Medevac….Going Home

As I write this, I’m sitting in my bed back home in America at 4:30 in the morning. I’ve officially been medevac’d back to the USA for continuing treatment for my arm and to explore the options for another condition I was diagnosed with last week. Clearly, considering the time in America and the fact that I’m wide awake, I’m struggling with jet lag a bit. 😉

Medevac means I have 45 days in the USA to show enough improvement to go back to South Africa. If I am cleared medically sometime within that 45 days, Peace Corps will send me back to South Africa to finish out my third year. If I am not medically cleared by the end of 45 days, I will be medically separated, which means my service will officially end.

The decision was passed down from Washington DC last Wednesday, and after the Thanksgiving holiday (which PCSA staff gets off), I went up to site to say goodbye and pack anything I’d want to take home. I had to pack as if I’m not coming back, which is pretty stressful and emotional. I came back to Pretoria on Saturday afternoon, and flew out on Monday evening. After nearly 24 hours of solid travel and two delayed flights, I found myself hugging my Mom in the Des Moines airport, heading home for Christmas for the first time in two years. I flew with Delta, and considering my broken arm, they were wonderful the whole way, helping me preboard and stow luggage, get a seat where someone wouldn’t be bumping my arm, and helping navigate the Atlanta airport with two large checked bags. I was very thankful for all the help both Delta and random people gave me throughout the journey!

I’m home now, well, back in Iowa. It’s hard because I have a home in South Africa as well, and I’m not sure if I will be going back. It’s been an emotional week, after the decision was passed down, and I’m still trying to process everything. Once again, the readjustment is hard, made more difficult by the uncertainty of medevac and the cold Iowa winter. The first thing I did here in Iowa was buy a winter coat. It’s been nearly 3 years since I’ve dealt with an Iowa winter.

I will say that if I had to choose a time of year to be medevac’d, I nailed it. 🙂 I think only people who have lived abroad for an extended amount of time can understand what being home with family for the holidays means. Though I’ve celebrated holidays with friends and near-family back in SA, it also feels like I haven’t had a real holiday for two and a half years. I feel so blessed to be home for the holiday season, though the reason for me being back isn’t wonderful.

It’s still hard to believe I’m home though!


Medical Vacation

You may have noticed that I spent a fair amount of time in PTA recently (if you actually read my blog regularly…yeah….). Part of it was for the Warden Training with the Safety and Security office, but more than a week of it was me stuck in PTA for medical reasons.

PC has some awesome medical care, and they work hard to make sure we are as healthy as possible at site. This means that I approached the medical office with a somewhat minor issue….as was in PTA for over a week. I had been having a good deal of foot pain, and walking 5km to one school was not a pleasant experience. After a discussion, check up, lots of bloodwork, and another discussion, the PCMO diagnosed me with Charcto-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) which I have suspected I had, but was never diagnosed it. It runs in the family, so it was not a surprising diagnosis. However, I was a little worried that PC Washington would freak out and try to medsep me (send me home asap). My PCMO reported it to Washington, but there have been no objection to me serving with this disease-yay!

Anyways, I still had to stay in PTA for more than a week, getting physio to learn stretching and strengthening exercises, and getting fitted for shoe orthotics to provide support for me. Though the physio was painful (deep, deep muscles massages) and resulted in at least 30 bruises on my legs, it is helping. My feet are still sore and trying to get used to the orthotics, but it should make walking easier and less painful.

As the title of this post indicates, being stuck in PTA for medical is not all that bad. Showers, good food, meeting lots of PCVs. In the time I was in PTA, I saw maybe 20 PCVs for various amounts of time. It was awesome. Also, PC provides money for lodging, transports to PTA, and a per diem for food because staying in PTA is rather expensive. In the two weeks I was there, I received about R4000. My monthly living allowance is only about R2400. Eish PTA is expensive!

On Friday I had my last physio and stopped at the office to be officially medically cleared. I’ll have follow up appointments with the PCMO, physio, and orthotic specialist next month, but it was nice to get back to site Saturday afternoon. It seemed like I had been gone for sooooo long. And I’ll be leaving at the end of this week to go to AMERICA!

So I won’t be here very long until I head out again. But it made me happy to see my African family again. At least the PC doctors work hard to keep me healthy and happy. They also gave me permission to drop by bad (and far) school because I really shouldn’t be walking that far regularly. Especially while I’m doing physio at home and getting used to the orthotics. What a relief not to go there anymore!