Did you really think there were joys to being sick? Catching up on your DVDs you haven't seen doesn't really count as a joy. More like a "Well, what else is there to do?" type activity. But I suppose I can't exactly leave it there. This would be too short of an entry. Those of you who were expecting a sort of enlightened, optimistic outlook on time spent being sick, I am sorry to disappoint. But you should know better.
I have now been relatively unhealthy for the past week or so with various ailments - nothing serious or deadly, but my goodness is it a pain in the ass/neck. (Well, throat really)
Any time you travel abroad, especially to countries considered to be in the third world, you must half expect to get sick. It doesn't seem to be an option, it rather seems like an inevitability. It could come from drinking bad water, from not being used to the food, from being in overly crowded public areas where the vast majority of folk don't understand the concept of "private space" and proceed to cough and hock up a lung not next to you, but on to you, or it could even come from from jumping into a pond or lake you assume is fine to swim in, only to realize afterwards that parasitic snail lavae has seeped thru your skin and you have contracted bilhazia. you can google that for an explanation. Fortunately, I personally have not gotten sick directly from any of the afforementioned experiences. Yet.
I don't know exactly why I've gotten sick. One of the kids probably just passed something on to me last week. That's the most obvious way to get sick I suppose. Someone you know (most likely a small, somewhat adorable yet awfully dirty child with no sanitary sense) passes some godforsaken bacteria your way thru breathing on you, shaking your hand, or slobbering all over you after a nice big sneeze when they've forgotten to cover their mouth. As I'm sure we're all aware, children escalate this situation when they proceed to wipe the snot that recently emerged from their nasal cavity onto the nearest cloth, which is usually your shirt. There's no way to avoid these common situations, and by the time you realize what's happening, it's too late to do anything. Life. It's a four letter word.
The majority of my week was spent finding my voice again after I had lost it for 2 days (I found it under my bed after I cleaned my room - the spiders were holding it hostage), as well as coughing, coughing, coughing, coughing, COUGHING so much and so hard that I actually developed a giant knot in my back that felt and still feels like a gremlin is trying to escape from between my spine and shoulder blade. I've taken electrolyte supplements, drank vitamin C super energy booster drinks with literally 1111% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet (it says so on the packet), sucked on lozenges and cough drops, taken both ibuprofen and non-aspirin painkillers, and eaten about a dozen cappucino flavoured muffins with chocolate chips in them. ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
Not really at the same time. But over the course of the week, that is how I've self-medicated. All I really wanted was some heavy duty cough syrup, some Tylenol PM to knock me out at nite, and a slingshot with pebbles to keep the cats away from my muffins.
Getting sick really messes with your psyche. This is especially true in a far off land where mom isn't there to pamper you and bring you tea and soup, tell you what pills to swallow and when, give you endless hugs, wait on you hand and foot, and bring you anything you want while you watch your favourite childhood Disney movies that are still on VHS tape. Not that my mom ever did that. (She totally did - she's the best) This week, now that I'm all grown up and still getting sick, I found that all negative thoughts were entering my head as I lay in bed, watching my Scrubs episodes and a pirated version of Pirates of the Carribean 3 (no pun intended). I was upset I couldn't match the progress we made last week with the vegetable garden project we started, and then I started thinking that we'll never get diesel for the tractor at this rate. If we don't get diesel, we can't plow the land again, if we can't plow the land again, we can't make our furrows, if we can't make our furrows, we can't start planting, if we can't start planting, nothing will start growing, if nothing starts growing, WE CAN NEVER EAT VEGETABLES FROM OUR GARDEN.
I found that when I felt ultra-bad, I was getting fleeting thoughts of "I'd rather be sick at home on my own couch"... "WTF am I actually doing out here? Do they really need me? What good am I doing here? I can't even understand what's being said half the time..." Blah Blah Blah.
I then began thinking of all the projects we have in mind here on the farm and how there's so much to do and we'll never actually get to do any of it and blah blah blah blah whine whine whine. I'm fully aware that all these sentiments are completely unfounded, and whereas normally I would think and approach these situations one step at a time, and more importantly, optimistically, I found myself having such a negative attitude towards everything. Then this morning I woke up feeing about 70% as opposed to 25% (so still not 100%) and just like that, I started thinking about how many things we will get done next week if I just keep getting a little bit better each day. My sense of optimism was back overnite and all it took was me not feeling devil claws inside my throat and chest ripping me apart every time I coughed. The three letters and package from home I received yesterday made me smile quite largely, and I credit them with speeding up my recovery as well.
Before coming over to this side of the planet, I received a very uplifting and supportive email from a friend of mine who I've never actually met (I don't even know what she looks like!), yet she has been an invaluable resource to me. Robyn has worked/volunteered around the world with various international development and outreach projects for a number of years now, so she knows a thing or two about what volunteers abroad go thru. She wrote one thing in her email that stuck with me, and I'd like to just copy and paste it here to share with you, because it has done a lot to keep my spirits up when I go thru a rough patch...
***not much i can say that you don,t already know, but would love to send my support by saying-- freaking out is normal just go awith it, when times get rough remember that home will ALWAYS be there and just as college or something goes by and life continues all of this will also go by and you will marvel at how you continue your joey life having completed peace corps, that said though_ take it one step at a time and dont let your thoughts get ahead of you, you will probably get sick after 3 weeks- it will only make you stronger, you will probably come out with more questions than answers which means you really get it, use support when you need it (write me anytime!), and know that this doesn,t have to be a phase or lifequest or something but can just be a very real career; part of your life; part of the life of others if you want OR it can just be a fantastic experience that makes you better in any field. safe journey and be well, safe, happy and inquisitive***
If there is any joy to being sick, I've found that it is realizing that you are strong enough to take on and overcome your illness, and when you do get better, you emerge stronger than before and with a more optimistic view of your own life.
That said, next week, I'm heading back to the vegetable garden.
4 months ago