I was going to go anyway, but after being admonished in no uncertain terms by friends and family, I made a visit to my local doctor in Rouffignac this morning. He’s a very amusing chap and only speaks a little English, which is surprising for a professional. But we get by. He quoted with great relish some English he did know though, when he saw my ankle – ‘Don’t let the bed-bugs bite!’

He seems to think that it’s not a spider bite, but a tick bite instead. When I said that surely I’d have seen a tick because my old Toddie used to get them and I used to pull ’em off him, he said, ‘No!’ (searching for a small freckle on the back of his hand, and after finding one), ‘look, they are only that big’.

Anyway, he’s concerned about Lyme Disease because of the livid ‘bull’s eye’ look of it, especially when I said that I feel a bit sick as well, so he’s put me on a 14 day course of antibiotics. He checked my blood pressure and asked when I last had a blood test. When I said that I can’t remember because I’m never ill, he rolled his eyes and said how did I know I wasn’t ill if I never had a blood test and didn’t I think that it would be a good idea to have one now and again? Up against logic like that, what could I say, so he’s insisted that I go back again tomorrow morning when the nurse is there.

The whole thing here is much more relaxed than in the UK. When you phone you go straight through to the doctor himself, not some Gestapo-like receptionist whose sole aim in life is to minimise the number of patients coming into the surgery. It’s a lovely new health centre in Rouffignac and you all just turn up and sit in a nice bright, open waiting area awaiting your turn. There were only 5 or so people in front of me and it turned out 3 of those were for the dentist and the other 2 doctors, so waiting time was very reasonable. Anyway, I’m hoping that the antibios will do the trick – when I can get them.

It all began to unravel when I took my prescription to the adjoining ‘Pharmacie’ to pick them up. It turns out that today around ‘95% de pharmacies en Perigord’ are on strike in opposition to a proposal for the more wide-spread availability of medicines, eg in supermarkets, much as in the UK I guess. Some, like the one in Montignac, have been ‘requisitioned’ by the Directeur Général to force them to open for emergency purposes, for people desperately in need of medication. But if Montignac was anything to go by, the staff in those pharmacies just ignored the ‘avis’ stuck on their front doors and kept them closed, presumably without come-back. So ‘la système française’ always gets you in the end. ‘Plus ça change’ – this is the 21st century but it’s still the same old France 😉

When I got back from my abortive ‘Pharmacie’ trip, I Googled ‘Lyme Disease’. It definitely appears that I have got an infected tick bite because the pictures I found, the description and the symptoms all match my leg and my symptoms. The reports posted from those infected in the UK seem to be all doom and gloom, mainly because the treatment they received from the NHS was either negligible or non-existent. One lady, who was obviously more informed than her General Practitioner, was reduced to tears and asked why she wanted to be ill? That’s negligent and scandalous, especially as the lady in question now suffers from the long-tern effects of the untreated disease.

The more informed comments posted on US web sites paint a different picture entirely. So long as the disease is caught in its early stages (like mine has been) and the correct course of antibiotics prescribed (the ones prescribed by my French doctor are the standard treatment), people like me can expect a full and complete recovery. It’s a pity that I couldn’t get the tablets today as now I’ll waste yet more time tomorrow (although I do, admittedly, have to go back early to Rouffignac for my blood test) and every day lost means that finishing my wood store off becomes more urgent. Also, the sooner I start the sooner I’ll start feeling better as I am now experiencing some light flu-like symptoms that make doing heavy work more difficult than it necessarily need be.

These things are sent to try us 🙁