9.26.2006

Full-body scan Fridays and the like

Perhaps it comes from being the daughter of an oncology nurse, perhaps it comes from living in today's world, but regardless of the cause, I am somewhat of a hypochondriac. Spending the afternoon in the sun has me checking my skin for malignant spots and a runny nose has, on more than one occasion, left me wondering if I shouldn't be on allergy medication.

All this needless worrying could be forgotten if only for one invention: full-body scan Fridays. Consisting of a head-to-toe scan (including x-rays), you could be kept fully aware of the biological happenings going on inside you. That way, illnesses that don't have symptoms (or don't show until later on when you're basically already toast), could be detected and you could launch a full-scale attack before things get too serious.

Much to my chagrin, this idea hasn't caught on yet and many have even argued that the x-rays would do more damage than whatever is growing inside you (to which I respond: isn't that what scientists should be researching? Ways to give weekly x-rays without harming you or wearing a 5-ton apron to cover the non-examined parts?) But last Friday, I got my wish. I had my medical visit for my long-stay visa and BOY was it good.

I should point out that the first phase of the medical visit treats you much like a farm animal. In a whirlwind 4 minutes, you are weighed, measured, eyes tested, and shoved in a room where your upper half is x-rayed. But the next step was so personal that it made me forget feeling like a sheep. My consultation was with a doctor who was nice enough to humour my questions while we examined my x-ray together (is that my heart? what's that gray spot? should I cover my entire face with a plastic mask so that I don't die of second-hand smoke this year in Paris?). I left her office with my x-ray in hand, a souvenir that I take out from time to time and hold up to the window to show Aurel how much soup was in my stomach that day from lunch. The medical visit was such a good time that I almost asked the doctor for a second date (say... what are you doing next Friday at this time?) but I let it go, as they seem to be very busy x-raying the immigrants of the world.

In other health news, I visited the local Planned Parenthood this morning because buying the pill with my American health insurance was so expensive that I could have had 11 babies, raised them, and put them through Harvard on what it was costing me. The PP in Paris invites you to a discussion group before the examination (and subsequent prescription) and mine was this morning. I got to spend the morning with some French teenagers (seriously, the average age was 17) who were weighing their options of how best to not double the population before they finish high school. The PP woman showed us a variety of contraceptive devices, including something that is about 3 inches long that they insert in your ARM and assures you that you won't get pregnant for three years. Details include bleeding profusely and "anarchy-like" (translation) for the first 6 months and then not bleeding for the next 3 years (which PPw admitted was a little gross).

"Good GOD," I thought, "Who the hell would--"

"COOOL! BONNE IDEE!" Apparently every other 17 year old thought this was the way to go. PPw mentioned that the pill was still the most common, but that you have to remember to take it at the same time every day.

"Do any of you who already take the pill have any advice?" she asked me and the 19-year old African immigrant.

"Well, you can take it before you brush your teeth in the morning... you don't ever leave your apartment without brushing your teeth, so it's a good way to remember," I said. And I am not kidding, but everyone in the room looked at me like I was the weirdest girl EVER, which leads me to believe that many French people leave their apartment without brushing their teeth (this could account for the smell on the metro)...

Moral of the story: PP is very responsible here in Paris and gives plenty of good information to its clients, but the best thing is that I walked out of there with 6 months of birth control for FREE.

I leave you with one of the images that can be found on the PP website here in France, with the hope that it inspires YOU to get yourself educated before you end up in a situation like this:

1 comment:

E. said...

If you're a young, impressionable girl, this picture is more likely to put you off ever coming near that horrifying thing with the green "pustules" (does that word exist in English?) on it... Beurk!

Bises,
Emilie