Today was my first official trip to a doctor’s office in Paris. Guillaume set up an appointment with Dr. Houari in the 5th arrondisement; she’s located near Jardins des Plantes and les Arènes de Lutèce.
I approached the address which is what appeared to be an apartment building. I rang the buzzer labeled, “dentiste,” was buzzed in, then had no clue where to go. The only way one could proceed is up the stairs. After a few floors, there was an open door with the name Docteur Haas on it.
The lady in the door says she’s Dr. Houari.
I arrived at 5:20 for a 5:30 appointment. This is foolish for anyone who’s lived in Paris for any amount of time because we all know that a designated time to meet is a suggestion for some mysterious later time. I finally got her undivided attention at 6:15 where she asked what was happening with my teeth, and in my wonderful French told her it’d be best for her just to look at my incoming wisdom tooth.
She poked the hell out of the crater in the back of my gums which caused a pain worse than listening to the ignorant political debates happening back in America. We then did an X-ray which was super quick and did not even force me to move out of my reclined position in the chair. There was even a nifty computer screen showing me the instant image of my gums and teeth along with a chart that popped up with a cartoon drawing of teeth and a big red X in the tooth that is not quite right.
It kinda felt like something from Idiocracy…
Dr. Whoever she is explained precisely what I’d read on the internet; my wisdom tooth will never fully sprout and I will forever have a disgusting flap of gum that can easily get infected from bacteria. Great. Maybe I should stop putting dirty things in my mouth…
I told her it might be best to just remove said tooth; she asked if I wanted to do it maintenant.
So, getting a wisdom tooth removed seemed as simple to her as giving a good teeth cleaning.
I politely declined, made another appointment to get the procedure done next week, and then proceeded to the paying part of the visit after getting some miracle cleaning done on my not-so-cooperative-wisdom tooth.
My dentist just could not accept that I don’t have a Carte Vitale, which is the French Health Insurance Card. The card allows you to pay up front then get reimboursed by the state within the painfully long time of… one week. She was so concerned that I was going to pay out of pocket. It’s unheard of! All I could do was shrug my shoulders and say that things are a little different in the United States.
Even paying out of pocket here isn’t too painful. I shelled out a massive 37 euros for my consultation and x-rays. I shudder to think how much the dentist would cost out of pocket in the states.
But, beyond all of the pain and politics of it all, it was a small victory because the visit was done entirely in French.