Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ear's my story ...

Many who know me long ago agreed that there's something not right with my head. Now there's medical proof.

For some years, I've had hearing problems, most acutely in my left ear. (If I want to be sure to listen to someone, at a table for instance, I will sit so they are on my "good ear" right side.) I attribute the hearing loss to working next to a radio station transmitter during my college years. Officially, my Dallas doctor labels it Meniere's. (http://www.menieresinfo.com/). My half-brother says he has Meniere's, and my father suffered from tinnitus after getting sick on a camping trip in the Adirondacks, though the medical journals say it is not known to be hereditary, only "familial," as in occurring more commonly in some families.

Regardless, I live with it. I wear a hearing aid. But recently I lost (hopefully only misplaced) my preferred hearing aid. So I started re-using my older hearing aid, for which my audiologist had provided me with "Plus Dome" attachments from Oticon. My advice - don't use these. They have a tendency to separate from the hearing aid.

On New Year's Eve, we were at a pre-dinner party at the home of friends, and I temporarily removed my hearing aid. There was no Plus Dome attachment on the end. I assumed it had fallen, so I and a couple other men searched the floor. I was concerned that the friends' dog would find the small plastic cone-shaped piece and swallow it.

I finally found the attachment - hours later when we got home. It was still in my ear! I couldn't reach it with my fingers, so I asked Donna-Lane to retract it with tweezers.

For the next day, my ear ached some. I figured the pain was residual.

This morning, after showering, I was cleaning my ears with a Q-tip, and thought I felt something in my left ear. It felt and even "sounded" like plastic. And it was quite deep, farther than the attachment D-L had retrieved. Was it possible I had another Plus Dome in my ear from a previous detachment?

In fact, that was the case. Very, very fortunately, we found a doctor in the village who extracted the plastic from my auditory canal. And he speaks excellent English! So no translation necessary.

Maybe the best outcome of this somewhat painful experience is that we now have a general physician within a 3-minute walk from the Warren.

D-L has some thoughts on the event here: http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ch/2014/01/horrible-socialised-medicine.html.

The other message here is for our friends in the States struggling with Obamacare, rhetorically branded as "socialized medicine." All I can recommend is, get with the rest of the civilized world! France has one of the best-rated healthcare systems in the world. Every resident is covered. It's paid through taxes, not through rip-off insurance companies who charge exorbitant premiums to individuals and force high costs through ambulance-chaser lawyers and malpractice premiums (and who pay off the politicians who favor them).

Keep in mind, I do not (yet) have health insurance in France. However, the doctor treated me without asking. The pharmacy filled my prescription without asking. If I were in the system, I would be reimbursed for most of what I spent out of pocket. And yet - without insurance - I still paid less than 58 Euros (less than US$80) for the doctor's time, the 'operation,' and four prescription medicines. In the States, with insurance (for which I would be paying substantial premiums), I would have paid hundreds of dollars for the same treatment and meds.

Yes, there are a lot of flaws in Obamacare, largely because it was designed to appease the insurance companies (the ones who are cancelling all those "you can keep your" policies and charging higher prices for new "qualified" policies). What they should do is abandon Obamacare and move to a single-payer system which eliminates most of the insurance overlords.

I'm told the hearing aids are less expensive in Europe as well, so time to check them out, eh?

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