it was worth a shot. And somewhere outa nowhere, the courage came out and I walked right up to the man and asked in the best french I could if we could enter here for a picnic. He gestured that we could picnic somewhere outside the gates, but a simple puppy dog face and a "mais pas les jardins, monsieur?" (but not the gardens) melted his authority. First he fidgeted with his cell to ask his superior, then simply waved us in and kindly directed us to the gardens. I guess the french really does work sometimes when you want something. Needless to say, we got in and had a magnificent spread of fresh market eats and wine along the canal followed by a full day of promenading throughout the grounds.

Just hours after arriving, we all took a stroll though town and stopped at each park along the way for a jet-lagged snooze

Coffee break before heading off the to outdoor gear shops. 

Look at the WOW face with these pop-up tents!

Along the Seine for sunset

Introduction to French Cider. I think we found a winner.

Monday, April 9, 2012

No Longer MIA

Picnic Time!
Bridgette has been doing a fantastic job keeping this blog up-to-date. The last time I posted something was towards the end of February! What on earth (and in France) have I been doing!?

Monday, April 2, 2012


So we did it. Last Friday. 6 seasons of LOST finished in under 5 months. I don't know if that's impressive or just plain pathetic, but we did it. It was always one of those shows we've wanted to watch, but never wanted to get into it midway. And having since arrived in Paris, time just so happened to open up with the opportunity to lose ourselves in this ever-so addicting series. I don't know how all you did it watching it week by week being held in suspense for over 6 years. Excruciating! 

In following these characters for somewhere around 120 hours, (yeah, that does sound pathetic), I almost felt as if we were leading somewhat parallel lives. I mean, here we are in France, coming here not knowing anyone, lost a bit from reality and all that's familiar, with only each other. And oh yeah, there's those 'Others' (the French), too. You never know if they're up to no good or actually on your side ; ) At least here, there's not people dying all over the place and polar bears running around.....but it got us thinking... if only we could find some of that Dharma Initiative Merlot for our wedding.....