Thursday, February 24, 2011

She’s Alive! She’s A-L-I-V-E! (in a mad scientist voice)

Sooo…that was scary! Less than one week in country and what does my body decide to do, oh yeah how about appendicitis? That sounds like fun. Well, needless to say that was probably the most traumatic event my 25 years of life has graced me with so far. Thanks for that! Nate’s story is spot on for how quickly a stomachache became the worst pain I have ever felt and how now I laugh, mwahaha, in the face of child labor pains (bring it on) not literally, but you know what I mean. Today, 4 days after surgery, I feel somewhat human again. I can get out of bed without Nate having to pick me up, food is starting to taste somewhat normal again, I am able to eat more than just half a bowl of soup, and I am able to sleep more than a couple of hours at a time because I can lie on my side (it’s the little things).

As you can imagine, having emergency surgery just one week off a plane and in a strange place can mess with one’s head. I would be lying if I said I haven’t cried my eyes out one or two times due to the mere stress of the situation. So many questions have been circling in my head, wondering whether we will stay or go, how will this affect our training, will we be able to find a host family on such short notice in the urban area, how long until I am completely healed, could I bring myself to going remote again, and the list goes on. I guess that happens when you have 5 days to do nothing but think and watch pirated TV. [Tangent~ the TV here is a trip. Due to the fact that there are no copyright laws here, you can watch one channel for four hours and see the same channel change from Discovery to TLC, to Fox, to NBC, to Lifetime. Also, instead of having the obituaries in the newspaper they do it in the evening on the television. They have a picture of the deceased and then all the names of the family members with insane music blaring in the background. Oh, and they also love to start a show and then mid-way just change it to something totally different.] OK moving on, so I wish I could say I had answers to all of those questions, but I don’t. PC is trying to figure out the logistics of our unique situation. In the 23 years PC has been in Guyana, no trainee or volunteer has ever had surgery in country. Yup I am the first! Most medical issues that manifest themselves usually don’t occur until some weeks into training or after they have been sworn in and are placed. So you can imagine the --rhymes with “lusterbuck”-- we are in right now. PC has been letting me heal in a hotel room for the last couple of days before any decisions are made, which I greatly appreciate, because I have needed some time to process everything and get my head on straight.

Of course I want to stay and get a fair chance at this experience, but I part of me is a bit terrified after everything that has happened. We were having such a good time before my lovely appendix decided to do it’s thing. We had a great host family (Eslyn, Aaron and Moses) out in a remote setting. They had a farm with all sorts of fruit trees, turkeys, chickens, and pigs and we were already learning so much: how to make a broom out of a palm frond, how to make Roti, how to wash our clothes by hand, words in Arawak, they even had the following weekend lined up for us to learn how to make Cassava bread and how to do some basket weaving. The location of their house was smack in the middle of the jungle and already the wildlife was amazing. So we were pretty stoked! But now …well who knows.

I am thankful that I am alive, and that the medical staff and the hospital acted quickly and carefully and that I got good medical help. I am thankful that I am with Nate, because there is no way I would have made it through this last week without him and whatever may lie ahead. I am thankful my belly is not as swollen anymore (it looked like I was two months pregnant after surgery). I am thankful I am in an air-conditioned room and that Fresh Prince of Bel Air comes one everyday at four and that Pizza Huts exist all over the world (again people, it’s the little things).

For now I am doing well and soon I will be doing great. Because just like Dr. Frankenstein said “[S]he’s alive” and its going to take a lot more than appendicitis to take me down, it may take a whole village with pitch forks instead. Only time will tell.

Till next time.


  1. I'm glad that you are now OK (or in process of being so). Can't even imagine what it must have been going thru Nate's mind during your ordeal. One thing for sure, its better to have had this issue up front than 6 weeks into the far away jungle. Wish you guys the best and keep up the good writing. There will be a few of us following your tracks.

  2. Glad to hear you are getting better (thank god for Nate)! I am currently sitting in the hospital with a fellow program mate of mine who is in for the SAME thing! How ironic. I think your story is making him feel better ;-) I hope you starting feeling normal again soon. Sounds like the trip is going to be the coolest thing ever!

  3. I have been thinking about you all week! I am so glad you are ok! I don't even know what to say, but I wish I could give you a big hug! I guess your appendix was just trying to show yall that you can handle anything! Love you both! Hibby

  4. You are beyond awesome Ilana! Glad to know you are recovering well and still have your sense of humor after such an ordeal. Nate, you are cool too I guess....

  5. We have been thinking about you and hoping that your recovery is speedy. We miss you both but are glad you had good care. We are so glad you are ALIVE!
    Love, harmony, Travis, Laura, and holly

  6. Glad you are doing well, I can't even imagine how scary that must have been. Get better, and wish Nate a happy birthday for me.