Last Thursday I had my very first, in my entire life, appointment with a gynecologist. Don't worry -- it was just for a routine cervical smear test, but in Australia and the UK, this is done at your GP's surgery -- either by the doctor themselves, or more likely these days, the practice nurse.
According to Madame le Docteur Michèle Conort, some GP's will do it in France, but mostly you make an appointment with your gynecologist. Mme Conort's surgery is in rue Aristide Briand in Chatellerault, quite close to the river, in a series of buildings that are jam packed with specialist physicians of all sorts.
On examining me, she discovered a polyp the size of a large pea, so whilst blythely engaging me in conversation about the Baptistry of St Jean in Poitiers to take my mind off things, she cut it out on the spot. She says she is certain it is benign, but naturally has sent it off for a biopsy anyway. She told me off for leaving it more than the recommended 3 years between tests (quite right too).
When she asked me for my Carte Vitale (the equivalent of a medicare card for Australians) I explained that although I had an identity number and was clearly in the system, I had never been sent a Carte Vitale, and had never been able to find out why. She told me I was the third patient that day in the same situation, and I could see by the note she made to herself that the other two had French names, so it is presumably nothing to do with not being French (and besides, Simon was issued with his card ages ago). She had also run out of feuilles de soin (care record forms), which is how you claim for the fee reimbursement 'manually'. She apologised and said if I was going to be in Chatellerault next week for any reason I could pick it up, otherwise she would post it to me. My consultation cost €44, of which I expect to get half back once I send the feuille de soin to RAM.
I tottered out of the surgery in a bit of pain and was very pleased to see Simon waiting in the car right at the entrance of the building. He'd been amusing himself down at the river while I was at the doctor's, making movies of the raging torrent that is flowing over the sluices that once controlled the waters of the Vienne to power the arms factory.
We set off home and about half way I started to feel really weird. I said to Simon that I thought I was going to faint, and promptly passed out. Only for a few seconds, thankfully, and we drove the rest of the way home with my window down, solving the fainting problem, but risking hypothermia. I don't know what caused this uncharacteristic attack of the vapours, and can only guess that it was some sort of shock reaction. I got home, took a couple of paracetamol and by bedtime I was fine. I can't tell you how glad I am that I didn't drive myself to the doctor's though.