Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Life WAY South of the Equator
Looking at this picture you must be wondering why Amanda posted a picture of herself in the U.S.A. some random fall or winter. Well it's not from the USA. This picture was taken a few days ago in South Africa. Hello from South Africa! Oh, and yes those warm clothes are extremely important because it is winter here. And let me tell you, their winter is cold! I was given a warm clothing allowance which I needed to use to buy a coat, gloves, sweater etc. All PCV's from warm clothed countries are given a little money to get appropriate clothes. Considering the fact that Uganda sits on the equator, I was in desperate need of warm clothes.
Over the last few months I have had continued gastro-intestinal problems from parasites. I live in debilitating stomach pain and lack of sleep from those pains. I went to doctors in both Uganda and Rwanda and nothing has brought improvement. When the medical facilities in your country have been exhausted the Peace Corps medically evacuates (medevac) African volunteers to South Africa for further investigation and treatment. South Africa has some of the best health care in the world especially for tropical medicine so I am at the right place.
I have only been in South Africa for two working days so far and thus still lack a diagnosis. But I did receive a full body scan, lots of blood work (my arms are so bruised I look like a heroine addict), stomach exams and so forth. I have been impressed with the hospitals, doctors, nurses, and medical everything. I have hope things will be figured out soon and I will be on the mend.
I am currently here with 6 other PCV's from around Africa (Benin, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda) with all different problems (dental, gull bladder removal, hernia, gynecological, cyst removal, gastrointestinal (ME!), etc.). I am the newest volunteer to come and potentially the last until after the World Cup.
It's been really nice to be with other “sick” PCV's. We walk slow together because someone is bound to double over in stomach pain or hit their stitches wrong. We eat long and slow meals because someones teeth will set them off. We take naps throughout the day. We listen and share in details our medical appointments. We visit each other in the hospital after surgery. We simply understand each other.
While we go through the horrors and embarrassments of invasive doctor appointments (cervix exams, colonoscopy's, surgery, etc.) we also have down time to explore and have fun in this new place we find ourselves in. Parts of South Africa are very developed. Where I am I feel like I'm in America or Europe. There are three malls within walking (or short taxi ride) distance and we find ourselves going there not only to buy warm clothes but also to go to the movies, get a hair cut and eat delicious foods we miss from America. The first two nights I was here we went out for sushi!
This past weekend we were able to visit a large game sanctuary that focuses on breeding and minor animal rescuing. I got to hold lion cubs and even feed them their bottles!
This sanctuary had lions, tigers (rescued), and cheetahs (rescued). The tigers don't get along with anyone else but the lions and cheetahs are sometimes kept together. It's truly amazing to see a cheetah taking care of a lion cub.
Now the week is back and it's time for being shuttled to various doctor appointments and trying new medicines. A few of the girls are being medically cleared and will be leaving South Africa to go back to their service. I'm hopeful the next few weeks will be ones of discovery and accurate treatment and then I too will return to Uganda soon.
Posted by ajr at 3:25 PM