Finding things that weren’t lost

I mentioned before that I have a health examination tomorrow. I don’t think I mentioned it was at 7:45 in the morning and it is in a place some distance across Strasbourg from home. One of the first things which will happen is a blood test so I’m not allowed to eat anything during the 12 hours beforehand but have to buy breakfast to eat after the blood test and dental check-up. This will undoubtedly involve something of the baked goods variety – especially as there is a boulangerie between the tram-stop and the health centre which has been going since 1279 and I know sells wonderful baked goods.

In my time here I have had a several medical tests, blood tests and x-rays particularly. As they need you to go without food beforehand I normally go somewhere nearer.

As well as the completed four page questionnaire which I have to take I must bring any results I have from earlier tests. It’s not like the UK, where a blood test or an x-ray is prescribed and in the larger surgeries you have it done by the nurse and they keep your records or you have to go to the hospital and they keep your records. Here in France the Doctor usually prescribes a blood test or x-ray and it is then your responsibility to find a laboratory to carry it out. After you have done it they send a copy to the doctor and a copy to me. I think it is better this way, I feel I am playing more of a part in, and I am more responsible for, my own health-care. At times like this when I have to see a third-party and they want to see the records I have, they tell me to bring them, I fish them out and take them with me. I will then be able to talk about my medical history explaining why I have each item.

I have had a two draw filling cabinet similar to the one pictured for a number of years. Some time ago I lost the keys to the bottom draw which was not good as it was locked. However, stuff like bank statements etc were in the top and it was more personal things in the bottom so I haven’t been worried about not seeing them. I did wonder about vaccinations and other medical records. For the first time in over ten years I was able to manoeuvre the draws so that I could get at the items stored in the bottom draw. But, in doing so I remembered that vaccinations and similar items were all in the front of the top draw anyway. A quick search revealed vaccination records going back to 1965 and hospital appointments of the same vintage. I don’t think they’ll be much use  but I’ll take them anyway, What will be useful is the record of vaccinations I had in November 2002 before a trip to Southern Africa which probably details the inoculations I have had that are still current.

Having the draw open anyway I spent sometime looking through the contents. Mostly it was nothing exceptional, cuttings and leaflets from a politically active past; records from a public inquiry I took part in and gave evidence at and then the big surprise. There were many letters. In the 80’s and 90’s I was a keen letter writer. The letters I received when I was a student unfortunately seemed to disappear from my parents house where they were stored. I was surprised to find letters form a German school student I took part in an exchange with in 1979 and 1980. I was pleased to find letters from my brother from the time he left the UK to go travelling and then after he had left to make his home in Australia.

I also found letters from female friends from the 1990’s and the tone and content surprised me. If asked now I would have said our relationships was not as the letters state. I would say that some of the things stated in the letters didn’t happen, subjects being talked about casually that, if quizzed before seeing them, I would be sure were never explicitly talked about. It is possible that the more subtle, the more nuanced parts were not picked up and I am very good at not noticing things said subtly. But this is not that. This is not remembering how things were. If this is remembered wrong, what else is too? How much of what I believe my story to be is just totally wrong? I found something this afternoon. I didn’t know it was lost.

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