Sunday, August 05, 2007

If this were A.D. 1300 I'd be so dead

A few weeks ago I noticed a couple white bumps on my left elbow, pretty much like pimples but a little bigger. I drained them and figured that would be the end of it. Instead, after a little scab formed, they got infected again. This isn't extremely unusual for me around here, especially with the climate, so I drained them again. After over a week of this they still weren't healing, which is somewhat outside the norm and had me a little concerned. Each time I cleaned the two spots, they got infected again and the scab grew a little bit bigger.

After a couple weeks, I noticed that some recent mosquito bites that I had gotten on my legs and scratched had gotten infected too. This is also not uncommon for me here, but before they've always just been red and sore for a little while and then gotten better. This time, the same thing started happening on my leg that I had on my elbow. Puzzling, considering these were scratches where I'd BARELY broken the skin.

Last Saturday (not yesterday, but the Saturday previous) I went to the Feria of San Marcos de Colon, a nearby town, and had a great time. However, the next day I noticed that I had another infection on my hand, this time from a scratch so minor I didn't even remember getting it. My theory is that I did it with my own fingernail while riding a mechanical bull. By Sunday night it was horribly infected, and I had a sore red line creeping up a tendon along my arm. That's when I finally realized I had to go to the doctor and get some antibiotics, because my immune system was getting its ass kicked. At this point, I was in Santa Lucia getting ready to start working with the new Peace Corps trainees the following day and I didn't want to miss work, but there didn't seem to be any choice in the matter.

The doctor at the Peace Corps office cleaned all my infected spots (six total) with iodine and gave me an oral antibiotic as I'd expected. The following day they took a culture of one infection and did a blood test on me to see if I had any kind of chronic disease (apparently diabetes can cause this kind of thing; who knew?). I kept cleaning myself and taking the antibiotics per doctor's instructions, but it wasn't until a couple days ago that it became clear I was definitely getting better. My blood test also came back normal.

I know I don't have very good habits with regards to taking care of my cuts and scrapes, but on the other hand I'm used to healing from scrapes as minor as the ones I had. This thing sprung up literally out of nowhere and was, to all appearances, getting the best of me by the time I went to the doctor. It makes me wonder if I'd have fought the infection off without the aid of modern medicine, or if it would have just kept getting worse. It seems kind of silly because I did absolutely nothing really damaging to my health. But it's the kind of thing that could've killed me without antibiotics.

Despite that minor drama, things have gone as smoothly for me as I could reasonably have hoped this week, considering I had to run back to Agua Fria loaded down with all my crap over the weekend just to give class yesterday, and then return to Tegucigalpa today for the second half of my two-week stretch with the trainees. So far that has gone off without any real serious problems, although my role here isn't quite as involved as I'd imagined it would be. They already have most of the training explicitly planned out and ready to roll; my job will essentially just be to be present and help the trainees along with whatever we're doing. I did get to design one session (the day when we learn about coffee) but that won't be for awhile yet.

The new recruits seem just about like my group was back when we were in training - fresh, idealistic, inexperienced, bad at spanish, appalled by the greasy food, etc. There were originally supposed to be 15 of the PAM trainees, but 3 canceled at the last minute and never made it out of the states, and another dropped out during training. Nobody from either project in my training group did that, but I guess we might have been more of an exception than a norm. I heard that of the training group that followed mine, 35 started off and only 22 are left. We were 32 I think, and 28 made it to the end. Sheesh. Volunteers these days. Standards must be slipping...

Anyways, since now there's only 11 of them and two are married we're pretty stretched thin for filling all the sites that people were going to be sent to. Agua Fria should still get another volunteer, but La Palma, the site I recommended and that had a volunteer for 3 months before he got kicked out for a stupid reason, will not. At this point I can only hope that the rest of them stick it out through training and at least get to their sites. If anyone going to my site quits early it would have to be someone who really shouldn't have done Peace Corps, because my site is a great one and it has tons of work. I guess you can guess by my tone that I'm a little worried, but at least I'll get to have a hand in picking the person who replaced me in Agua Fria (well, I think I will). The good news is that THREE of them are "advanced"-level spanish speakers, and a few others are close to it, which is one of the things Isai and myself specifically consider important for someone who's going to be working with COCAGUAL.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, and Wednesday I have my COS (Closure of Service) medical exams and I'm going to be trying to get up to Santa Lucia (which is pretty near Tegucigalpa) in the afternoons to work with the trainees. We'll see how that goes. Also I'll find out if I have any outstanding intestinal parasites or other notable infirmities. Whee!

Love to everybody,



At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not going to worry. I am not going to worry. I am...
Guess Who

At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, there might have been some sophisticated herbal treatments back in A.D. 1300, let's not be too pessimistic.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger pineconeboy said...

Turns out it was a staff infection. The dermatologist said they don't get better by themselves, so I guess there's nothing wrong with me. So relax mom! :)



Post a Comment

<< Home