In the States, when you do your glucose test, the doctor gives you your glucose drink which you take home and store in your refrigerator. This is because it tastes awful but is slightly less awful when cold. You take it with you when you go do your test, or some testing centers have it there for you, already chilled.

In France you have to go to a pharmacy with your test prescription and ask for the glucose. Then you take this little packet, like a Kool-Aid packet, with you to the lab and they mix it up at room temperature.

Anyway so I showed up for a language exchange a little early, in a part of town I’d never been to before. I noticed there was a pharmacy across the street so I went in with my test prescription, planning out what to say in my head.

me: I need the glucose for this test. (lays the paper on the counter)
pharmacy lady: (blank stare)
me: I’m looking for the glucose for this. (points)
pl: I don’t understand.
me: Glucose.
pl: I don’t understand.
me: Sugar. For this test. (points)
pl: This is a prescription for labwork. You do it at the lab.
me: Yes, I understand that. I have to take the glucose, the sugar, with me.
pl: Is this what you need? (holds up vial for pee collection)
me: No. I need glucose. Sugar. A sugar drink.
(new pharmacy lady walks up behind the other)
pl: I don’t understand.
me: (very frustrated) I go to the lab. They take blood. I drink the sugar. After one hour, they take blood. I need the sugar drink.
new pharmacy lady: You are pregnant?
me: Yes.
npl: You are taking the glucose test?
me: (relieved) Yes! That’s it!
npl: (to first pharmacy lady) Go get her the glucose. (consults prescription, then tells her the size of packet and where it is stored)
(new pharmacy lady leaves to help new customer)

pl: OK…90-something euros.
me: (incredulously) How much?
pl: 90-something euros and something centimes.

I will interrupt this delightful dialogue to say that my comprehension of numbers has increased DRAMATICALLY over the course of pregnancy, due to writing all the checks for doctor visits, labwork, and ultrasounds. DRAMATICALLY. When writing a check I listen very, very carefully but usually ask for a repeat just to make sure; when paying with debit card I listen very, very carefully to the first part just to get an idea of how much it is. So that is why I have 90-something up there; also this was like 2 months ago and I don’t remember the exact amount.  I do know that this was NOT a case of me misunderstanding. It was definitely 90-something euros, not centimes.

Anyway, I gave her my debit card, the French one, but it was declined. I certainly did not have 90-something euros in cash on me so, after all that horrible dialogue, I left without my glucose. When I got home after my language exchange I checked and we only had 80-something euros in our French account. (Lest you be concerned that we are really THAT poor, rest assured that the vast majority of our money is in an interest-earning American account and we move bits over as we need it.) So the next morning I went to an ATM and took 100 euros out of our American account – because of the socialized medicine thing, medications are the same price regardless of which pharmacy you buy them at – and headed to a different pharmacy. This one went much better. I laid the paper on the counter and said I needed the glucose for it, and the lady looked at it to see the size/amount and went to retrieve it.

pharmacy lady: One euro twenty.
me: (incredulously) How much?
pl: One euro twenty centimes.

I dug around for some change and paid for the little packet…and debated marching back into the other pharmacy to wave the receipt in the other lady’s face and tell her I know what a bad, bad person she is.

Now, lest you still secretly think I just misunderstood the first lady, even though I KNOW she said 90(something) euros, I will offer further evidence. Many establishments here do not run a card unless you are spending at least 8 euros. She would not have even tried my debit card if the total was less than 8. And even if that pharmacy DID run cards for any amount, my card would not have been declined for a one-euro charge.

So there you have it. A horrible French woman tried to rip me off but I was saved by being poor. The world makes sense again.

P.S. I don’t know what the deal is with American glucose but I didn’t mind the drink at all, and even thought it tasted kinda good. The only difference I know of is that mine wasn’t flavored like in America. <Shrug>