Now please don’t take this as over dramatic, but they are some of my thoughts from 5:30 in the morning. As usual, I started my morning reading the news to see what’s happening in the world I love. It turns out that the author of the Wild Things died. I never read the books as a kid, but he was on Stephen Colbert a few months back, and hillarious. Then I ran across this article about certain cancers caused by infections. What interested me the most are the facts that they shared comparing the percentage of the cancers. And posibility of getting a disease-created cancer are significantly higher in developing countries. My first though was along the lines of “wow, that really sucks for them” then I though “wait… Us!”
As a college student, when you leave the country to do a year of service there are very few long-term consequences that go through your mind. Maybe you won’t like some things, but you can put up with it for a year. And it’s exciting learning a new culture and living with less. Not to mention it’s a very important step in a life where you recognize the need in others. But it just hit me, I am now someone who lives in a developing country. Not to say I’m not privaledged in many amazing ways. I’m reminded of that every time my embassy emails me safety warnings or my dad asks if I need him to come get me.
But when one is excited about a new adventure one doesn’t think as much about the risks. Yes, we all know that it’s more dangerous. And everyone here knows to be careful after dark, don’t go places alone, don’t travel with shopping bags to late at night, stay away from bad parts of town, lock your doors while driving, etc. Not to mention logistical problems such as not having access to the level of healthcare you’re used to, and even if you go home to visit, not having insurance in your own country. But something that may not cross your mind is something like this cancer thing. Because of the conditions I have chosen to live in, I may be more likely to get cancer. Yes, like I warned you, I’m probably being over-dramatic. But the point remains, someone who serves in foreign countries opens themselves up to much more than just “being away from home.” I have the greatest respect for missionaries who were willing to sacrifice it all to go to the mission field, in much worse times than now, and risk it all for something they believed in. I’ve read many stories of missionary families who suffered with their health but continued supporting their purpose.
This is not in any way to scare my parents, I think as parents they already realize all the terrible things that could happen to their child when he/she leaves the country. But it increases my appreciation for them to swallow their fears and support my decisions. I know that can’t be easy for parents who love their children so much.
Now, why have all these random thoughts hit me so hard you may ask? (Or at the very least wonder why it’s important enough to talk about.) I’m struggling with some health issues recently, and really it’s something that’s been building for the last 10 months. Nothing too serious really, but it’s frustrating because so far no one knows exactly what it is so we’re struggling to treat it. Many symptoms but I won’t bore you will all the detail. But this week especially I’m feeling pretty drunk. Dizzy, light-headed, off-balance, with nausea, and my eyes are having a hard time focusing. So far, the possible answer could be very simple, some vitamin or mineral that I’m lacking in my diet. Eating in Peru is very different than eating in the US. Don’t get me wrong it’s wonderful food, but it comes with different sanitation, different preparation, and provides different nutrients. And as a vegetarian here, my diet has changed a lot, I don’t have any access to foods I’m used to, and is also very different from other Peruvians who eat meat.
Well, long story short, I go back to the doctor today who will have results of my blood work and other tests. Hopefully it will hold some answers. I know it’s probably something simple like “take these vitamins every day and you’ll be fine” but I’ll be honest, I’m still a little scared. It’s not easy being sick and so far away from home. And horrible feeling like I am melting away and I don’t know how to stop it. It’s probably at heart some control issue of being frustrated that I can’t control my own body. But point is, I’m scared. And honestly, it really didn’t hit me that my health could be part of my sacrifice to serve in another country. So if you can, please send some prayers or love or whatever you believe in. If nothing else, I know I need to get some of that inner peace back right now. Being worried has never been proven to cure illnesses.