Safe to be sick, Tougher to get meds

4 Jan

I’m a bit of a meanie sometimes. I’ll admit I’ve laughed at Pirate on a few occasions on trips to the US over little cultural differences.  This one time, at a four way stop in the US, he thought that the decorative brick circle laid out in the four way stop signified a roundabout. Of course he did. So he goes in a big sweeping counterclockwise circle aaaaalll the way past two stop signs to basically make a left hand turn. For one of the few times in my life I think I was speechless for like ten seconds.  Then I yelled at him. Another time, we were in Walgreens looking for something for one of les monstres who had an itchy rash all over. I remember his hesitation as I just picked stuff up off the shelves and said, “This looks good…or maybe this…and this has such and such…”  He seemed to be in a slight panic as he responded, “Yeah, but…I mean you have no idea what’s in that, maybe it’s too strong, you know?” I rolled my eyes.  “Seriously?”

Yep, seriously. The French pharmacy system is very different to the US one. For one thing, most of the medications we can buy in the US without talking to anyone must be asked for at the pharmacy counter in France, and Guadeloupe.  You don’t always need a prescription, but you have to actually talk to the pharmacist.  Really? Since when do we still want to talk to people in person? Maybe there is something to this control of substances.  I wonder if France has less of a problem with meth-heads buying out the cough syrup than the US, where I’ve now noticed that stuff under lock and key in the aisles of many major drugstores.  There certainly are fewer ads for medicine here, whereas I notice back home the incredible amount of ads for both prescription and non prescription medications everywhere.  Maybe with that difference in culture in the US we believe ourselves to be sufficiently informed to choose from all the different medications available to anyone who can walk into a store.  At first I perceived the French system as leaving the people naive and silly looking a la maybe it’s too strong, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe as a culture they are comfortable with their limitations. In other words, there are some pretty dang strong medications available without a prescription. If you don’t know a thing about them, perhaps it is better that you consult with a pharmacist before you choose that medication for yourself or for a child.

What’s great is that the pharmacists, and other people who work in the pharmacies, these are the only true service people in the entire French system. I am always asked if I need help or recommendations in the pharmacy without fail. In a restaurant, where I wait twenty minutes for someone to notice I’m there, not so much. I guess if I’m pressed to choose between the more accommodating and pleasant person being the one who gives me my medicine or the one who gives me my food, I’d take medicine. I can still make my own food. So basically, if you want to be coddled in Guadeloupe, go to the pharmacy, not the restaurant. They’ll make recommendations, ask you questions, smile, everything that a restaurant server should do but doesn’t. And best of all, it’s tip-free.

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2 Responses to “Safe to be sick, Tougher to get meds”

  1. Allen January 6, 2012 at 05:59 #

    Hmmm… yes… agree with you. But there are exceptions to that dependence:

    On a recent visit to the pharmacy for some ‘Ultra Levure’ probiotic (basically nothing more complicated than Brewer’s Yeast in a capsule) I was first offered a fancy gold trimmed box containing a fancy jar within which were 30 capsules costing 45 Euro! The one I wanted was about 3 Euro a bucket load. 🙂

    True, the expensive one would have worked just as well.

    • Girl in Guadeloupe January 7, 2012 at 09:34 #

      That is an excellent point. I also notice that, they DO slip in the most expensive thing. I asked for a foot scraper thingy, you know, keep the ol’ heels nice and smooth since wearing open shoes every day all year gets tough on the feet – and she hands me one without a price which, when rung up, came to 15 euros. For a plastic foot scraper thingy! franchement

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