This is a personal account and does not express the views of the US Peace Corps

Friday, November 30, 2012

News: Both Good and Bad

To my friends, family and readers;

This post is hard to write. What does one say at the beginning of the end? At the beginning there’s “once upon a time” or “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”. At the end there’s always “and they lived happily ever after” or “Fin”. What about the beginning of the end? What does one say?

I’ll back up. The end of my last blog post mentioned that I was sick. I spent a few weeks in Yaoundé on Medical Hold waiting for first one test and then another. The general consensus was “a mono-like virus”. One that will affect me for a few months but should be fine. I might feel tired or get sick sometimes, but it would take care of itself.

So that’s what happened. I was tired, and sick, spiking a few fevers here and there, picking up strep throat; again, nothing big. I came down to Yaounde for some follow up tests that basically said things were going well. I was still sick, but that was fine. After spiking a fever at the Medical Office though, they sent me in for a few more tests and found that my spleen was enlarged. Now this is not a big deal. This happens pretty often in the states. Most mono cases are accompanied by splenomagaly, as well as some infections. Mine was probably caused by my virus. The only difference in circumstance is, well, that: circumstance. I live in a village, way out in the bush far away from emergency medical services. I take a two hour moto ride to get to my village. If something were to happen, for example me falling off a moto, or getting elbowed in the side, my spleen could rupture. In the states, while that’s a pretty big deal, you’re never really that far from a hospital. Here, I would bleed out before I even made it to a facility that would think it was anything but sorcery. The chances of my spleen rupturing are minimal, but they do exist.

For this reason, a team of doctors, me, and my family have decided that it’s best if I finish my service early and go back to the good old US of A.

This decision is surrounded by so many conflicting emotions. I am so deeply sad that I will be leaving Cameroon before I was even able to get running. I felt like I was just getting my bearings, just getting ready to take off when the rug was pulled out from beneath me. I’m heartbroken about leaving my friends, both American and Cameroonian, before I was expecting to. My training mates will continue in their service, travelling together, working together, sharing adventures, stories, and beers, and I won’t be there. My house, my dog, my puppies and the new kitten I was getting, those will all be abandoned by me. I am joining the ranks of the worst training class in Cameroonian history, with more volunteers leaving than any other training class, I think ever! I’m becoming a statistic

On the other hand, this is ok. I’m taking care of myself and allowing myself to be taken care of. I GET TO SEE MY FAMILY! I get to see my friends! I’ll have warm showers everyday, electricity, washing machines, real mattresses, good food. And my family! I can’t say that I’m not ecstatic about all that.

I’ve had a few days to mull this information over. My first instinct was to run into my room and cry, which I did. But I’ve had time now and am in a much better place.

Cameroon has given me so many gifts. One of them is flexibility. Expectations are never met here. People either always exceed them or always fall short. You learn not to rely on expectations at all. Because of this newfound… skill (can we call it a skill? That’s what it feels like) I’m able to pick myself up and move on. I’m excited about going home and anxious about my prospects. While I may not have achieved what I’d hoped to here in Cameroon, I wouldn’t trade this time in for anything. I’ve learned so much, grown so much, and had my mind and attitudes expanded. I met amazing people and learned so many new things that will change my life! And so, I’m grateful for Cameroon, my time here, and all the many lessons (good, bad, hard and easy) that I’ve had the opportunity to learn and teach here.

But leaving isn’t easy. Peace Corps was amazing enough to grant me time to go back to village and close up my post; get some closure. My sister had plans to come visit me, so we’re going through with that. She’ll be here to help me close up, meet my friends as I say goodbye and witness my life and work in Mogode and Cameroon.

I’ve had tearful conversations with friends here, telling them I’m leaving, saying goodbye. Those have been the hardest. I am leaving, abandoning my friends here. We all support one another so much. I have friends that I call when I’m feeling sick, sad, lonely, or just pissed to find another dead lizard in my house. And they call me. Our web of support is weakening as our friends leave. This is melodramatic. It’s hard to find the words to describe the tangled emotional blanket I’ve got inside me right now.

So now I have a few weeks. I’ll be leaving the country before Christmas, maybe with my sister. We’ll get to say goodbye to my village, friends, home, and animals together. We get to travel together. I’m really looking forward to this.

So my mantra right now is “one day at a time”. I could be freaking out about where I’m going to live; what I’m going to do since I’ll be jobless, broke, and kinda homeless (shout out to everyone who has offered a bed or a couch to me). I could be freaking out about how many time I need to poop in a cup before they’ll let me leave country (it’s at least three times, by the way). I could be worrying about who’s going to be thinking what? Or where I’m going to be for Christmas? Or any number of things, but instead, I’m going to do this in African time and take it slow. Things will come together. I’m sure of it.

So thank you readership, for your support and kind words these last 16 months. I would never have made it this far without you. You’ve been an outlet and a constant source of upbeat energy in my life.

This is not my last post. Not by far… stay tuned for my last adventures with my trusty sidekick, Kelley. 

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