3 months into service, and I’ve got mine. I have Leschmaniasis, a parasitic infection transmitted by sand flies, which manifests itself in big, ugly open ulcerations on the skin. I can remember when the little bugger bit me, and I few weeks later my itch turned into a big red sore on my inner upper arm. Gross. At first, our Peace Corps doctor was optimistic, and sent me back to site with topical crèmes and antibiotics. Then when it didn’t go away, she sent me to a dermatologist to be biopsied. The doc shot me with anithesia, cut a little piece out of the sore (real creepy) and put it in a bottle. A few days later I had my answer: LESCH.
My community cures leschmaniasis, like all health problems, with plants. When I began to ask around the village about the sore on my arm, everyone proudly showed me their own leschmaniasis scars on their legs, arms and face. Needless to say, this being an everyday occurrence in my village made it quite difficult to explain to everyone why I had to go into the city for PC mandated, Western medicine.
Now I’m in Panama City, wishing I had been more receptive to plants in lieu of needles. My treatment is 20 straight days of Glutamine IVs. It’s not bad, I just don’t much like being pricked with needles on a regular basis (and who does, right?) But besides constantly having an IV strapped to the back of my hand, being here in Panama City is somewhat of a vacation. I’m enjoying the indoor plumbing, electricity and internet. Luckily, there’s been some PC volunteers trekking through the city for regional meetings and medical checkups, so I’ve had good company. And I’ve actually even managed to make some new friends by bumming around the cities cafes.
While I’m in the city, I would love the chance to catch up with as many friends and family as possible. I am reachable on my cell (a huge plus versus my community phone where it can be rather difficult to communicate with and/or entice small children to come find me), so I hope to do some catching up with many of you!