Thursday, May 22, 2008

Poop in a Cup (don't worry, no pictures!)

Hola amigos y amigas...

It has been a tough week for your beloved Peace Corps Volunteer, my friends. I came into la Capital Tuesday of this week after 2 days of very little or no sleep in the campo over the weekend. I was suffering from a new, powerful case of "the #3's" - with a mild fever and abdominal cramping thrown in for fun - so once I felt a little better and was able to get out of the house without the need for an urgent run to the baƱo, I hopped the jeep for the 4-hour trip to get into la Capital to see the doctor.

Describing my symptoms to our doctora, she did a brief exam of my abdomen for inflamation, found a few tender spots in my large intestine, gave me some ideas of what she thought it might be, then sent me on my way to the clinica in town for a few routine tests that we Peace Corps Volunteers just love: the urine test (not so bad) and the infamous and not-so-fun: "poop-in-a-cup."

Although we Volunteers have fun talking about all of our intestinal challenges that our life in the undeveloped campo throws at us, and can easily talk for hours about the different techniques needed in order to actually poop in a cup, I will leave out the details for you, my largely non-Peace Corps audience. However, you can imagine what skill is required to be able to successfully poop in a cup the size of a yogurt container and what bad luck it is if one fails at it.

Anyway, long story short (too late), I have been diagnosed with a type of intestinal parasitic infection with symptoms and a treatment regimen similar to amoebic dysentry (For more info, take a look here: So, I will be stuck in la Capital for a few more days, waiting to take the poop-test again and hoping for an improved bill of health.

Luckily, although a mild case and not too far advanced, these little buggers inside me are painful! The cramps are the worst at night and while eating. Surprisingly, even though it hurts to eat, I am always hungry! Of course, I'm now eating not just for me, but for a billion+ little amiguitos. Also all the things I am craving are not allowed because they aggravate the pain: greasy foods, spicy foods, cheese and milk, tomatoes and tomato-based sauces. I am also downing three types of pills a day: One to aid in digestion with meals, one for the abdominal pain caused by the inflamation of my large intestine, and a powerful anit-bacterial drug, metronidazole (

So, I guess you could say that I've arrived as a true Peace Corps Volunteer now being able to add intestinal parasite to my resume of service.

Much promised fotos of my casa de campo to come next... ¡no se vayan!

Un abrazo, - Teo.

P.S. - Egan, on a similar subject: I saw your comment on my last posting regarding my bathroom and where the bad stuff goes... Although the latrine is attached to my house, making it an "indoor bathroom" it is still a true latrine. That is, there is a deep hole in the ground lined on the sides with cinder block that is directly under the floor of the bathroom. The bad stuff goes down there (like a cistern). In theory, eventually the material gets broken down by bacteria that live down there, and the material in then recycled (absorbed) back into the earth over time. The material from my outhouse does not run directly onto the ground or into a stream. -T.