At first, when my symptoms started, I thought I was diabetic. Because it’s prevalent in my family, I’ve always figured I too would get it one day. I eat fairly healthy and exercise regularly, but that doesn’t mean I am immune to it. When my symptoms started, I thought maybe diabetes had finally caught up with me. But glucose tests proved my sugar levels were normal.
Then I thought it was a kidney disease, however that was unlikely because I wasn’t experiencing any pain.
Maybe it is just an overactive bladder, the doctor speculated and prescribed me medicine to control urges. It didn’t work and I was back to square one.
My biggest fear, though, was there was a mass on my kidneys, bladder or uterus that was causing the frequency. What if, I thought, it is cancer.
I came to Pretoria with all of those possibilities running in my mind. Although I had been checked for Type II diabetes, I thought Type I was still an option and I assumed an overactive bladder was out. My fear was in the big C.
In the last two days, I’ve seen an urologist and gynecologist. I’ve provided samples and had blood drawn. I’ve had three ultrasounds – pelvic, bladder and kidney – (in the last month, I’ve had more ultrasounds than my sister in law who is 22 weeks pregnant), a pap and CDC scan, in which they pumped iodine into my veins and produced eerie pictures of my insides. I’ve also spent a great amount of time talking to these doctors, plus the two regional Peace Corps medical officers, about my symptoms and possible reasons for the symptoms. After yesterday’s appointment, the doctors were fairly convinced of the cause but wanted me to see the second specialist to officially rule out problems in certain areas.
Around noon today, the doctors cleared me to return to Lesotho.
I am not diabetic. I do not have a kidney disease. And I am cancer free.
I do, though, have an overactive bladder. If I had to choose from the possible malfunctions, this would definitely be my choice. It is easily treatable and it’s likely my symptoms will subside when I return to the U.S.
The doctors believe my first round of medication was not strong enough and have increased my dosage. They want me to try it for a month and report back, but they seem confident that this will reduce my frequency. I’ve also been instructed to do a few others things that could help with the constant urge.
There are several things that could have caused this – high altitude or the strain of training for the marathon – but the likeliest is anxiety. I don’t think I need to explain how incredibly stressful volunteer life is, but it obviously got to me and my body shut down. Also, I probably put more pressure on myself than necessary and things at my school have escalated and there was security incident a few weeks ago that was 10 times worse than this medical evacuation. (As I have mentioned, I do like to be open but the situation at my school did not involve me and I was not at all in harms way. I also do not feel comfortable talking about my school online at this point and will likely address this issue once I leave in Lesotho either on this blog or in some other writing. However, if you are interested, send me a letter and I can tell you the whole sad story. When I left Lesotho, things seemed back to normal and the school should remain open till the end of the school year.) All these things were too hard on my body so it reacted.
So, I do have a slight medical issue but is treatable and likely not indefinite. Right now, I am waiting for Peace Corps Lesotho to book my travel back to Maseru and I should be able to join my COS conference for at least part of the time, if not the entire weekend.
Peace Corps has been absolutely incredible with this process, especially in the last few days. They sent me to amazing doctors in Pretoria, put me up in gorgeous garden B & B and have offered nothing but support throughout the last week. If I had to be medically evacuated, I am glad I was able to do it in South Africa.
Then there is all of you. I was in tears yesterday after all of the messages and comments regarding my medical evacuation. God graced me with such love and support that the only way I know how to say thank you, other than on this blog, is pass it forward and try to be good person to other people. Thank you so much for all of the love, support and prayers during this situation and I am incredibly blessed to know each of you, if only virtually.
I know in my heart I did the right thing by coming here and I am incredibly blessed with this diagnosis. Thank you to all of you who stood by me and I promise to do the same for you.