Friday, December 02, 2005


I don't think I've posted these already... if I have, forgive me, for I am old in my head.

In order to live in
France, it is necessary to not have tuberculosis. All of the other assistants in that I spoke to told me that they went to a doctor in Besancon (only an hour train ride away), got a chest X-ray, then left five minutes later. Easy.

Hearing this, I got nervous. By the time of the training (the second week of october), most people had already gone to the doctor, and everyone else at least had an appointment. Not me! I was nervous, since this medial approval is necessary to get one's carte de sejour (not that 1: it's mentioned in any literature we've recieved, or 2: that I even have my card now).

A week later, I got a letter from
Dijon, asking me to make an appointment with the radiologist and a doctor. Another teacher made the phone calls for me, because I suck at understanding french on the phone. Or, should i say -- especially on the phone.

I was slightly irritated because a trip to
Dijon is 2 hours each way. But, I got the day off of school and got to see a new city!

And a city it is, complete with stores! And more than 5,000 people! Once I got over my initial shock of being surrounded by so much stuff, I realized that it is indeed a rather small city -- or, just the right size to see most of it by foot, have a nice lunch, browse through H&M, and get a coffee, in addition to that whole doctor thing. So, that's exactly what I did.

See, in that picture above, the blue awning to the left? And see how many people are sitting outside? That clued me in that it was the cafe at which to be, so I went in for my coffee. The place had really nice atmosphere, decent coffee...except, I just couldn't figure out why there were so many people at this one place. And then I saw it -- every single person inside, and most outside, were drinking the hot chocolate. Not just, hey, put that Swiss Miss in a cup chocolate -- this was the real, thick, served -in-its-own-pot chocolate.

Mmm! Just like that! Unfortunately, I just had a giant pistachio macaroon and a coffee (well, an espresso, really), so thinking of also ordering the chocolate just seemed...well, like I really good idea. I didn't do it, regardless.

Before I came into town, I had read in my Lonley Planet guide that there was a walking tour, marked by little owl plaques. Apparently, you can buy a guide for 2 euro, but that's for suckers.

I'm embarassed to admit (but admit I shall!) that I had forgotten about the walking tour markers, and just was delighted to happen upon these cute little owls. I remembered what they were for after I took this picture. These owls are not only cute, but helpful little devils, as they lead me on a pleasant and thorough (and free!) walking tour of the city.

Oh, and I don't have tuberculosis. Well....

When I got my chest X-ray, I was with a bunch of other, obvious, immigrants. A whole big family of them. We all had the appointment at the radiologist at the same time, then at the doctor at the same time. The matriarch of that group literally pushed past me at the door of the doctor's office, so I had to wait for an hour as each person when before me.

During that time, I peek at my chest X-ray, because....I like X-rays, I guess. When I saw it, I thought, "Hmm. That looks a little weird in the middle of both of my lungs." Then I pulled out the letter from the radiologist, which says:

"Visibility of small opacities of somethingsomething, relatively dense, in the region of (lists the area in the lungs)" Obviously, I couldn't translate it all, but I'll tell you what: when you're reading about the inside of your lungs, you don't want to read, "opacity" or "dense."

So, I went in to the doctor, halfway thinking that I may perhaps die right in that office, when he looked at the X-ray, then the letter, then said to me, "Did you have tuberculosis when you were young?"

He must have seen the panic in my face, along with the fight-or-flight look in my eye, because he told me approximately 2,000 times that "It's nothing serious, it's nothing to be concerned about."

And guess what - I'm still alive, today, writing this, so I guess there was nothing to fear afterall. We talked a bit, and I told him that I had bronchitis when I was young, every year. It was a nasty thing, with thick phlegmy couughing for a month, and he said that this was likely the cause. Having worked in schools for three years, I've also gotten TB skin tests, which never came out positive. Once I told him that, he was completely satisfied. I guess I could have told him that in the first place, but it was that whole "dense opacities" thing.


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