Monday, 10 January 2011


Unfortunately, determination was not enough. The pain got worse. After taking the steroids last week and appreciating the fact they seemed to help the general pain I experience each day things became truly unpleasant. The side effects caused general pain and inflammation throughout my body and then did nasty things to my stomach. I went out to keep myself distracted. I stayed in bed to rest. Nothing helped. I dragged myself out of bed today and limped along the streets to the train. I was actually sitting in the train to go to work trying to decide if I was being a fool by going to work. In the end the pain decided that I should get off the train and walk in misery back home. Later in the morning I queued at the doctor's. It doesn't matter if there's an appointment or not I still have to wait a minimum of an hour and a half.

I was obviously sick and in pain but no-one else was going to give up their position in the queue. The doctors' rooms are so primitive here, as I've said before. No receptionist, no nurse; just a hard chair and a magazine. Torturous.

I had written a letter to the doctor because he doesn't speak English and I needed to explain the complexities of stomach, arthritis, bowels interactions and what products I had used to try to help myself. It's tricky, as you can imagine, and being completely alone, n cups of tea or a hug or kind word when you are really sick in a foreign country is rather scary. The doctor started talking about blood tests and investigations into the stomach. No way, I have no money. And I STILL don't have my Carte Vitale health card.

After the chemist I went home to bed. The painkillers prescribed didn't take away all the pain and stiffnesss but I was completely zonked so I didn't care. Couldn't even raise the energy to turn over in bed. No problem, at least it was a break from the searing, grinding, aching pain everywhere. The doctor explained I'd had a bit of bad luck with my reaction to the anti-inflam/steroids. If I need to, I can take tomorrow off work-I hope I'm well enough to go though, but I may fall asleep at my desk a few times.

Just as well I had enough energy left on Friday to give the immigration department my opinion. Once again, through their error I had to leave work early and spend money and precious time getting to Montrouge. And waiting. And being sent to the wrong office, being told I would have to go back to NZ to get my Titre de Sejour. You what? They refused to speak English and I kept repeating I was only there to pick up the sticker, nothing else. My dossier is complete. Officious b**** tells me there is only one person who can give it to me and she is not available all day. I explained I was told to come that afternoon. So she told me to come back for the third time on Monday.

OK enough already. I had nothing to lose. My identity sticker was ready, I just needed somebody to give it to me. Why is that impossible? It's your fault, I said, the Immigration Department is in the wrong and I cannot come back again, I cannot spend money like this and I cannot get more time off work-impossible. AND I MADE A NOISY FUSS AND STOOD MY GROUND.

Guys came out of offices to see what was up. Suddenly one of them grabbed my dossier from somewhere and started rifling through it, backwards and forwards. I endeavoured to explain the mistake of immigration staff because clearly, this guy couldn’t see it. OOhh. Right. Sticker in Passport, off I go.

What if immigrants don’t speak French? My French isn’t adequate for situations like this. I must come back 3 months before things expire and let them know it an extension will be required. I hope so after all this. Why do I need this sticker? Because a VISA to work and live is not sufficient. You must have official identification, as each French person must. We don’t have this in NZ. We just use our drivers license or some such for identification. But, hey, no sign of that arriving from NZ either. Merde. Following one’s dreams isn’t much fun right now. OK universe, lighten up a on me a bit, please? I'm off to zonk myself again.


Alison said...

I've sent you an email with some stuff which is too long to put on here. But I also meant to say - have you read the early Stephen Clarke books? A Year in the Merdre and Talk to the Snail. They are really funny, and you can totally relate to his descriptions of life in France, and his trials and tribulations. You could order them through Amazon, or I could send you mine if you would like me to. Get well soon.

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