Saturday, April 11, 2009

Health in PY

So my mom said I should make a list of all the health issues I've had in Paraguay, but I would like to preface this by saying I tend to be prone to minor health problems and it wasn't as bad as it sounds because they were spread over 9 months (as of yet)

1. I was perfectly healthy until the very end of training, when I got a gastro-intestinal infection and I missed the last (and most fun) day of training... :( Everyone did skits imitating each other and sang songs and basically made fun of everyone for a day. This lasted for about a week where I could hardly eat anything and when I did eat, it was very restricted..such as white rice and diet sprite. The saddest part about this was we spent the weekend after training in Asuncion and for the first time we were able to eat at good restaurants and not the regular, monday rice with vegetables and chicken peices, tuesday meat-grease soup (copyright: Shola), until sunday's barbeque. I couldn't even eat the cake at our end of training ceremony!! 

2. Giardia: Many of the volunteers I know had a bought of Giardia, and most were worse than mine, which included basic stomach issues and nausea for a couple month, but the symptoms came and went, which is the classic Giardia way. 

3. Fire Burn: So there are some interesting traditions that go on in Paraguay for the San Juan festival, the saint of fire, something I learned very quickly celebrating this day. If you want to know more about the fire traditions on this day, I already wrote about them on a blog from June, but the one tradition that ended up burning me was called "pelota tata" which means "ball of fire" --obviously a bad sign. We were about to leave the party of boys kicking around a burning ball of wire stuff with paper and doused in kerosene and when I turn around a ball is kicked directly into my left shoulder and I brushed it off with my right hand. Thankfully, I was wearing a raincoat that melted, but protected my shoulder from being burned and only my hand was burned brushing the ball of flames off of me. 

4. Skin Fungus: Close to the end of training there was one day where we were all at a friend's house planning our end of training party and the skies opened up and it poured until the street were converted into shallow creeks and about at that time we decided to walk home. Well, my feet were soaked and I must have came in contact with some kind of water fungus because a dry itchy patch of fungi appeared on my foot. Considering my usual skin problems, I just thought it was a patch of exema, and I let it be for a whopping three months!

5. Shoulder popped out of socket: During our technical training excursion we were visiting a volunteer in Santa Rosa who worked with a youth group that were learning to play basketball. The volunteer, Sean, decided it would be fun to have a tournament of volunteers vs. youth group and invite the community to watch. While this sounded fun, we weren't informed of another group of basketball players that weren't as small and inexperienced from the town over, with whom we were also going to compete. The very first competition with the youth group went well and we won fairly easily. The second game against these giants from the town over was another story; I swear there must be something in the water over there because extremely tall Paraguayans are a rare breed, and there were about 15 of them all in the same town, that all happened to enjoy basketball. Well, the first couple minutes into the game, I was going up for a rebound alongside the PY giants and one came down on my shoulder and popped it right out of socket. Fortunately it popped back in on it's own in 30 seconds so it wasn't a big deal but it was pretty sore and uncomfortable to move. I was a little overwhelmed by the situation and unable to express in Spanish what happened, so I ended up crying and our trip chaperone and  language teacher thought it was best to go to the hospital less than half a block away, so that's what we did. Even though they turned out to be very incompetent and really only asked about the United States and not my injury. It did make me appreciate the health services in my town, which isn't much bigger but seem to be much more helpful. 

6. Water contamination: After moving to my new town Altos, I was happy to find a clean water supply that I could drink straight from the tap, which it what I did on most occasions. However, one Sunday something contaminated the town water supply and I would estimate that one in every 4-5 people in town came down with sever stomach problems, mine was particularly violent, keeping me up all night for several nights..NOT fun, by far the worst illness I had...and I hope I never have to repeat. I felt like death.

7. Acne and discoloration: I'm starting to think this was more just aggravated from stress caused by changes in environment, which probably aggravated an inevitable period of severe acne. Since it never happened to me in high school, I figured I was due for some hormonal changes.. Discoloration was probably related to the heat. 

8. Exema: Not sure why, but I also began having more dry skin patches, that were different from the skin fungi!! now i know the difference. But just an annoyance, really.

9. Cigarette burn: This was just kind of funny because I was at the Paraguay-Bolivia soccer game after-party at the Plaza de los Heroes and there were a lot of people drinking a lot of "milk" which is what they sayyy they are selling on the streets (when the are REALLY selling beer) because it's technically illegal to sell beer on the streets, but the police don't seem to mind. We were all listening to music and dancing and another volunteer fell into me and burned me with his cigarette but didn't even realize it until I yelled at him about it the next time I saw him. So now we are even and that is why I'm not mentioning him name now :) 

10. Shattered Heel: I think we all know too much about this accident..and if you don't know, check out the blog entry "no, I'm not in paraguay anymore" 

So thoses are my injuries/illnesses for the first 9 months in Paraguay, hopefully the second year will be a little less dramatic :)

I think I must have reached some kind with the illness I've contracted in the last two months!
- Scabies! Apparently from sheets at the hotel that were not washed properly
- Parasite in my hair! NO idea how I got this one!
- Infected toe from a pedicure gone wrong! (the first and the last time I had a pedicure in Paraguay that involves anything more in depth than just painting the toe nails!)
- Huge bites that are super itchy and are not from mosquitos. People are torn if they are ant bites (I don't think they are) OR this mysterious white bug that you can't keep away from you even with insect repellent (sounds right to me!)
- Ended november with a nice cold and another type of skin infection to top it off! Wow, my body did not like coming back to Paraguay.... Hopefully it is all downhill from here!