Last week, Ashley, Lyanne and I finally received our French social security numbers in the mail! We were also alerted that we have to choose a médecin traitant (meaning the default general practitioner who will refer us to specialists), have a consultation with him and have him fill out a form that officially defines the relationship.
Being foreigners with no familiarity with Auch’s medical offerings, we did what we usually do in cases of doubt and consternation: bother Cathy and Stéphane.
Cathy gave us the name of a doctor who’s office is within walking distance of our house, and we ventured there this afternoon to force our paperwork on him.
First the receptionist had to create files for us in their system—no problems there.
Then, since we hadn’t made rendez-vous beforehand, we had to hang out in the salle d’attente. For a long time.
Having left my copy of Umberto Eco’s Dire presque la même chose: Experiences de traduction at home, I contented myself with reading a waiting room magazine article about how pets are good for your health (apparently there was a study somewhere that found that the vibrations of cats’ purrs do wonders for the body and soul) and doing an easy-level Sudoku (I wasn’t brave enough to try the ones labeled “diabolique”).
Then these two OBNOXIOUS women entered the waiting room. One of them proceeded to get on her cellphone and speak to someone loudly and rapidly for at least half an hour, despite the signs all over the room requesting that you do exactly the opposite. Then she decided the waiting room was the appropriate place to pop the zits on her friend’s forehead. If only the other one had responded by checking the first one’s hair for lice…
Eventually, it was my turn to see the doctor. He asked me the usual questions—what’s your family medical history, have you had any major operations, do you have any allergies, etc. Then he filled out my form, solidifying our doctor-patient relationship forevermore. And then he started making awkward small talk about sunny Southern California and giving me advice for European travel destinations before ushering me into the exam room to weigh and measure me and take my blood pressure.
For all his expertise, I got to pay him 23 euros.
But they were incapable of taking my carte bancaire (even though I saw a card reader on his desk…), so I had to leave the office, run to the bank, take out money and go back to pay them in cash.
Now I have to send my form and a glorified receipt for my visit to the MGEN (my medical insurance provider, specific to those of us working in the field of French education) who will supposedly reimburse me…I’m not holding my breath.
Despite having received our social security numbers with the first letter, Ashley and I both received a second letter from the MGEN early this week telling us that our dossiers are incomplete.
Guess what they need?
My birth certificate (complete with apostille) and its certified translation!
But wait, you say, didn’t you already deal with that and send it to the TAPIF higher-ups in Toulouse like they told you to?
Why yes, dear reader, I did.
Luckily, I foresaw something sketchy like this happening and I came to France equipped with a second original, appostille-d copy of the birth certificate and about a bazillion copies of its translation.
The best part was that the MGEN letter requesting my documents pretty much stated: “We need your birth certificate; please send it in the prepaid envelope. But wait, you’re a foreigner. You should probably send it to this other address” (for which they did not give me a prepaid envelope).
Naturally, I was confused. Why would they give me a prepaid envelope to one address but tell me I might need to send it somewhere else.
So as per usual, I sent Stéphane another nagging, help-me-French-bureaucracy-is-annoying email.
The verdict: I, of course, have to send the goods to the address sans prepaid envelope.
Such is life.