France

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I value those behind-the-scenes programs on TV, especially when they warn you of dangers that you may never know. Here is a little behind-the-scenes story that you will really want to read because it might involve you! One of my chief interests in making sure patients are not only treated properly but that all the safeguards and protections are observed.

Read more on Informed Consents Are Often Skipped…

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The southern California sun is blinding this morning. I really need my shades.

March is not over yet and I see the requisite blonde in a bikini, working on her tan, stretched out near the swimming pool.

The radio is barely audible; something about how we are all becoming heartless bureaucrats. Read more on Getting Some Rays…

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I loved all of the French cathedrals, although I lived in Amiens and visited that one most frequently.  DISCLOSURE: I’m Jewish, not Catholic.

Read more on ​Drawing Inspiration From The Great Cathedrals…

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They call it “the French Paradox ” but it isn’t really.

I first heard this expression around the end of my surgical residency, when I hung out sometimes with some professorial internal medicine types. The real question was, how come the French with all their rich sauces had so much less heart disease than the Americans?

Read more on They call it “the French Paradox “…

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It is hard for me to digest the events of July 14 in Nice, France, as I feel especially close to them.

I was present at seven such annual patriotic ceremonies during my tenure as a student of medicine in a French government facility.  I loved the street-fair atmosphere, where I sang at the top of my lungs and danced with a whole heart.

As a medical student in government service, a terrorist attack would have mobilized me into service of France, a nation I can only love, which gave me a medical education essentially free of charge, asking only for me to prove on an exam that I had what it takes.

I wear a tiny Eiffel Tower around my neck — I stroke it as I write. Read more on Terrorism In Nice…

“Bureaucracy” is a word that comes from the French, which I suppose means that moi has a greater understanding of it than most folks who have never lived in France. Literally, “bureau” means “desk.”  So “bureaucracy” is “rule by desk” in the same way that “democracy” is supposed to be “rule by the people” since “demos” in Greek is “people.” Problems already. There is considerable debate possible about how much representative government can even be a democracy.  I mean, do so-called “Public Servants” vote for what their constituencies want, or for what they really believe? Desks have no soul.  Here, we are on a little firmer ground, for bureacracies have not much in the way of souls, either. The word “bureau” itself originally meant the cheap green cloth used to cover the tops of desks.  More like the felt of blotters, the coarsely woven green dyed stuff is used to cover gaming tables and such.

The Brits use the word for this sort of cloth as a metaphor for “snooker” (the billiard table game with all of those confusing balls and rules). Read more on Bureaucracy, What It Is And Why I hate It…

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I did not really “get” what and who Edith Piaf was until I got to France and first slipped a cassette of her “greatest hits” into what now seems to have been an over sized cassette player. I had heard of her by reputation in eighth grade French class, but had not yet heard a recording of her work. But my discovery of my love for her in France was when I was a first year medical student in the fall of 1973, freezing in an apartment over a cafe and a dress shop, looking for a few minutes of respite from studying in a way that was more compulsive and obsessional than efficient. My Mother-Of-Blessed-Memory had been full of ideas about things that I could do if and when my wild adventure in Europe did not work, and I would come back to Boston and become either an excessively-qualified nurse or an excessively-qualified French teacher who had “tried” medicine in France. Me — I just told her what I had learned ancient Greek soldiers told people when they went off to war: That I would “come back with my shield or upon it.”  It meant that I would not be the coward who drops their shield and runs, but if I died they would send back my dead body. She was horrified and yelled at me, right there in the airport, but that was how I felt about being a doctor and how I basically feel about my life now — I have to do what I can do and I am meant to do and is important.  I really do not have much better than medicine for that. Read more on The Phenomenal Edith Piaf…

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Back in France, when I wished there were more hours in the day to study, two female Mormon missionaries showed up at my door.  They tried to get inside, wanting to assimilate me to that religion.  I had not yet developed the method of chasing Mormon missionaries that I used years later, when we lived in Palm Springs.  I took the bus and the Mormon missionaries would nail me at the bus stop.  I did not want to run away and miss the bus, so I yelled “Devil get thee behind me” in English and numerous Psalms in Hebrew.  This method worked quickly and efficiently for getting rid of many southern California Mormon missionaries.  This method has been replicated by me in numerous situations.

Back in France, I was less experienced.  I hit them with Genesis Chapter 3 verse 16; in French “Tu enfanteras avec douleur.”  I suppose I could have used the English standard version.  I basically convinced them not only that I knew my Old Testament pretty well, but that I had enough problems being female and a French medical student without being a Mormon.  The older of the two women, a preceptor guiding a young student, said the equivalent of “she knows Scripture; we better leave her alone,” and I hid my joy. Read more on Women’s Pains…

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