I'm not sure that I've done justice to the quirks of the French health care system. There is a strong emphasis on patient responsibility - both in terms of lugging your paperwork around town but also when it comes to prescriptions.
For instance, Baby Oil is currently on an antibiotic (I'm calling him the Mucus King of Paris, if that gives you an idea of what's going on) that came in a glass bottle with a screw-on top filled with powder. You are supposed to removed the screw-on top, fill the bottle to a certain point with water, shake it up, then add more water, and voila - antibiotic. However, it is not clear where those fill-lines are for the water - the illustrations in the instructions never look like the actual bottle. In one previous case, I for sure did not add enough water - or something else was off - because I supposed to give Baby Oil the meds for a week, but it only last four days. It is, I suppose, also possible that my limited French vocabulary combined with French instructions influenced this situation as well.
Baby Oil also currently has an eye infection (unclear if it is pink-eye, only because I don't know enough French to understand what the doctor said it was) for which he was prescribed eye drops. Except these eye drops are bright orange. As a result, for the past week my child has resembled a toddler zombie - either his actual eyes are tinged orange from a recent administration of the drops, and/or his eyelashes and eyelids are tinged orange from the liquid that seeps out when the drops are applied. On the one hand, you know when the drops get in. On the other hand, I can't recall ever experiencing the zombie eye drops in the US (not even the summer when virtually every camper and counselor at my beloved summer camp came down with pink-eye).
Naturally, I've also now come down with the eye infection but fortunately the adult drops are not orange. They are just normal, clear drops, and I really hope they start working soon because as it stands, the computer screen is blurry from all the goo in my eyes. At least I don't look like a zombie.
Because challenges in life never come alone, in addition to Baby Oil's ongoing health issues, the elevator in our building was broken for the past eleven days. I did not write about this problem earlier because I was unsure whether I could manage to do so without falling into a full-on mental breakdown.
We live on the 5th floor - but that's the fifth floor, European style, which to Americans is the sixth floor. It's about 124 steps (I had ample opportunity to count). I have a 25+ pound child who cannot yet walk up that many stairs (and why would you when you know someone will carry you), I'm lugging around another child in utero, plus assorted groceries, toys for the sandbox, etc. Leaving the apartment suddenly required a huge amount of motivation. My father termed it "our experiment in 19th-century living" and what I can tell you is that a) I don't think I would have paid this much rent in the 19th century for a walk-up; b) I am sure that 19th-century mothers were stronger and less flabby than me; and c) thank heavens the elevator was fixed after eleven days.
In classic French style, we were informed on day 3 or 4 that the elevator might be out of service for up to two months. That's right folks, two months. And apparently, that's just something that can happen in France. Some vague bureaucratic processes were described as well as unknown issues surrounding the actual process of fixing the elevator. If you haven't been here in person, I should explain that our building is home to what may be the oldest working (or occasionally working) elevator in France. It is really old. You can only press one floor button at a time. It runs on a cable pulley system. It has a wooden accordion-style door. This is not an elevator that surprises you when it breaks; rather, it seems a surprise that it remains an acceptable elevator.
In any event, the actual elevator repairman thought it was ludicrous that we had been told two months, as he informed us when he began work yesterday. And he was right - before the end of the second day of work, the elevator was operational. I now can resume leaving the house at regular intervals as opposed to staying inside for 3 days straight. Now I just need my little zombie to get better so he can go to back halte garderie...