Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Getting sick happens...

I didn’t want to blog about this but I think I need to. I found myself face down in the dirt last week outside of my pit latrine unable to move or yell for help. I was lying in the dirt in a pool of my own sweat struggling not to faint as my world got darker and further away. I had left my phone in my house so I was without any lifelines. I panicked. I was terrified. I didn’t exactly know what was happening or why. Earlier that day I had felt uneasy with no appetite. I had laid down for what turned out to be a 3 hour nap and then felt the need to vomit. I went to the latrine for what turned out to be diarrhea and then it happened.

My latrine is fenced in so nobody could see me. I laid there for I don’t know how long. I could hear people going to my neighbors house to get milk for their evening tea. I mustered up the strength to cry for help. Help to get me inside to my phone. I yelled (as best I could) in English and in the local language. …I heard laughter in response. 3 people walked by the fence immediately outside and as I begged for help I heard laughter. From kids I suspect. In my delirious state I thought to even offer them candy to get them to come. More laughter. So then I was angry on top of being disoriented. I yelled for my neighbor by name… nothing.

Slowly my strength came back and I forced myself into my house to get my phone. I called Jacob and he came over immediately, but he lives 1.5 miles away and it took him a while by bike to get there. I also called the Peace Corps nurse.

My strength was back by this time but the panicked feeling of wondering what had happened, how a strong, healthy runner can nearly faint out of what seemed like the clear blue sky.

She calmly told me that what happened wasn’t terribly unusual. Fainting after a sizable diarrhea is fairly common and that it had even happened to her. She said that I was dehydrated and that I had lost a lot of fluid in my ‘long call’ and that I need to rest and drink fluids and keep in touch with her if anything else happened and that she would call in the morning to check up on me.

I remember reading about a common question that people had before joining the Peace Corps about getting very sick with nobody around to help. I didn’t think that could be the case with neighbors so close by who watch your every move and with a cell phone which I always have with me. Generally it’s not a concern, but I had just happened to leave my phone by my bed when this occurred, which could happen to anybody.

I felt a little silly by the time Jacob got there. I was feeling much better, only weak from the ordeal. I was furious that I was laughed at instead of being helped by the kids/neighbors. They must have thought that I was joking and they obviously couldn’t have seen me behind the fence, but still I was outraged that I could be lying there in need of help and hear laughter as a response.

In all honestly it was kind of a culmination of a number of feelings. With only 11 weeks left to go in my PC experience I’m tired to the point of being utterly frustrated at walking around my village and still being harassed by the same people and the same shops that I have passed for over 2 years now. They don’t see it as harassment as they yell out “Muzungu” every time I pass, but to hear it 50 times a day, every single day, just gets so old. I think that even the sickness was brought on buy stress and frustration the last few weeks, suffice it to say. But, I’m on a downhill slope now. The end is in sight. It’s been a purely wonderful experience and I would DEFINITELY do it all over again if I had it to do again, but there’s also a big part of me that’s ready to come home and see my friends and family, eat pizza and ice cream and go to the dollar movie theater again. Is that such a bad thing?

My Replacement

The newest group of PCVs arrived on February 15th. 60 of them but 3 have already gone home so I hear. In that group are my and Jacob’s replacements. They will actually be here with us for the final 6 weeks, which will be neat. It’ll be a chance for us to show them around town, teach them how life as a PCV is, answer any questions they have along the way and to give them some golden advice as to how to merely survive in our village. I wish I had had a PCV here to ease me in, in a way. But also the figuring out on your own is a magical time as well.

It’s going to be a fast 11 weeks. I have a good friend coming to visit next week, then in April my replacement comes and then in mid May Purdue Campus House is sending another group of 15 college kids to do some work in and around my village with the Compassion kids and their families. Last year when they came it was EASILY the highlight of my year and I’m so looking forward to their coming and seeing them experience Africa and Compassion. There are definitely some things to look forward to in the coming weeks!!


At 11 March, 2008, Blogger tans said...

wow that must have been so scary, i'm sorry you had a tough week...

When I first read your blog I actually thought you had gone running the same day you had got sick, glad you aren't quite THAT crazy haha.

you go home pretty soon, hey?
I'm praying for you and your compassion bike thing.

At 13 March, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you got sick,and had such a scary thing happen. Hang in there! Papa John's is waiting! :)


At 14 March, 2008, Anonymous Jennifer Blanton said...

Yikes, that must've been awful. I'm glad you're ok.

I can't believe it's already been 2 years. I have really enjoyed reading your blog. You've had an amazing journey. What will you do when you get back?


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