Service Week 40 [Popcorn Popping]

I win the 2019 Award of Excellence in Faking Patience.


One-sentence summary: NIH confirmed my Peruvian jungle parasitic infection has a US bacterial infection which makes it a “super” infection; a week of additional “super” antibiotics; and trying to delicately (with cement boots, a gag order, and a stick of dynamite) be the middle-person between two government entities (NIH and PC) advocating for my treatment and a ruling on my return to service.

Right Now: Back in the PC hotel in Georgetown. Toughest vacation I will ever not really love.

Expression of the Week: Chispas! 

Translates to “sparks” but in this safe-for-work expletive I think it is closer to “Sheesh!” or in context, “Jesus Jess Now What.”

I will be honest. Week Forty of “service” and around Day 34 of medical evacuation and I have lost my joie de vivre. See? That’s not even Spanish anymore.

I did manage to crack up this week’s phlebotomist and win over Building 10’s 8th floor front desk lady at NIH. I did not make any new friends, however, during my psych evaluation. But that is a sign to me there’s still some chispas left somewhere.

IMG_4039Recap for the looky-loos: I have a jungle bug disease parasite (Mike) that’s basically a new world order cousin of leprosy. It is totally treatable and I luckily have few symptoms. I am on my final week of a chemo-like pills that kill the parasites and hopefully not any of my organs. The medicine makes me feel like I have the flu. I now have an infection at the lesion site and it’s painful red swollen hot angry and “not healing as fast as we would like” which is pushing on Peace Corps’ deadline to return to service. NIH sees me on a weekly basis and the medical team at Peace Corps HQ is about to make a ruling on my case for medical separation or permitting my return to service.

During training we are given many classes about technical skills, medical classes, and PC policy. It’s hard to listen attentively and retain the minutiae details of medical evacuation and separation when you’re confident that won’t be you.

I still wouldn’t have retained any of it had I known I was going to collapse a bridge and get a bug bite.

Here’s a primer:

When you are accepted to Peace Corps you are accepting a 27-month position to serve.

The first three months is training where you have a status of a “trainee.”

After training (PST) and the swearing-in ceremony you become a PCV.

When you are all done with service you become a RPCV, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.

Of course, over the 27-months of service, life happens.

Peru 31 Economic Development “Trainees” June 2018

For our cohort of Peru 31 in the past year, we had one trainee involuntarily separate because they were present in an assault; one trainee leave and return for a death of a sibling; three trainees chose not to swear-in for service; two PCV’s voluntarily ET’d (early terminate, aka voluntarily leave) for personal reasons; and two PCV’s involuntarily and voluntarily medically separate for mental and physical reasons.

Peru 31 Leaderboard

Induction March 2018: 48 members

Swearing-in June 2018: 44

3-month training EIST September 2018: 43

6-month training IST  January 2019: 41

March 2019: 40 …or 39*

In my case, I was medically evacuated to Washington DC (status: “medevac” PCV) because my condition was best treated at NIH rather than in Peru.

The day I flew out of the country a timer was started by Peace Corps. PCV’s are allowed 45 days at the status of a volunteer for medical attention out of their assigned country. On Day 45, if the PCV is not cleared to return to service, they are “medically separated” and there’s a bunch of new forms to sign and you kicked into RPCV land, whether you like it or not.

IMG_4044This means you are no longer a PCV receiving benefits and health care of an active PCV. They no longer put me up in a hotel or provide a meal stipend between medical appointments.

As far as I have been told (and this changes with my hearing and with the wind) I am on my own for health care and getting back to Wyoming. I am hopeful NIH will help out.

Again, I am just trying to figure out the ever-changing landscape.

I have an appointment with NIH on Tuesday. The final day of my medical evacuation timer is in one week.


Vamos a ver.


Mailing Address



7 Replies to “Service Week 40 [Popcorn Popping]”

  1. Goodness gracious. Sucking some serious balls!! I’m sorry you are trying to do all this self advocacy while under a time stress, and the flu-like effects. Very not fun. I am glad, though, that you are receiving lots of loving support from people you care about. Here’s crossing my fingers that medical separation won’t be necessary, and that the infection’s infection will take a breather…and fuck psych evals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. D! Dddddddd. Thank you for your very acute and accurate summary of my whirlwind state of being. And while I value psychiatric care and intervention when it saves lives… your comment was not only on-point it also gave me a relief of laughter. Well played. Love you.


    1. Oh it’s fine. We just threw some more antibiotics at me. Looks improved already. But if you could be here tomorrow by 10:30am EST that would be great. Actually, a time-machine to last week would be best, then we could have raised some hell together. Now all I want to do is eat popcorn. xo


  2. My Mom always hated the phrase (used in the now-traditional-manner) “That sucks.” I generally agree with her. However, it is far too appropriate NOT to use it in this case. Sorry, Mom. Herumph. I’m sorry you feel icky/flu like. That sucks. I’m sorry the PC doesn’t SEEM very “PC” with their follow up/time line of providing benefits. That sucks, too. However, you may just feel like a million five by Tuesday and ALL infections can be gone with the wind and you get on a plane and go back. So there. I’m here, about to eat popcorn. And from now on, I’ll think of you every time I eat popcorn – something I do quite regularly. Love and miss you. Hang tough, chickee. 🙂


  3. If anyone can navigate and mitigate the situation and struggle…it is you. Which in itself, is the psych evaluation. The gift of strength that you continually give others is awesome. “Super Bugs” my ass. Those bitches don’t have a chance.


  4. Going back through your blogs- what an incredible journey, experience, etc. Invent your own genre of writing that combines memoir, infographics, and your brand of humor- just keep writing and sharing. Love you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: