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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Medical Clearance and Shopping Dilemmas

I have referenced working on my Final Medical Clearance multiple times now. I finally got all of my paperwork (almost 100 pages of forms and documentation) uploaded to the Peace Corps Medical Applicant Portal on March 31st, five days before the deadline for my group.

Over the next few hours, I felt my blood pressure rising, as I maniacally began checking my email for clearance. Some of my peers had received their clearance in under 24 hours, but a few days later, I was having to coach myself that no news meant nothing at all. Despite knowing that once they review everything I would have instant news, I could not help but fear that after more than two years of this process, something would happen to wake me up from this dream.

As the one week mark came and went, I began wondering what I would do if I was not going to Lesotho after all. Every decision I have made in the last four months has been with my departure in mind. No, I will not be able to return to the wonderful Three Mile Island as the educator this summer...Sorry Oliverian, I cannot return to teach here next year...Yes, I will buy these travel items that have no use in my life if I am not traveling in Africa...and so on. If, for some reason, I was not going to Lesotho in less than 60 days, I would literally have no plans for my life, in less than 60 days!

It was a somewhat terrifying acknowledgement despite three different doctors telling me I was medically fit in the last two months, despite my awareness that nothing had changed medically since my pre-clearance last year, despite the knowledge that I am mentally and physically ready for this adventure.

So, yesterday, I was teaching my final Senior Humanities block of the day and mentioned during a break my complete obsession with checking my email to one of my students. Not twenty minutes later, as they were working on group work, I glanced at my computer and there it was: Congratulations Elizabeth, you have received Final Medical Clearance. I couldn't help it, I did a happy dance in the corner of my classroom, which only one student understood until after class. I glowed like the woman who just got engaged. I felt my blood pressure drop and pure joy fill my body to the point that the Punky Brewster style happy dance was the only way to keep me from exploding.

And then I realized...I am leaving for Africa in 55 days! I have one free weekend between now and then. I have a going away BBQ to plan with the most supportive sister in the world. I have to focus and keep teaching for the next 53 days. I have to figure out what I need for 27 months in Africa. More importantly, I have to figure out what I don't need in Africa!

It is a surprisingly difficult in my head. On one hand, I keep thinking this is no issue because I have packed for multiple months of boat life and I have been reassured most things are available in the capital of Lesotho or at least in South Africa. On the other hand, then I think...yeah, but I'm picking about footwear being really supportive and I have wide feet. I should not plan to buy shoes over there...so I stock up on new Chacos (which I would honestly wear every day if it were not for winter...I did in Charleston!). Or, I think, I'm going to bring my laptop. It was really cheap and is already a few years old...but it turns itself off a lot and might not last two years...maybe I should get a tablet as a backup computer. Thus far this thought gets countered every time I start shopping online, it is overwhelming! 

I am a chronic overpacker, but I also don't want to walk into this experience with a bunch of shiny new gear. I am looking forward to the simplicity of reduced toys and materialism. It is ridiculous to be thinking about spending money buying luxury items to go live in a developing nation. And yet, it keeps popping into my head that I need these things because I might not be able to get them later...ahhh advertisers, you have trained us well...

If you had around 50 days left in the states, what would be your top priorities? Remember, I am working a lot, so road trips are not an option!


Anonymous said...

What I would do with my 50 days:
1. jump in the Atlantic
2. Eat a Lobster
3. Cook my mom dinner
4. Print photos of my favorite people
5. Have some great sex

Anonymous said...

1. Spend time with my favorite family members.
2. Eat your favorite food
3. Give love to your pets
4. Visit your favorite place (if possible)
5. Start a journal
6. Have enough pictures for the trip so you can scrapbook.
7. Enjoy every moment you have left here.

Have fun Beth, it sounds like an amazing adventure!
~ Ashley M.

Kathy said...

I agree with the person who said eat a lobster. It's good advice :-)

And you should spend some time playing games avec moi....mainly because I want that memory with you before you leave (I know. I'm selfish:P)

incongruous wayne's adventures in a foreign land said...

Knowing you, you'll need a French Press for making coffee. That was one of Wayne's essentials!

Lily Fluffbottom said...

Make sure you have a week or more off from work before you leave to finish packing, say good bye to friends/family etc. I'm in Botswana right now (we're practically neighbors!) and I don't feel like I didn't give myself enough time off.

if you have pets, find a home for them now now, and spend as much time with friends and family as you can.

Shopping wise, if you can't buy it in Lesotho, I'm sure you can buy it in SA. I brought all my gadgets with me and haven't regretted it yet. Even my friends who don't have electricity don't regret bringing their gadgets.

Try not to stress. And try to remember all the details because its going to go by so fast you won't believe it when its over.

Good luck!