Thursday, December 13, 2012

Banane de Secours

As I found a few years ago in England, aspirin isn't something that's sold over the counter in France. They'll sell it to you at a pharmacy without a prescription, but damn it's expensive. I really can't figure out why something that's so ubiquitous and super-cheap in the United States is so hard to find here, in a country where every other pharmacy purchase is low cost. I went to the doctor again the other day, but not for something new; I was still having problems with the big toe on my left foot, the one that got the subungual haematoma after walking in ill-fitting shoes for three days in Paris, and I wanted to make sure that there wasn't something going on that would suddenly erupt into a medical crisis while I was in Glasgow. Mme. Tinturier spent about 20 minutes scraping away at my toenail with a scalpel and finally got down to where the coagulated blood was lurking, but to no avail; nothing drained. However, it seemed to have helped because my toenail pain is gone. I had to go to the pharmacy to get some antiseptic soap and ointment so that while there's a hole in my toe it doesn't get infected. I'm in the process of applying for the much-maligned socialized medicine here, but for now am paying out of pocket, and this was about $35 for a half-hour doctor visit, a bottle of pharmacy-grade antiseptic wash, and a tube of antibiotic ointment. I'll take it.

There's a vending machine sort of affair on one wall of the pharmacy, mostly stocked with late-night last-minute sorts of things like tampons and condoms. But there was also a largish banane de secours, which made me stop and take a second look, and a picture. That's because my first translation of that phrase is "banana of help" and I thought that could not possibly be correct. I took my photo and came home to check an online dictionary, and got several possible translations:

- the banana of help
- the big grin of help
- the twin-rotor helicopter of help
- the quiff of help (which required another search for the meaning of quiff)
- the fanny pack of help

Ah, okay. A fanny pack stuffed with things like bandages and so on, a sort of first-aid kit, which actually translates to trousse de premier secours, though that probably includes a wider variety of medications and so on. But why is it being sold from a vending machine? Are there that many people who suddenly decide at 11pm or so to go mountain-climbing? Sometimes I don't understand France at all.

1 comment:

  1. The surprise for me in England was rubbing alcohol -- regular isopropyl alcohol, 69 cents a bottle at any store in the United States, possibly available by prescription in the U.K.