Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sometimes life throws you a curveball... and sometimes you get hit with a pitch.

First let me preface this post with the fact that we are fine and that the Peace Corps acted quickly and appropriately to help us and literally save Ilana's life. Here's what happened:

Short story version.... Ilana had to be medically evacuated from our remote site because she required emergency surgery to remove her appendix here in Guyana. The doctor said that a few more hours without treatment and it would have erupted (that's the medical term they used), spreading the infection, and making Ilana's situation much more grave.

Thankfully, she is OK now. The surgery was successful, she walked out of the hospital yesterday, and she's sitting next to me right now in our hotel room in Georgetown. She's sore in the area where they did the surgery, but she's in good spirits and already showing improvement.

Long story version.... we had been living with our host family for about a day and a half and things were going great. Even though we were only there a short time we were quickly feeling at home.

Saturday night after dinner Ilana began complaining of a stomach ache. Throughout the night the pain worsened to the point that she could not get relief and it never seemed to subside like a normal gas or constipation pain would. In the morning we let our host parents know and they promptly called the Peace Corps medical team, who dispatched the remote medical team to come check her out. Based on her symptoms, the team decided she needed to be evacuated from the site to do some tests in Georgetown.

Because of heavy rains through the night, our route to Georgetown was more challenging. To get out we had to take a motorized dugout canoe through the forest, Ilana had to walk the better part of a mile to the trail where a truck could pick us up, then our driver had to navigate the sand road that was washed out in several places, then drive another hour into Georgetown. Once in Georgetown, the PC medical team met us to evaluate Ilana. They quickly determined that she likely had appendicitis and needed to be admitted to the hospital.

An ultrasound helped doctors make the official diagnosis of acute appendicitis. The PC medical team was in communication with Washington DC to determine if Ilana should be flown to the states to have the procedure, but the decision was made that there may not be enough time and the operation needed to happen here in Guyana. I'm not able to find the words to express how scary that was.

Hospitals in a developing country like Guyana are... different. No elevators, wards are segregated by gender, they don't provide even ICU patients with food or water, zero bedside manner, and after surgery they ask you to sign to say you've seen what they just cut out of you! Then they give you a DVD of the procedure and survey to ask how you liked their service... adorable. That being said, they saved Ilana's life and I am eternally grateful to the PC medical staff and the staff at the hospital.

We're not sure what happens next.... will we be able to stay? If we stay, will we be able to go remote? If we have to come home, what will we do? Those are big questions and we're just trying to take things a moment at a time and get her to heal as best as possible. The PC med staff, administrators, and other volunteers continue to be super supportive.

I'm sure some parents of other Peace Corps volunteers will read this with a lump in their stomach. I want you to know that the staff here considers the health and safety of the volunteers and trainees to be of paramount priority. Although you can never predict crazy things like acute appendicitis, we are all in good hands.

More updates to follow... until then we'll be watching pirated American TV and getter Ilana healed.

To see a pic of her appendix after it was removed take a deep breath and click here. She's one tough boricua.

Much love,


  1. OMG Ilana, I'm hoping that you are truly ok?! I'm soooo happy you're with Nate and not there by yourself! Eek! What a scary experience while traveling abroad. Couldn't your appendix have inflamed itself about 3 weeks earlier?!!

    I love you both and please stay safe and take care of yourselves first.

  2. So glad you are doing better Ilana. Sarah and I will send some good thoughts your way guys.

  3. Who has two thumbs and just had an appendectomy? This girl!!

  4. Seriously?!?! I'm glad you were able to get the medical help you needed in time...that must have been scary! Kudos to Nate for working 'gas' and 'constipation' into the post...just what ever girl wants her friends/family to read about! Hope you both get some rest - body and mind - before your next adventure begins! :) Sara

  5. Meant to type 'every' girl...I just can't help correcting my own gramattical error! :)

  6. That's the sexiest appendix I've ever seen! But, it is Ilana's so that's to be expected. I'm so very thankful that she is alright. I can't imagine how scared both of you must have been and I am so happy that you can both breathe a little sigh of relief. I love you both! Keep us posted.

  7. Wow-so scary! Eric, Elliot, and I are thinking of you guys and are so glad that you're on th road to recovery!

  8. Ilana, I am so relieved you had access to decent medical care! I have heard that appendicitis is devastatingly painful and like Nate wrote, can be life-threatening when it is not treated in due time. This could have been a much different story...I'm so glad you are alright and how lucky you are to have each other. I'm sure Nate was an excellent advocate for you, it would be terrifying to have to go through something like that alone. Take it easy and keep us posted! We are thinking about you.

  9. I am SOOOOO HAPPY Ilana is okay!!! That must have been the most terrifying experience to go through. On the "bright side", if you do end up leaving at least you have a story/bragging right... "walking through the South American jungles as your appendix burst... jaguar following close behind..." Feel free to embellish, as I always say :).

    You are the toughest, most beautiful latina I know! Nate- I bet it was horrific and I'm so glad you guys were together. I'm pretty sure this will be the toughest thing you guys will have to deal w/ and it's only downhill from here...Knock on wood -- WHAT?!? UP HIGH! J/k. Too soon?

    I love you guys and please please please be careful!!

    Biggest hugs and love~
    Carson and Jackson

  10. I pray that with this experience past, now the best is to come. Best of wishes.

  11. So, I finally found your blog and my penis. I know right finally found it. It's about time. It was hiding under all my pubes. It was right there the whole time. I was looking and looking and looking. I should probably trim it a little. With my huge balls hanging i knew it had to be there. I just could not place it. I would pee and liquid would just trickle down my sack. i was like "where are you little penis?" He wouldn't answer. So I just yelled louder. Still no answer. Then I thought about Nate and there lil phil was. He appeared out of the brush and his little mushroom head peaked around the corner. He actually came out straight but looked like he came out of the corner because of the crookedness of him. He and I want to say hello and that we miss your musk. Love you both.

    Phil Koz

  12. This blog shhhtuff is fun. Ilana just know someone out there is praying for you and your appendix and I know that god will save your appendix and let it dance in appendix heaven with all the other god loving appendi. Just remember, god is good with an extra "o", god is great without the "od" plus a "reat", so let us thank her for our food.

  13. I go to post that I love you both and you are two of the toughest and courageous people I know. Then I read what others posted, and they said it all. Miss you both, go do good work and stop farting around!