Now we are experiencing our first adventures with the medical system here in France and some of the things necessary may be of interest to those who may follow.
Firstly I have to say this is about those who have retired and are receiving the OAP from UK. When you apply to have your state pension paid in to the local bank here, you will automatically receive a form S1 from the UK Pension Service. This you need to submit to your local sickness office here, known as CPAM, together with proof of residency, using a local bill for water, electric etc and an RIB form which you will get from your own bank, allowing any funds to be paid directly in to your account, once registration is complete. Eventually and I mean eventually, you will receive an "Attestation" which will allow you to register with a local doctor and apply for top up insurance should you wish. Top up insurance is used because the NHS system here only pays for 70% of treatment, so you need to make your own mind up about that.
Once all this is completed you will then recieve a "Carte Vitalle" which you need to keep with you and submit every time you go for any treatment, together with your insurance policy, if you have chosen to go this route. You can then apply also for the French version of the EHIC card so that you are covered anywhere in Europe. Because Joan and I are still waiting for all this paperwork to go through we have been using the UK issued EHIC card to cover the 70% cost of treatment, paying the balance ourselves. We recieve a proof of payment form and may be able to claim most of this back later.
That is a summary of the proceedure but should you have specific questions please e-mail and we will endeavour to find out some answers. Always remember that if you are not of pensionable age you will need to get some health insurance as the UK EHIC only gives you cover for a limited period of time.
We manged to get accepted for registration by a doctor who is only 10 minutes from here and who at a push can speak some English, albeit reluctantly. This guy, Doctuer Jeunieux, is happy to complete registration once we have our attestaion returned, but in the meantime is treating Joan and it was he who said NO to our planned travel to Cyprus.
He gave us a prescription for a medication to bring down the swelling in her knee and made appointments for us to attend the hospital in St Foy for x-rays on the 1st and blood tests in a St Foy laboratory on the same day. This we did and armed with these we have been back to his surgery this morning.
Once he had seen the evidence he needed he immediately made an appointment for Joan to see a specialist, at a clinic in Marmande, for tomorrow at 18.15 hours and at the same time gave her a further prescription for some special pain killers as he could see that she was in some pain and had difficulty walking.
We attended the clinic to see the specialist, Doctuer Dupart, late afternoon, armed once again withh all the x-rays and blood test results and this guy also spoke excellent English, much to Joan's relief, so immediately we had lots of confidence and Joan in particular, as he was a very good looking guy. This man is a surgeon consultant specialising in anything and everything to do with legs and feet.
After spending some time examining Joan's knee and the x-rays etc., he sent us away with another appointment for 4 o'clock tomorrow and a list of stuff to get from the chemist. Amongst this is a liquid antiseptic soap and Joan has to shower with this tonight and again before going back tomorrow. It seems as if he is going to draw out the excess liquid surrounding her knee and then put in some other injection, we will see.
All in all we are immpressed. In four days we appear to have recieved more attention and treatment then Joan ever got in Uk for her knee problem and to date the cost has been a total of 88 euros, plus whatever the specialist charges today. People told us that the treatment here was the best in Europe and we are beginning to believe it.
Not such good news today. The specialists plan was to draw out the liquid on Joan's knee and then inject with something else, a sort of gel to give the joint support. Unfortunately when he went in with the needle he found that he was drawing out blood and eventually came up against a fairly hard lump which he suggested was like blackberry jam. In other words a blood clot. So the only solution for now is to rest and put ice packs on the knee every hour, to get the swelling down and then he can look again. There was a hint at an operation but he couldn't be sure until the swelling has gone down. So now we are back at the drawing board until we feel it is time to go back again. Meantime it is still very painful.
Well it arrived today, the new BBQ that is. I had to go down to Eymet and meet the distribution company that brought it from UK for us. Not a bad service, exactly on time as agreed and at a cost of only 48 euros from UK to us here. Next job will be to put it all together as of course, like everything these days, it comes flat packed.
I was also able to collect an arm crutch for Joan from our firends at The Kismet Cafe in Eymet. Paul had these from the time when he had a hip replacement and they kindly offered the loan. It should help Joan to get about a bit better although I have to say that the swelling does not appear to be going down at all, despite the regular application of the ice packs and complete rest.
The last couple of days have been bright and sunny so I was able to get out into the garden today and cut the grass. It was still a bit damp underneath so kept clogging up the new machine, but in the end I managed to get a good layer off, now hopefully it will dry out and I will be able to make it look good. The biggest problem I am going to have is getting rid of the bloody moles that dig around every night.
It is Joan's birthday today and with the aid of the new crutch support we were able to go out to dinner tonight. Just the two of us went to "Le Petite Auberge" which is on the road to St Foy and we have eaten there before so know it can be good. It is a cosy little restaurant with an open fire in the corner and we were able to enjoy a nice meal together. A shame really because we had planned to celebrate out in Cyprus, but then again we have had e-mails today from firiends out there who told us that they have had snow !!!!!!!!
The weather has been a bit iffy over the weekend so we were not able to sit out very much. I did manage to do some gardening and get rid of some more weeds. It is going to take some time to get this garden sorted because we don't think much has been done and after all it used to be just a field.
I did manage to get down to the Bergerac golf driving range this afternoon and drive a bucket of balls. My excuse was that we needed some shopping and the best supermarkets are close by. Well I got away with it anyway.....
On the way down there, I had spotted this beautiful tree lined driveway leading to one of the wine growers. This has to be a clear sign that spring is now on the way and warmer weather awaits.
Went to see our doctor this morning and to see what the next stage is for Joan. He had received a report from the specialist in Marmande who had recommended more treatment, which includes some sort of tests, but this entails us going to Bordeaux. The doctor kindly called and made an appointment for us, but it is not until 8th April, so in the meantime we have to continue witrh rest and ice packs.
You will realise of course that this leaves me as chief cook and bottle washer for some time to come.
Yesterday we recieved our first return correspondence from the CPAM offices about our medical registration, it seems as if they now want our birth certificates. I called our bi-lingual friend Janette and she said these need to be translated to prevent any further delays. So without further problems we scanned these in and she returned them on French translated templates, together with a new covering letter.
So this morning I headed off to Eymet to the nearest Post Office which is open on a Saturday morning. I also picked up some Ibropruven for Joan and called in to see Paul in the Kismet Cafe for a "Grande Creme" coffee.
Guess this afternoon I will be able to watch the rugby on the TV, as it is raining, so no gardening for me. The forecast is good for the early part of next week, so here's hoping that we can make some progress.
Janette has had a call from CPAM about our medical registration. They now wnat a copy of our marriage certificate. Living here is just like living in TRNC, nobody knows what they want initially or just makes it up as they go along, so now I will have to go down to Eymet tomorrow to use a fax at the local newsagents. All just things to be aware of if you ever need to get registered here.
The good news today is that we have had confirmation of Joan's next appointment, this time at a clinic in Bordeaux for what is now confirmed as an MRI scan on her leg. The strange thing is that the appointment is for 8.40 p.m. on a Friday evening. Still at least things are happening and every effort is being made to resolve the problem.
The other good news is that the swelling is going down a little bit and with the aid of the elbow crutch she is a little more active. We even met up with Stewart and Barbara on Tuesday for lunch, together with their son Richard, who has been here for a few days.
Yesterday I had called in to see George, a local friend who has a small farm nearby, to ask him about the best place to get gravel to do our driveway whilst the weather is dry. I bought some fresh eggs from him and he mentioned that he had some pork in the freezer. So this morning I took Joan around there to see what we wanted and George just had to show her the little lambs and goats that have been born recently.
She was delighted to be able to just hold these cuddly things, but in the second pic you can see mum looking on and sort of saying "Hey that's mine and I want it back". George also had some lambs running around and said, if you want to pick one, I will earmark it for you. Now we are happy to buy some of his lamb later on but did not want to select our own little wooly ball.
Well we are about 80% there with the registration for medical services. Today we both received the documents called " Attestation" Which means we are at least recognised in the system, but need to get these filled in by our doctor and then returned to the local authorities. Once this has happened we will each get a "Carte Vittale" Which we then present every time we visit a medical establishment or chemist so that somewhere between 70 and 80% gets paid by the government, we will then need to investigate if we want to insure to cover the rest., which we believe will cost about 90 euros per month each.
We have for some time now been trying to find the right sort of gravel to redo the main driveway up to the garage doors, as water collects there during the winter and it is so compacted that it cannot flow away too well. We had spoken to an English guy called Jim, locally known as "Digger Jim" , because he has all the necessary equipment to do the work. The problem was finding the right gravel, which I was lucky enough to get from a local supplier.
Well the gravel was delivered yesterday and true to his word, Jim turned up today with a helper and all his equipment. The following photos show the work going on and the finished product, even all the way down to our front door area. The colour is just right with the stonework and finishes off everything nicely. You could say that this is really down to the landlord, but we are going to get the benefit for the next few years so spreading the cost is to our advantage.
Finally to the end of the month which has been both good and bad. We have had some nice warm sunny days, which helped Joan a lot, as she was able to sit out on her sunlounger with her leg resting, but on the negative side we missed our trip back to Cyprus to see all the changes there. Positive is of course the situation with the medical help we seem to be getting and we are currently both thinking that finally there will be a solution to Joan's knee problem, something which has been written of as arthritus by the local GPs in UK, but now seems to be something completely different.
But spring is definitely here, take a look at these.............
Somebody who once lived in Holland, has of course to plant Tulip bulbs.
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