I am 28. White. A Female. And a former Peace Corps Volunteer. I am HIV Positive. This is my story of how a few months, a few people, and a few events in Zambia changed me and my life forever. This is the story of how I contracted HIV and brought my Peace Corps Journey to a crashing halt... and how I am working now to pick up and put back together the pieces of my life as a newly diagnosed person living with HIV. This was not the journey I had originally planned... my path has traumatically and dramatically changed... but it is the one I am on now. There is no going back. There is only forward. I welcome you to follow along with me as I attempt to explore this new life ahead of me, whether you are someone from the Peace Corps community, or someone living with HIV. I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and opinions. Let us go forward together. To start from the beginning, click here He Gave Me More Than A Bracelet.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Life As A Medevac in D.C.- Part 1

Did you ever spend 36 days living in a hotel? I did.

I arrived to D.C. and took a shuttle from the airport to the hotel. I had never been there before. I had no idea what D.C. was going to be like. I had no idea what the hotel would be like or Peace Corps Headquarters or any of it. PC South Africa had given me no information about what life would be like as a Medevac in D.C. I was scared out of my mind.

Well, I pulled up to a nice looking hotel and was dropped out front. I checked in and went up to my room. The hotel staff said that there should be a roommate waiting for me. I opened the room door and found no one. But, I did find empty boxes and bags and trash all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, the room was amazing! It was a full suite with a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom… but why was there all this junk laying around? I snooped around a bit and still couldn’t quite figure out if there had been a roommate staying there or not. Eventually, when no one else came home that night, I decided that there must not be a roommate and all that stuff was just trash left behind. I had a cleaning spree the next morning.

The next day I walked the 10 blocks or so to PC Headquarters and met my International Health Coordinator. We discussed my case and went over some paperwork. I received my stipend for the next week. Then, they sent me off in a taxi to my first Doctor’s appointment.

My appointment was about 4 hours long. I told my whole story to the team of doctors. They reviewed my chart and records and checked me out. Then they talked to me about my options for treatment. I decided not to start treatment right away, as I needed some more time to research and think about it. They did however prescribe me an antibiotic to take to prevent PCP (a certain kind of pneumonia that HIV+ people are prone to when their CD4 drops under 200). I was then sent to the Lab for more blood to be drawn. Finally, they had me meet with the team of Social Workers in the clinic and I once again reiterated my whirlwind of a story.

When the appointment was finally over, I walked, or rather wandered, my way back to the hotel and slept for at least 15 hours straight. The next few days were a blur, but I met with different people in PC Headquarters, and slept, and met some other Medevacs, and slept some more. My body was still in pretty rough shape and recovering from the initial Acute HIV Infection or Seroconversion (which I’ll have to explain in another post).

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