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.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Update on Reinstatement

I do not have much big news to give you about my reinstatement, but I do have a few additional bits of information to add in.

First, I found out (through the always wonderful Facebook) that both new training groups are heading to Zambia on July 16th. This is slightly different than what I had originally planned on, since I was expecting the Health group to be going in August as it did last year. Not a big deal... just moved up a couple weeks sooner.

Second, I received confirmation from my Country Desk Officer that the idea is in fact that I would join the Health group in July, and that the Country Director is in favor of that. I also found out that there is not a 6 week deadline regarding Reinstatements, as there is for original invitations (Original invitations must be received and accepted at least 6 weeks prior to the departure date). This simply means that whenever Medical Clearance is given, they can proceed with making travel arrangements, etc., and I do not have to stress about it all being completed 6 weeks before departure.

Other than that, we are all just waiting for my doctor's appointment on May 18th. The lab work done that day will basically decide all else.

I have to admit that I was having a little bit of a stressed out meltdown about all of this the past few days. You see, ever since I have had HIV, I always get worked up and stressed out before going to the doctor and getting lab work done. It's so scary never knowing what those numbers are going to come back as. Hopefully, I will eventually get used to it and not worry about it so much.

Yet, with so much riding on this month's particular lab work, I am even more stressed out than normal. Basically obsessing about whether or not my CD4 will come out good or not. So... I'm trying to not get sick and to take my vitamins and eat healthy as much as I can, but really I have little control over it... and no way of measuring or knowing until the results come back. It is hard to think that the future of my next 2 years will all come down to what that one number comes back saying.

In addition to stressing about my lab work, I'm starting to stress about the whole reinstatement thing in general. With it moving closer, it is becoming more real, and I find myself obsessing about whether or not I am doing the right thing. Do I really want to go back? Is everything going to work out? Am I putting my health at risk by going back?

It is also very different going back for the second time. When you first depart as a Peace Corps volunteer, you really have no idea what it is going to be like. You have all these ideas and fantasies in your head of what your service and life will be like, and a lot of times it's pretty "idealistic". However, when you have already been there once, you are not awarded all of these same idealistic fantasies. You have a more "realistic" view of what it will be like. You already know about some of the difficulties and troubles you will face, and this makes it a little bit more challenging to get so excited about it.

I don't think this necessarily means that I don't want to go back. I think it is probably pretty natural in a situation like this to be having some of these thoughts and feelings and concerns. And I think I will be able to move past it as more of the "unknowns" are figured out and decided.

Please wish me luck and send some good vibes my way, as I try to work through all of this and settle my mind and worries. The stress I've been putting myself under probably most certainly is not good for my immune levels!


  1. My prayers and hopes are with you! Hopefully this time next years we'll meet up in Africa saying how silly it was you stressed so much.

  2. Have you seen the new Yahoo article on Truvada as a preventative?

  3. I continue to keep up with you and your journey on your blog. You seem to be doing a good job coping with your new normal. I am proud of you. I have a few questions about you going back... Last time you were there, you contracted a parasite and was very sick for a few weeks. How do you protect yourself from getting sick from something else thus compromising your immune system? I am also concerned about your diet. How do you plan on eating "clean"...again, so you won't get sick. I remember a conversation that we had before you went the first time where you were telling me about the risks for a healthy person what about the risk for someone who already has a compromised immune system. Why would you put yourself in this risky environment? I understand your dream, etc. but this doesn't make common sense to me.

  4. Wow, Jessica, you are amazing! I had been following your blog and got behind when I went on maternity leave, and when I checked back saw that you're hoping to head back. I'm so excited for you! Best of luck and thanks for sharing your story.
    Katie (Paraguay 00-02)

  5. Wishing you the best tomorrow! I thought you might find this interesting. I sponsor children through Compassion International, and here is a link to a story about a child with HIV.


    1. sending good vibes your way as always <3 stephannie

  6. I hope your blood work went well (let us know!)! You're amazing. :)

  7. I hope your bloodwork results came back ok!! Keep us posted. Your strength continues to inspire many.