Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Being sick in the Peace Corps sucks for two reasons:

1) I’ve always been a bit dramatic when I’m sick. But when you’re alone in a foreign country, everything you feel is bigger. So my caps locked drama suddenly become caps locked, underlined, bolded, and italicized. So when I’m sick, I’m SICK.

2) When I’m sick, the first order of business is to call the Peace Corps doctors in Lima. No matter how helpful they are via the phone they never say what I want them to, which is “Beth, it really sucks that you’re sick. Guess what. We just bought your Mom a plane ticket and she’ll be there tomorrow with your t-shirt quilt and a bowl of soup.” Instead of buying my Mom a plane ticket they always give me practical advice, such as drink plenty of water, rest a lot, don’t forget to eat… Good advice but not quite what I want to hear.

Since I’m currently lying in bed, feeling like the grim reaper is knocking on my door, I’ve decided to countdown my Top Four sickest moments in the last ten months.

4. The Ear Infections: I can’t remember having an ear infection before the Peace Corps. I used to spend forty hours per week in a pool every summer and I never caught an ear infection. Since coming to Ancash, I have been plagued with ear infections. I’m currently suffering through my fourth on in eight months. My ear constantly aches, I can’t sleep, and my throat hurts. Zero fun. (Update: this is probably the sickest I’ve been in Peru. But I’m not removed enough from the situation to write about it… trust me, it was/is miserable.)

3. Food Poisoning: The occasional bouts of diarrhea are to be expected. But I’m pretty sure I had food poisoning one night after eating cookie dough made with bad eggs (my bad). Diarrhea in a latrine at 2 in the morning sucks. Vomiting in a latrine at 2 in the morning sucks. Doing both at the same time… sucks.

2. Upper Respiratory Infection: One night during training, all of the trainees in my group decided to go out together for karaoke. I love karaoke and I miss hating a fun time. So despite feeling slightly unwell I still went with the group. Big mistake. I convinced a friend to bring me home when I started feeling dizzy.

I didn’t leave my bed for three days except to make and deliver the fruit salad I had promised to bring to the 4th of July party. Because, yes, to add insult to injury, I was sick during 4th of July, my second favorite holiday (don’t worry, I’m going to make up for it this year by going on a sand boarding, whitewater rafting, penguin watching 4th of July trip of epic-ness).

My chest hurt so badly I thought I must have come down with tuberculosis and was going to be sent to some special hospital like Cecily on Avonlea. I thought death was imminent. Even after I was able to return to training, I still had a loud, hacking cough for the next couple of weeks. It was a great interruption during many classes.

1. The First Ear Infection: During my first couple of months at site, I became SICK. This would probably rank number one on the sickest I’ve ever been in my life (not any more!). Well, I had pneumonia when I was a baby and had to go to the ER, so that’s probably the sickest I’ve ever been in my life, but I don’t remember that so it doesn’t count.

We suspect that I had an ear infection that raged out of control but I compounded the problem by becoming dehydrated. Seriously dehydrated. Usually when I’m sick, I’m content to read books, watch TV, and listen to podcasts. This was the first time I’ve ever become so sick that I just wanted to lay in bed and stare at my ceiling. For hours at a time. I didn’t have energy to do anything else. At points, I didn’t even feel like I had the energy to sleep. And I definitely did not have the energy to boil water. It’s entirely possible that a dementor was floating around my room. I sure felt like I was in Azkaban (in case you don’t know, those were two pretty dorky Harry Potter references).

When I finally called the Peace Corps doctor, he requested that I go to the town health post to get an exam from a nurse there. I must have looked drunk walking through town at 10 in the morning. I couldn’t even walk straight. While waiting in the front room, I stumbled to the bathroom, and kneeled on the floor, my forehead pressed against cold sink, trying my hardest to not pass out.

On Day Three, I finally stumbled across the street and bought three bottles of water and two bottles of lemon-lime soda. The combination of getting some liquids in my system and antibiotics did me some good and I was back on my feet after a day or two.

Life in the Peace Corps… always an adventure. Also, I am currently accepting Emergen-C donations.

As an aside, I was recently introduced to the "Stats" section of Blogger.com where you can see which countries your blog has been viewed in. I'm proud to say my blog has been viewed in: Iran, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Slovenia, the UK, Israel, Canada, the Netherlands, Russia, Brazil, Iran, St. Kitts and Nevis (proof that, at one time, Caleb was reading this) and South Korea. So a shout-out to any international readers out there! What up?

1 comment:

Gail said...

Beth - this is horribly hilarious. I'm sure mom had a heart attack while reading this. I'm surprised she didn't convince Dr. Larson to fly her to you. Shocked, actually.

Love, Gail