April was intense. May was even more intense. Let me tell you about it.
The first April crisis was that Caroline and I both got malaria. Well, technically, we already *had* malaria, seeing as the malaria prophylaxis that all Peace Corps Volunteers are required to take just keeps the malaria parasite from reproducing in your bloodstream. But when you combine several days of high stress with poor nutrition, strenuous travel, and little sleep, even the best prophylaxis in the world can’t keep your immune system from throwing in the towel. So, we both got malaria, right as we were returning to my site from KSO.
What is malaria like, you may wonder? Well, it kinda sneaks up on you. For a day or so, I felt mildly ill, but well enough to take care of Caroline. The next day, however, I felt like I had the flu: joint and muscle aches, fever, general malaise, and tiredness. Then, the headaches started and the fever really ramped itself up.
Imagine having the inside of your head scraped out with a rusty shovel. Imagine it happening at random. Then, throw in a fever of 103 and all of the aforementioned symptoms, and add really weird hallucinations whenever you try to sleep. That’s what malaria was like for me. The sad thing is that it comes and goes in cycles, so that you almost begin to feel better, and then it hits you again and you’re back to being totally incapacitated.
Luckily, at that point, Caroline was feeling well enough to take care of me and make me take my Coartem (the drug we use to treat malaria).
Coartem is a really effective drug. It is so effective that after my second dose, I was feeling well enough to get on a tro-tro with Caroline and come back to KSO… which is when she started having a high fever and chills. So she took *her* Coartem. And after several days of having malaria and then recovering from it, we both felt like someone had run us through a garbage disposal. In fact, my first training run after recovering was easily the most difficult 5K run I have ever done.
Anyway, we eventually recuperated and started to feel human again, and I managed to get all of my final exams marked. I also got some good work done on the freedom toaster, and even found time to plan some things for my mother’s visit in May. And that’s when the second crisis happened…
Caroline’s roof blew off in a thunderstorm.
Yep. Blew. off. And her ceiling caved in, too.
She was not hurt, and she had the good sense of mind to put all of her electronics and books into her giant wardrobe once her ceiling started to leak like a running faucet. The only things she needed to replace were her towels (which she put down on the floor to prevent her slipping and breaking her neck) and her pots and pans (which she was using to catch water when she thought it was just a leak, and which got crushed by the ceiling after it caved in). I left my site to come help with the cleanup effort as soon as I could get out of town, and she ended up coming back to my site for a week while the school repaired her ceiling and roof.
The last week of April was the All-Volunteer Conference at Chances Hotel in Ho, Volta Region. After the preceeding events of April, this was a welcome relief. I got to spend time with friends, eat meals I didn’t have to cook, do a little gaming, and learn a little bit about what my colleagues have been doing at their sites.
After All-Vols, the remaining members of my training group had our Close-of-Service Conference, where we discussed how to say goodbye at our sites and prepare for returning to the U.S. This is a topic for another blog post in the future, but it was sobering and a little bit sad, while at the same time being fun and exciting. I look forward to seeing you all in September, when Caroline and I return to the U.S. as RPCVs.
This brings us to May, when Caroline and I met our mothers at the airport for a two week trip around Ghana. There is much to say about this trip. We laughed; we cried; we got sick; we got better. All in all, it was an experience that none of us will ever forget. I will write more about this when I get a chance to sit down and process it in more depth.
Alright, that’s all I’ve got for now. I promise to not get malaria again and keep the updates regular.