I called Dr. Marielle Crespo-Mora yesterday afternoon to ask if I should continue to take the antibiotic I started last Wednesday until the pills are gone. My nasal infection is healing, but slowly.
“It should be better by now,” she said (and yes, she came to the phone herself). “You should come in.”
And so this morning I did. I arrived at 8:59 a.m. She came to the waiting area to call me into her office at 9:02 a.m., shook hands and asked me a few questions.
“It’s getting better,” I said. “I wouldn’t even have called if we weren’t leaving Aix-en-Provence on Saturday.” She pressed her fingers against my cheeks, my nose and my head. Last time it hurt a bit. This time it was better.
“Take the antibiotic for the last three days,” she said. She also said I should also take prednisone she had prescribed for two more days. Then she stood up.
“Should I pay you?” I asked.
“No, it’s not necessary,” she said.
“You are very kind,” I said.
As a country, France in some ways is struggling. More than 25 percent of voters cast ballots for the far right National Front party in this week’s European Parliamentary elections. French workers are angry — about persistently high unemployment, about what they see as the failure of the EU to provide solutions that translate to jobs, about what they consider weak and distant leadership in what have been the two dominant political parties, and about open immigration policies across the EU’s borders. As I wrote last weekend, it’s an unsettling scenario.
But, at least to this casual observer, the French medical system seems without peer. There are no frills, nothing fancy. But it’s affordable and open to all. Today, on my follow-up visit, it was free. Perhaps it’s time for U.S. general practitioners to discard their white coats and their big office staffs? Doctors like Marielle Crespo-Mora provide a good model.
We invited over our delightful and ever-friendly landlady, Martine, for a final aperitif last night. She came with her cousin, Jean-Paul, who is visiting from Miami. Both brought us gifts — Martine two lovely Provencal place mats, he two books he’d written about his family’s history and a bottle of white wine.
Tonight we’ll meet our language teacher, Marine, for a Happy Hour drink at — appropriately — the Happy Days bar in Place Richelme. She wrote to ask if we could meet once more before we left.
These have, indeed, been happy days for us. Our language skills remain somewhat limited. But they’re a lot better than seven years ago. And as our ability to converse has improved, a wider window has opened into the generous, warm and engaging personalities of the people of Provence.
We’ve long loved this region, its climate, its light, its pace, its architecture and its history. In the last five months, we’ve learned that we truly appreciate its people, too. It’s made this stay that much richer than others.