Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Medically Cleared For Service

After three days going to and from Accra I am ready for the rest of my service, medically speaking. About a dozen of us from Volta and a few other regions convened at the Peace Corps Headquarters prepared to visit the doctor and see a dentist to ensure that we still are coping with the banku and fufu adequately. We had two days to be in the medical unit of the compound but I was able to get both appointments done in one day, meaning I could get back a day early. While I was there I tried to eat as much American food as I could, but the spending allowance PCVs receive is not quite up to the current prices of eating so well in the city. Two cheeseburgers and french fries plus a pizza are enough Americana for me.

All volunteers go through this checkup to see that there are no problems and that our bodies are not harboring any unseen characters that might affect our health negatively. When I went to see the doctor the only thing I had a complaint about was insect bites but they are minor and as long as I resist the scratching urge they are not a big concern. We reviewed the ankle injury and then that was about it. A few deep breaths to check my lungs and all was deemed well. I sense that I have gotten a little fatter as I am up to 157 pounds and none of that is extra muscle. In hindsight it makes the cheeseburgers and pizza look a bit more criminal in terms of my health, but they were a medical necessity for me (mental necessity at least) which I won't be regretting any time soon.

Part of the process includes giving a few medical samples on which to run lab tests and while the women have more to give than us men, we still all have to do a bit of "collecting" in the lavatory. There might be some more humorous stories I could tell about all of that, but for the sake of a public web log I will keep those private, reserved for later story telling when I get back home. Suffice it to say, you must produce samples of your waste so the lab can do some checks. I obliged and promptly forgot about it. On the 20th, Tuesday, I was running around the buildings at headquarters trying to get my reimbursement forms filled out correctly when the doctor stepped into the lobby of the medical office and made sure I got a brown paper bag with my name written across it. "What's this for?" I asked. "It's your medicine." I wasn't sure what I had neglected to get from him on the previous day so I opened it up and saw one small blue and white box with Arabic writing on it. On the other side I saw a sticky note affixed to the English side of the medicine and on the note it read, "Giardia isolated in stool." I have no idea how long I have had that in my system but apparently it is not so bad as to be a huge concern, and thankfully it is treated with four quick pills which I took promptly. From training I heard that giardia could cause you some severe problems on the gastrointestinal side but I felt decent as of late. I need to be careful on what I am eating apparently.

That was the worst of it though. One tiny little parasite that is currently experiencing its death throes in my small intestines. I feel ready for the next eleven months and those pearly whites feel nice and clean. With the students coming back next week things should get much more busy on campus and I am feeling ready for it all.

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