2 août 2012

The last day?

Today – this morning, in fact – is potentially my last day as a PCV. See, up until now, I’ve been a (very bored) PCV on medical hold, and then a (very bored) PCV on med evac, but that’s because they didn’t know what was wrong with me. This afternoon, I meet with the RMO (Regional Medical Officer – the doctor who is shepherding me through the med evac process) and the neurologist to find out the results of all the tests that were done on me on Tuesday. Pending the outcome of those tests, I could be sent back to Burkina Faso, but right now it seems to me like the odds are very high that I will be medically separated.

It’s a problem of diagnosis and treatment. If I’m diagnosed with epilepsy (thus confirming the preliminary data), they can treat me, but not at site; if I’m diagnosed with some other condition – my personal suspicion is a heat- and carb-induced condition similar to hypoglycemia – it has to be immediately treatable, because most medicines and treatments aren’t available in Burkina; if they can’t find anything, they can’t just send me back, still having seizures for unknown reasons.

In fact, the only scenario that does involve me going back is if my problem has an immediate cause – say, a parasite or my brief exposure to mefloquine – and an immediate solution – a drug or surgery (God, let’s hope it’s not another surgery). However, since my current condition does not eo ipso seem to encompass the immediate…let’s just say I’m not hopeful.

If this is my last day, I think I’m ok with that. Burkina Faso was good to me, I did what I could for her in the time I had, and I have no regrets. If at all possible, I do in fact want to go back – or at the very least obtain a transfer to a country where epileptic volunteers can be accommodated – but if that just can’t happen, I think I can achieve some sort of closure.

But to be honest, right now I’m not even thinking about the emotional side of things: I just want to know what’s wrong with me. I don’t like having a broken brain, and I definitely don’t like the thought that there might be some sort of time bomb in my brain, just waiting for the day when *surprise! you now have an IQ of 73!* When I really sit down and start thinking about that, the sadness that accompanies any form of COS[1] just. doesn’t. compare.

So maybe this afternoon I’ll get some good news, and I’ll get to go back to Burkina. Or maybe I’ll get some bad news, and I won’t be a PCV anymore. But hopefully, I won’t get some really bad news, and find out I have an incurable condition, or I need brain surgery, or some other distressingly medical outcome.

It’s all about perspective.


[1] I might be wrong, but as I understand it, any PCV who is medically separated is de facto (I’m in a Latinate mood today) held to have COSed as well.