Monday, November 29, 2010

The first of probably many posts about poop

This morning I had a terrifying (and short) email waiting for me:

Please call asap regarding your medical clearance.
Elizabeth, RN
US Peace Corps
Screening Nurse
Office of Medical Services

A little bit of history- Elizabeth is the same person who had previously terrified me regarding my medical clearance.  She called very early one morning to "discuss" my mosquito "allergy" (I don't have a mosquito allergy).  Anyway, the result of that conversation sent me to the doctor's office (for the 9th time) and to an allergist.  She scared the crap out of me when we talked and I was just sure that I was never going to be medically cleared.  After writing some personal statements, endorsed by my doctor, my clearance finally went through, and I received a letter in the mail from PC saying I was all good.  So I was surprised to see this email today.  I called Elizabeth and she said that sometimes after a medical clearance is given and the file is forwarded to the Placement Office, they have questions and send the file back to Medical Review.  My heart was racing and I felt like throwing up.  I'm thinking, are they still flipping out about my non-existent mosquito allergy? Did I need some dental work done? Do they need more lab results? Then she asked me about my lactose intolerance and the pills I take for this.  Honestly, I had forgotten that I told PC that I was lactose intolerant because I figured it would have come up before now during the medical clearance process.

Elizabeth:  Is it just Lactaid that you take?
me: Yes! I take Lactaid!
Elizabeth: Do you avoid dairy?
me: No, I just take Lactaid.
Elizabeth: If you don't, what happens?
me: I get diarrhea.

PC people really want to know about my shit.  I've had at least 3 conversations about poop with PC medical people.  Next time, I'm going to tell them how the anxiety of waiting for PC affects my poop cycle. 

Anyway, she said that was fine and I asked if she needed another personal statement from me detailing the effects of lactose on my bowels, and she said that we're all set.  She also re-asked about the medicine I take for my irritable bowel syndrome (poop again!) and said that it had been approved (so I assume this means that they will be ok with supplying it to me while I am in-country).

This conversation means that someone in Placement has been looking at my file.  Maybe it means they are considering possible placements for me- possibly ones where I might consume a lot of dairy.  I think Kazakhstan is one of those places where they drink a lot of fermented mare's milk.  Aside from the fact that this would no doubt make me vomit, I don't know if it has lactose in it.  I don't want to go to Kazakhstan.  My sister Katie was there for a few days when she was on her way to (or from?) Afghanistan.  It sounded cold.  The PC should just send me to Africa, where most people are lactose intolerant and so dairy probably won't be the main staple of my diet...

The March departure countries, according to the PC Wiki page, are Dominican Republic, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Albania, Morocco, Belize, Kyrgyz Republic, Ukraine, and Bulgaria.  The April Departures are Botswana and Indonesia.  The only May departure listed right now is Fiji.  June is listing Ghana and Malawi.  If I could categorize these into Don't Want, OK, and WANT:

Don't Want: Kazakhstan, Albania, Kyrgyz Republic, Ukraine, Bulgaria
OK: Morocco, Dominican Republic, Belize, Indonesia, Fiji
WANT: Senegal, Botswana, Ghana, Malawi

I'm back to being anxious again.  Thanksgiving kept me busy and thinking about other things, but this Monday morning wake-up email has brought me back to the purgatory of PC waiting.


  1. I was in the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgystan)...Kazakhstan was Borat. Either way, it's cold and they drink a lot of milk.
    Love, Kate

  2. Hi Tracy!

    I'm thoroughly enjoying reading through your blog for so many reasons, including that I see you're in Brockport! I am a new hopeful PCV, and live and work in downtown Rochester. I don't suppose you found any local doctors who do the medical exams for PCVs for free? I've heard different stories about if these are legitimate or not. Also, as someone with intestinal issues, I almost fell over laughing after reading this line: "Next time, I'm going to tell them how the anxiety of waiting for PC affects my poop cycle." Hope your cycle gets relief soon,


  3. Hi Kelly! Nice to meet you! I don't know of any local docs that do free exams, but I think you can go to the VA hospital (there's one in Canandaigua) to get free exams. I've heard that you can't really make appts at the VA, though, and that you just have to go and wait until they have an opening. I would call them to find out or call PC to find out. So where are you in the process? Best of luck to you!

  4. Right now I'm prepping for my interview, which is next Monday... so I've got quite a bit ahead of me, I hope! Thanks for the tip about the VA hospital, I'll definitely look into that.

    Congrats on your recent invitation! I did a handful of presentations in college about the HIV/AIDs crisis in Botswana--it should be an amazing experience! I'm hoping to be nominated for a Community Development or Health Extension program in Central/Latin America, but wouldn't mind Africa. The preference is mostly because I already know Spanish and would love to immerse myself.

  5. Congratulations and good luck with the interview! I remember being so nervous, but I think the recruiters are all super nice and put you at ease pretty early on in the process. Just be yourself and give yourself a moment before you answer each question to compose your thoughts. I'll be sure to check your blog for an update after Monday! Peace Corps will be lucky to have you!