Monday, 15 March 2010

Who's afraid of the sécu?

Now that I'm back at work and there's no risk of me being tracked down by the social security people, I can tell the truth about what happens when you are summoned by the sécu to check out your sick leave.

When I got the convocation in the mail (which my GP swore wouldn't happen) for the following week, I began my preparation for the most dreaded appointment in French culture. Ok, maybe the second most dreaded after taxes. Or third most dreaded if you're an expat.

I didn't wash my hair for 5 days. I practiced not smiling. I made sure my clothes didn't fit right so I would feel uncomfortable. I made sure the circles under my eyes were the right color purple.

I showed up at the social security builing 15 minutes ahead and waited in line for 20 minutes for someone to tell me to go to the 1st floor. Where I sat some more. I watched dry looking men wallk though the halls asking for Madame Dupont or Monsieur Machin. As I looked around me and read the various pamplets on washing your hands, birth control and not letting your child stay up too late on the weekend (because I purposely didn't bring a book which would have made me look normal, too normal to be on sick leave), I noticed a woman with a huge bag full of what looked like medical reports and x-rays. It made me think of my mother in law, who having batlled cancer for 10 years, was called in on a regular basis to meet the medecin du travail so they could make sure she was too sick to go back to work.

Finally, a skinny man in glasses called my name. I got up slowly and followed him, pushing Max in his stroller absent mindedly. I sat down in his office without taking off my coat or saying hello or smiling which is hard for me because I'm a smiler.

He asked, "why are you here?"
So I tried to stay sober and said my doctor thinks I'm not ready to go back to work.
He read me a list of symptoms of post-partum depression to which I either said yes or no. After about 10 minutes, Max began fussing. So I did what any normal mother does - I started to take him out of the stroller to nurse him. The doctor began to look a little alarmed and uncomfortable. And he quickly rushed me out of his office saying, "oh, we're done here. Everything should be fine. You can nurse your son in the other room."

A very interesting reaction from a doctor but this is a medecin du travail who have the reputation for being the kind of cowardly doctors who don't want to touch patients or even deal with them beyond the paperwork. They are so far out of touch that they can't even prescribe medication.

The following week when I saw Dr. R (my kissy GP), I told him I'd been called in and by whom he made a face. "Oh, you saw Dr. Thingy? I'm in training with him at the moment. I've been trying to kiss his ass because he's a real asshole". His exact words were, "c'est un vrai tête de con". But I made it through so either my dirty hair or Dr. R's asskissing did it.

Admittedly, I didn't have post-partum depression but I definitely was not ready to go back to work because of exhaustion. Max was still waking up 3 times a night, I was (am) still breastfeeding him. So I don't really feel like I took advantage of the system. My doctor just gave me an extra month to continue the normal progression of things.


Jennie said...

I don't think any woman should have to go back to work too early after having a baby, especially when she's feeling exhausted. I definitely don't see it as taking advantage of the system.

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