Pharmacie Faux-Pas or Cock-Up at the Chemists

I was going to blog about the forthcoming AIPB Anglo-French carol concert. This will be only its third year but it’s already become a tradition in Boussac. French people have taken to the ‘meenzpiess’, which are served up afterwards with mulled wine, with a vengeance. It was the first répétition for the concert last night. Now, répétition is one of those wily faux amis (false friends) in French. It doesn’t mean ‘repetition’, like you’d think, but in fact ‘rehearsal’. We have a couple of run-throughs of the carols so that the French side can get to grips with ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and ‘While Shepherds Washed Their Socks’, sorry, ‘Watched Their Flocks’, and we Brits can become familiar with the hauntingly beautiful ‘Noël Nouvelet’ and rumbustious ‘Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant’. The energetic and indefatiguable music prof from the Collège, Sylvain Bouard, plays the keyboard to accompany us, and last night there was a French guitarist too. Now, we, the singers, assumed the guitarist had come along with Sylvain, while Sylvain assumed he’d come along with us! Anyway, whoever he was who had wandered off the street to join in, he played magnificently and we hope he’ll turn up again.

So, that’s what I was going to blog about, but along came the pharmacie faux-pas instead yesterday. Rors was sick yesterday so didn’t go to school, which meant Chris and I didn’t get our usual bike rides. Chris wasn’t too bothered about his since he’d fallen off the day before, the first time in about thirty years, and he was feeling bashed and bruised. But I like my exercise so I set off for a shortish spin about 4pm in the lovely warm sunshine. I got back to reports of strange phone calls. Chris had answered the first one, and there’d been a lot of intriguing background noise going on – beeps and burbles, but no apparent human being there. So he’d ignored the next few. However, after my return the phone started up again so I answered it.

« Bonjour, la famille Dagg, » I said.

« C’est la pharmacie » came a timid voice.

There was the usual long pause. French phone conversations are always slightly weird. I answer the phone and say who I am, and the caller then announces who they are. Clearly I am meant at this point to say something along the lines of “Wow!” or “That’s nice” or “How honoured I am to hear from you” because there’s always this silence. I’m waiting for the caller to fill me in on the reasons for calling me, and they’re waiting for flattery or at least some sort of inane remark which I refuse to give. So silence can reign for quite a while!

Anyway, the pharmacie cracked first. It turned out the assistant had given me the wrong tablets for Chris that morning. I’d called in to pick up his anti-histamines and another drug he has to take. She grovelled for a while but I didn’t want that. I kept interrupting to ask ‘Well, what have you given him then?’ This was need-to-know info since Chris had taken one of the small white tablets already.

Finally she admitted it was Wytens instead of Wystamm that she’d handed over. “So what does Wytens do?” I persisted. “I’ll have to check,” she said. Not encouraging. It went quiet while she consulted the computer. I imparted the content of the message to Chris and asked him anxiously if he felt OK. He was busy cooking tea and didn’t look any the worse for wear. At least not yet.

Tension,” came the eventual reply. Well, I was feeling pretty tense by now! Maybe I should take one of these tablets too!

Tension is ‘hypertension’ so it wasn’t too drastic a drug that Chris had taken. However, his other medication has a blood pressure lowering affect too so we’re probably rather lucky that he hadn’t fainted. The assistant kept grovelling. We finally arranged for me to call by next week to pick up the right tablets and hand the remaining wrong ones back in. But I didn’t have to wait that long. Another assistant who works at the chemist’s helps run the Boussac Judo Club where you’ll find me with my laptop and MP3 every Friday evening and Saturday afternoon making use of the time to do some writing while Caits and Rors throw other kids around and pin them to the floor. She brought along the Wystamm in a paper bag with the message “I sorry” in someone’s apologetic best English on the back!

No harm done this time, but I shall be more careful in future. I’d noticed the unfamiliar name on the box of tablets, but thought nothing of it since it’s the policy here for pharmacies to give you a cheap generic version of the drug that the doctor has actually prescribed. So you regularly get a different version of the more common medications like antihistamines. However, it was a worrying incident. I’d always taken it for granted that the pharmaciennes knew what they were doing. Maybe not, after all!

Photo from publicdomainpictures.net by Petr Kratochvil

0 Replies to “Pharmacie Faux-Pas or Cock-Up at the Chemists”

  1. That’s scary! Pharmacies are supposed to be infallible, aren’t they?! It reminds me of the scene in the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, when the pharmacist mistakenly gives someone the wrong medication. Thank goodness that everything was sorted out in the end.

    I’ll have to see if there’s something similar to the Anglo-French carol concert in Paris. My husband and I were stuck in London for a week right before Christmas last year and ended up at the carol service at St. Martin in the Fields. The vin chaud, mince pies and feeling of community made us temporarily forget that we weren’t where we wanted to be.

    1. I made some vin chaud last night but haven’t cooked any mince pies yet. It’s such a wonderful combination, isn’t it!
      I hope you’ll be where you want to be this Christmas!

  2. Had this been in the U.S. I am sure many families would have tried to sue. Anyway, this is to show you the difference between the way things are over here, compared to France. I am happy Chris didn’t suffer. I could relate to the way you described the phone conversation, with the pauses etc.

    1. It wasn’t serious, thank goodness, and the pharmacie discovered their mistake quickly. No point being unpleasant over it. And yes, phone calls are always interesting … !

  3. I’ve also been in that situation when the Pharmacie tried to give me a different drug from usual. I was able to point out to them that it was wrong. The problem is that generic drug packets often look very similar. The potential consequences in some cases don’t bear thinking about!

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