NIH results are in and the timer is about up. How I felt calling PC to separate:
How I felt when PC responded with “we have good news”:
One-sentence summary: PC informed me that with my condition it was “highly likely” I would be medically separated by my timer (tomorrow); emotionally processing stages of denial, bargaining, and messy stubborn anger; making logistical arrangements to return back home while plotting ways to prove PC wrong; my fourth NIH appointment showed favorable progress on the disease, but not great on the super infection; but finally the sweet relief I was no longer in limbo and the decision was made for me… I would go home.
And then Peace Corps gave me an extension.
Right Now: Emotional-flu zombie in my own pajamas, in my own bed.
It has been a long and semi-shitty week. I really miss being distracted by a pretend awesome fake boyfriend on Tinder. But honestly, I much prefer hugs from old friends that are so strong they make me cry.
Instead of dragging (any more of) you through the mine-and-mud fields, I shall re-cap Week 41 in moments of Trail Magic:
- Physical health: ✅ My pet Mike has reduced margins of 1mm. This means the giant gaping wound suck-hole in my arm is getting smaller and the chemo-cousin medication appears to be working. Adios, Mike.
- Super infection: The submerged canyons of firm liquid infection running throughout my arm have dissipated. They have me on a new antibiotic this week that, and I quote my NIH doctor, “has a black box label on it that it may explode your tendons so don’t go train for a marathon this week or do CrossFit.” Copy that.
- NIH: From Week Five of my hotel cloister, I started casually networking for jobs in DC and at NIH. (Hey, better than Tinder dates, amiright?) I learned more about the clinical center and how it operates, the numbers, and this medical metropolis we have funded by tax payers. I spoke with very cool people about their jobs and the benefits of being an NIH study patient.
- Peace Corps Volunteers: Site Mate A hooked me up with connections in DC; Site Mate B is currently getting me my personal passport and Driver’s License from Oxapampa; voice notes, texts, and postcards from fellow Peru PCVs checking-in on my status; two recently-returned-to-Peru volunteers sharing information about the re-instatement process (what happens if you miss the 45-day timer to return); and being able to guide a friend and her family on what to expect for her very own medical evacuation next week. It takes a weird village.
- A PC Peru Staff Member: Someone on staff has been keeping in touch and reached out when I heard I would be separated. They listened to my grief, helped me look at the situation from another context, made me feel valued, and gave me a few moments of peace. (Though they deny it, I suspect they had something to do with the Hail Mary pass of an extension no one saw coming.)
- Lander, Wyoming: A last-minute pick-up at the airport in Casper; my house-sitters welcoming me home with flowers, half-and-half, and slippers; showing up at a couple of front doors unannounced for hugs from new babies and dogs; and seeing how wonderfully happy and adjusted Cabot is with Willy & Tina and his new home.
I have ten days at home in Lander. NIH flies me back for an appointment on 4/1. Peace Corps DC makes a decision by 4/5. Then I will either be on a plane back to Lima or back to Wyoming, or screw it all, how about New Zealand.
I don’t know which one I am rooting for.
Vamos a ver.