My new orthotics are not the nightmare clumpers I was envisaging.
I picked up my orthotic insoles today, and what a relief.
Raised on all those jokes about Captain Mainwaring and his arch supports, I had rather envisaged myself hobbling about like Igor with a hump, but far from it. They are thin, feather-weight and very discreet. And they feel like angels' wings on my feet.
What it has shown up, though, is how parlous, in terms of support, my current summer shoes are. In summer I tend to wear peep-toe sandals of various kinds. Not ideal, says the podiatrist - they should be close-toed to prevent the orthotic slipping. It looks, therefore, like I can't put off the Crocs for very much longer, even though they are not within my budget, and until then will have to manage with plimsolls.
One other relief was the price - 74 euros, pretty much every cent of which is reimbursed by the state and by my medical insurance. "That's a lot less than I was expecting," I said. "In England it would be a couple of hundred pounds."
"In Paris too," said the Pod, smiling. "For the same soles there I charge 180 euros."
I suppose the idea of paying three or four times as much for your treatment in Paris as in rural Normandy would strike a lot of English people as weird, but there it is. It's because there is no NHS in France as such - the system is a collaboration between the state and your 'mutuelle', or top-up health insurer. For this, we currently pay about 1,700 euros a year.
Emergency treatment is free, of course, and treatment for people with specific diseases (cancer, permanent health problems such as thyroid deficiency etc) or on low incomes, or who are pregnant, but for the rest of us, many treatments and medicines are only 70 per cent covered and medics have the discretion to charge what they like for their services.
The Orne, where I live, is a poor area and everyone here is here is 'conventionne', ie: medical people stick to the state-recommended tariff for treatments, which is one reason that I lucked out today.
I did not quite luck out with my dental plate. The price is 588 euros, of which the state pays only 142 and my insurance pays 70 of the rest, so I still have 132 euros of my own to find - a lot for me, but it will be nice to have my bite back.